3DS Hands-on Impressions From Limited Hands-on Time I visited the Nintendo 3DS DEMO kiosk and talked with the Nintendo representatives. What I have compiled are my random impressions of the 3DS for the 30+ minutes I was able to play with it. My first impression of the 3DS was that it is smaller then I would have expected. The whole unit feels more like a DS Lite or the original DSi. After using the DS XL for almost a year I was having a hard time getting use to the smaller form factor. Perhaps longer hands-on time with the unit would change my impressions, but right now I feel that where the XL feels comfortable the 3DS feels cramp. The aqua blue 3DS has a mirror like finish that attracts finger prints. The cosmo black 3DS is sleek and attractive yet both units look strange with a grey colored analog stick. The stylus tucks away into the top, towards the left of the unit, which is an odd placement, making it annoyingly difficult to grab for right handed users. The stylus retracts into a smaller size for storage but is still a bit too small when fully extended for adult hands. The Start, Select, and Home buttons are easy to press and attractively designed as they look like part of the shell. The SD door opens down and feels as secure as any plastic can be. Overall the entire unit felt somewhat heavy, very solid, and well built. The bottom touch screen is much smaller than I would have expected. To be completely honest I have not read much about the 3DS. I wanted my first impressions of the unit to be unbiased and free of Internet persuasion. I was a bit disappointed by the smaller size, but when the majority of the action is happening on the top screen the bottom screen size becomes irrelevant. However, if Homebrew becomes available on the 3DS I think that most users will have a hard time using the wider top screen in conjunction with a smaller bottom screen. These screens are most probably going to make older DS Homebrew feel strange and play with a bit of awkwardness. The top screen is wide, bright, and makes 3D and non-3D graphics look great. I was playing the unit outside and found that the plastic screen shields are very reflective. Once again it seems that low lighting and indoor play will be the best environments for gaming. The 3D effect has a definite sweet spot. When the slider is towards the bottom or the middle the sweet spot is directly in front of the eyes. When the slider is all the way to the top the sweet spot allows for a bit of front and back screen repositioning. If the 3DS is moved from side-to-side (the 3DS is rotated back-to-front) the 3D effect is lost almost instantly. The 3D is mostly limited to depth perception, it feels like you could “reach” into the screen. The animals in Nintendogs did seem to “pop” their heads out of the screen boundaries ever so slightly but nothing else jumped out at me. I visited the DEMO kiosk with 3 other people. 2 felt weak after playing with the 3DS for 20 minutes, and 1 person felt nauseated and had to stop playing after just a few minutes. I personally felt tired and my eyes needed a rest after looking away, but I did not feel sick or dizzy. I had hands on time with Steel Diver, Nintendogs + cats, Super Street Fighter IV, Pilotwings, Madden NFL Football, Asphalt 3D, the 3D camera, and one of the “augmented reality” cards. Steel Diver uses the motion controls of the 3DS, where you can physically move in a circle to move the action on the screen. The problem with this is that the more you move the 3DS the more you lose the 3D effect. You have to adjust your movements carefully while staying very rigid or the 3D effect is lost entirely. With SF IV I spent some time playing around with the analog stick and found that it was very sensitive; pressing “right” would come through as “up”, etc. The augmented reality card I played was the question mark box card. The game is a target game that unfolds until a dragon boss must be defeated. The card can be placed anywhere 14 inches away and enjoyed. The augmented reality was really well done and extremely fun to play, it felt like a game was unfolding on the top of the display table in full 3D. Those cards alone could be worth the price of the system, especially if companies continue to just release packs of cards with more mini-games. The 3D camera, which also worked really well, allows normal everyday images to be captured and saved in 3D. Besides the small stylus and its placement and the smaller bottom screen, I really did not like the directional pad placement. The d-pad has been moved down to make room for the analog stick. The analog stick has been placed a bit too high, and it makes using it something to get use to. The 3D looked great in most circumstances, and I’ve been told is even better in dark rooms. With the slider pushed all the way up some images rendered as double images instead of 3D images. The slider had to be continually adjusted while playing to get the right effect in all situations, but for the most part leaving it in the center did the trick. I’m excited for the 3DS and the future of Nintendo. This system is really special and Nintendo has managed to pull off the 3D effect without the use of glasses. Even if you are not interested in the 3DS at launch it will be a system to keep an eye on. I think some interesting things may come from this technology.