At a lavishly-produced event in the evening of March 3rd at Monte Casino in Johannesburg, South Africa, invited guests from across the country gathered to celebrate the upcoming launch of the Nintendo 3DS on March 25th.
Hosted by Core Gaming (official distributors of Nintendo in South Africa), not only were we treated to a stylish party and incredible entertainment, but we were also presented with a host of fantastic information on the 3DS itself, culminating in the opportunity to go hands-on with a dozen 3DS games throughout the evening.
The party was held in La Toscana in Monte Casino, and the team at Core expertly decked out the space provided with an amazing front entrance and a suitably futuro-chic interior, including expansive decorations and small touches to keep up the awesome theme and vibe.
As food and drink flowed freely and the hundreds of guests mingled, dancers and performers of inhuman skill pranced and leaped around the entrance and room to keep us entertained with their manic manoeuvres, but these routines were merely tasters for what was to come – the stage setup stood imposingly at the far end of the room and, to begin with, enjoyed an inverse amount of activity to the rest of the area.
But this would soon change. Something big was going to happen here!
After an hour or so of mixing, meeting, greeting and chatting, none other than Jason Greer took to the stage to act as MC for the night’s proceedings, and as his first order of business he brought to the stage Core’s general manager, Matthew Grose.
Grose and Greer chatted about some of the main new features of the 3DS, including StreetPass, SpotPass, the effortless creation of Mii characters on the 3DS, as well as all of the great pre-installed software that will come standard with every Nintendo 3DS.
A great to-do was obviously made about the fact that the 3DS sports the ability to display in full 3D without the use of special glasses to see the effect, and with the 3DS, you can manually adjust the strength of the 3D in games, movies and applications with a special slider on the side of the device (as opposed to a toggle on/off button).
In addition, the 3DS has a built-in motion sensor and gyro sensor, which reacts to the motion and tilt of the console. This means that you’ll be able to control games and interact with game worlds simply by moving the 3DS, and some games will even require you to move the 3DS around in physical space to, for example, find targets that are outside of the screen (look out for our hands-on impressions of the games on show to find out more about this).
With the 3DS, you’ll also be able to play all of your previous DS and DSi games, as well as capture full 3D photos to view later and watch 3D movies released over the online store.
New Wi-Fi features of the 3DS were also discussed, namely StreetPass and SpotPass.
StreetPass will allow 3DS owners to automatically exchange game data with one another simply by being in close proximity with one another, such as in passing on the street. If you choose to enable StreetPass, you’ll be able to swap information such as character data, high scores, custom data, in-game maps and more. Developers will then be able to use this information in their games so you can unlock more content automatically, or level up your in-game characters and gain new items.
SpotPass, on the other hand, allows your 3DS to automatically connect to compatible public hotspots and wireless broadband internet connections, even if the console is in Sleep Mode. Once connect, the 3DS will download new content and updates, again, automatically.
The 3DS will come standard with a host of built in software, too, including the Mii Maker, which is similar to the tool found on the Wii allowing you to create a virtual representation of yourself for use on the system and in games. You’ll even be able to take a photo of yourself and allow the Mii Maker to automatically create a preliminary Mii for you, to edit later.
Other included software will make fun use of the three cameras built into the 3DS (one camera facing inward, and two facing outward), such as Face Raiders, a game that will task you with shooting warped versions of your own face.
The 3DS can also act as a pedometer (to count the number of steps you take while the device is in Sleep Mode), and when you move, you’ll earn ‘Play Coins,’ currency that can be used to purchase additional content in compatible games and software ‒ you’ll be able to check how many steps you’ve taken by accessing the Activity Log on the 3DS. A piece of software called ‘Nintendo 3DS Sound,’ meanwhile, allows you to manipulate sounds with the included tools, or listen to MP3s and AAC music files, much like the DSi.
In amongst all of this feature talk, Greer introduced us to a number of performance acts, all of which were astonishing displays of human strength and grace ‒ clear crowd favourites! You can see a few photos of these performances below, and many more over here ‒ we were very impressed, to say the least!
To cap off the preliminary part of the evening, dozens of models stormed the stage, each of whom was packing their very own Nintendo 3DS with a dedicated game or application running on the system. Unfortunately, the handhelds were attached to these men and women with a belt and power cord (described by one of the 3DS holders as an ‘umbilical cord’), so no quick getaways were possible:
Of course, such an extravagant and important event wouldn’t be complete without equally important information, so with it came the reveal that when the Nintendo 3DS goes on sale on March 25th in South Africa, it will retail for R2799, with games retailing for R499.
The event was a complete success, leaving us with great excitement for the release of the 3DS in South Africa and dreams of when next we might get to experience the amazing games on display, including The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D, Battle of Giants: Dinosaur Strike, Super Paper Mario 3D, Steel Diver, Pilotwings Resort and more, as well as some fantastic demonstrations of augmented reality gaming.
We’ll be bringing you our hands-on impressions of these titles very soon, so stay tuned!