Over the past few weeks, the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo's troubled little handheld, has been making headlines. Nintendo has done everything from hitting us with a barrage of game announcements, to slashing the system price, to marketing an attachment providing a second circle pad for enhanced gameplay. Sadly, 3DS sales have continued to be lower than planned, and Nintendo's share price fell another 4% on Friday.
But, all hope might not be lost for the Kyoto-based gaming company. In an unprecedented news conference, president Satorou Iwata, Mario creator and game producer Shigeru Myamoto, and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime announced a brand-new handheld which will hit stores in mid-2012. Hold onto your SD Cards, folks--it's the Nintendo 4DS!
Yes, it's true! This top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art gaming system promises to revolutionize the handheld industry with its patented 4D technology.
What is 4D technology, you ask? Simple: technology that allows you to manipulate the fourth dimension--time!
It's a mind-bending idea, so let me explain. The 3D slider on the 3DS allowed one to adjust depth, right? Well, the 4D slider on the 4DS allows you to see puzzles, characters, people, and objects as they were in the past--or as they will be in the future!
So, how is it used? Again, simple: using the 4DS Camera (upgraded to a stunning 0.5MP in comparison to the 3DS's paltry 0.3MP), look at something in the environment and adjust the 4D slider to manipulate how the object looks. Moving it down will let you see what it looked like in the past, and moving it up will give you a glimpse into the future. Using the Options function, you can adjust how much time elapses as you move the slider. From seeing what your dog looked like eight days ago to taking at look at your mother as she will be in forty years, the 4DS Camera lets you see it all!
But wait--there's more, right???
Of course! But, before we continue, let's take a look at the 4DS diagram released today.
A diagram of the Nintendo 4DS.
1. The circle pad, first seen in the Nintendo 3DS.
2. The D-Pad, which will assist in menu nagivation.
3. The ABXY buttons.
4. The second circle pad, which will function much like the C-stick on Nintendo GameCube controllers.
5 and 6. The L and R buttons, moved from the shoulder position to compensate for the larger top screen.
7. The aforementioned 4D slider. The moveable nub naturally returns to the centre of the slider to allow for easy past/future viewing.
8. The volume slider.
9, 10, and 11. The Select, Start, and Home buttons, with similar functionality to their 3DS counterparts. To avoid a serious system bug, the Home button will not activate unless the 4D slider nub is in its natural central position.
12. DEFG buttons, reserved for use in yet unannounced games.
Oh boy--I'm PSYCHED!!!
And well should you be. Now, unfortunately, in accordance with the Temporal Prime Directive (a big, over-arching law regulating time distortion information), we can't show you any pictures of the 4D technology in action. We CAN, however, show you two screenshots of two at-launch games for the 4DS. One is a cute, clever, well-made puzzle game called Paint Thinnerz,
and one is (drum roll)
a remake of one of Nintendo's finest games, Super Mario 64!
Have you sufficiently cleaned up after shitting your drawers? Good!
An image of the title screen of the at-launch game Paint Thinnerz.
In Paint Thinnerz, you use the 4DS stylus to draw your way through mazes. By using the 4D slider, you can take the maze forward or backward through time and thus open up new routes. Using items like the Blowtorch, the Blizzard Gun, the Branch Whip, and the Butter Knife, you clear the maze of enemies. Blast and time-warp your way through 500 mazes at three difficulty levels: Vear Easy, Moderately Easy, and Easy. Get a perfect score on every maze in Easy mode, and a special character costume might become available to you (or so Mr. Iwata hinted).
But, really, you don't care much about Paint Thinnerz, do you? No--you want to see Super Mario 64D, don't you? Well, we might just be able to grant that request.
This screenshot reveals gameplay elements from Super Mario 64, albeit enhanced with 4DS graphics capabilities.
Take a minute to salivate over the graphics. As you can see by the mouse pointer, the stylus is heavily involved in gameplay; similar to how the Wii Remote was involed in the Super Mario Galaxy games, players can use the stylus to stun enemies and collect coins. As well, 20 additional stars will be collectible making use of 4D manipulation...although just how that will play out is a secret to all of us. We also learned that the game will feature a Super Duper Guide--if you die more than three times, someone will finish the game for you at no penalty to you whatsoever. Isn't that nice of Nintendo?
This image of Reggie Fils-Aime, though heavily edited by his nay-sayers, best exemplifies the expression he wore during the interview.
Mr. Fils-Aime was also happy to note a number of other game releases for the 4DS, such as, "several games geared toward the growing female gamer community, a remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon,
and a possible Metroid title remake."
Yes, remakes are going to be stressed for the 4DS, as will non-gaming features such as an 8-bit photo renderer, an internet browser (still no Flash support, but Fils-Aime assures us that it's a planned update), Pocket Netflix (a downgraded version of Netflix with faster load times--perfect for long car rides), and a remake of the popular 3DS application Face Raiders.
When I asked Mr. Iwata about potential AR interaction for the 4DS, he had this to say: "Every 4DS system will be shipped with our patented Light-Sensitive Dream Cards (LSD Cards). The faster and more often you use them, the more you will enjoy them."
I, for one, was blown away by everything the 4DS could be. Nintendo promises that we are on the verge of a technological transformation. So revolutionary is this system, in fact, that as the other journalists and I were leaving Nintendo's headquarters, Japanese government officials and the FBI were leading a raid to find out how Nintendo's 4D technology works. Will Nintendo spill the beans?