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Nintendo 3DS: Futuristic Handheld, Retro Battery

So How Good is the 3D, Anyway?

Now it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room: the parallax 3D display. Nintendo is boldly going where no one has gone before with this kind of technology. When we think 3D, we either think of movie theaters with disposable (or inexpensive) RealD 3D or Dolby 3D glasses or we think of the cumbersome, expensive active shutter glasses TV manufacturers are shipping with their TVs.

Nintendo wants to change all that with the 3DS, and in our minds they’ve succeeded. The 3D display on the 3DS isn’t perfect, since the viewing angles are quite bad and watching someone play a game over their shoulder is next to impossible. You need to be holding the 3DS and looking at the top screen straight on for the 3D to really work. For some games, especially the Augmented Reality titles that require you to move so much around the room, the 3D is better left off, or at the very least re-calibrated with the slider.

All of that aside, if you’re holding the 3DS and you flip the 3D slider to “on”, you will instantly see why Nintendo chose to include this technology. From the way the foreground in some titles flies off the screen to how 3D picture-taking works, to even the little things like 3D menus, Nintendo is taking an untested technology and largely getting it right.

To put it another way: When the 3D feature on the 3DS works the way it’s supposed to, it really shines. Combining 3D and AR is still a little too touchy, but for games like LEGO Star Wars and Super Street Fighter IV, the 3D is golden.