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Nintendo Announces 3-D Handheld Gaming System [Updated]


Nintendo's just whisked the veil from its newest gaming machine: The 3DS. It's a reinvention of the classic handheld, with a high-tech booster injection from the whizzy display system of the moment—3-D graphics rendering.

Back in March we knew a little about the machine: Its 3-D rendering would deliver the 3-D illusion without needing you to wear special glasses, backwards compatibility for older DS and DSi titles would be included, we thought the screen may be 720p, and the device would have accelerometers built in for some motion gaming goodness (also very much in the current technology vogue) that may even add some of the Wii's runaway success to the 3DS. We even wondered if the two screens may hook together in a more cohesive way for this edition of the DS, creating a larger visual surface, and if the 3DS would incorporate 3G circuitry for Web browsing or even some social networking. There were other rumblings that the device would be more powerful than a Wii, and would finally bring a useful implementation of 3-D imaging tech to the public by incorporating a 3-D camera into the unit.

Today we learned everything we needed to know:

  • The main screen is 3-D, and has HD resolution (720p?) across a display 3.5 inches across. This is a huge thing, everything we'd been expecting.
  • The 3-D is glasses-free to let you "take 3-D" everywhere you go. It hasn't got touchscreen powers.
  • There's a 3-D "slider" on the side so players can control how "much" 3-D is presented.
  • The secondary screen is a touchscreen, so it is only 2-D because it can better tolerate fingerprint smudges.
  • Accelerometers are indeed built in, giving Wii-like motion control gaming, but there's also a gyro in there to give it iPhone 4-like powers.
  • The lid does have 3-D cameras in, facing forward when the device is flipped open.
  • And the control options are joined by an analog stick, for more precise control.
  • In terms of wireless comms there seems to be no 3G, but the 3DS automatically sniffs for Wi-Fi signals and can, without user interaction, communicate with other 3DS units. It's supposed to be ultra-simple so the non-Net-savvy (kids) can benefit. Even when away from wireless access points, the system will have auto-downloaded content to boost your experience, like extra levels for games.

Nintendo has also announced a partnership with several movie studios to bring 3-D movies to the 3DS. Disney, Warner Brothers, and Dreamworks are onboard.

But the biggest secret, according to Nintendo is a secret project established years ago to build a single game for the 3DS—possibly intending it to be its killer app, in the mold of Mario. It's called Kid Icarus: Uprising. "The only true way to experience" Kid Icarus is in 3-D, according to Nintendo.

Update: According to our man on the scene the 3-D graphics were "perfect," including that slider control. This is, perhaps like the iPad, a system that you may need to see in person to really "get" it.

To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. That QR code on the left will take your smartphone to my Twitter feed too.