The Nintendo 3DS (ニンテンドDS Nintendō Surī Dī Esu?, abbreviated to 3DS) is a portable game console produced by Nintendo, first released on February 26, 2011. A distinguishing feature of the system is its ability to produce "3D effects without the need for any special glasses" via a process called autostereoscopy. The device was released in Japan on February 26, 2011, Europe on March 25, 2011, North America on March 27, 2011 and will be released in Australia on March 31, 2011. The 3DS succeeds the Nintendo DS series of handheld systems, which primarily shares the handheld console market with Sony's PlayStation Portable. The Nintendo 3DS features backward compatibility with Nintendo DS series software, including Nintendo DSi software.
Announcing the device in March 2010, Nintendo officially unveiled it at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010 (E3 2010), with the company inviting attendees to play with the console.
Nintendo had been experimenting with 3D technology since the late 1980s. Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally was the first game developed by Nintendo to take advantage of the technology, and utilized special goggles with a liquid crystal shutter in order to make images appear to pop out of the screen, giving them a 3D effect. In 1995, Gunpei Yokoi, the creator of the Game Boy, began developing the Virtual Boy. This console is the first that was capable of displaying stereoscopic 3D graphics, using parallax. The system was released much earlier than intended, so that Nintendo could allocate more resources to the then-Ultra 64, and the Virtual Boy went on to become a commercial failure for Nintendo. Shigeru Miyamoto was dissatisfied with the wire-frame models the console displayed and practicality of the system, feeling that the concept was ahead of its time.
The failure of the Virtual Boy left many at Nintendo doubting the viability of 3D gaming. Despite this, Nintendo continued to investigate incorporating 3D technology into other products. The Nintendo GameCube, released in 2001, is Nintendo's second 3D capable system. Every GameCube system produced features the capability to display true stereoscopic 3D, but only the launch title Luigi's Mansion was designed to utilise the technology. As 3D displays were not widespread at the time and producing a compatible display was deemed prohibitively expensive to consumers, this functionality was never enabled.
Nintendo next attempted putting a display later used for the Nintendo 3DS into a Game Boy Advance SP. However, the resolution for such a display was not sharp and precise enough at the time, and Nintendo was not satisfied with the experiment. With the development of the Nintendo DS and at the insistence of Hiroshi Yamauchi, the company investigated achieving 3D visuals at an exhibition at Shigureden, a theme park. Visitors navigate around the park with the aid of guide software on a Nintendo DS system. Although nothing was produced, Nintendo was able to conduct extensive research and develop the methodology that was later used to develop the Nintendo 3DS.
Although it had been discussed before then, speculation about a true successor to the Nintendo DS series began to ramp up in late 2009. In mid-October, tech tabloid Bright Side of News reported that graphics processing unit (GPU) developer Nvidia had won the microprocessor contract for the device with its Nvidia Tegra system-on-a-chip series. Later that month, speaking about the future for Nintendo's portable consoles, company president Satoru Iwata mentioned that while mobile connectivity via subscription mobile broadband "doesn't fit Nintendo customers," he was interested in exploring an option similar to the Whispernet service for the Amazon Kindle, in which users are not charged for the mobile connectivity, and the costs are cross-subsidized.
Though Nintendo has expressed interest in including motion-sensing capabilities in its handhelds since before the release of the original Nintendo DS, in January 2010 an alleged comment by Satoru Iwata from an interview with Asahi Shimbun led to a minor dispute between the publication and Nintendo over whether Iwata confirmed that the successor to the Nintendo DS would incorporate a motion sensor. In February 2010, video gaming website Computer and Video Games reported that a select "handful" of Japanese developers were in possession of software development kits for the Nintendo DS successor, with The Pokémon Company given special priority. According to their insider at an unspecified third-party development studio, the hardware features a "tilt" function that is similar to that of the iPhone, "but does a lot more."
On March 23, 2010, Nintendo officially announced the Nintendo 3DS. According to industry analysts, the timing of Nintendo's original announcement, which had drawn attention away from the launch of the company's still-new Nintendo DSi XL handheld, was likely intended to preempt impending news leaks about the product by the Japanese press. In April 2010, a picture of a possible development build of the internal components of the 3DS was released as part of a U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing by Mitsumi. An analysis of the image showed that it was likely genuine as it featured components known to be used in the Nintendo DS line along with features of the 3DS that had not been announced like a 5:3 top screen, and a control nub similar to those used in Sony PSP systems.
E3 2010 Unveiling
The E3 unveiling involved an elaborate stage with moving set pieces.
In June 2010, video gaming website IGN reported that according to "several developers who have experienced 3DS in its current form", the system possesses processing power that "far exceed[s] the Nintendo Wii" and with 3D shaders, they could make games that "look close to current generation visuals on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3". They also cited "several developer sources" as saying that the system does not use the Nvidia Tegra mobile chipset.
The system was officially revealed at Nintendo's conference at E3 2010 on June 15, 2010. The first game revealed was Kid Icarus: Uprising, with several other titles from third parties also announced, including Square Enix with Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, Konami with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D, Warner Bros. Interactive with a Batman title, Ubisoft with Assassin's Creed: Lost Legacy, Capcom with Resident Evil: Revelations and Super Street Fighter 4 3D Edition, and Activision with DJ Hero. Other Nintendo titles were later revealed after the conference, such as Mario Kart 3DS, Animal Crossing, and remakes of Star Fox 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. in 3D. The 3DS design shown at E3 was almost final, but subject to minor changes
On September 29, 2010, Nintendo of Japan announced the release date of the Nintendo 3DS in Japan to be February 26, 2011. Furthermore, several additional features were announced. The inclusion of a Mii Maker (similar to the Mii Channel on Wii), Virtual Console (including Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and "classic games" in 3D), a cradle for recharging the system's battery, multitasking, several included augmented reality games, an included 2 gigabyte SD card, and stored game data as well as the final name for the 3DS tag mode, now called StreetPass and SpotPass collectively. The colors available at launch are Aqua Blue and Cosmo Black, and the launch price in Japan is 25,000 yen. The final physical design was also revealed at this event.
On January 19, 2011, Nintendo held two simultaneous press conferences in Amsterdam and New York City, where they revealed all of the features on the Nintendo 3DS. In North America, the release date was confirmed as March 27, 2011 with a retail price of $249.99. In Europe, a release date was announced for March 25, 2011, though they said that pricing would be up to retailers. Most retailers have priced the handheld between £219.99 and £229.99, though some retailers, such as Amazon, have lowered the price following Sony's announcement of the PSP's successor on January 26, 2011, with some retailers pricing the handheld at around £200 as of February 2011.
In February 2011, Nintendo held four hands-on events in the UK named "Believe Your Eyes". February 5th and 6th saw simultaneous events in London and Manchester, while the 12th and 13th saw events in Glasgow and Bristol. Invites to the events were offered first to Club Nintendo members, then later to members of the public via an online registration form. Guests watched two brief performances and trailers, then received time to play a selection of games on 3DS devices. Attendees were then allowed into a second room, containing further games to play (mainly augmented reality-based), and in-device videos.
Prior to its launch, Amazon UK announced that the system was their most pre-ordered video game system ever. Nintendo of America announced that the number of Nintendo 3DS pre-orders were double the number of pre-orders for the Wii.
Nintendo sold its entire allotment of 400,000 Nintendo 3DS units during its February 2011 release in Japan amid reports of lines and pre-order sellouts. The 3DS sold 374,764 units during the launch weekend of 26th February. Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle was the best selling 3DS launch title, in which 119,591 of copies were sold at launch, and it took third spot of the best selling title along with other system titles.
Nintendo announced that first day sales for the Nintendo 3DS in the US were the largest of any Nintendo handheld device in history.
The Nintendo 3DS is based on a custom PICA200 graphics processor from a Japanese start-up Digital Media Professionals (DMP). It has two screens; the top screen is a 3.53 in (90 mm) 5:3 3D screen with a resolution of 800×240 pixels (400×240 pixels per eye, WQVGA) that is able to produce an autostereoscopic three-dimensional effect (one without 3D glasses) using a parallax barrier display, while the bottom screen is a 3.02 in (77 mm) 4:3 non-3D resistive touch panel with a resolution of 320×240 pixels (QVGA). The 3DS weighs approximately 230 grams (8.1 oz) and, when closed, is 134 mm (5.3 in) wide, 74 mm (2.9 in) broad, and 21 mm (0.83 in) thick.
The system features several additions to the design of the original DS, including a slider on the side of the device that adjusts the intensity of the 3D effect, a round nub analog input called the "Circle Pad", an accelerometer, and a gyroscope. The 3DS has two cameras on the outside of the device, capable of taking 3D photos, as well as a camera positioned above the top screen on the inside of the device which faces the player, capable of taking 2D photos and capturing 2D video; all cameras have a resolution of 640×480 pixels (0.3 megapixels). The system will support a 2.4 GHz 802.11 Wi-Fi connectivity with enhanced security WPA2. An included cradle will act as a charger.
On the issue of piracy, game developer THQ claims that the Nintendo 3DS features sophisticated anti-piracy technology which Nintendo believes is able to significantly curb video game piracy, which had increasingly depressed the handheld market with the proliferation of cheap flash memory and the rise in file sharing.
Technical comparisonComparison of the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo DS game systems
Nintendo 3DS Nintendo DSi XL Nintendo DSi Nintendo DS Lite Nintendo DS
Technical comparisonComparison of the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo DS game systems
Nintendo 3DS Nintendo DSi XL Nintendo DSi Nintendo DS Lite Nintendo DS
Production Current Current Current Current Discontinued
Launch Price ¥25,000
£/€ - Set by individual retailers
Weight 230 grams (8.1 oz) 314 grams (11.1 oz) 214 grams (7.5 oz) 218 grams (7.7 oz) 275 grams (9.7 oz)
Dimensions 134 mm (5.3 in) wide ×㻊 mm (2.9 in) deep ×㺕 mm (0.83 in) high 161 mm (6.3 in) wide ×㻛.4 mm (3.60 in) deep ×㺕.2 mm (0.83 in) high 137 mm (5.4 in) wide ×㻊.9 mm (2.95 in) deep ×㺒.9 mm (0.74 in) high 133 mm (5.2 in) wide ×㻉.9 mm (2.91 in) deep ×㺕.87 mm (0.861 in) high 148.7 mm (5.85 in) wide ×㻔.7 mm (3.33 in) deep ×㺜.9 mm (1.14 in) high
Display Autosteroscopic 3.53 in (90 mm), 800 × px (effectively 400 × WQVGA per eye) 4.2 in (107 mm), 256 × px 3.25 in (83 mm), 256 × px 3.0 in (76 mm), 256 × px 3.0 in (76 mm), 256 × px
3.02 in (77 mm), 320 × QVGA
24-bit color 16-bit color
5 brightness levels 4 brightness levels Backlight on/off toggle
Camera One 2D front-facing and two 3D rear-facing 0.3 MP (VGA) sensors Front and rear-facing 0.3 MP sensors None
Physical controls D-pad
3D depth slider
Wireless communications switch D-pad
Connectivity Integrated 802.11b/g
IR port Integrated 802.11b/g
Microphone Integrated 802.11b (only compatible with WEP support)
Stylus Extendable up to 100 mm (3.9 in) long 129.3 mm (5.09 in) long ×㺊 mm (0.39 in) wide 92 mm (3.6 in) long ×ل.9 mm (0.19 in) wide 87.5 mm (3.44 in) long ×ل.9 mm (0.19 in) wide 75 mm (3.0 in) long ×ل mm (0.16 in) wide
Card slots 3DS/DSi/DS, SD DSi/DS, SD DS, Game Boy Advance
Storage 2 GB NAND flash memory Internal 256 MB NAND flash memory Internal 256 kB NAND flash memory
Expandable via SD card slot
Battery 3-5 hours, depending on screen brightness, Wi-Fi, sound volume, and 3D effect
(1300 mAh) 13-17 hours on the lowest brightness setting
4-5 hours on the brightest
(1050 mAh) 9-14 hours on the lowest brightness setting
3-4 hours on the brightest
(840 mAh) 15-19 hours on the lowest brightness setting
5-8 hours on the brightest
(1000 mAh) 6 to 10 hours
5-8 hours for DS compatibility mode
Memory TBA 16 MB PSRAM 4 MB SRAM
Expandable via Game Boy Advance slot
Processor TBA 133 MHz ARM9 and 33 MHz ARM7 67 MHz ARM9 and 33 MHz ARM7
Graphics PICA200 by Digital Media Professionals Nintendo proprietary
Region Locking Regional lockout for 3DS software between Japan, America and Europe/Australia Regional lockout for Nintendo DS games with exclusive DSi content and DSiWare All Nintendo DS hardware and software is region-free
Preloaded applications DS Download Play
3DS Download Play
3DS Messaging System
StreetPass Mii Plaza
StreetPass DS Download Play
Nintendo DSi Browser
Nintendo DSi Camera
Nintendo DSi Shop
Nintendo DSi Sound
Brain Age Express: Math
Brain Age Express: Arts & Letters
Photo Clock DS Download Play
Nintendo DSi Browser
Nintendo DSi Camera
Nintendo DSi Shop
Nintendo DSi Sound DS Download Play
The Activity Log tracks both game play, noting which games have been played and for how long, as well as physical activity, counting every step taken while carrying a 3DS. The feature encourages walking more every day to earn Play Coins, which can be used with compatible games and applications to acquire special content and a variety of other benefits. Play Coins cannot be used in the Nintendo eShop.
"Target Shooting" augmented reality tech demo at E3 2010.
Several augmented reality games are included on the 3DS with 6 paper cards that interact with the games.
In addition to its own software, the Nintendo 3DS is backward compatible with Nintendo DS software, including DSi software. However, like the Nintendo DSi, the Nintendo 3DS is incompatible with DS software that requires the use of the Game Boy Advance port. At launch, the Nintendo 3DS cards hold up to 2GB of game data and look almost exactly the same as those of the current DS. However, there is a small tab jutting out on the one side, which prevents 3DS cards from being inserted into a Nintendo DS. DS games cannot be played with 3D visuals on the 3DS. The games are displayed in a scaled and stretched fashion due to the differences between the DS's top screen and the 3DS's top screen unless the user holds down the Start and Select buttons upon launch of the DS software.
3DS Messaging Service
The Nintendo 3DS also supports a new messaging system, similar to that of the Wii's Message Board. The service allows users to send and receive messages from their friends on their friends list via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The 3DS will alert the user when they have received a new message via the Notification LED. This service replaces the traditional PictoChat that was seen in previous DS models.
Virtual Console service
It was announced at the Nintendo of Japan press event on September 29, 2010 that the 3DS will have a Virtual Console Service with Game Boy, Game Boy Color games, as well as "classic" games in 3D. At the 2011 GDC Nintendo announced that TurboGrafx 16, and Game Gear games would be available for Virtual Console. Purchases are made through the "Nintendo eShop", using a cash-based system instead of a points-based system as used for the Wii and DSi.
StreetPass and SpotPass Mode
The system supports multiplayer gameplay via a local wireless connection or over the Internet. Expanding upon the connectivity of the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo 3DS features an "always on" background connectivity system that trademarks suggested was named "CrossPass", which can automatically seek and connect to wireless network nodes such as Wi-Fi hotspots, sending and downloading information in the background while in sleep mode or while playing a game. In Nintendo's September 29th conference, the confirmed Western names of the CrossPass Tag Mode service would be StreetPass and SpotPass, with SpotPass being the ability for the 3DS to seek Wi-Fi signals and automatically download content while in sleep mode and StreetPass being the passive communication between 3DS systems held by users, an example being the sharing of Mii avatars.
During the 2011 Game Developers Conference, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime announced that Nintendo has partnered with AT&T to provide free access to AT&T hotspots via the Nintendo 3DS. Users will be able to connect to these hotspots in late May.
The background connectivity allows users to exchange software content regardless of what software is currently in the console. Sharing content is stored in a "data slot" in the console. Using this data slot, Nintendo 3DS users can readily share and exchange content for multiple games at the same time, whenever they are connected, even when playing unrelated games. Using the console's background connectivity, a Nintendo 3DS in StreetPass Mode can automatically discover other 3DS units within range, establish a connection, and exchange content for mutually-played games, all transparently and without requiring any user input, even when the console is dormant. For example, in Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, if the user passes someone with the same software, he has a battle to collect trophies from the other player.
It can be customized to fit the user's preferences, including opting out of it altogether for selected software. One application being considered is functionality to "automatically acquire magazine and newspaper articles", similar to networked e-book reader applications. An included cradle allows for faster downloads and uploads, and will act as a charger. Other improvements to online functionality include how Friend Codes are implemented, with only one code necessary for each console, as opposed to the DS and Wii where individual Friend Codes are required for each piece of software.
The system also has 3D movie and video playback capability. Nintendo has made deals with Warner Bros, Disney, and DreamWorks to deliver 3D movies. Although no titles have been announced yet, the trailers for DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon, Warner Bros' Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, and Disney’s film Tangled were shown on the 3DS during the E3 Expo. On September 29, 2010, Nintendo of Japan announced that it will be partnering with Fuji TV and other Japanese broadcasters to distribute free 3D videos to Japanese Nintendo 3DS owners. On January 19, 2011, Nintendo of Europe announced at their press conference that they will be partnering with EuroSport and Sky 3D to bring content to the Nintendo 3DS at a later date in 2011. Richard Goleszowski is also locked to bring exclusive 3D episodes of Shaun the Sheep to European Nintendo 3DS market by the end of the year. During the 2011 Game Developers Conference, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime announced that the Nintendo 3DS will support live streaming from Netflix. Also at the same conference, Nintendo announced a short-form video service for the Nintendo 3DS. This channel will offer a wide variety of video content, from comedy to music, all curated by Nintendo. As part of an initial firmware update for the system, the Nintendo 3DS includes the 3D version of the music video for "White Knuckles" from OK Go.
Nintendo announced that an Internet browser will be available in a future update. The browser can access WEP and WPA access points. It has been scheduled to be released in late May as part of a system update.
Mii are available on the system. There is a Mii Maker on the 3DS with the ability to import from the Wii, though not vice versa due to additional character parts, and can create a Mii from a photo taken by one of the cameras. Miis can also be loaded by capturing special QR codes with one of the cameras. There is also a StreetPass Mii Plaza to house all the Miis the player has gathered in StreetPass Mode.
Main article: List of Nintendo 3DS games
Nintendo has publicly stated that the 3D mode of the 3DS is not intended for use by children ages six and younger, citing possible harm to their vision. Nintendo suggests that younger players use the device's 2D mode instead, although the American Optometric Association has assured parents that 3D gaming in moderation would not be harmful for children. Nintendo has stated that a parental control involving a PIN will allow parents to disable autostereoscopic effects.