March 30, 2011

OH OH – Three D Comes To Nintendo

I don't know if you realize this, but there's a new video game system on the market, as of March 27. It's from Nintendo. It's in 3-D. And you don't need special glasses to see the 3-D effects.

The first 60 seconds I saw the 3-D effects, I laughed and laughed. Out of respect. Out of awe.

"How did they do this?!" I said aloud, alone, to myself, like an idiot.

This handheld 3DS creates its effects through a process called parallax barrier. The game is played through a main DS screen. But there's another screen on top of that screen that points a game's full images at your left eye through one set of filters, and a slightly different view of filtered images at your right eye.

Your brain easily sees this as actual 3-D images in excellent depth.

I played and thought:

"If I were my nephew, Kyle, and I saw a friend playing the 3DS, I would not feel complete as a person without owning one.

"As an adult, if I saw someone playing the 3DS next to me, I would feel as if I wasted any game time I ever played on the Apple iPad or iPhone."

Built-in bonuses are considerable. There are three cameras in it. They're snap low-definition photos, but they're in 3-D. I took a picture of my face, and it was the first time in my life I've seen my head in 3-D. Scary. Amazing.

It comes with WiFi to play online multiplayer games; to surf online; and to download games from Nintendo. Also, your 3DS will find other nearby 3DS gamers, so you two can share one game to compete.

It's backwards compatible, so it will play old DS and DSi games, but not in 3-D. It has a beautiful widescreen. If you want to play a 3-D game in flat 2-D, just adjust a slider.

There's a gyroscope in it. When you're playing a game like "Steel Diver," a submarine-battleship bomber, you can stand up and spin 360 degrees, and the game will change your view as you spin, so you can see boats around you. Cool.

There are three caveats. Battery life is only two to five hours, depending on the game. The screen only works in 3-D. It's right in front of your face. But it's a handheld, so why wouldn't it be right in front of your face?

And it's $250. Not cheap.

Nintendo and movie studios plan to put out 3-D movies on the 3DS. Netflix plans to stream movies on it by summer.

So far, I've played "Madden NFL Football — 3DS," "Steel Diver," "Ridge Racer — 3DS," and "Street Fighter IV —3D Edition."

Their 3-D effects are excellent, from throwing a football to seeing racecar parts fly at your eyes during scrapes.

Next week, I'll review a slate of launch titles, as I continue to giggle like a boy at this eye-popping game-changer.

(Nintendo 3DS retails for $250 — Plays extremely fun. Looks great. Easy to challenging games. Four stars out of four.)

Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at http://www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.

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