Have I been critical with the Nintendo 3DS? Of course, how could I not be? While Nintendo is usually on the forefront of innovation (see: motion control) throwing their hat into the 3D suck-o-sphere caused me to rub my chin and wonder why. Why is facial hair so rough? Why can't I grow a full beard? Why is Nintendo jumping on the 3D bandwagon?
Let me get this out of the way; 3D hurts my head. Though I am notorious for drawing headaches from simple things such as bright light (acute Vampirism doc tells me), this is different. Raise your hand if 3D screws with your head too.
Of the 3DS games I played at Nintendo's PAX East booth, I took the lowest expectations over to Steel Diver. Surprisingly, the game itself was better than I expected. Shiggy Miyamoto has that type of effect on games, I guess. The primary actions of the mode we played included diving, surfacing, and adjusting the periscope by scanning the console. The controls were simple and felt natural. Unfortunately, 3D and sea motion don't play nice together. How does one play this game for more than 30 minutes without feeling utterly nauseus?
3DS gameplay cannot be captured over photo or video, so here is a picture of a kitten doing kung fu in its place
The 3DS title that I most wanted to play was Kid Icarus: Uprising. A popular figure for Nintendo finally gets some much overdue love by way of a new title. After playing the game, I couldn't help but ponder if Nintendo secretly hates Kid Icarus, and has been plotting its failure since development on Uprising began. Why, you ask? Terrible controls. You have to work the joystick and trigger with your left hand, while maneuvering the stylus with your right. I hope your left-handed grip is immaculate, or you game over a mattress, because your new $250 investment could go plummeting to the floor if you're not careful.
I walked away from Nintendo's booth most impressed with Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Partially because I love score attack modes -- Mercenaries modes in previous Resident Evil titles have always brought me joy -- and partially because, well, they've taken the feel and look of Resident Evil 4 and 5, shrunk it down, and built upon it nicely nicely. Did you know you can enter first person mode when shooting, and also move while aiming? That's right, this is 2011! Maybe in 2020, we'll see something as crazy as shooting while you run. Also, Hunk. No story to be found here, just tons of score attacking, with two-player online co-op and a wide assortment of playable characters. Also, Jack Krauser.
TL; DR: 3D still sucks. I'm convinced the 3DS is a gimmick. While the sturdy and attractive design of the hardware has somethings going for it, the faith it places in a (foolish) technological trend, as well as the lack of a true software standout caused me to leave Nintendo's booth feeling slightly underwhelmed.
Though honestly, I said the same thing about the DS, and look how that turned out. If I end up eating crow, I'll be the first to admit it.