The Nintendo 3DS: Nauseating But Nice

I never watch 3D movies or TV because I feel sick as soon as I look at them, and sadly the Nintendo 3DS is no different. Despite that, it’s one of the few 3D devices I might actually contemplate owning.

I got to have a quick play with a 3DS unit and a sampling of games last week, when the Nintendo team bought a handful into the Allure offices so that the Kotaku and Gizmodo teams could have a proper go at them. There’s no obvious productivity application for the 3DS right now, but there’s also no telling what might happen once it gets hacked wide open and homebrew code starts appearing, so I figured it was worth elbowing my way in and checking out the device. But knowing my anti-3D inclinations, I resisted eating a greasy hamburger beforehand.

That turned out to be a wise decision. Literally the second I started looking at the screen, I felt ill. The first game I tried out was a demo app for the device’s augmented reality capability, which meant the 3D options were being stretched to the max, as were my non-existent gaming skills and my ability not to vomit in public.

However, the beauty of the 3DS is that you can switch the 3D options off on any title you like, simply by sliding down a switch on the right-hand side of the screen. As soon as I did that, equilibirum was rapidly restored, and I could get back to demonstrating my stunning incompetence with Street Fighter, Kid Icarus and Lego Star Wars. (The last one is the title that appealed to me the most, but Street Fighter is the one I proved the best at, given that it still responds well to the bash-every-button-with-no-tactics-whatsoever gambit I have used on every fighting game since the dawn of the Sega Master System.)

The obvious main reason for having the ability to switch 3D off is that it increases battery life, and a second benefit is that it makes it easier for someone to watch over your shoulder while you play — the 3D effect doesn’t work when viewed from odd angles. For all that, not causing a reasonable percentage of the population to cast away the device in disgust/horror is also a pretty good outcome, and one that other 3D platforms haven’t yet replicated. I can’t go to 3D movies with friends or watch 3D broadcasts on television, because there’s no easy way to optionally switch the experience off. (OK, there’s the glasses hack we featured recently, but that’s not an option which works with TV glasses.)

I won’t be racing out to buy a 3DS straight away, but I like the fact that it acknowledges that not all of us are hankering for a world where 3D is viewed as the main entertainment option. TV manufacturers, take note.

The 3DS goes on sale on March 31. If you want to test your own nausea-induction capabilities before that, there are hands-on demos around the country; Mark over at Kotaku has the whole list. I’ve got no idea if buckets are supplied or not.

Lifehacker’s weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained.


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