It’s like science fiction, but it’s real. The Nintendo 3DS arrives March 27!
Forget those goofy glasses. The 3DS lets you play games in 3D without them. It lets you watch movies in 3D, too.
Why is the 3DS so cool? Let’s take a peek under the hood.
First, the system has a computer processor that’s more powerful than what’s in the Wii. You can see this in the games’ graphics, everything from Super Monkey Ball 3D to Steel Diver. People have said that what you see is as good as what you see with an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. It’s not that good, but it’s close!
With this system, more than games come to life. You can take photos in 3D. Word is, they’re even working on letting you take video in 3D. It’s really a brand-new world.
BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE
You can use the round stick on the left to control many games. Or use the gyroscope inside and tilt it back and forth the way you control an iPhone or iPod Touch game. You can try out augmented reality, too. With six included cards, you can see 3D creatures and manipulate them. I fought against a dragon that sat on my table. It was so detailed, I almost forgot it wasn’t real.
Take time to create your own Mii, too. It just might pop up in the games you choose to play. (Unfortunately, the Mii it creates based on a photo you take doesn’t really look like you.)
The 3DS is also a pedometer. It tracks how far you’ve walked and gives you virtual gold coins that let you unlock rewards in games. There’s even a graph that tells you how many steps you’ve walked and how much time you’ve spent playing.
HOW IS THE 3D?
When the effect of depth works well, the 3DS shows itself to be the best handheld machine ever made.
There’s a downside, though, when you get too excited during play. There’s only one viewing angle for the 3DS – straight on. When you use the tilt controls, you have to move your head exactly at the perfect angle or you lose the 3D effect. With super-fast games, this happens a lot. The solution? Turn off the 3D via the slider on the right side. And, like the instructions say, don’t play too long at one sitting. You might get a headache or nauseous.
The best use of 3D will probably be with role-playing games like the reimagining of The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, which drops later this year. That’s because in a role-playing game, you’re moving more slowly. The slower you move with the 3DS, the more you experience the joys of three dimensions.
Let’s get to the launch game reviews!
STEEL DIVER (Nintendo)
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older
Steel Diver looks like a simple submarine shooting game, but it’s more complex than that. The console uses its gyroscope as the sub’s periscope. You have to move the 3DS all around you in a circle to find the enemies targeting your vessel. At first, it’s easy. But when the water gets murky and you’re being targeted from behind, things get frantic. The sub springs leaks when hit, and you have to tap the touchscreen to fix it. Plus, there’s Mission Mode, in which you have to get from point A to point B. Sound easy? Just try it.
How’s the 3D? Cool! Realistic-looking water flows dramatically like something out of the movies.
SUPER MONKEY BALL 3D (Sega)
First, there’s the trademark banana collecting as you move through maze-like chutes that always increase in difficulty. Plus, there’s a racing game. And there’s a platform-type fighting game that’s really addictive. Get punched by another monkey and you’ll lose your bananas. The key to winning? Use defense to avoid getting hit.
How’s the 3D? Pretty impressive. But you sometimes lose the 3D effect when you get excited and move the console out of your viewing angle.
PILOTWINGS RESORT (Nintendo)
Wow. This arcade flier has elements of a flight simulation game. With a plane, rocket pack or hang glider, soar around the island in timed missions. You’re scored on accuracy of flying through rings and your soft, careful landing in specific spots. Later, you get bigger planes like souped-up jets. And there’s a cool surprise: a suit that lets you soar without a rocket pack, like a flying squirrel.
How’s the 3D? Great. Volcanoes, waterfalls and clouds all make for a visually thrilling experience. You might need to turn down the 3D with a speedier jet, though, to prevent dizziness.
MADDEN NFL FOOTBALL (EA)
You know what they say when a team loses the Super Bowl? “Wait til next year.” That’s what you should do with Madden for the 3DS. This football game just isn’t ready for full 3D experience. There’s no online play, no multiplayer and no Franchise Mode. You don’t really seem to control it as much as watch it. It will be better next year, though.
How’s the 3D? Not great. There’s depth. But a lot of it is played from overhead, like a bird looking down at the field. It needs better camera angles to make the 3D pop out at you.
LEGO STAR WARS III: THE CLONE WARS (LucasArts)
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older
Near perfection! It’s a lot more than building vehicles and collecting studs. Immersed in the Clone Wars universe, you get to play three characters at first, including Yoda. Later, you can unlock a half dozen or so characters, including R2-D2 and Darth Vader. Unfortunately, it has one of the worst instruction booklets I’ve ever seen for a game. But that’s a small thing compared to the highly detailed weapons, characters and weird space worlds you’ll encounter during play.
How’s the 3D? Amazing. As far as 3D goes, this is the best game out there among the launch titles for kids. You can tell the 3D is carefully created, and the science fiction worlds are strangely beautiful. You want to stop and look around every few minutes to check out the environments.
RAYMAN 3D (Ubisoft)
This humorous adventure tale takes Rayman through lands full of awe and wonder. Try to capture the glowing lums, all 1,000 of them!
How’s the 3D? Superb, although turn it down when animals like butterflies get in your face. Check out the awesome waterfalls and swim in the underwater locales for a real 3D fantasy.
RIDGE RACER 3D (Namco)
The latest edition of the arcade racing sim puts you behind the wheel in 3D, and when you use nitrous to speed up – whoa!
How’s the 3D? More subtle than in the other games. See it best by changing the camera angle to behind your racecar.