Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Review: 3DS – 3D is the Key



Guest post by Nan Braun

Although brewing much controversy, 3D is the key killer feature for the new Nintendo 3DS. The hardware is beautiful and shiny (I got the Aqua), and the curved edges sit comfortably in your hands - but that is not a reason to upgrade. The real joy in my 3DS has been 3D, especially the 3D Augmented Reality. I have to admit that in my family of geeks, the new system has gotten mixed reactions - some of which surprised me...

My youngest step-son (11) - the biggest gaming enthusiast - was won over slowly. His first reaction was “Whoa, this is weird!” and he almost put it down. But he was just as intrigued and he was soon shooting dragons that were popping out of his knee and bargaining for more time on the system. He moved to Ridge Racer3D and thinks he can actually drive now. His older brother (13) was sold immediately and took the Street Fighter IV game for a wild run. My second daughter (16), a purposeful non-gamer, who retired her DS and her PSP years ago, picked it up and played for hours. She is enthralled with the 3D effects. Her favorite games are Face Raiders and Pilot Wings Resort, although she has put in some good time with the Ridge Racer3D game as well. My oldest Daughter (19), a long time DS and Mario fan picked it up and almost immediately put it back down again, declaring that she “hates it”. None of the other kids were too heartbroken to find out they would have more time to split amongst themselves.

Me? I am still boggling at the possibilities: both for gaming and real world application that the 3D AR brings to the table. I am not an AR newbie by any measurement, but had never found an AR application that really “hooked” me (Weather Reality on my Android probably comes the closest). The combination of 3D and AR is immediately engaging and Nintendo has done a great job of building example applications of how this could be leveraged for other games and applications.

Face Raiders gets users up and active. It surface maps pieces of the immediate environment onto game pieces in addition to a simple AR overlay approach. The AR Games, that are "?" card triggered, do the best job of showing off the full possibilities for game developers. They require full 360 interaction with the 3D AR images (targets behind or underneath part of the view). I am especially hoping that designers of puzzle and RPG type games are taking notes, as this could potentially push those genres to levels of interactivity that users had not previously dreamed of.

In the real world, I see potential for businesses (can you image a business card that launches an AR game or 3D view of a product?). As a bonus, the 3DS can be used as a pretty decent (although awkward) 3D camera in well lit environments. I have used it in my gardens as well as at a recent art show.

Summary? Thumbs up for great potential and immediate fun. Holding my breath with hope that Game Designers leverage this the way it deserves.

Buy Nintendo 3DS today.

Nan Braun has been working in the IT industry for over 2 decades, but has been a geek all her life. She attributes part of that to watching moon landings as a child, and part to the librarian who first pointed her in the direction of the science fiction section. She enjoys gadgets (OK, she is addicted), gaming, science fiction (in all media formats), beta testing and general tinkering. One of the highlights of 2010 for her was spending time at the Maker Faire in Detroit.

Nan has been an active blogger on different sites for nearly a decade and loves social media platforms. You can find Nan on twitter @roguepuppet and her current blog is at http://roguepuppet.blogspot.com.