PAX East 2011: Nintendo 3DS Hands-On First Impressions

With the release of Nintendo’s brand-spankin’ new handheld imminent on the horizon, it was only fair to assume it’d be at this year’s PAX East. I was really happy when I found that my assumptions were correct, as Nintendo had its launch line-up of games out in full force, including the new Kid Icarus and the 3DS release of the classic Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

And while I was anxious to check out these games, what was more important was checking out the Nintendo 3DS itself and seeing how it stacks up against the Nintendo DS, which has been my portable gaming console of choice for quite some time.

Given only a few short minutes to play Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, I immediately had a lot of impressions of the system. Firstly, I was happy to discover that it’s not much different than a DS or DSi, both in how it felt in my hands and how it looked.

The device itself is around the same size, with the top screen much bigger than a DS or DSi but smaller than the DSi XL. The joystick is a welcome addition to the device, and functions much better than any joystick I’ve ever used on the PSP.

Now to discuss the 3D, which I’m sure you’re anxious to hear about. It is impressive. It’s most comparable to holograms, but because the images move, it’s a lot more advanced and substantial. I never felt dizzy looking at the screen, it just takes a few minutes to get used to, just like watching a 3D movie in the theater.

The only thing to remember is that there is a spot right in the middle of the screen where your eyes need to focus on for the 3D to function 100%. Looking at the device from the left or right is like watching a 3D movie without glasses on, so if you’re anxious at PAX East to look over someone’s shoulder to check out the 3D instead of waiting in line, it’s not really going to work out.

I’m someone who believes that 3D may be a gimmick for film, but once experiencing 3D on the PS3 at San Diego Comic Con last summer, I’m convinced it’s going to be around for the long haul in the gaming world.

The 3DS is an impressive handheld that definitely takes everything great about both portables and 3D gaming and combines them into one awesome handheld device. And while it’s technology I’m sure I don’t need right now, I still very, very much want it.

If you’re at the con, be sure to check out the Capcom booth, where the lines are much shorter for some 3DS hands-on gameplay experience.

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