Being part of the media has its perks. I was able to skip the two-hour long line and vault right to the VIP entrance of Nintendo's 3DS preview area and enjoy plenty of time to experience as many tech demos, playable concept demos, and video previews as I liked. Allow me to run down each of the samples I tried and offer a few comments for each.
Kid Icarus: Uprising: This trailer showed Pit in glorious 3D as he flew through the air while shooting at familiar enemies from the classic Nintendo Entertainment System adventure. The Super Smash Bros. Brawl influence on Pit's character design is impossible to miss, while the music blaring in the background is an orchestrated rendition of the original game's theme. Pit dodged lasers and swooped down into a village where the action shifted from apparent rail shooter to 3D action platformer. The trailer ended with Pit threatening Medusa from afar.
Star Fox 64 3D: This playable demo involved a remake of the Corneria level from Star Fox 64, except now there's actual perspective to enjoy. The object models have been updated for greater detail, and using the 3DS's analog slider to control the arwing works like a dream. There's one point where an enemy ship flies between the arwing and the player, and this really shows off the 3D effect. It's an impressive demo all around and my most anticipated 3DS title out of what has been announced so far.
Nintendogs + Cats: Yes, I petted the virtual 3D puppy and threw a tennis ball to him a few times. Being in 3D made the moment where he puts his paws up and licks the screen all the more adorable.
Mario Kart: Another trailer; this one showed Mario and Luigi racing in traditional karts through a variety of new tracks. No actual gameplay was shown. The analog slider was used to tilt the camera slightly off center as seen in the rolling character model demo shown at the E3 Media Briefing earlier this week. The 3D here was neat, but I don't want to speculate on how it will appear in an actual Mario Kart title.
Target Shooting technical demo: This playable demo uses the 3DS camera to put an image of the actual counter-top on the 3D screen. Targets appear on it that are oriented across several different directions. I had to not only tilt the 3DS to aim my bow and arrow at each one, but also physically step around in a circle to hit them all. Then a hole popped open in the on-screen counter to reveal another target. Eventually a dragon popped out of that hole. Shooting him caused him to turn black, then die. This was mostly an example of the power of the 3D camera, but the on-screen effect was still interesting.
Pilotwings Resort: Now rolled into the Wii Sports family, this revival of the famed Super NES and Nintendo 64 franchise takes place on Wuhu Island. The light plane and rocketbelt were available, with the plane's goal being to fly through rings and the rocketbelt's goal involving popping mid-air balloons. It seems like a spiritual sequel to Pilotwings 64 with a Wii Sports influence, while the 3D is best utilized during the plane segments with the plane sitting in the foreground and Wuhu Island beyond it. Nintendo provided a set of headphones for this demo in order to block out the chaos of West Hall and emphasize the peaceful, relaxing soundtrack.
Classic NES demo: Eighteen familiar NES and Super NES have been given a 3D overhaul, meaning that favorites such as Super Mario Bros., Mega Man 2, Castlevania, Punch-Out!!, Yoshi's Island, and Super Mario World are now in 3D. These were not playable, and were instead a rolling video trailer that showed a little of each game in action. It's all foreground/background tricks, but I have to admit that I would buy most of these titles again in this format. The booth attendant told me that the company is planning on releasing these 3D-enhanced classic titles eventually. Could this be a sample of a future handheld Virtual Console service?
Resident Evil: This trailer showed the story setup for this upcoming 3D installment in Capcom's long-running series. Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine point guns at one another and say threatening things while a mysterious figure nearby cackles. The opening text warned that the 3D effect in this demo was intense, but I can't say I agree with that.
3D camera: The 3DS allows users to photograph scenes in reality in 3D. For this demo, I stood against a blank wall and held my hand out towards the camera while a booth attendant snapped my photo. Sure enough, I appeared on he 3DS screen in 3D. This little demo took all of ten seconds to do, but it was one of the most memorable of the day.
Ridge Racer: I'm not too familiar with the original Nintendo DS version of Ridge Racer, but I really believe that this 3DS demo is just a piece of that game converted into 3D. The 3D effect is intriguing on this one, but the gameplay just isn't there yet. It was playable, but my Ridge Racer skills are lacking, so I spent most of the time hugging the wall.
There were other demos available such as trailers for Kingdom Hearts and DJ Hero, but in the end I decided to walk away while I was still impressing and somewhat mesmerized by the technology. I saw everything that I really wanted to see in the 3DS area and I'm looking forward to the day that all of you out there can give these things a try and form your own opinions. I predict plenty of discussion in the future once the general public can see what the Nintendo 3DS has to offer.