At last, the final key details for the Nintendo 3DS are here. It's gonna be $250 when it comes out on March 27, with 30 games available right around launch.
Get right to it: How much does it cost?
When can I buy it?
March 27 in the US.
What's in 3D exactly?
Well, the games, of course. But it also plays back 3D videos/photos and takes 3D photos with the dual, outward-facing cameras.
It doesn't need glasses, right?
Nope. It's using parallax barrier technology from Sharp. Here's how it works.
My head hurts from all that 3D. Can I fix it?
Your head, no. But there's a 3D depth slider to adjust how intense the 3D is. You can basically make it 2D, if you want.
What's new control wise?
The telescoping stylus is 10 percent larger than before. There's also an "analog circle pad," that's kind of like a a floating, flattened analog stick. A home button will pause everything and take you straight to the home menu—even when you're playing a game, but you can switch right back.
Any other new bits?
Accelerometer and gyroscope, so games will be motion controlled. There's an included charging cradle, so you can leave it sleeping, silently downloading new bits and content as it's available.
What kind of non-game software comes with it?
There's an activity log tracking physical movement, like a pedometer app—you can earn coins for bonus content by moving around—and the games you play. There's a Mii maker, like on the Wii. Miis will be swapped by "street pass functionality" when it's in sleep mode if you pass another 3DS that's also sleeping and has street pass turned on. Street pass will swap game data and engage in head-to-head battles too (they didn't explain how the latter would work).
One of the neat things we saw at E3, AR Games using AR cards. Games are super-imposed on whatever the camera sees in the background. It's pretty wild. (Think Falcon Gunner on iPhone if you haven't seen it.)
Face Raiders takes your own picture and lets you do things like shoot it. (Okay?) There's a better browser (woo) and sound stuff.
Some of the software won't be "fully operational" until updates "performed after purchase," Nintendo says. Hrmm. But there's gonna be an e-shop that'll let you buy and download games. (Including classic titles, that you can pay for, again.)
Is multiplayer still using stupid friend codes?
Yes, but it's not that dumb anymore. Your system has one code, which isn't software-dependent. And joining and playing together over Wi-Fi is much, much easier now.
What are the games?
Here's what Nintendo's showing off today: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Kid Icarus Uprising, Pilotswings Resort, Nintendogs + cats and Steel Diver from Nintendo. From third parties, Dead or Alive Dimensions, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Asphalt 3D, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Ridge Racer 3D, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars.
In the launch window—between the 3DS launch and E3 in June—Nintendo's planning to have 30 games.
Check out more at Kotaku.
What's it like to play?
You can check out impressions from E3 right here (we liked it!).
Some observations from today:
• The amount of 3D you want is gonna vary wildly from game to game: I had it cranked to the max in Street Fighter IV, Kid Icarus and a bunch of the AR games and it was great, but I could only stand it around halfway on Pilotwings before I started feeling cross-eyed. And it's gonna vary wildly from person to person—somebody else was fine with it all the way on Pilotwings, but Kid Icarus made them woozy.
• The line of sight for proper 3D is verrrry narrow. You have to be looking at the screen dead-on, in the center. If you move just a little bit left or right, you totally lose the 3D effect. And it's really jarring! It was a problem with Kid Icarus's control scheme because I kept unintentionally shaking the 3DS and breaking the sight line, killing the 3D. There's gonna be a huge aftermarket for 3DS chestmounts to keep them steady, I think. Also, your friends can't really watch.
• The 3D works best when a game is trying to show you depth, not pop stuff out at you. Dead or Alive and Street Fighter IV surprised me the most with how damn good they looked in 3D and 2D. Street Fighter's got a new over the shoulder viewpoint to really push the 3D, and it looked pretty amazing: lots and lots of depth that felt natural.
• 3D definitely impacts gaming performance. Dead or Alive is probably the most stark illustration. When you move from 3D to 2D, the game seems like 200 percent faster and everything looks a little smoother. (Obviously, that's because with 3D, it's effectively generating twice as much video, a set for each of your eyeballs.)
• The augmented reality games are my favorite, and do stuff like place targets around a table top where you've set the AR card down. Wherever you set the AR card, the game builds a little level around the card, and you do things like shoot at targets by moving the 3DS around. In fact, that's one of the most major changes in games besides 3D—Nintendo's incorporating a lot more motion. In Steel Divers' periscope mode, you actually move the 3DS around in 360 degrees to spot enemy ships and fire torpedoes.
• The analog stick is easily the best one yet on a portable. Super mooth and responsive.
Overall, the 3DS is a lot of the fun, the 3D works surprisingly well and the graphics are pretty punchy, but $250 might be too much for some people to throw at a dedicated gaming console when they can grab an iPod touch with sorta okay gaming but lots of other functions for $230. We'll see.