3D is just one part of the Nintendo 3DS experience

It would seem that the 3D capabilities are the most important part of Nintendo’s 3DS. After all, it’s right there in the name. However, after getting some hands-on time with the system this week, it’s important to remember that 3D is by no means the only critical part of Nintendo’s latest foray in portable consoles just as the dual screens — or even touch capabilities — told the whole story of the original Nintendo DS.

A great example of this is Steel Diver, a prototype of which appeared around the launch of the DS. Taking advantage of the 3DS’ sensors, you can use the 3DS like a periscope, rotating your person to see a 360° view of a sea and the various targets. The lower touch screen control the speed of the sub’s engines and when and how deeply it dives. Playing it brought back fond memories of playing the arcade game Sea Wolf.

Yes, it’s also in 3D, and as with most of the 3DS games I’ve tried, it enhances the experience, at least initially, even though moving about with the handheld risks exiting the sweet spot that can cause a shift in the display. However, in contrast to the game-defining mechanic, Steel Diver’s 3D effects can be reduced or turned off completely, just as they can be for any 3DS game.

Nintendo may have scooped just about everyone else on a portable autostereoscopic display. and that is clearly the showstopper feature, but the "DS" part of the 3DS is at least as important as the "3D" part; it’s success will be determined in large part by the way Nintendo has integrated 3D, not just that they have implemented it.

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