Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Nintendo Unveils 3DS, Full Software Line-Up

Just a few hours ago Nintendo unveiled the hotly anticipated 3DS to the world at its E3 press conference. The machine, looking strikingly like an enhanced version of the current DSi and XL machines, is a vastly more powerful beast equipped with both motion sensors and an adjustable 3D widescreen display.

Those of you expecting an Xbox 1 matching visual experience will be disappointed. However from what we’ve seen the 3DS seems to rival the PS2 and GCN on a lower level, and exceed them in certain areas (possible shader effects, bump mapping etc). It's not so surprising then, that the brand new handheld was being aimed squarely at core gamers at the event, with a barrage of classic and updated franchises.

Lets take it away!

On first inspection the 3DS looks remarkably similar to the existing DSi and Light models available on stores shelves. Looking closely however, reveals some major improvements, and a doggedly stubborn approach to change. The standard d-pad plus four face buttons remain, as does the two shoulder buttons and bottom touch screen. The d-pad now appears lower down, and in its old position sits a flat analogue nub of sorts, much like the one found on the PSP, but situated slightly inside the unit’s shell.

The bottom screen is the same touch screen as present in the DSi, however the top screen is where all the special stuff occurs. As you may have read before in this very blog, the top screen is a sharp manufactured, auto-stereoscopic widescreen display which displays 3D images without any need for the user to wear polarised or shuter glasses. It measures 3.53 inches across, and has a pixel resolution of 800x240 (400 pixels are allocated for each eye to enable 3D viewing).

A slider on the unit controls the strength of the 3D effect, which will be adjustable for every game, but also allows you to turn it off completely if you want a crisp and clear 2D image instead.

Backing up the use of 3D and the existing touch screen, comes the rumoured inclusion of motion controls and tilt functionality. To that end the unit features a gyro sensor inside, along with other motion sensing equipment. Apparently both 3D and motion sensing can be used at the same time, although reports state that the image can become split in two, and suffer from ghosting if viewed off-axis, meaning that in order to get the best image, you will have to be looking straight on at the screen.

It is likely that most games will either choose to use subtle motion sensing and 3D combined, or 3D and greater motion sensing separately. Certainly, from early hands-on impressions this would seem like the best course of action for developers. But we will see.

Moving on, the two cameras present in both the DSi and the DSi XL remain, although the outer camera now consists of two camera lenses enabling it to take photos for display in 3D on the top screen. Both have a 640x480 in 0.3 megapixel resolution, same as in the DSi, and still present the user with grainy, low-res looking pictures as before.

Wi-Fi is of course present – the same 802.11 band as found in existing models, along with WPA/WPA2 security support, and a stereo headphone jack is present at the bottom of the unit.

In terms of software, Nintendo announced a slew of impressive titles. Some were merely remakes of old N64 and PS2 games, whilst others were a combination of brand new releases and ported PS3 and 360 games.

The most impressive ones were:

- A port of the PS2 smash hit, Metal Gear Solid 3, which featured some lavishly bump-mapped visuals, great lighting, and solid texturing.

- A new iteration of Mario Kart:

- StarFox 64:

- Resident Evil: Revelations:

The full list of games can be found below:

- Activision - DJ Hero 3D

- AQ Interactive - cubic ninja

- Atlus - Etrian Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor

- Capcom - Resident Evil Revelations, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (working title)

- Electronic Arts - FIFA Soccer, Madden NFL, The Sims 3

- Gameloft - Asphalt GT

- Harmonix - Music game

- Hudson Soft - Bomberman, Deca Sports, Kororinpa

- Konami - Baseball, Contra, Frogger, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D "The Naked Sample", Pro Evolution Soccer/Winning Eleven

- Level-5 - Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle (working title)

- Majesco - BloodRayne: The Shroud, A Boy and His Blob, Face Racers: Photo Finish, Lion's Pride: Adventures on the Serengetti, Martha Stewart, WonderWorld Amusement Park

- Marvelous - Bokujyoumonogatari 3D (working title)

- Namco Bandai - Dragon Ball, Gundam, Pac-Man & Galaga, Ridge Racer, Super Robot (all working titles)

- Nintendo - Animal Crossing, Kid Icarus Uprising, Mario Kart, nintendogs+cats, Paper Mario, PilotWings Resort, Star Fox 64 3D, Steel Driver

- Rocket - Crash-City GP, VS-robo

- SEGA - Sonic, Super Monkey Ball (working titles)

- Square Enix - Codename: Chocobo Racing 3D, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts

- Take-Two - Carnival Games

- Tecmo Koei - Dead or Alive 3D, Dynasty Warriors, Ninja Gaiden, Samurai Warriors 3D (all working titles)

- Tomy - Lovely Lisa 3D, Naruto Shippuden Action

- THQ - de Blob 2, Kung Fu Panda Kaboom of Doom, Marvel Super Hero Squad Infinity Gauntlet, The Penguins of Madagascar, Puss N Boots, Saints Row: Drive-By

- Ubisoft - Assassin's Creed: Lost Legacy, Battle of Giants: Dinosaur Strike, Driver Renegade, Hollywood 61 (working title), Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

- Warner Bros. - Batman, LEGO

Along with a long list of games Nintendo also mentioned that the 3DS will be able to display 3D movies. Disney, Warner Bros, and Dreamworks were all said to be involved, though no further information was forthcoming.

Overall, the 3DS definitely feels like a turbo-charged upgrade to the current DS than an all out revolution. Certainly, in terms of design and aesthetics, it looks that way. However the machine appears to be more powerful than most handhelds on the market, packing more usable grunt than the PSP or maybe even the iPhone in real-world terms, and has 3D support to back it up.

What remains to be seen is whether that particular effect is enough to keep people interested in what could initially appear to be one DS model too many. Thankfully, from what we’ve seen at E3, that doesn’t appear to be the case, plus with the extra horsepower under the hood – and the use of analogue controls – the 3DS could well usurp the PSP as the core gamers mobile platform of choice.

IQGamer will be investigating the hardware and graphics potential in the 3DS shortly.

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