Nintendo 3DS Launch: South Africa

Hans and the Nintendo 3DSThe Nintendo 3DS was officially launched last night in South Africa.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend and be one of the first people in the country to play with Nintendo’s latest portable device.

My first hands-on impressions of the Nintendo 3DS and a general overview of the spectacular launch party are right after the jump!

Official Nintendo 3DS Logo

The official South African launch event for the Nintendo 3DS was held at La Toscana in Monte Casino last night. I must say, I was impressed.

Nintendo South Africa seemed to pull out all of the stops for the 3DS launch with soothing lighting, crazy visuals, Cirque Du Soleil-esque performers (believe it), an open bar, hot 3DS demo girls (and guys) and, of course, the chance to play with the Nintendo 3DS itself!

Nintendo 3DS South African Launch - EntranceNintendo 3DS South African Launch - Hans Haupt holding a 3DSNintendo 3DS South African Launch - Acrobatic DancersNintendo 3DS South African Launch - 3DS Launch BabesNintendo 3DS South African Launch - Host Jason Greer & Nintendo Europe Director of Marketing & PRNintendo 3DS South African Launch - 3DS Launch BabeNintendo 3DS South African Launch - 3DS Launch CrewNintendo 3DS South African Launch - 3DS Launch Crew

This event was probably one of the best product launch events I have been to – kudos to the organisers, you did a really fantastic job *High Five*. However, as good as the performances, food and bodacious 3DS models were, the star of the show was none other than the Nintendo 3DS… *Cue promotional video*

Official Nintendo 3DS launch reel (South Africa 2011)

Truth be told, I was skeptical about the device’s capabilities. Having read a lot about Parallax Barriers (the 3D tech used in the 3DS) I was mentally convinced that Nintendo would not be able to pull off a satisfying portable 3D experience. Boy was I mistaken!

Nintendo 3DS - 3D, without the need for glasses

Although I may not be an audio visual expert, I do believe that I have a fair amount of experience with the current iteration of 3D technology available in the marketplace today (I have a gorgeous 63 inch active shutter glasses Full HD 3D television that I use daily). With that said, I believe that Nintendo has done a sterling job with the 3DS. There is really something beautiful about being able to enjoy 3-Dimensional content without the need for any additional attachments or peripherals.

In terms of 3D, the 3DS uses a Parallax Barrier screen to provide a 3-Dimensional effect:

A parallax barrier is a device placed in front of an image source, such as a liquid crystal display, to allow it to show a stereoscopic image without the need for the viewer to wear 3D glasses. Placed in front of the normal LCD, it consists of a layer of material with a series of precision slits, allowing each eye to see a different set of pixels, so creating a sense of depth through parallax in an effect similar to what lenticular printing produces for printed products. A disadvantage of the technology is that the viewer must be positioned in a well defined spot to experience the 3D effect.

(Wikipedia 2011)

Nintendo 3DS South African Launch - Resident Evil 4 in 3DThe only other device I have used with a Parallax Barrier screen is Fujitsu’s FinePix REAL 3D camera. Of course that was about a year ago and although the technology worked, it was still very much in its infancy (it still is actually) and was more of a gimmick than a functional improvement. The same cannot be said for Nintendo’s 3DS.

Although the Nintendo 3DS still suffers from some of the same drawbacks associated with parallax barriers, most notably with regards to poor viewing angles (goodbye screen sharing), the 3D effect provided by the device was exceptionally good. In fact, I was taken aback by how well it functioned.

Nintendo 3DS South African Launch - Using the 3DS while movingEach and every unit I used, including the first device I picked up and inadvertently “broke” by unintentionally placing it into development mode by pressing the ‘home’ button (turns out the 3DS demo units were exactly that, demo units), provided a great 3D experience. Just as long as you kept the unit fairly still and within about 30 centimeters from your face; like under normal operating practices. However, I did find that any sudden jolts or moving the device further than about a rulers length away from your direct line of sight, would result in a loss of the 3D effect and cause a weird cross eyed feeling as your eyes try to adjust to “what the heck just happened”.

Although the 3D effect is very good and remains quite constant, I am still bothered by the small viewing angle within which the 3D sweet spot lies. Granted it does not make much of an impact if you are sitting or standing still, but it remains to be seen how well this 3D effect will be able to perform when one uses the device while travelling. After all, this is what a portable gaming device is all about. Thankfully the 3DS does have a 3D-Slider which allows one to turn the 3D effect off completely or boost the effect to its maximum.

Despite the issue of a 3D sweet spot, the size of the device and the enlarged 16:8 formatted screen, made the overall game playing experience both worthwhile and intensely pleasurable. In fact it made each and every game on display feel fresh and ‘alive’, whether the games were new or simply 3D remakes. In my short experience with the device, I would place the graphical fidelity of the 3DS to be roughly equivalent to that of the Nintendo Wii.

Nintendo 3DS - Closed TopNintendo 3DS - Take and edit 3D Photographs

The twin 3D cameras and the internal face camera allow for some pretty cool “on the fly” morphing effects in both games and general use. However, things really become interesting when the cameras are used for more than just taking and editing photographs.

Possibly one of the coolest aspects of the 3DS is the devices ability to merge an augmented reality scenario with a 3-Dimensional experience. A perfect example of this is the demo of how the 3DS turned an ordinary playing card, which was emblazoned with a yellow box and a question mark, into a fully fledged game playing experience. The opportunities for this kind of a setup are limitless. I cannot tell you how excited I am about the possibility of an augmented reality 3D Pokémon game. Just the thought gives me a geekasm! This is the future of gaming!

Nintendo 3DS South African Launch - Kyle Holshausen testing out Augmented Reality on the Nintendo 3DS.Nintendo 3DS South African Launch - Messing around with the Dual 3D camerasNintendo 3DS South African Launch -3DS Babe showing us how Augmented Reality works on the Nintendo 3DS.3DS Nintendogs - Augmented Reality

Although my time with the device was short, the experience has been long lasting. In a way, Nintendo has spoiled me. For when I look at my phone or any of my other portable devices, I cannot help but wish that they too could have 3D screens. In short, I will most probably end up buying one on launch day and when I do I will offer my personal verdict on whether or not it is worth owning.

For those who are interested, the Nintendo 3DS will officially go on sale in South Africa on Friday 25th March 2011 – just three weeks from today – for a suggested pocket busting retail price of R2799. Yes, that price is quite steep. You could buy an Xbox 360 4GB (R2399) or even a Nintendo Wii (R2499) and an accompanying game for that price. Games for the 3DS are similarly priced and are suggested to sell for about R499 each. I thought it would be worth mentioning that the Nintendo 3DS will retail for about $250 in the USA and between £150 – £230 in the UK (depending on the retailer).

A variety of games will be available at launch with over 30 games being made available for the Nintendo 3DS between 25th March 2011 and June 2011.

Nintendo 3DS South African Launch - Street Fighter IV 3DNintendo 3DS South African Launch - 3rd Party developers like the 3DS.Nintendo 3DS South African Launch - Dead or Alive 3DNintendo 3DS South African Launch - Street Fighter IV 3DNintendo 3DS South African Launch - Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D

Personally, I really like the Nintendo 3DS and I believe Nintendo have done a fine job of, once again, redefining the mobile gaming arena. However, do not just take my word for it. Make a plan and head on over to Skoobs in Monte Casino anytime from 16:00 (4pm) until 20:00 (8pm) today for a sneak peek and some hands-on action with the Nintendo 3DS!

I hope you all enjoyed this post and I look forward to hearing your comments about the device.

I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to everyone who contributed towards allowing me to be a part of such a fun filled event. Thank you!

Until the next time Milieunairs!

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