At a Nintendo event in Sydney shortly before this issue of Game Console went to print, Nintendo finally released the full, official New Zealand launch details for its highly anticipated, autostereoscopic 3D (English: no glasses needed!) handheld console, the 3DS. You can get your hands on the device from retailers everywhere for $449 from March 31st.
Out of the box, the 3DS will come bundled with a telescopic stylus, a dockable Charging Cradle, a 2GB SD memory card (for storing your music, downloaded games and software) and six augmented-reality cards (compatible with some of the 3DS’ in-built software and also some upcoming titles).
Here are some of the other features of the upcoming 3DS:
3D: Well, it’s the most obvious of the new features, but let’s just explain what you’ll really get out of the 3D aspect of the new handheld. The top display of the 3DS (a widescreen display with 800x240-pixel resolution) allocates 400 pixels to each of your eyes in order to create the 3D effect. This means that, without the need for special glasses (as required by most of the current crop of 3D technology), you can play games, watch movies and view pictures in full 3D. Speaking of pictures, you can actually capture 3D images on the 3DS thanks to its dual outer cameras. With autostereoscopic 3D, you will have to maintain a consistent viewing angle for best results, but the handheld nature of the 3DS makes this fairly easy.
ACTIVITY LOG: The 3DS features a built-in pedometer that will track the number of steps taken by the user when carried, in turn rewarding them with "Play Coins” after reaching certain distances. These Play Coins can then be used to unlock certain rewards in supported games. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told MTV Multiplayer that this feature was implemented for two reasons. "Nintendo has always been at the forefront of active gaming,” he said. It’s not just a clever way of promoting a healthy lifestyle, but a way to stimulate use of the device’s other cool functions. "We want [people] to be carrying their Nintendo 3DS, going through StreetPass, SpotPass types of activity”.
ANALOGUE CONTROL: For the first time on a Nintendo handheld console, the 3DS will feature an analogue Circle Pad, for full, pressure-sensitive control in 3D game worlds. Finally!
AUGMENTED REALITY: As mentioned earlier, your brand new 3DS will come bundled with six augmented-reality cards (AR). As explained by Nintendo, "When the two outer cameras are pointed at the cards, they read the cards and superimpose images and animations onto the scene. So users shouldn’t be surprised if they see a dragon popping out of their kitchen tables.” The great news is that future games are likely to make use of this technology in unique and interesting ways.
MULTITASKING: That’s right – 3DS players will be able to suspend their game in order to open another application simultaneously (such as a notepad, web browser or your friends list) while the paused game waits in the background. Nintendo of America’s director of product marketing, Bill Trinen, explained that this will be particularly useful to refer to online tip sites if you get stuck in a game.
STREETPASS: An "always on” background-connectivity feature that allows your Nintendo 3DS to communicate with other 3DS systems in the vicinity, even if you’re not aware of it (but only if you opt in)! Your device will establish a connection with nearby 3DS units and exchange content for mutually played games. One example offered is that the consoles of Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition players will automatically do battle with other 3DS-owning passersby in a "Figure Collecting” mini game! Dead or Alive: Dimensions will challenge other players with an AI utilising your "play patterns”. It’s also understood that Mii information will be exchanged via the Mii Plaza.
SPOTPASS: Using the same background-connectivity system as StreetPass, SpotPass seeks pre-determined wi-fi signals from various hotspots dotted around the country while the 3DS is dormant in order to download content (such as firmware updates, free downloads and demos and the like). Of course, download preferences and privacy settings will be completely customisable. Unfortunately, for us down under, SpotPass won’t be available at launch in Australasia; the wi-fi hotspot deals are still being worked out in this part of the world. There were no New Zealand-specific details available at the time of writing.
VIRTUAL CONSOLE: Much like the Nintendo Wii, the 3DS will feature its own Virtual Console channel, which will allow the purchase and download of classic games. However, the 3DS Virtual Console will be limited to Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles only. The only officially announced games at the time of writing are Super Mario Land and The Legend of Zelda: