With the dust settling on the 3DS features, it’s time to start looking at the games we are likely to see making the most of all this sparkling tech. Although it’s a little odd that the launch lineup is still being nailed down, and that box art still seems to be absent from most retail sites, Nintendo have been more than a little forthcoming with preview access to the 3DS games themselves.
At the recent launch event, I had a chance to try some titles out for a few hours. The biggest surprise was how different each game one felt. The 3D affect didn’t just add depth to the image, but introduced a series of layers. These create the sense of three dimensions, but also enable games to present interactions in new ways. For instance, a head up display in Zelda Ocarina of Time 3DS becomes integral to the game world while at the same time floating some way in front of the action. The amount of screen real estate is multiplied by the number of layers the games introduce – which can be anything up to four or five.
Each game I spent time with used 3D in different ways. Some, like Super Street Fighter 3DS simply add a greater sharpness to the hand drawn visuals – making the experience more visceral and engaging. Others, like Pro Evolution 2011 3DS use the layers to create a greater sense of distance and depth – enabling players to judge distances and angles with much greater accuracy. This not only fundamentally changes the feel of the game but also introduces the possibility for new camera angles and styles of play.
Other titles, like Pilotwings Island 3DS weave the three dimensional layers into the heart of the visual experience. This may be subtler than the game-changing 3D layering of other titles, but it makes impressive use of the technology to create a greater sense of motion and momentum. Then there are games like Animal Crossing 3DS that create a miniature world in the palm of your hand, using the layers to offer a pop-up theatre like feel to proceedings.
It will take time for these techniques to be perfected. Some feel like they are DS games up-rendered in 3D, while others push the technology to create experiences that ask much more of the player’s eyes. Pro Evolution felt more ambitious in this respect and was the hardest to focus on. Street Fighter was at the other end of the spectrum, much easier to see but still very impressive. It will be interesting to see how Nintendo 3DS reviews take stock of the different approaches.
The Nintendo 3DS is available to preorder from Amazon for $249.99.
[All images by Andy Robertson.]