This article will attempt to address WHAT we know for sure, what is heavily speculated by the industry as well as my own personal expectations of Nintendo with regards to this new handheld.
This document will update constantly until E3's official announcement, so check back often or subscribe to the discussion thread about this article.
What Do We Know
In reality, we KNOW very little. Here is what we have so far...
- FCC pictures of the product (or some portion of it) were leaked earlier this year when they shouldn't have been.
- The unit will have "3D without glasses" and it will not be based on the current "head tracking 3D" technology that is out now.
- It is fully Nintendo DS compatible.
- The codename for the hardware is "Nintendo CTR"
- Scheduled for release in Japan not later than March 2011
- The 3D technology is licensed from a Japanese company
- Many companies big and small (including names like Capcom) are already developing games for the new unit.
- EA CEO John Riccitiello says he's seen the 3DS and says "It's Cool".
Industry Speculation and Rumor Mill
Every year this gets Nintendo into more and more trouble. Remember the Wii's launch? We expected 3D holographic projectors for crying out loud. Let's see if we can keep things respectable this year ...
- It has processing capabilities that surpass the Wii and are closer to 360/PS3 capabilities.
- The unit will have a full accelerometer (like the Wii Motion Plus)
- The unit will be priced at $199 at launch.
- 3G connectivity isn't "out of the question".
- 3D, while the big initial focus of the system, isn't going to be "all" the new portable is about.
- Craig (IGN) backs up the 360/PS3 power rumor, as he’s the one that got the info from devs
- devs were very impressed with the power
- Quality of the visuals will depend on the resolution of the 3D screen
- significant power needed for the double rendering of 3d image
- 3D will be an option on the system itself
- Apparently a slider will be able to toggle the strength of the 3D effect
- IGN believes there will be a Mario Kart game
- Developers are trying to figure out what to do with the 3D
- some devs still waiting on 3DS dev kits
- Craig (IGN) has heard the 3D effect is very cool
- Rumor: "3DS" To Be Officially Called "Nintendo DST" (according to a Natsume press release)
- Rumor: "3DS" Games from third parties to be revealed at E3!
- Rumor: 3D Animal Crossing to be announced from Nintendo at E3
- Chinese Blogger claims he has a dev unit, here is his contribution:
- 3D camera
- two differently-designed screens
- tilt sensor
- MP3/AAC hardware decode function
- media player
- second, proprietary medium for games specific to the portable
- games will fit on a card about the size of a Compact Flash card
- system is designed to accept both new games and DS games
- may both fit into the same slot
- other dev sources claim the device to be as powerful as Wii
- multiple devs are said to be quite enthusiastic over the device
We don't have much, but here is what we DO have ...
According to a Chinese Blogger that has a dev unit, THIS IS THE NEW 3DS!
Here is the rumored leaked FCC prototype board.
Here is an artist rendering of what the 3DS MIGHT look like (I think is is pretty damn close)
Shane's Thoughts and Speculation
Here is where I'll freeform my opinions about the product, based on what I know about Nintendo's history and the blurbs of information I acquire over time ...
- I concur at the $199 price point. This means the tech inside this unit musn't exceed about $140 in order for Nintendo to make it's always-present-profit-margin on launch hardware.
- Based on $140'ish limit on the tech cost, I do not believe we'll see anything close to 360/PS3 inside this unit from a pure cost perspective alone. Gamecube/Dreamcast/PS2? Absolutely.
- I could see Nintendo reducing profit margin on this release simply to pack in more stuff in hopes of combatting other portable/mobile devices. An extra $10 or so can offer up a lot of extra tech. They will still make money.
- Nintendo has a watchful eye on battery life; which leads me to believe "raw power" won't be the crux of this handheld - although it will receive a significant "bump" technologically from the existing DS line.
- We will finally see a proper "Virtual Console" happen on this hardware; bringing up to N64 games on the unit. We will finally see Gameboy games available as the budget titles - and get this; I believe DS games will be available for the "Virtual Console".
- This unit will defintely "wow" many core gamers. This will be seen as the "Super Gameboy" as well as the "DS Successor".
- The screens will be EVEN CLOSER now and yes, this time, they will BOTH be touch ... BUT ...
- My predictions? There will NOT be a second screen! The unit will have a SINGLE high resolution, touch screen that, when put into portrait mode, will emulate the Nintendo DS's double screens.
- If they keep two screens, I can see the top screen being simply a DS compatible screen, and the lower screen will be "vertical letterboxed" like SD content is on HD tvs. The physical screen differences has always made the DS unique - but I think Nintendo is going to do away with it and move to "HD" single screen gaming. It would please the developers and gamers alike. Personally, I'll miss it.
- For 3D to work, you need a lot more pixels and a lot more processing. I figure the bottom/solo screen will be about the resolution of my Droid; 800x400ish.
- Two cameras; the external camera will get a boost from the existing DSi tech (3-5MP), but the internal camera will probably be stock DSi.
- Look for a slicker UI, like an Android or iPhone - but with a Mario/Ninty twist.
- The "online shop" will be it's own separate entity; you will not be playing DSiWare games on the 3DS.
- Yes, scary enough - the Vitality Sensor will work with the 3DS ...
- This unit will finally get Wii integration proper - possibly letting you play virtual console games you purchase on Wii right on your 3DS!
- They will still find a way to dick up video and audio playback, even though the unit is perfectly capable of beautiful video playback and enhanced audio playback. Forget MP3s and Xvid. AAC and MP4 is what I'd wager - and even then, expect the lid to be tight.
- TV out via HDMI? Not even CLOSE to being out of the question. In fact, I'd bet on it (even if it requires an add on dock).
- Expect the wifi capabilities to finally enter this century. We will see a significant increase in speed to support the larger downloads.
- Accelerometer? Damn right we'll have one. It will be at least as good as an iTouch.
- Goodbye SD card slot ... Welcome, microSD card slot.
- Watch for a mysterious external port on the unit - that no one knows what it's for - labeled EXT ...
- Battery life will be on par with the DSi, and yes, they will change power plugs again. (Sigh, if only they would go miniUSB like everything else I own ...)
- 512MB internal STORAGE memory, up to 16GB on the SD card. Don't worry, there will be no refrigeration shuffle this time - that's why the internal storage is so small.
- Music playback during DS gaming? Yeah, this will be COMPLETELY possible - if not at launch, it will probably come later. Playback during 3DS gaming? Probably not.
I think these are pretty in-line with Nintendo and pricing. While all of these things are surely POSSIBLE - we know Nintendo drops the "obvious balls" sometimes.