Today Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage in New York City to discuss the Nintendo 3DS launch details we’ve been waiting for. The 3D-enabled DS handheld will release on March 27 in the US for $249.99. It will come in two color variants: Cosmo Black and Aqua Blue. Ninty promises that over 30 3DS games will be available during the launch window (that is, between the March 27 and the E3 Expo in early June). These include a mix of first and third party games. Though Nintendo did not specify a solid list of launch titles, the press release mentions the following games: Pilotwings Resort, which has players soaring acrobatically over iconic Wuhu Island; nintendogs + cats, a new version of the Nintendo DS classic with a feline enhancement; and Steel Diver, a side-scrolling submarine adventure that gives the illusion that the player is peering into an aquarium. The ones you really want to play like the 3D versions of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Paper Mario, plus the return of fan favorite Kid Icarus in Kid Icarus: Uprising are simply “in the works” with no release dates attached just yet. Some third party games mentioned at the event include Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (Capcom), Madden NFL Football (EA), and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (LucasArts), but again no release dates were specified.
So that pretty much does it for launch details. However, in addition to announcing price, release date, and games support, Fils-Aime took time to talk about the 3DS’ hardware and expand upon the some of the pre-installed software. Like its DS predessors, the 3DS packs two screens; the bottom one’s touch-sensitive and the top one’s 3D-enabled (no pesky glasses required). A 3D Depth Slider can be used to manipulate the 3D effect during gameplay; the slider can turn off the 3D effect entirely and all 3DS games can be played in traditional 2D. In addition to the D-Pad, a new Circle Pad provides a full 360 degrees of direction and allows for a higher level of precision during gameplay. The 3DS also packs built-in motion and gyro sensors, so it can react to the motion and tilt of the system. You’ll also find three camera built into this thing; one on the inside (facing you during gameplay) and two on the outside. Combined the latter two can capture 3D pictures and you can view them on the top 3D display. Other hardware notables: the 3DS comes bundled with an adjustable stylus (for use on the bottom touch-sensitive display), a 2GB SD memory card, and a charging cradle.
The Home Menu is where all your apps live. Mii Maker is just what it sounds like and works similarly to how Miis are created on the Wii. The difference here is that the Mii Maker will ask you to take a photo of yourself and the software will try its best to convert your real-life features into a Mii avatar. If the conversion doesn’t sit well with you, manual customization options are available to fiddle with to make things right. You also have the ability to import your Mii avatar from your Wii console by way of SD card transfer. The augmented reality-based game Face Raiders lets you take pictures of your friends and turn them into shooting targets. It’s a simple game that highlights the built-in gyro sensor since it requires you to physically lean and turn to search around for the targets and aim high and low to hit them. AR Games works similarly, but they take advantage of the pack of AR cards that come bundled with the system. All you have to do is place one of the AR cards onto a flat surface, point the outward facing 3DS camera at it, and targets come to life. Animations are superimposed into the scene; so for example if you place a card on your kitchen table the backdrop for the targets will be the kitchen table (that’s augmented reality gaming in a nutshell). The Activity Log tracks both your gameplay activity, much like the Wii Calender does automatically. It notes which games you’ve played and how long you’ve played them, as well as your physical activity, counting every step you take while carrying your Nintendo 3DS. Even when the system’s in sleep mode, it acts as a pedometer and tracks the distances you travel; the more you walk the more Play Coins you will earn. These coins can then be used to purchase in-game bonus content, if the game’s developer decides to support it. The Nintendo eShop offers access to downloadable games. In addition to DSiWare games, Virtual Console games pulled from the Game Boy and Game Boy Color catalogs will be available to download. Game videos, screenshots, demos, and ratings will also be browsable here. Titles can be purchased with either a credit card or prepaid cards. Other software notables: StreetPass Mii Plaza (more on this below), Internet Browser, Camera app (capture and view 3D pictures), Video app (watch 3D content), Sound app (listen to music in MP3 or AAC format from the SD card, plus record and play with sounds using the 3DS’ built-in mic); oh, and the 3DS is backwards compatible with all Nintendo DS games.
Fils-Aime mentioned that the 3DS is Nintendo’s most connected video games console ever made, and he’s not lying. First let’s get this awesome update out of the way: friend codes are no longer specific to each game you buy, there is only one code and it’s attached to your 3DS. Once you swap friend codes with someone, they will remain on your friend list and you can always check their online status no matter what game you’ve got running. Now to some fun new features: StreetPass and SpotPass. StreetPass is capable of exchanging game information with other Nintendo 3DS systems as owners pass one another. An example of StreetPass functionality is the aptly titled StreetPass Mii Plaza. Much like its Wii counterpart, the 3DS’ Mii Plaza will congregate your Mii avatar with all the other 3DS owners you happen to pass by, say, on the street (and your avatar will jump onto the 3DS of the person you pass). In addition to sharing your avatar, other information can be exchanged over StreetPass including maps for games, high scores, and custom character data for different games. This might be obvious but it’s worth pointing out–if you don’t want any information to exchange on the fly (because all this can happen while the 3DS is in sleep mode tucked away in your pocket) you can disable the StreetPass function. Next up is SpotPass and this essentially connects to 3DS up to public or private at-home WiFi hotspots. Once connected, the system can receive new content and updates even when it’s in sleep mode or charging.
Peer in the gallery below to get a closer look at the 3DS hardware, and look after the break to watch the 3DS virtual tour and catch a sneak peek at the software launch lineup. Also, don’t forget to check out my hands-on preview of the 3DS from E3.
READ MORE Nintendo 3DS launch details: coming March 27 for $249