“It’s only been a few short months since the release of the DSi XL, but Nintendo is about ready to move forward with its next generation gaming handheld: the 3DS. Not much has been made official on the system, but we’re getting ready for Nintendo to take the wraps off its device in the coming days. For now, though, here’s a list of facts (and a bit of speculation) that have been revealed about the 3DS system.
Keep in mind that this will be a dynamic and organic feature, constantly changing and evolving as Nintendo offers more about the system as we get closer to this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in mid-June 2010.
What is the 3DS?
The 3DS is Nintendo’s current name for its successor to the Nintendo DS handheld gaming platform. The brand is tentative and possibly just a project title. However, registered trademarks have surfaced suggesting that the 3DS name may stick as its final name.
The official “hook” with the 3DS will be its ability to display stereoscopic 3D effects – similar to theatrical movies such as Avatar and How to Train Your Dragon — on the screen (or screens) but without the need for special glasses.
When was the 3DS announced?
The 3DS was revealed by Nintendo on March 23, 2010 in a brief statement to the press, just prior to the North American launch of the DSi XL on March 28, 2010.
When will 3DS be released?
No official release date has been revealed beyond Nintendo’s statement that it will be available in Japan by the end of the company’s fiscal year: March 2011. The system could be released earlier than March 2011.
How much will the 3DS cost?
No official price has been revealed, but expect it to be within the price range of current handheld costs. In North America, the Nintendo DS Lite is currently $129.99, the DSi is currently $169.99, and the DSi XL is $189.99. To remain competitive, expect the cost of the 3DS to fall under $200 in the US, with the current generation of handhelds to receive price drops in preparation of the 3DS arrival.
How powerful is the 3DS?
Nintendo has not revealed any specs for the 3DS system, but expect it to well surpass the Nintendo DS in visual and processor capabilities. To provide stereoscopic 3D effects the system must have the ability to render each game field twice, one for each of the player’s eyes, a technique that will require significant horsepower to produce.
Several developers that have experienced 3DS in its current form have reported, off the record, that it has processing capabilities that far exceed the Nintendo Wii and bring the device with abilities that are close to HD consoles such as PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
According to several developer sources, the 3DS device is not using the NVIDIA Tegra mobile chipset, a rumor that’s been floating around since 2009.
How will the 3D work on 3DS?
There are a variety of ways that this effect can be achieved. The 3DS system will likely employ technology that sends two individual images to the left and right eyes of the player. With each screen displaying the same image slightly off-set, the system will force the brain to interpret depth in the same way it does with natural depth perception.
Nintendo has not revealed which company is supplying the 3D screen technology, but it’s expected that Sharp, the current provider of LCD screens for the Nintendo DS, is supplying the 3D displays for the 3DS portable. The company revealed, just a week after Nintendo’s 3DS announcement, its portable 3D screen technology.
Nintendo has ensured that gamers will have the ability to turn on and off the 3D effect. Off the record sources indicate that the system will have user control over the 3D effect to make it more or less intense.
What else will the 3DS be able to do?
Apart from standard DS compatible capabilities and its 3D stereoscopic display, not much is known about the 3DS system’s extra abilities. Reports in Japan suggest the system will feature an analog stick similar in function to current generation console controls, as well as vibration for in-game “rumble.” There is also the potential for accelerometers – similar tech to what’s in the Wii remote for motion-sensing capabilities.
Which companies are making games for 3DS?
Nintendo has not revealed the publishers or developers who are currently developing on 3DS hardware.
Several publishers and developers have reported interest in working on 3DS, including SEGA, Tecmo, Square Enix, and Level-5.
Is the 3DS backward compatible?
According to Nintendo, the 3DS will be backward compatible with the Nintendo DSi. To ensure compatibility, the system will most likely retain internal and external cameras of the Nintendo DSi and have the ability to download software straight to solid state storage inside the handheld, as well as feature the standard D-pad and buttons input, touch screen functions, and microphone, and have two screen display.
Just as the Nintendo DSi removed the Game Boy Advance slot from the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite design, do not expect GBA cartridge compatibility with 3DS.
Standard DS games will likely not have the ability to be displayed in stereoscopic 3D on the 3DS. DS games will likely only be displayed in standard 2D.
What will the 3DS look like?
Nintendo has not revealed the look of the 3DS. As previously mentioned, expect a similar formfactor of the Nintendo DSi to ensure compatibility with previous Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi titles.
A submission by hardware manufacturer Mitsumi revealed what could possibly be developer hardware for the 3DS. In this submission, it appears that the top display will be a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, with the lower screen retaining the standard 4:3 aspect ratio.
Will the 3DS improve the Nintendo online experience?
Nintendo has not revealed anything related to the local or Wi-Fi capabilities of the 3DS.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata did, late last year, go on the record admiring the Kindle strategy of persistent online for handheld device. With Kindle, Amazon had partnered with Sprint to allow free use of the phone service provider’s data network for downloading of books. It is not known whether this strategy will be a part of the 3DS experience.
When will more information be revealed on 3DS?
Nintendo will kick off its full announcement of the 3DS at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Ca. June 14-17, 2010. Nintendo’s press conference — expected to at least reveal more details on the system, kicks off at 9am on June 15th.”