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Nintendo 3DS Review


Cameras

While the Nintendo 3DS includes three cameras (one front, two back), their quantity outweighed their quality.  The VGA cameras look like something you would expect on a cell phone from five years ago.  While this is acceptable for the front facing camera, the stereoscopic cameras would have benefitted from higher quality lenses.  If you were expecting to take the Nintendo 3DS on your next family vacation to capture the moments, be aware that the 3DS does not deliver the same quality image as a dedicated 3D camera.  That said, the 3D effect works well with Nintendo 3DS photos, and it will be a lot of fun for kids.

One thing that does excite me is the possibility of using the 3D camera for augmented reality (AR) applications.  Nintendo has provided great demos of this technology with the system, and I am hopeful that game developers will explore this further.  Below are some photos taken with the 3DS camera.

Nintendo 3DS Sample 3D Camera Pic

Nintendo 3DS Sample Camera Pic

Nintendo 3DS Sample Camera Pic

EDITOR'S NOTE: These images have a very high level of separation even though they are intended for a very small screen.  We are investigating to see if these images are accurate, or if there was some kind of technical glitch when creating them.



Sound

It seems Nintendo did not make much progress with their audio quality.  While the 3DS sounds decent, I can't really say it's better than previous DS models.  The built-in speakers can have a "tinny" quality, and I found myself trying to push the volume past 100% on a regular basis.

Using headphones will help the situation, but it still seemed like a bare minimum effort on Nintendo's part where audio is concerned.  Keeping in mind that this is a portable gaming solution, it wasn't a deal breaker for me.


Graphics


In terms of visual quality, the 3DS delivers a noticeable upgrade from the older DS hardware.

While the graphics themselves might not reach Xbox360 or PS3 levels, the addition of stereo 3D does a lot to increase the perceived image quality.  Full stereoscopic 3D rendering can require double-duty just to render each frame, so more power is needed to maintain playable frame rates.  For this reason, I think the 3DS' graphics power can be compared to the PSP, and is clearly a powerful mobile gaming system.

Street Fighter 4 is a perfect example of the 3DS's graphics power.  While I recognize that Capcom had to make some sacrifices with the backgrounds, the overall look and feel of the game is arcade-faithful.  Upcoming titles like Resident Evil Revelations and Metal Gear Snake Eater look to push the 3DS far beyond what was possible with the original DS system.  In fact, all the games I've tested so far are running at smooth frame rates between 30 and 60 frames per second.  In some cases, you can turn 3D off in the game's menu options to boost the frame rate even further - but that has been unnecessary for me.