Myer in Australia held a 3 hour demonstration of 3DS on Thursday for the public, and I was lucky enough to get there in time to play it. The line was huge: when I got there I was number 242 and had to wait an hour to get to the front of the line. It curved around the store into obscure aisles and I spent half the time looking at backpacks and Lego. Then I got 15 minutes to play a few games on the system and it was definitely worth it.
The first thing I saw in 3D was Nintendogs. A Nintendo rep was going up and down the line with a 3DS playing movies, to keep us all sane. It was weird looking at the screen for the first time – I saw two of everything. I must have been focusing too much, because a few seconds later I relaxed, looked at the bottom screen then looked back up and everything started to look real. The 3D effect was cool but nothing mindblowing, I felt like playing with the dogs but it was just a video. Then Ocarina of Time came on and that looked even better. It didn’t feel like things were popping out at me, more like I was looking into the 3DS.
The first time I looked away from the 3DS, I felt weird. Reality didn’t look like it should – everything looked fake – this lasted about 30 seconds, but it never happened again after the next few times I used the system. I think it was just my brain trying to comprehend what was going on, but I’m taking Nintendo’s warning a lot more seriously now. Young developing children really shouldn’t play this with 3D on, it could fuck up an entire generation (not that it hasn’t happened already).
My hands-on with the system was pretty brief; I had 15 minutes and played 4 games, not really enough to form a solid opinion of the system, but I can talk about what I noticed. The analog stick is REALLY smooth; it moves around so easily. Feels like it’d be great for any intense action game, and hopefully racers. One concern I have is with extended play time in racing games, it seems like it might be hard to keep the stick in one position for a long time, but that’s just speculation.
The 3D slider on the top screen worked, but was hard to tell any difference between full 3D and 10% 3D. It only really changed when I swung it all the way down to 2D. It’s a pretty big shock going back to 2D: it felt like a screen just appeared out of thin air.
I didn’t really notice the D-pad or buttons; didn’t have enough time to care. The A button and L buttons worked, that’s all I can say; none of the games I played needed the other buttons. I played two games that had heavy use of the camera: Face Raiders and an AR game.
Face Raiders was incredible, I didn’t know what was going on when I was handed it, I saw nothing but the environment around me through the camera, however there was an arrow on the top of the screen pointing up so I followed it. I lifted up the 3DS higher and all these floating faces hovered into the screen. The faces seemed to be of people at the event taken with the 3DS camera. I shot them all then a boss appeared and I had to shoot a crystal on its head a million times to finish it off – pretty intense. All of the 3DS were strapped to Nintendo reps so this was a hard game to play with the enthusiasm I would have liked, without knocking someone over.
The AR game I played used a card sitting on a table. I don’t know what the game was called but it involved cubes. I was prompted to aim the 3DS camera at the card, 35cm away from it. There’s a nice onscreen indicater of how far from the table the 3DS is, and it changes in real time when you move it which is pretty neat, and makes it very easy to aim at something. After I had the 3DS in place, a cube popped out of the table. Whoa! Then more came out, and they opened up to reveal targets. I pressed A and shot them all and then a tree grew out of the ground. I kept shooting it and it shook around a bit but nothing else happened. This was the last game I played and my 15 minutes was up right there. I couldn’t really grasp the purpose of the game but it was cool.
The games I spent the most time with were Ocarina of Time and Kid Icarus. In Zelda I had the choice of wandering around Kokiri Forest or the Deku Tree and picked the forest. It felt unreal, like a brand new game. The graphics have been touched up quite a bit, and playing such a huge game on a handheld amplifies the feeling. I pulled the 3D slider down to 2D and it still looked great. One thing that was weird in 3D was that when I spoke to NPCs the text box popped up in front of everything else on a 2D plane. Like everything was behind it; it wasn’t horrible looking, just something that’ll take some getting used to. Apart from that the 3D in this game was the best of all the games I played, it felt the most comfortable and natural, and the easiest on the eyes.
Kid Icarus was very intense, I was thrust into a ridiculous level with shit flying all over the place. The first thing that impressed me was how smooth and fast everything was; very good frame rate and graphics with so much going on. It felt like Sin & Punishment. However, I had a bit of trouble with the 3D effect in this, I found it hard to focus properly, my eyes kept going in and out of 3D mode. After that hectic scene I landed on the ground and things calmed down a bit. My eyes were fully adjusted to the games 3D now and it finally felt natural. I fought some grey thing, slowly walked on and ended up grinding on a rail and things heated up again, but this time I actually managed to keep my eyes focused – it was incredible – for about 5 seconds I just stood there not pressing any buttons even though there was some kind of fight going on with things attacking me. Just looking at Kid Icarus is an experience. The controls were fantastic: touch screen controls the top screen cursor while the analog stick moves. It was very natural and I felt like I was a pro at the game straight away.
Overall I left extremely impressed with the possibilities of the machine, it wasn’t just impressive and new, but FUN. The only questions I have left are about how good it’ll be as an actual game system, playing for long periods and how comfortable it’ll be on the eyes, and to hold. All signs point to awesome so far and I’m very keen to play more Kid Icarus.