We went to Amsterdam to bring you all the latest and greatest on Nintendo's brand-new 3DS from the lavish launch event, so read on for the juicy details and our hands-on impressions of this multi-talented little console!
As we told you yesterday, the official UK launch date is the 25th of March 2011, with prices in Europe left to the discretion of retailers but likely to be around £220 minimum (for the US it's the 27th, with a confirmed price of $249.99).
There's an impressive line-up of games, most of which were playable at the unveiling. Among these is a number of firsts: Konami's PES 2011 3D is the world's first 3D football title (not counting the ability to play almost any PC game in stereoscopic 3D with the appropriate Nvidia or AMD graphics card, glasses and monitor for more on which you should have a read of our 3D Vision Gaming System review).
Meanwhile Dead or Alive Dimensions is the first DOA on a handheld console. Team Ninja's Yosuke Hayashi clarified that they had been planning to put the fighter on a handheld "for some time", but that the 3DS is the first portable console to make it possible thanks to its powerful graphics. And after our hands-on time with the game, we can only agree.
But before getting carried away with the games, let's check out the console itself. As you can tell from our comparison shots, the dimensions of the 3DS are almost identical to those of the DS Lite, making it just about pocketable. It will initially be available in Black and Aqua, both of which are very attractive. Unlike the DS Lite, the 3DS is glossy inside and out, but though it does show off fingerprints far more than we'd like, at least the finish feels very durable.
Of course, the main talking point of the 3DS is its 3.5in top screen, which allows for hassle-free 3D! Due to its use of lenticular technology, you don't need to put on glasses as required by most 3D TVs (like the active and passive sets used on the Sony Bravia KDL-40NX713 and LG 47LD950 respectively). However, the trade-off of Nintendo's implementation is that the screen's horizontal resolution is effectively halved, leaving you with 400x240 pixels.
Depending on the software, we found the 3D effect to be truly impressive. In DOA, for example, it genuinely added to the immersiveness of the game. Viewing angles were surprisingly good as well, with about 50 degrees of leeway before you started seeing 'double', i.e. the two images the 3DS is generating to create the 3D illusion.
If the 3D effect bothers you or your eyes are too tired to cope, worry not. A handy switch at the side of the screen turns it down or even off, so you're left with a 'normal' 2D display. Even without 3D, the screen is still impressive. It's not iPhone 4 quality, of course, but nevertheless looks sharp and crisp, with rich colours and decent contrast. Viewing angles are also impressive, with only slight contrast shift beyond 60 degrees.
To go with its 3D screen, the 3DS has twin cameras, allowing you to take 3D photos and video, which you can then view in all their glory on the screen. It also allows for some nifty virtual/augmented reality games.