Saturday, January 22, 2011

Nintendo's 3DS: The OS

Nintendo held two press conferences this past week regarding the launch of the Nintendo 3DS in Europe and America, and with that, more details arose regarding the handheld's OS.

The Nintendo 3DS contains a HOME Menu similar to the DSi, but it has become more integrated into the system and around its games. Players can customize the screen's icon positions and layout of the screen, from the single-icon sliding menu akin to DSi to the multiple-rows-of programs-per-screen setup from the Wii. More importantly, players can enter the HOME Menu without exiting a game. Pressing the Home button opens a small menu, allowing players to go on the Internet, examine their Friends List, enter information into Game Memos, and examine the Notifications List of data received via StreetPass and SpotPass. Oh, and before we continue, note that Friend Codes are now a by-system basis. No more differing code per game to input!

The first built-in feature for the Nintendo 3DS is the Nintendo 3DS Camera. Like the DSi Camera application, people can take pictures using both in-facing and out-facing cameras, but unlike the DSi Camera, players are capable of taking 3D images with the out-facing cameras. Other effects are also capable using a number of additional lenses; in one scenario, two faces can be spliced together using the cameras for comedic effect. In an interview, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata stated that they might be able to update it for 3D video in the future.

Also like the DSi, Nintendo has included an audio application with the 3DS, called Nintendo 3DS Sound. It allows players to listen to music stored on the SD memory card, whether it is in AAC or MP3 format. Also, using StreetPass, people can find out what other people are listening to and even see if they are compatible based on each other's playlist. After encountering multiple people, the application can also rank each song to find the most popular one for each person and among all people encountered.

Taking the Mii Channel from the Wii, Nintendo has created a new application for the 3DS known as Mii Maker. Players are capable of making Miis from scratch, or they can opt to take a photo of themselves and have the program create a number of Miis to try and match the face in the picture. Players will also be able to upload Miis from their Wii onto the 3DS, though the opposite is not possible.

One of the biggest aspects of the 3DS is StreetPass, in which people can swap information from one 3DS to another by simply being within close proximity to another person's 3DS. The StreetPass Mii Plaza is where the characters and other information from StreetPass is collected. The plaza will feature all Miis and recent games played by those people met while StreetPass is activated.

AR Games is a built-in collection of games using the camera in conjunction with AR Cards which come with the handheld. Players place an AR Card on a flat surface, and the program creates 3D objects which interact with the world as seen through the 3DS's 3D screen. So far, two games have been demonstrated with the AR Games application. One of the games takes a Mii into the real world for photo opportunities. The other is an archery game which requires players to physically move around the card to aim at each target and eventually take down a dragon before it takes a bite out of them!

Face Raiders is another built-in game with the 3DS, focusing on the camera and motion sensors of the handheld. Players take a picture of themselves or someone else, placed the face onto enemy attackers who surround the players from all angles. Using the gyroscope, players then pivot and turn around to attack the oncoming targets. While simple, it is a good way of getting players to learn to move around with the 3DS in their hands.

The Activity Log is pretty self-explanatory, for the most part. The Log accounts for all actions a player has done on the 3DS. What makes it more than just a log, however, is the accumulation of Play Coins. The Activity Log tracks all physical movement a player makes with the 3DS acting as a pedometer, giving the player Play Coins depending on how much he or she moves. These coins can then be used to purchase in-game content as well as other benefits via the 3DS.

The Internet Browser is an Internet Browser for the 3DS. Not much to say there, except it might not be available at launch.

Finally, the 3DS will feature a heavily-improved shop which, while not available immediately, is expected to be available very shortly after launch if not at launch day in the US. The Nintendo eShop is the 3DS's marketplace where people will be able to download a large number of downloadable game and video products. While Nintendo was a little hush-hush on the eShop's potential for selling 3D movies, it is expected to have a number of supporters unveiled in the near future.

Nintendo was more open on the sale of game content, however. For one, people will be capable of purchasing select DSiWare products for the 3DS, and those who have already purchased DSiWare on their DSis can transfer them over to the 3DS a limited number of times. 3DSWare was not elaborated on, but it will also be available in the near future. Meanwhile, Nintendo demonstrated games available on the Virtual Console via the 3DS. The Virtual Console so far consists of Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles, specifically Super Mario Land and Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX. While they were not shown at the recent press event, Nintendo has displayed SNES and NES titles with 3D effects, labeled as "Classics 3D." As to when this will be available is also unknown. Nintendo confirmed that the eShop will show demo videos and screenshots for games to allow players to get an idea whether or not to purchase them. Also, the eShop will not take points; instead, the eShop prices all items in dollar values, to allow more understanding with consumers.

Seems like the 3DS has a lot going for it in the OS front. Hopefully the games will reflect the effort put into the menu.

SOURCE: Nintendo 3DS Web Page

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