March 23, 2010

The Post in Which We Speculate About the 3DS

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , — Sam Scott Given @ 12:53 pm

On today of all days (obviously to commemorate Ben and Jerry’s free ice cream day), Nintendo decides to slip out a nifty press release about their upcoming successor to the DS, the 3DS. The press release is lacking on a lot of key details, which means we get to speculate as much as we want until they tell us more.

The largest gap of information has to be about the screens. “…on which games can be enjoyed with 3D effects without the need for any special glasses.” 3D? without glasses? Well, there are a handful of routes this could take us. The main method everyone’s mind is jumping to is one recently popularized by the DSiWare game “Rittai Kakushi e AttaKoreda” – which roughly translates into “Hidden 3D image: There it is!”

What this game does is use the forward facing camera in the DSi to look at the face of the person playing (more specifically the light on the face) and tilts the environment in the game to make it appear as if you are looking into a diorama of sorts.

This method of course, is arguably pretty silly. Who would want to make, let alone who would want to play, a first person shooter for example, while moving the screen around to different angles? When trying to play any fast paced game, you want the best viewing angle you can get. Now as for say, a stealth-based FPS, where you use this method to look around corners, that’s a very neat idea – call me developers, I have more good ideas – but of course this can already be done on the DSi. Why would Nintendo go on to hype a new system’s biggest feature if the sole advantage was already possible and being done on current generation hardware?

So what is the method these screens will use? As rumored already via Engadget, the best bet is on Parallax screens. Parallax screens use a method of refracting light so that you get the same exact effect of a standard polarized 3D screen without the glasses, and without the dimming. Think of parallax screens as Viewmaster toys: there are two images just like a 3D screen, but one eye only sees one image, and one eye sees the other.

There are some downsides to parallax screens though. For one, the screen only works from certain angles, and there’s only 4-6 positions your eyes can occupy in relation to the screen to get the full effect. The other downside is a lower resolution than its polarized cousin.

Here’s the good news: that doesn’t matter. Like I said earlier, when playing a handheld, you usually keep the screens right in front of you for optimal viewing, thus, the limited viewing angles are a null point. Another great thing about handhelds is that the screens are nowhere near as big as 32″ TV sets. It has been speculated lately that the DS’ screens will be in 720p resolution, and parallax screens could push that at CES earlier this year (barely), and it has probably come a long way since then.

Or maybe Nintendo just has a sense of humor, or a really bad translator, and they were just trying to say that it will have better 3D specs. We’ll just have to find out at E3, which can’t came soon enough.

1 Comment »

  1. I don’t know about the N 3DS going to 720p on a handheld. My guess is they will do 480p since right now the DS resolution is at 256i and the jump to 480p for a hanheld with the specs of a Gamecube seems about right. Hope they use widescreen screens, but it’s not a deal breaker.

    Comment by EdEN — March 23, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

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