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The Pocket Gamer Report: Is Nintendo Barking up the Wrong Tree with the 3DS?

Pocket Gamer | 27 Mar 2010 13:00
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There once was a time when people were content to stare at their massive flat screen televisions and crisp LCD handheld displays; but with Hollywood movie-makers tripping over themselves to make their films in glorious 3D following in the wake of Mr Cameron's magnum opus, we're entering a period of technological frenzy not witnessed since the last time 3D was all the rage - which was about 50 years ago.

And now Nintendo has proudly announced that it intends to join the party with the Nintendo 3DS, another revision of its already revised-to-death dual-screen console.

Putting aside the questionable wisdom of confirming the impending release of yet another DS machine a week before the XL is due to hit store shelves, the 3DS could end up being the straw that breaks the camel's already heavily-strained back.

While people may have chuckled at the porky proportions of the XL, this new device is an entirely different matter. It's rumored that the 3DS will have an analog stick interface, force feedback and accelerometer control, though it appears that the 3DS remains tied to the DS cartridge format, so one has to wonder just how significant a technological step it can be.

It's also rather strange that this entire 3D caper has gotten people so worked up, especially when you consider that this type of innovation is readily available on the DSi in Japan.

Try searching for Rittai Kakushie Attakoreda on YouTube, and you'll be presented with a DSiWare title using what many believe will be the basis for the 3DS' visual magic. Using face-detecting technology and the DSi's internal camera, the game is able to create a faux-3D view of the game world which moves realistically as you tilt your head.

It's an incredibly impressive illusion but some users have complained that the camera struggles to remain accurate in awkward lighting conditions; a problem that could affect the 3DS as well.

There's also the question concerning whether or not such a display is suitable for portable gaming; many gamers who have experienced Rittai Kakushie Attakoreda claim that you have to hold your DSi in exactly the right position, otherwise it fails to correctly pinpoint your head movements.

Mobile consoles are all about comfort and, to be perfectly honest, we're not all that enamored with the notion of having to sit like a motionless statue while playing a portable game.

From what we've heard so far, it's all starting to sound eerily similar to Nintendo's last grand experience in the realm of three dimensions: the well-intentioned but ultimately ill-fated, Virtual Boy.

That machine was confused about what it wanted to be; sold without a power supply and bearing the same surname as Nintendo's pocket-friendly Game Boy, it seemed to be aimed at the portable market but required the player to sit at a table in order to use it.

Of course, the Virtual Boy is one of only a handful of blemishes on Nintendo's otherwise faultless copybook and the company have proven several times that it has an impressive knack of being one step ahead of the crowd.

Perhaps the 3DS is the touchstone that will catapult 3D gaming into the consciousness of the general public, just as the Wii was the instrument which unleashed motion-based gaming on the world. We'll certainly have a clearer picture when the device is officially unveiled at the upcoming E3, but for the time being it might be prudent to keep your powder dry and take a long, hard look at Rittai Kakushie Attakoreda - because that's as good an indicator as any of what we can expect from this mysterious new handheld.

Pocket Gamer is Europe's leading source of news, opinion and reviews on mobile and handheld gaming.

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