E3 2010: Hands-On Nintendo 3DS

The Nintendo 3DS is a great premise, but there has to be some sort of drawback, right? Wrong. The thing sits comfortably in your hand, and the second you play with the 3D slider on the side of the screen, your world is brought from flat and linear to eye-popping and 3 dimensional. Not to say that the games on the 3DS look bad with the 3D off, because that's not true at all. The graphics are comparable to that of the Nintendo Gamecube, and regardless of whether you have the 3D on or off, you will still be amazed.

The second you slide the 3D on you realize that this should have been done a long time ago. The images literally jump off the screen at you, and this is something that I never thought possible without those awesome 3D glasses that, according to the Nintendo Press Conference, make little children look like Neo from The Matrix.

As I waited in line to score some face-time with the 3DS, a very attractive... err professional blonde woman came over with one strapped to her belt by a long white tether; I overlooked the sexual jokes I could have made and watched as she let the guy in front of me play with it for a couple of minutes. I kept trying to see the magic that was the 3D screen, but it turns out that if you aren't looking at the thing head on, then it looks like one of those 3D Batman binders that you used to own when you were a kid. This discouraged me a little bit, but then it was my turn. As soon as a Mario statue (featuring Mario, Bowser, and Luigi) popped on the screen, I was sold. You could rotate around the statue with the new joystick, and every few seconds it would change to a different image.

Pikmin came on next, which may hint to where Pikmin 3 is headed, because we have yet to see anything on that promise in two years now. Pikmin may have been the most beautiful; it featured the classic three Pikmin (blue, red, and yellow) sitting in a forest that had massive dandelions that seemed to blow in the wind. It actually looked like the dandelions were coming out of the 3DS right into my face, and it was awesome.

My time came to an end with that demo, but my journey had only just begun. I went up the ramp to the 3DS cove  - that was pretty heavily guarded by security - and there they were, a cubic crap ton of 3DSs, all with different demos and videos of different games. I booked it over to the Mario Kart 3DS demo, and was a little bummed that it wasn't playable, but it certainly was a sight to behold. The graphics were amazing, and the characters that you would pass jumped out of the screen at you.

I then jumped over to Star Fox 64 3D. The nostalgic title screen was awesome because it featured those ugly puppets that we have come to love, but it only got better. This game involved actual gameplay and it was almost too fun. It featured the first level of the original Nintendo 64 title, but the graphics looked slightly tweaked and it was all in 3D. I hope this is a game they plan on releasing with the 3DS launch, because I would buy it in a second.

Nintendo 3DS

After Star Fox I got some hands-on with a target shooting game. I was instructed to point the 3D camera on the 3DS at a little question mark block that was laid on the table. As I did targets started popping up and I actually had to physically walk around the table to shoot them. After destroying the targets, a giant dragon popped out of the question mark block. It kept trying to tear my virtual face off, but I could easily pull back away from the beast. I shot the weak points on the dragon and caused it to implode in a glorious fashion. This was one of the coolest uses of the technology I had ever seen, and it was ridiculously responsive in every move that I made with handheld.

I went over to the Kid Icarus: Uprising trailer that was playing on the handheld, and even though I was on hand to see the title revealed at the Nintendo Press Event, the game looks completely different on the 3DS itself. The game was truly built to to be in 3D and you realize that as soon as the video starts playing. The game play looks extremely fast-paced and frantic, and almost comparable to Sin and Punishment in terms of sheer madness occurring simultaneously on the screen. Watching the trailer online and experiencing the trailer on the 3DS are two completely different things, and you should try to do the latter of the two as soon as humanly possible.

My last demo of the day would be Nintendogs + Cats, but the odd thing I found in my demo was that there were no cats at all! You had a choice between three dogs and I chose the lab puppy. The game plays exactly like the previous installment in the series, but with really amped up graphics; you can actually see the fur on the dog as it jumps up on your screen. Everything takes place on the top screen this time around so petting actions and tennis ball throws are all recorded on the bottom screen and happen on the top screen. That was a little odd, but it still worked fine and felt natural.

The 3DS looks awesome. If you aren't a fan of the 3D aspect then you can turn it off with the flick of a switch, and that still leaves you with the best graphics you've ever seen on a handheld gaming system. There are also a couple of Nintendo 64 games that seemed to be making an appearance on the new handheld in similar fashion to Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo DS. Both Star Fox 64 3D and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time were demoed, and I'm hoping that they keep the trend up... at least until they port over Super Smash Bros. in 3D.

Are you excited for the 3DS? Do you think it can live up to the hype that it has been given?

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