Nintendo, the world’s largest portable video-game player company, has just unveiled the world’s first 3D handheld games console – the Nintendo 3DS – at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles last night after months of buzz and Internet rumors.
Unlike the latest 3D televisions and cinema screens, the 3D effect on Nintendo’s device can be viewed without the need to wear special glasses. The 3DS comes equipped with two screens – one 3D screen and one touchscreen – a motion sensor, a gyro sensor, and analogue pad and a 3D depth slider so players can toggle between 3D and 2D screen settings. The device also comes equipped with two cameras which allow its user to take 3D pictures.
At Nintendo’s packed press conference yesterday on the first day of the E3 expo, the world’s largest video game trade show, the Japanese gaming giant’s president Satoru Iwata showed off the new dual-screen handheld device.
Nintendo said its 3DS will be capable of showing the latest crop of Hollywood’s 3D blockbusters on its 3.5-inch screen, with deals already struck with Disney, Warner Brothers and Dreamworks. The newly-released animated film How To Train Your Dragon was shown on demonstrator models.
Improving the hardware specifications of Nintendo’s best-selling DS handheld, the new 3DS gets improved graphics, a slide pad controller for more intuitive control and an internal gyroscope and motion sensor – like Apple’s iPhone.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata unveiled the 3DS alongside a planned list of launch titles for the device, by both Nintendo and third party developers. Third party developers included Ubisoft, EA, Konami, Square Enix and Capcom.
Iwata said 3DS owners could expect titles from the Final Fantasy, Assassin’s Creed, Fifa, Street Fighter and Metal Gear Solid franchises. He also said that the new console would be able to play titles made for the Nintendo DSi.
To create the 3D effect the Nintendo 3DS uses a device called a parallax barrier. This is a second LCD screen that sits over the main viewing panel that consists of a layer of material with a series of precision slits, allowing each eye to see a different set of pixels, so creating a sense of 3D depth.
It works well providing the user sits in a fixed point in front of the image but does not work when viewed from an angle. A slider at the side of the device lets users choose the intensity of the 3D display, from an extreme ‘in your face’ experience to a more subtle effect. The 3DS is also capable of creating its own 3D images. Two lenses on the back of the console allow it to take and view 3D photographs.
Nintendo didn’t say how much the 3DS would cost or when it will be available. But Iwata didn’t sound worried about a price barrier and noted that Nintendo has long been in the business of marketing products that appeal to the mass market.
The 3DS unveiling follows reports of the device which were leaked onto the internet a few days before E3 began. USA Today and gaming website Kotaku reported design specifications published by a Chinese blogger who claimed to be in possession of a Nintendo 3DS development kit.
When the company launched the Wii in the fall of 2006 at $250, the console easily sold online for months at more than the retail price. The new device and game updates are part of an effort by Nintendo to stay ahead of its rivals by sticking to what it knows best — video games. Meanwhile, Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. are working to expand the reach of their consoles beyond gaming, marketing them as all-in-one entertainment hubs.
So far, Nintendo’s strategy has paid off. The company has sold at least 70.9 million Wiis, compared with over 40 million Microsoft’s Xbox 360 consoles and 35.7 million Sony’s PlayStation 3s. [Nintendo via Daily Mail (UK) and BBC]