It feels like a slight of hand, of mind, of eye: But hold Nintendo's 3DS in front of you, turn it on and the top screen drops away turning the imagined world 3D.
There are some kinks that still need to be worked out for the upcoming, glasses-free 3D gaming device. The window in which 3D looks 3D on that screen and doesn't appear fuzzy or make you feel cross-eyed, is extremely narrow.
Hold the device too close, too far, tilt it too much in either direction and the magic is gone.
But hold it just right and your perceptions change, the game is 3D, without glasses. Without glasses. It sounds unbelievable, and when it works it is unbelievable.
I tried out seven different demos on the system and they all offered interesting different bits of information.
The 3DS will be able to play real Hollywood movies in 3D without the need for glasses. I checked out a trailer for one and was as impressed as I am when I watch a Real 3D movie. Which is to say, not very. The 3D feels painted on, used to highlights bits of the screen, certain objects, but not to create an entirely 3D experience. But that's not the fault of the 3DS or Nintendo, that's all up to the movie makers.
Next I checked out an interactive trailer for Metal Gear Solid in 3D. The jungle popped in 3D. Leaves brushed up against the camera. I could adjust the point of view just slightly with the analogue thumbstick. It was a neat way to show off how subtle 3D can be on this system. And how, even as a subtle addition, the effect has an amazing impact.
Next was Resident Evil. This is when I ran into my first issue. I started off the cutscene with the 3DS resting on the table, but in my hands. It was a bit further away from my face then it typically would be when playing. The impact was horrendous. It felt like I had gone permanently cross eyed. It made my stomach flop slightly and my eyes quickly tried to correct what they were seeing. I used the slider on the face of the 3DS to turn the 3D down but it didn't help. They I tried moving the 3DS slightly closer and suddenly the game's images synced and the world was amazingly deep.
I tried putting the screen even closer to my face, moving it way too close and the image went double again. Tilting the 3DS or moving it to either side made the image fuzzy.
There is, I learned, a 3D sweet-spot for the 3DS, a bubble in which the image is perfect and deep. Outside the bubble things go wrong.
Next I tried out a neat little Nintendo demo that showed 3D sculptures. I could use the slider to move around the images. This was the best looking demo of the bunch. Well almost, certainly the best looking game demo.
Nintendogs and Cats had a neat effect, using the bottom screen to let you interact with the 3D pets and throw objects. But the 3D didn't blow me away. It was, though, still very solid, deep 3D.
Next I checked out the Kid Icarus trailer, now in full 3D. I was impressed with how seemingly powerful the system must be to deliver this level of gameplay and graphics all in 3D.
The most impressive thing I saw this morning, though, was the 3DS' camera. The ability to take a picture in 3D and then view it in 3D seconds later may sound like a gimick. But it's the sort of gimmick that will require a hunt for your socks afterward.
When you activate the camera you use the thumbstick to slide back and forth on what you want the focal point to be in the image. So you can make the thing closest to you in focus or the thing in the back. Once you snap the pic you can look at it on that top screen.
The effect is astounding. I took a picture of the woman who had the 3DS padlocked to her waist. She's smiling and has her hands up. The hands feel like they're popping out of the screen, behind the room just goes on and on.