On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, Nintendo finally announced the details of the 3DS Western Release. It will come out on March 27, 2011 in America at $249.99 and on March 25 in Europe with prices set by the retailers. Almost all the games that were shown off at E3 2010 were playable at this reveal. From the reaction seen by the editors from various publications, the 3DS still has not lost it magic but the main concern are the games. Many of the 3DS games are either remakes or ports from other systems. So far, Capcom is investing a lot into the 3DS with 2 remake and 1 original title. They also seem to be the only one that is pushing the 3DS graphically as many were impressed by Resident Evil: Revelation and how it seemed to be returning to the roots of what make the series so special.
Besides on the games on display, I am curious on all the features built into the 3DS and their implication for games. Starting with the simple feature of multi-tasking. The ability to take notes while playing a game seems like a great idea. Many comments refer to how this feature would have been so useful during their play time of the Water Temple in Zelda: Ocarina of Time where they could have mapped it out. Professor Layton had this feature in the game but it is nice to see how this can be universally applied to all games (like sports)! The 3D camera is also something a game designer can take into consideration. Nintendo’s Face Raiders gave players a taste in combining the 3D camera and a game. Combine with Street Pass (3DS communicating with each other in sleep mode when it passes another 3DS), people will have a variety of people to shoot at.
This leads to one area that I am most interested in, Augmented Reality. Combining the real world and the virtual world can create really immersive experience especially combining it with a glasses-free 3D screen as the images of the virtual world will mess well with reality. At the Nintendo Conference they had Augmented Reality cards with a Coin Box icon in it. When the 3DS is facing it, the card transform the table it is one. One had a huge dragon head coming out of the table or targets for the player to shoot at. The images rotate realistically due to the built in gyroscope to detect the player’s orientation and placement. This is definitely a a different form experience that I hope will be continue to be explored pass the 3DS launch.
Nintendo also seems to be streamlining its online infrastructure. With only one friend code per system, it makes it easier to add friends. Now you do not need separate friend list per game but one universal list. With the multi-tasking functionality, you can pause the game and check out your friend list and see what game they are currently playing. I hope in the future with the launch of the next Nintendo home console that they will implement an account based online infrastructure so players account can be used on any system they log in to.
I will be attending the Game Developers Conference 2011 and I hope there will be a Nintendo 3DS on display for me to have hands on experience. This is something that I need to experience myself. From the rumors of what the PSP2 will be, I hope Sony has something else up their sleeves besides 3G connectivity, OLED high-def screen, power of an XBOX360 and touch controls on the back. It sounds like an expensive proposition. I believe Apple’s next iteration of the iPod Touch/iPhone will be powerful also. The handheld market is getting more and more competitive. It is becoming a “Red Sea” market for Nintendo, the ones who are masters in this segment.