First look at the Nintendo 3DS at the London Launch Party as a V.I.P.

My wife and I were lucky enough to spend the night schmoozing and boozing a load of “celebrities” at the launch of the new Nintendo 3DS. Unfortunately there was not a stack of free consoles that they were giving away. In fact, there was a mini HMV store inside that had people queuing from 11pm ready to buy at midnight. However, there were plenty of wired in 3DSs to have a go on.

The missusThe 3D effect

At first I thought the 3D was terrible. Pictures were blurry and I had to hold it at an awkward arm-stretched position. I then realised that the 3D slider switch needed to be adjusted slightly for each different game.Once i treated it more like a camera focus (or maybe a radio tuner) I managed to get the perfect 3D image. It was pretty good but worked a lot better at conveying depth rather than things coming out in your face. One unit was showing a 3D video from a Sky TV app and you could see when something tried to come out of the screen it just hit the screen edge and then disappeared. I don’t think I would worry about my kids using it. As long as the focus is correct it would be no different to playing any handheld console, in my opinion.

The games were a bit hit and miss. I really enjoyed playing Street Fighter in 3D, using the wireless connection to battle my wife (I won 2:1). The new circle pad really helped me to “whoop some ass”  and the larger (much) better quality touchscreen helped me pull off some mean combos. The Football and Battleship game was quite dull. The Wii Sports hang-gliding game was a bit too childish for me but I think kids would like it.

Other new features

One of my favourite new features were the augmented reality games. By using the 2 cameras on the front of the 3DS and a special card laid on a flat surface, you can get a 3D game appear and interact with the real environment that you see through the screen. That was impressive. Also the camera could take a photo of you (or your wife) and morph it into a computer character for you to shoot at as it flies around the building. This will no doubt case similar destruction as when people started swinging Wii remotes around in the air! It is supposed to be able to take 3D pictures but they looked rubbish. It could have been down to the poor light in the venue but they all came out fuzzy. Similarly disappointing was the ability to morph a photo of your self into a Nintendo Mii character. You are required to make so many choices before and after it is pointless to pretend it is matching your dace to the limited Mii graphics.

The 3DS has clearly been designed as a iPod Touch competitor. it is now, more than ever, focussed on downloading apps. There is loads of space and different view options on the home screen. you are also supposed to leave it on standby all the time so it can interact and play with other 3DSs while it is stuffed in your bag. That is a cute concept but I wonder how many people actually carry a 3DS around with them day-to-day.

The Party

wristbandsThe event started around 8:30pm with a respectful 1 minutes silence for the people of Japan. However, this was rather disrespectfully cut short after about 30 seconds as most people just carried on chatting and playing games. Next time, cut the power Nintendo. The host of the event was Russell Kane, an awful comedian who thought saying F*”@ U was hilarious, and that’s about it. The first band “Parade” were pretty dire too. Talk about trying too hard to be the next Girls Aloud. Luckily Hadouken! came on and livened the stage up a bit. It was during this time a very nice couple saw us looking a bit bored and gave us their VIP passes to go to the special upstairs room where the drinks and food were all free! There were loads of slebs up there but I guttingly left my camera’s memory card in my laptop at work so I couldn’t get any photo’s. My mobile phones camera just couldn’t hack the low-light conditions (and those c-listers liked it dark!). Still it made the event much more entertaining as we got slightly bored of being tethered to game demos.

The highlight of the night was definitely Plan B playing an excellent set of all the singles from his current album. Very impressed with his performance, especially how he wrestled his bassist to the ground during his encore. We could have stayed to 3am but most people started drifting out about 11pm and once Jonathan Ross had left the party was well and truly dead Winking smile

Plan B performing

So overall, it was a great night out. I wouldn’t buy a 3DS for myself. I think it is too expensive when I could get an iPad or laptop for £100 more. Plus I already have a Windows Phone 7 smartphone (still under repair after I bricked it) that has some great apps and games on it. I would consider getting it for my kids to share but as we already have a DS Lite and a DSi the extra features that a 3DS brings just aren’t worth it.

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