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Q&A - 3DS

However much we write about the 3DS, there are always questions left unanswered. So we’ve gone through a few comments threads to find questions worth addressing: does the 3D make your eyes hurt, what other selling points does it have, and most importantly, does it justify the price?

What is 3DS?

It a Nintendo handheld that features two screens and glassless 3D.

Launch dates?

  • Japan - February 26, 2011
  • Europe - March 25, 2011
  • US - March 27, 2011

How much does 3DS cost?

It's $249 in the US. No European price has been set, but UK retailers are selling pre-orders for around £210.

When was it announced?

Nintendo held large press events to announce launch details in Amsterdam and New York at the end of January, 2011. There's full coverage here.

What games are confirmed for it?

Over 30 titles will release in the 3DS "launch period": that's the time between the console's release until E3 in June. There's a complete list of everything announced in January here.

How much will games cost?

About £40 in the UK.

Does the 3D make your eyes bleed?

Remarkably, no. There’s about a five-second headfuck period whilst your eyes adjust, and from then on it’s fine. For context, I wear glasses and stereoscopic 3D in cinemas gives me a huge headache, when I can even see the 3D effect at all. Glasses-free 3D clearly works in a different way that my brain doesn’t find nearly so offensive. If you’ve had problems with 3D before, try it out at one of Nintendo’s roadshows or in-store first, but based on my experience, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Although I played the 3DS for about three or four hours, I was forced to take regular breaks – I can’t be sure whether it starts to give you a headache/eye-bleeding after a prolonged period of continuous use.

How reliable is the 3D effect?

You have to be looking at it pretty much dead on. Move your head to the side and it stops working. The further up the 3D slider is, the more important your point of view.

A few times, whilst playing games with the 3D turned up full whack, the image would suddenly diverge into two and then merge again in the space of about half a second. It was an issue easily solved by turning the 3D slider down slightly.

The only time that it completely doesn’t work is when you’re forced to move and tilt the console around and use the gyroscope, a la Super Monkey Ball. Keeping your head dead-on to the screen whilst moving it is practically impossible, and makes you look ridiculous.

Is the 3D just a gimmick, or does it have real effects on the gameplay?

That depends on the game. Aiming in first-person is easier and more intuitive with 3D, for instance, and flying around corners in Pilotwings feels more natural; in other situations, it’s just a nice visual effect.

Does it have enough improvements to justify the high price tag?

That’s a tricky one to answer – it depends how much money you have, and your fondness for Nintendo hardware and games. The console itself is a superb piece of design, there’s no denying that. It’s comfortable, the circle pad is pleasant and tactile, it’s not too heavy. Many 3DS cynics seem to find that their concerns evaporate the moment they actually play it for themselves. For most people, to hold one is to want one, especially if you’ve a fondness for the DS Lite or DSi.
But £229 is a lot of money, and £40 per game isn’t exactly cheap as well. For the 3D alone, it wouldn’t be worth the price. But there are other things about the 3DS that might swing the balance.

Beyond the 3D, what other selling points does the 3DS have over the DSi?

The crucial thing here is better connectivity. The always-on StreetPass and hotspot-enabled SpotPass features let you download content from Nintendo and other players at all times. This is unprecedented.

Then there’s the circle pad. We must remember that this is the first handheld that has a control system that makes analogue control practical – the PSP’s sandpapery nub was a total nightmare for 3D games (and I say that as a 200+ hour Monster Hunter player). We’ll know after 6AM tomorrow whether it’s the only one – if the PSP2’s controls are as easy to use and comfortable as this, we’re going to have an interesting fight on our hands.

Then there’s Nintendo’s “content partnerships” – most of us don’t give a toss about Shaun the Sheep, but there’s other stuff on offer that is potentially exciting, including 3D movies and Sky Sports.

You still haven’t told me whether it’s worth the money.

Would I buy one? Yes. What makes it worth it? The combination of the circle pad and touchscreen, and the knowledge that games like Street Fighter and Zelda OoT can work perfectly on these controls. That means a much wider variety of handheld games are likely to get made for it. The 3D is extremely cool, but it’s a bonus from my point of view.
Got any more questions about the 3DS? Ask in the comments and we’ll stick them in. As long as they’re not stupid.

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