Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that Nintendo is launching the next generation of portable video game systems this weekend as the Nintendo 3DS, the next generation of the much lauded DS and DSi, will finally hit store shelves this Sunday, March 27th. So what do you need to know for the launch?
While we will not have a 3DS to review immediately upon release, we hope the fine folks at Nintendo will eventually accommodate us. But until then we'll still give you as much news as possible regarding the launch of the most anticipated system launch since the PS3/Wii extravaganza of 2006.
It'll have been a relatively long time since the current generation of consoles launched, which began with the original DS in late 2004 followed by the PSP and then the Xbox 360 in late 2005. While I'm sure there are new consoles in development at Microsoft, Sony (NGP!) and Nintendo, the only one that's known to be available any time soon is the 3DS.
Nobody really knows if the Sony device codenamed "Next Generation Portable" will actually be launched later this year as expected so the 3DS really may be the only one available for a long time, which preserves the already pro-Nintendo American market for a 3DS explosion. The PSP was already doing horribly in this country, though apparently thriving in Japan, so this will likely only increase Nintendo's dominance in that market which dates back to the original GameBoy.
So back to the 3DS: what is it? It's basically a Nintendo DS as you've seen but through autostereoscopy, it has been given the ability to create 3D without the annoying, unstylish glasses that dominate the theaters at Nick Cage movies. Autostereoscopy is basically a technical term for "glasses-free 3D" if you couldn't get that from context clues. Nintendo is using the Parallax Barrier form of this technology which consists of a layer of material with a series of precision slits, allowing each eye to see a different set of pixels, so creating a sense of depth through parallax in an effect similar to what lenticular printing produces for printed products (go Wikipedia!). There's your requisite technical information, so let's get to the fun stuff!
First of all, for all you people out there concerned with backward compatibility, fear not, the 3DS is completely compatible with normal DS software, so this effectively replaces the old system, as Nintendo has done often with multiple iterations of the same basic system in the past. Even DSi software is supported so go nuts.
Now onto the matter of launch games. There's a new Nintendogs game launching with the system so that'll appeal to the casual gamers obviously. There's Street Fighter, Madden, Lego Star Wars, Rayman, his Rabbids, DoA, Resident Evil, Ridge Racer (which seems to only come out with console launches but at no other time), Ghost Recon, The Sims, and Super Monkey Ball amongst others. This is one of the most awesome third party supported launches I've ever seen, so like the press during E3 2010, the companies must really be impressed with this system and believe it'll succeed. There's no historic Nintendo franchise represented at launch such as Mario or Zelda but maybe they're hoping Nintendogs can become that.
And here's the really fun stuff: at the Union Square Best Buy in New York City tomorrow, Nintendo's holding a launch party for the 3DS. It's from 9 p.m.-12 a.m. there at which point you'll be able to purchase the Nintendo 3DS as soon as it's available. There are going to be giveaways while supplies last, live entertainment, food, and the first 300 people to purchase a 3DS at midnight at this location will receive a special edition carrying case.
And starting at noon until 8 p.m., across the street in Union Square Park (you can't miss it), there will be playable Nintendo 3DS's for all people to enjoy and live entertainment throughout that as well.
Nintendo's really going all out with this. Reggie Fils-Aime and Best Buy President Michael Vitelli will be on hand to welcome these first customers. No word on whether Reggie will be awesome, but the forecast is good. One of NYC's hottest bands, the HOTcakes, will be on hand to perform as well. There's going to be constant entertainment throughout this event, so join Nintendo in welcoming their 3DS to market. Be among the first to enjoy this system tomorrow in Union Square in NYC.
Follow me on Twitter @mtorino75 and stay tuned next week to our site for reviews of Rango and Tiger Woods 12: The Masters for Wii.