Nintendo 3DS Pre-launch Event

Nintendo 3DS Pre-launch Event

Saturday, February 5th, 10:30am

The Old Truman Brewery 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL

On a grey and overcast Saturday morning I arrived at the venue.  A queue had already formed. A few Nintendo 3DS representatives stood outside the entrance to the venue which wasn’t particularly big.  Aside from two banners secured on security barriers outside, there was little in the way of bravado – somewhat a low key affair.

Upon entering, the fortunate group of around thirty of us were admitted with blue wristbands secured on our wrists.  Climbing the stairs to the first floor we were ushered in by the female 3DS reps (of which there were many) and upon presenting our tickets were directed to the holding area – of which there was a pyramid on display within which was a projection of the 3DS logo, followed by a line of Nintendo handhelds past to present with a brief history.  At the end of this display was a screen with Shigeru Miyamoto saying something I couldn’t quite make out – no doubt pimping the latest product.

A  female rep led us into a darkened area.  She hinted at some of the cool features the 3DS will allow owners to do, such as connectivity – imagine you have a Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition in your 3DS and while out, you pass a stranger with the same game on their 3DS.  Unbeknown to you, your Mii characters will fight each other for experience points so when you next open up your 3DS it will inform you who you fought and who won and the level of experience gained.  After listening to her she point to the floor. Upon the floor was the Nintendo 3DS logo illuminated and ten people were asked to step onto this light square floor mat.  Provided you weren’t wearing trainers, the light projections in the form of the 3DS squares latched onto your feet and tracked wherever you walked on the mat.  As part of the second group on, a number of us failed to light up the magic squares due to our footwear – gimmicky yes but part of the build up to what we were about to witness and experience.

Our first stop was in front of an age old temple.  We were told to wait here.  The Street Fighter music kicked in and out of the shadows emerged Ryu, followed by Ken.  The audience were treated to a visual display of their face off with some impressive acrobatic wire free moves alas no actual fireballs or dragon punches were landed.

At the next juncture we came to a dark holding area.  Then out in front of us a young woman dressed in a red top and denim shorts with a knife upon her shoulder introduced herself as Claire Redfield.  Chris Redfield then popped out and introduced himself.  We were warned by Claire in her American accent that the next area was not secure but that she and Chris would see our safe passage through as that we didn’t come into contact with those with the T-Virus.  We were told to place our hand in front of the person in front and in ten’s were sent through a group at a time.

Upon entering the zone, zombies tried to attack us while Claire and Chris fended them off.  We were quickly told to rush on through so as not to meet our demise.  We managed to make it into the next section – to our relief.

Thus we reached another room – this time it a white room.  Two screens greeted us.  We were treated to video demos of upcoming releases for the 3DS – some launch titles like Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and others to be confirmed such as PES 2011.  Then Jonathan Woss appeared to say how revolutionary the 3DS is, what stellar titles we were to look forward to and how cool the 3DS was with regards to its functionality such as the use of the 3D camera.  At the end of the presentation we were ushered into the first demo room which was dark.  3DS’s lined up the walls and we were free to roam and try out some of the new titles that will be greeting us next month.

The first game I tried was Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition.  This can be played in two modes – regular or 3D mode but I stuck with the former.  The graphics of SSFIV look amazing on the 3DS with clear crisp bright colours and seeing the backgrounds and animated fighters brought to life in comparison with the on the Xbox 360 was amazing.  Pulling off moves was made easy with the use of the circle pad.  After winning my match, I moved onto Zelda: OOT.

I haven’t played this title since my N64 days despite owning the GC iterations.  Playing the new revamped version stirred fond memories.  I started out just running around Kokiri Forest, slashing grass for hidden rupees and breaking out pots.  The enhanced 3DS version really is a sight to see and more of a pleasure to play.

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D looked great in comparison to the Xbox 360 version although I hadn’t a clue how the buttons were mapped and my aiming was far from perfect, opting most of the time to shoot the feet of the oncoming zombies.  It was pretty fluid and smooth to play.

Alas I didn’t get the opportunity to experience other games in this sector since we were asked to move into the next (and final) room while the next group behind took their places to experience the 3DS for themselves.

The final area was brighter and bigger.  A number of netbooks adorned one corner of the room where we were able to log into facebook or Twitter and post our experiences.  But more games were available to try with some units just running demos.

AR Games (Augmented Reality Games) which is bundled with the 3DS is really a great game to showcase what the 3DS is really all about.  Angling the 3DS at 30 degrees to a Nintendo card placed on a flat surface, some 30 odd centimetres away from the card, you use the 3DS screen to viewfind the card.  Once locked on and by simply pressing A button, the card through the 3DS screen distorts and out emerges a yellow cube, out of which targets appear and in order to shoot them, you have to move around with the 3DS focused on the object in order to successfully shoot the targets facing all sorts of directions.

If that wasn’t cool, what happened next was mightily impressive.  A fire breathing Dragon emerged from the card rearing its ugly head.  The aim this time was to shoot each part of its neck and head to freeze it into stone.  It has to be played to be believed but the faces of those that I saw play it was that of sheer amazement.

Tech demos on 3DS set up showed off Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Paper Mario (looks great), Star Fox 64 3D (such awesome memories and looking lush) and Metal Gear Solid 3DS (just movie cut scenes brought to life).

I had a go of Nintendogs & cats which is cute but the title didn’t impress me as much as it did on the original DS for some reason.  Less pixelly, smoother and cute is all I can say of this – no doubt it has its fans but it didn’t move me as much as other titles.

Playing around with the 3D camera function was easy but be warned – it doesn’t work so well in dark areas.  The images captured and transformed into 3D really don’t do it any justice.  The grainy effect reminded me of the original GameBoy Pocket Camera.

Mii Maker was the Wii function in 3D.  Face Raiders was just freaky – not bad if you want to shoot the likes of people you dislike provided you can take a shot of their mug but this is gimmicky at best.

I asked a few questions of a Nintendo rep there as I was interested to know whether the StreetPass function would work with other 3DS’s from other territories.  For instance if I was to purchase a UK 3DS with Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, would it communicate with a US 3DS with the same US version of the game while I was out in NYC on holiday.  This was confirmed by a yes following brief consultation with a Nintendo bod.  That being the case, would I actually buy a UK Nintendo console for the first time since the SNES?  With pre-orders available for the 3DS at less than £200 (RRP £230), it’s certainly making me consider plumping for a Cosmo Black version (which, when I asked one Nintendo rep which colour she’d go for, she immediately smiled and said black for sure).