Can Nintendo Make 3D Relevant?
When Nintendo officially unveiled the 3DS at last year’s E3, fans were understandably excited. Being able to view stereoscopic images without using special glasses was cool enough, but when the games rolled out, minds exploded. Expectations for the system were through the roof, a roof which many believe the console has yet to even reach. But I’m not here to discuss the 3DS’s shortcomings. Rather, I’m here to ask you if Nintendo can make 3D, one of the key features of their new system, as relevant as it was just a few years ago when James Cameron’s Avatar revitalized interest in the technology.
Obviously, Nintendo cares a lot about 3D. They have tried it before in the NES game Rad Racer, the ill-fated Virtual Boy, in the Gamecube (even though it was never enabled in any games, the Gamecube has the capability to output in 3D), and have already confirmed that the Wii U has 3D output capabilities. The company has had a long history of experimentation, and it seems to culminate with their current efforts. But as of right now, no one game has used 3D to it’s full potential; in a way that not only adds a neat visual gimmick, but is useful in gameplay. The most obvious uses for 3D are in racing games, to help judge distance between vehicles and braking zones, and platformers, to help judge player location. This holiday, 3DS owners get offerings in both genres, in the form of Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7.
This pair of Mario games is not only crucial to the future of 3DS, but to the future of 3D stereoscopic gaming. Both of these games need not only to be some of the best games this year, but also to show the use of 3D in inspiring ways. Allow me to clarify. If you were fortunate enough to experience Super Mario 64 in 1996, you most likely remember how well the franchise transitioned into a fully-rendered 3D world. The opening of the game, consisting of little more than Mario jumping out of a warp pipe, inspired so many to try their hand at creating a three-dimensional world. Even the Banjo-Kazooie games bear the mark of Mario 64. The newest trailer for Super Mario 3D Land shows enough footage that, with a little imagination, one can see how beneficial 3D stereoscopy is in a game like Mario. Check it out below:
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I personally love 3D and, frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on more 3D software in the future. Games like Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D and films like Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender work like a poison, simply trying to cash in on a fad with barely noticeable or poorly converted post-production 3D effects. Director James Cameron has warned about the dangers of shameless “2.5D” slapdash conversions, especially the aforementioned Clash of the Titans. It’s 3D was heavily criticized, and the conversion took only eight weeks. In the conversion of Titanic, James Cameron has said it will take “6 months to a year to get it right.” There is a reason 3D has lasted for so long in so many incarnations, and that’s because we like it. Poor 3D is the main reason for the eye strain and headaches that so many attribute to the technology. Stereoscopy has faced many hurdles, but if history is any indication, Mario should have no trouble casually triple-jumping over every single one.