The Nintendo 3DS is an upcoming portable game console by Nintendo, which can produce “3D effects without the need for any special glasses.” Scheduled for release in the fiscal year ending March 2011, the portable will succeed the Nintendo DS series of handhelds, which primarily shares the handheld console market with Sony’s PSP (PlayStation Portable). The Nintendo 3DS will feature backward compatibility with Nintendo DS series software, including Nintendo DSi software.
Announcing the device on March 23, 2010, Nintendo plans to announce additional details at the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), scheduled for June 15–17, when the company will invite people to play with the console. According to industry analysts, the timing of Nintendo’s announcement, which has drawn attention away from the launch of the company’s still-new Nintendo DSi XL handheld, was likely intended to preempt impending news leaks about the product by the Japanese press.
The Nintendo 3DS was officially unveiled on June 15th, 2010 at the E3 gaming expo.
Although it had been discussed before then, speculation about a true generational successor to the Nintendo DS series began to ramp up in late 2009. In mid-October, tech tabloid Bright Side of News* reported that graphics processing unit (GPU) developer Nvidia had won the microprocessor contract for the device with its Nvidia Tegra system-on-a-chip series. Later that month, speaking about the future for Nintendo’s portable consoles, company president Satoru Iwata mentioned that while mobile connectivity via subscription mobile broadband “doesn’t fit Nintendo customers,” he was interested in exploring an option similar to the Whispernet service for the Amazon Kindle, in which users are not charged for the mobile connectivity, and the costs are cross-subsidized.
Though Nintendo has expressed interest in including motion-sensing capabilities in its handhelds since before the release of the original Nintendo DS, in January 2010 an alleged comment by Satoru Iwata from an interview with Asahi Shimbun led to a minor dispute between the publication and Nintendo over whether Iwata confirmed that the successor to the Nintendo DS would incorporate a motion sensor. Later that month, analyst Jesse Divnich of Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR) stated that the firm believes that Nintendo will launch a Nintendo DS successor “within the next 15 months.”
In mid-February, video gaming website Computer and Video Games (CVG) reported that a select “handful” of Japanese developers were in possession of software development kits (SDKs) for the Nintendo DS successor, with The Pokémon Company given special priority. According to CVG’s insider at an unspecified third-party development studio, the hardware features a “tilt” function that is similar to that of the iPhone, “but does a lot more.” The insider noted that the distributed hardware is not for the final product, but of trial hardware for developers to provide feedback on.
In mid-March 2010, veteran video game journalist Raymond Padilla reported additional rumors about a Nintendo DS successor from the San Francisco Game Developers Conference. According to developers claiming to be working on the system, the handheld would feature two display screens like the Nintendo DS, but with bigger, higher-resolution display screens, and a smaller gap between them—negligible enough that they can be used together as a single large screen. An accelerometer would be incorporated into the device. The SDK is reportedly “similar in power to the GameCube,” with an easy learning curve for developers familiar working with Nintendo’s GameCube or Wii home consoles. The developers claimed that their games for the new handheld would be finished before the end of the year, which Padilla said indicates a likely announcement of the console at E3 2010 in June, and a launch in late 2010. In the same month, several developers spoke publicly about features they wished to see in a Nintendo DS successor, including stronger online functionality, dual multi-touch screens, a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, and 3G mobile broadband connectivity. On March 23, Nintendo officially announced the Nintendo 3DS.
In late-April 2010, a picture of a possible development build of the internal components of the 3DS was leaked online through a U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing by Mitsumi. An analysis of the image showed that it was likely genuine as it featured components known to be used in the Nintendo DS line along with features of the 3DS that have not been announced like a 16:9 top screen, and a control nub similar to those used in Sony PSP systems.
In early-June 2010, video gaming website IGN reported that according to “several developers who have experienced 3DS in its current form”, the system possesses processing power “close to HD consoles such as PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360″. They also cited “several developer sources” as saying that the system does not use the Nvidia Tegra mobile chipset.
The system was officially revealed at Nintendo’s Conference at E3 2010 on June 15, 2010. The first game revealed was Kid Icarus: Uprising, with several other titles from third parties also announced, including Square Enix with Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, Konami with Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, Warner Bros. Interactive with “Batman”, Ubisoft with Assassin’s Creed, Capcom with Resident Evil, and Activision with DJ Hero. Other Nintendo titles were later revealed after the Conference, such as Mario Kart 3DS, a remake of Star Fox 64, and a supposed remake of Ocarina of Time now in 3D .
The Nintendo 3DS has two screens: the top screen, which is able to produce a three-dimensional effect without 3D glasses, is a 3.53-inch 3D screen with a resolution of 800×240 pixels (400×240 pixels per eye), while the bottom screen is a 3.02-inch non-3D touch panel with a resolution of 320×240 pixels. The 3DS weighs approximately 8 oz. and, when closed, is 5.3 inches wide, 2.9 inches long, and 0.8 inches tall.
The system features several additions to the control scheme of the traditional Nintendo DS, including a 3D depth slider on the side of the device, a round nub analog stick called the “Slide Pad”, a motion sensor, and a gyroscope. The 3DS has two cameras on the outside of the device for 3D picture taking, as well as a camera facing the player above the portable’s 3D screen; both cameras have a resolution of 640×480 pixels (0.3 Megapixel). The system will also have a “Movie Record Mode”, and it will have the ability to play 3D Hollywood movies.
It will be compatible with the Nintendo DS and DSi, but will also have system-exclusive games: launch titles include Kid Icarus: Uprising and Mario Kart 3DS, and more than twenty companies have signed on to develop for the 3DS, currently supporting a list of over 70 3DS titles. The 3DS also has Wi-Fi capabilities and periodically searches for Wi-Fi spots and other 3DSs without user input; there will be no monthly fee for Nintendo’s 3DS online access.
The system officially comes in three color schemes: black and blue, black and red or black and grey although black and gold 3DSs were seen at E3 2010