Preview

E3 2010: Nintendo 3DS

All over bar the pricing, specs and release date

It's more powerful. How powerful? More powerful, silly! Okay, so Nintendo isn't saying just yet. They're also not saying the price. Or when it's going to be released, actually, although the original announcement had it pegged before the end of the 2010/11 financial year. But, hey, it'll be available in black and blue, black and red and just plan black and black. Give it a couple of years and it'll be probably released in every colour under the sun.

As promised, and finally detailed during Nintendo's E3 conference today, it's a glasses-free device capable of producing a 3D image on the top screen. The effect feels like you're looking into the image, however, as opposed to the current trend of having stuff pop-out. You need to be looking directly at it for the effect to work, but this isn't really a problem with a handheld console. Two cameras exist on the outside of the device, which allows the machine to take some impressive 3D photographs. There's also a camera on the inside of the unit, which can look at your amazed face while you're playing and beam the photos directly back to Nintendo HQ so they can rigorously monitor your happiness. Okay, so the last one I made up.

Some more actual facts: there's now an analogue nubbin on the left hand side, which sits nicely above the DS's traditional d-pad, and there's a motion sensor and a gyroscope inside the unit to allow developers to do all sorts of whizzy technical magic. The bottom screen is a touch screen, and the widescreen 3.5" top screen features the 3D. The effect can be toggled on and off, so you're not forced to make use of it.

It's also going to be able to download 3D movies, with Nintendo announcing partnerships with Disney, Dreamworks and Warner, with the units showing off trailers for Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole and Tangled.

Let's not mess about, though. The specs are combining to make games that look super spiffy, with Nintendo's flagship title for the new handheld, Kid Icarus: Uprising, looking good enough to be mistaken for a Wii game by anyone not paying attention.

It looks like Medusa, the Queen of Darkness, has managed to find a cheeky loophole and return to life - although that will only mean something to you if you've ever played the eighties NES cult classic. Anyone who hasn't will just see it as a great excuse to give the snake-haired one a jolly good kicking and have a nice fly about as a perky male angel.

"Sorry to keep you waiting," says protagonist Pit as he flies across the screen during the trailer. Thank God we didn't hold our breath, then, as 23 years is a long time for a proper sequel. But it's here, finally, and it looks brilliant. The trailer shows off a mix of land and aerial combat against a range of nasties in some typically Nintendo settings, managing to cross off the prerequisite fire and ice levels in one single trailer. Good effort!

The original game managed to feel like a mix of both Metroid's combat and the inventory system from Zelda, and while the trailer didn't go into any specifics it looked like the game wouldn't deviate too far from that classic formula. There were some meaty boss battles shown, too, including a big altercation with a Cerberus.

Another game that's been briefly shown is Metal Gear Solid 3D, which looks to be a port of the magnificent Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (in my opinion it's the best entry in the series). Konami showed off a handful of screenshots, with the game looking at least on par with the original PS3 version - if not slightly better in the character models. The game also featured a logo that's a mash-up of the symbolic hammer and sickle, only with the series' ubiquitous exclamation mark taking the place of the hammer. Magnificent.

And the third-party publishers were clamouring to show their support, with Nintendo president Satoru Iwata standing in front of a humongous collection of company logos: Activision, Atlus, AQ, Namco Bandai, Capcom, EA, Harmonix, Hudson, Konami, Tecmo Koei, Level 5, Majesco, Marvelous Entertainment, Rocket, Square Enix, Sega, Tomy, Take-Two, THQ, Ubisoft and Warner Bros are all on board.

Iwata also wasted no time name dropping some big name franchises from all his new mates, including new entries in popular franchises such as Professor Layton, Kingdom Hearts, Batman, DJ Hero, Madden, Saints Row and Assassin's Creed.

Other third-party highlights, although not named by Iwata, include The Sims 3, a port of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, a new Ninja Gaiden and a version of Super Street Fighter IV.

As for first-party offerings, Nintendo are developing versions of Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, Nintendogs + cats, Paper Mario, PilotWings Resort and Star Fox 64 3D to go alongside Kid Icarus: Uprising.

It's clearly the most serious update to the DS since the original launch over five years ago, with an impressive range of features and the kind of developer support that's fallen away from the DS in recent months. I'll take Kid Icarus: Uprising over Deal or No Deal: The Banker is Back any day, thank you very much. Now how about a date and price, Nintendo?

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