Nintendo 3DS: what the future holds

One person that spent perhaps more time than most play-testing the new 3DS at E3 this year was Neil Long, Editor of Official Nintendo Magazine.

"Nintendo have got form when it comes to industry-changing technology, but for me the 3DS has the potential to outstrip anything the company has achieved before," Long told TechRadar.

"Picking up the handheld and looking into that 3D top screen is another 'wow' moment similar to playing Wii Sports for the first time – you get the very real sense that Nintendo have somehow nicked a time-travelling DeLorean and smuggled its new tech back from the far-flung future. Besides the headline-grabbing 3D screen, for me what's most interesting is how its other functionality will offer developers some really interesting toys to play with.

3DS at e3: nintendo won the pr battle at this year's trade event

3DS AT E3: Nintendo won the PR battle at this year's trade event

"The console's accelerometer and gyroscope open the door to tilt and motion-controlled games, and one augmented reality tech demo I saw offered up a genuinely jaw-dropping glimpse of what might be done in this space as well. Its ability to take (and, knowing Nintendo, play with) 3D photos is another feature that has been a little glossed-over.

"And then there's its always-on Wi-Fi and 3D movies as well," adds the Nintendo magazine editor. Not to mention those aforementioned 70-odd new games in development. "Make no mistake, 3DS is going to be huge and I'm desperate to know when it's coming and how much it'll cost."

From NES to Virtual Boy to 3DS

Nintendo's platform producer of the Nintendo 3DS, Hideki Konno (perhaps best known as producer on Nintendogs and Mario Kart) is the man responsible for making sure that the new handheld is well-supported by plenty of games from the many other publishers and developers in the industry, something that Nintendo has been criticised for failing at in the past.

Konno originally started working for Nintendo back in 1988 on Super Mario Bros 2, and told recently that Nintendo has been doing these 3D experiments, "for a very long time, starting from the NES era," adding that they had, "also tried with the Virtual Boy" and had even been considering making a 3D version of Luigi's Mansion for GameCube back in the early noughties.

Nintendo's virtual boy: a failed attempt at 3d gaming from the 1990s

NINTENDO'S VIRTUAL BOY: A failed attempt at 3D gaming from the 1990s

Interesting stuff, for sure (particularly for the Nintendo fanboys out there). But looking to the future how do British games developers think 3DS games might be incorporated or married with other new emerging technologies?

"Well, in addition to the Stereoscopic-3D-without-glasses capability and its upgraded processing power, the 3DS also already has some of the new technologies including a stereo camera, tilt sensors and a gyroscope," Blitz Games CTO and founder Andrew Oliver told TechRadar.

"These will undoubtedly lead to some very interesting possibilities for future gameplay but are unlikely to be seen in the first wave of games."

Core versus casual

One persistent theme that comes out in the gaming forum debates over the relative merits of new gaming control schemes and display technologies such as Microsoft Kinect, Sony PlayStation Move and Nintendo 3DS is this idea that the console companies are somehow pandering to the 'casual' market at the expense of the traditional hardcore gamer.

Since E3 back in June, there has been quite a lot of antipathy expressed from the more vociferous hardcore gamers in online forums towards Kinect/Move/3DS – suggesting these things are 'gimmicky' and something that only casual (i.e. not 'proper') gamers will value.

"On the contrary," argues Blitz's Andrew Oliver. "As far as the 3DS goes I think it will be welcomed by both core and casual gamers – not least because of the stellar line-up of games announced by Nintendo at E3.

"As the first 3D screen on the market which does not require glasses, and given the rapturous reaction from those people who have actually experienced 3DS gameplay, we expect a range of hugely exciting games to go down very well with all sectors of the audience."

We hope Oliver is correct in his predictions, as does Nintendo (obviously), and with lauded developers such as Kid Icarus director Masahiro Sakurai, who is bringing the vintage Nintendo hit to the 3DS for lauch on board, it is clear that the Japanese gaming giant is looking to keep its hardcore fans happy.


Liked this? Then check out Hands on: Nintendo 3DS review

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Adam Hartley