Some people got "Nintendo thumb." Others complained of "Wii elbow." Should we next worry about "3DS Headache"?
The novel glasses-free 3D display of the Nintendo 3DS has "no health issues," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told Kotaku this week, though he added a caveat regarding the youngest of Nintendo consumers.
"We are working with the experts in the field," he said. "We've done extensive testing. We have a legacy of bringing only the best and finest products to the marketplace.
Fils-Aime was addressing concerns that the system's eye-popping tech might cause headaches or other unpleasantness if viewed for an extended period of time. The 3DS' top screen uses undisclosed technology and optical tricks to make a user looking directly at the screen feel as if the graphics of the game they are playing have added depth, the difference between looking at a movie that shows fish and a fishtank.
The one population of players he would like to keep from using the optional 3D display of the 3DS are children under seven.
"We will recommend that very young children not look at 3D images," he said. "That's because, [in] young children, the muscles for the eyes are not fully formed... This is the same messaging that the industry is putting out with 3D movies, so it is a standard protocol. We have the same type of messaging for the [1990s Nintendo virtual reality machine] Virtual Boy, as an example."
Fils-Aime said that "young children" cut-off edge would be around seven. Kids are certainly a relevant portion of Nintendo's audience, eager consumers of games like Pokemon and Nintendogs, the latter of which will see a sequel called Nintendogs + Cats on the 3DS. A slider on the 3DS allows a user to decrease and eventually shut off the machine's 3D display, flattening the game graphics to the more conventional flat look.
Kotaku writers including myself tried the 3DS at E3. I played and played and viewed several enjoyable games and videos in 3D. While I noticed that a direct viewing angle was needed to appreciate the 3D effect, I did not experience any optical or physical discomfort. Others on the team said that one or another of the games did make them feel queasy if viewed from the wrong angle. Actively messing with the slider that controls the intensity of the system's 3D effect by swiftly switching it up and down many times did leave one of our team members with a two-day eye ache. Moving it gently left another one of us with no such ailment. Most people I spoke to who had tried the system did not complain of discomfort, but none of us has played the 3DS for more than a few minutes.
Fils-Aime also talked to Kotaku about other elements of the 3DS. He confirmed that the system will be out before the end of March 2011. The 3DS form factor that was shown at E3 should not be considered final, he said, though the company plans to manufacture the extendable stylus shown with the 3DS. He said the company was still determining whether games for the machine would be region-locked, so as to only play, like most console games, in systems sold in certain regions of the world. He noted that downloadable games for the DSi were the first games for Nintendo's DS line to be region-locked.
The Nintendo of America president declined to name a price for the system, but on the subject of battery life, he offered, "Has there ever been a Nintendo handheld without a good battery life?" Asked if that meant people could expect a comparable level of battery life as they get with their DSes, he said they could.