Leave it to Nintendo to succeed where Hollywood has failed. For the past year, everyone in the movie industry had been talking about 3D. All our movies are being released in 3D, all our best filmmakers are either shooting or considering 3D and it seems that only one thing is between the third dimension in film going and total domination: Those pesky glasses. Well, at E3 2010 in Los Angeles, California, Nintendo introduced the Nintendo 3DS. It’s just your run of the mill, even your baby sister has one, Nintendo DS portable gaming system with one major difference. It displays 3D without the glasses.
I waited over an hour to play with the Nintendo 3DS and then an additional hour to play the most anticipated Wii game of 2011, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. And that was just the beginning of an important Wednesday at E3. Hit the jump for more and don’t forget to check our our extensive gallery and coverage from Tuesday.
Before I decided Nintendo would take up the bulk of my day, I decided to look around and get a better idea of what was going on on the floor. Upon walking in, I noticed the line to play the new Mortal Kombat was insanely long. The trailer showed why: an updated version of the game with zoom ins on breaking bones and brutal fatalities. I promise to wait tomorrow for a full report.
The new Castlavania: Lords of Shadow had an impressive crowd and gorgeous graphics to go along with it as did Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, which sorta looked like Call of Duty if it were set in a gangland.
The MTV Games/Harmonix booth caught my eye next and besides full band demos of Rock Band 3 (more of the same, but now with a keyboard) the main attraction was Dance Central. After yesterday’s sort of hard criticism of the Microsoft Kinect, this was the first 3rd party application of the hardware I saw and I was much more impressed. Dance Central is basically Rock Band meets Dance Dance Revolution but with no controllers. The Kinect just follows your body as you mimic a dancer on screen. You can play with a bunch of people, the full game with have a huge set list and I think this game is going to be a massive hit for X-Box.
Now, it was time to walk over to Nintendo. First was The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. An hour wait preceded entering a large space with about 25 plasma screens all running a specially created E3 only demo of the game, each with your own personal assistant. A station opened and I was escorted over. If you played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess when the Wii first launched, you have a pretty good idea of what Skyward Sword is going to look like. Even several months from release, the graphics are almost on par with that game, so I’m sure it’ll look even better at release.
The main difference/upgrade this time around is now you have much more control over Link. Your Wii Nunchuck acts primarily as your shield; your Wiimote, your sword. So while fighting, you lift the Nunchuck up to block and slash or stab with the Wiimote as the sword mimics your movements. Then each little item has its own unique control. If you have a bomb, you can heave your Wiimote to throw it overhand, or roll it underhand. For the bow and arrow, you press the C button to engage and then draw it back before firing. It might sound complicated but, once you get your hands on it, it’s really not.
I was worried that all this movement was going to be too much to handle, especially coming from a PS3 most of the time. However, I must say, the movements were pretty darn fun. All the slashing and dashing take a little getting used to, but in the boss battles, it really felt like you were fighting and it added a whole new psychological level to playing the game. I had to aim my sword to hit that skeleton. So, after my 10 minute demo ended, I walked away very happy with my experience.
It was time for the 3DS. Now, like most of you, I had only heard about it before I got into the long queue so I really didn’t know what to expect. Nintendo wisely had several very attractive girls walking up and down the line with a unit in hand showing people what they could expect when they got up to the front. What this did was sort of curb your initial shock so once you got to the demo stage, you could really take it out for a spin. The first footage I saw was of all your favorite Nintendo characters – Mario, Samus, Link, etc. – in full 3D, just standing there. I used the control pad to rotate around to look at them. Then, the demo changes to a bunch of photo real images of glass breaking, corks popping, plants budding and other simple images.
Now, here’s how to describe how all this works. When you think 3D, you think layers, but you also think of things popping out at you. The 3DS doesn’t do that. Instead, it makes it feel like your screen is several inches deeper than the back of the DS. The screen is still the closest point, but it feels like it goes way back. Depth. It’s all about depth.
So, knowing what I was up against, I finally got to the demo stage. The way Nintendo decided to do this was get about 100 models, each armed with a 3DS showing different things, all in row. You just find an open one, walk up to them, and either watch a demo, a movie trailer, or play a game, for about 15 minutes before getting kicked off for the next group.
The first thing I experienced was the trailer for Tangled, the upcoming 3D Disney animated movie. The shots had depth, as I said, but what struck me about this was the image quality. It looked a little pixilated but, the image was way better than a cell phone. It probably looked slightly worse than a hi-res movie on your iPhone. Next, I was asked to point into the back of the 3DS as one of the models snapped my picture. But it looked all blurry. This was where I finally experienced the genius of the 3D slide on the top right of the machine. This button can make anything you are watching or playing totally flat, or it adjusts the polarity of the 3D image so that it’s comfortable for your eyes. A little adjusting and I was pointing right out of the screen.
Next, I got my first taste of a game on the 3DS – DJ Hero 3D. Probably not the best example as the game itself is kind of static looking, but imaging any music game you play with the fret going way into the back of the screen. It looked like that. I had a blast mixing California Love with Beautiful Girls. Another lovely lady implored me to look at her demo of 20 classic NES and SNES games that would be convereted to 3D for the 3DS. Wow. While flat side scrollers like Super Mario Bros., Metroid and Kid Icarus had some depth, games like Punch Out and Super Mario World really looked awesome and deep. Punch Out in particular was great because the ring is angled toward the back of the screen, and that plays really well into the 3D. I then played Samuari Warrior 3D, a working title, and had to try to kill 50 enemies in under a minute. I wouldn’t buy this game if you paid me but actually moving around a 3D space was interesting. What I noticed here, though, was that unless you are looking DIRECTLY INTO the 3DS, the image gets fuzzy. So if you are someone who plays games and moves around a lot, the 3DS is not going to be your favorite system. You have to be a little more careful with it. Also, your friends aren’t gonna get the same experience looking over your shoulder.
The last thing I demoed, or rather watched cause you couldn’t play it, was Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater. The graphics looked just beyond words for a handheld and with the 3D, I realized I might just have to buy a 3DS when they come out at a yet to be determined date.
And, just to hammer the point home of how incredible – albeit it flawed – that little piece of hardware is, here’s my final story for Wednesday at E3. On my way out, I stopped by the PlayStation 3D station. Huge flat screens with incredible looking games like MotorStorm Apocalypse, Wipeout HD and MLB 2010 The Show…all with funny glasses that you needed to put on. Now, don’t get my wrong, once you did put them on, the games looked insane, but Nintendo really has created a modern miracle with their 3DS. I’m curious to see how it changes the game not only for games, but movies as well.
Thursday is the last day of E3 and I’ll do my best to bring you info on Mortal Kombat, Gran Turismo 5, Fallout: New Vegas and more.