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3DS easy to get hooked on

AR (augmented-reality) games are part 3-D world Nintendo 3DS system which goes sale Sunday. | AP

AR (augmented-reality) games are part of the 3-D world of the Nintendo 3DS system, which goes on sale Sunday. | AP

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Updated: June 29, 2011 12:21AM

Grown-ups and casual gamers aren’t typically the people you see glued to a portable game system from Nintendo. But having spent time with the handheld Nintendo 3DS, which goes on sale Sunday, I can envision kids wrestling Mom and Dad for the chance to have a go at Nintendo’s highly anticipated portable player. The 3DS is fun, addictive — and pricey at $250, especially when you consider that its portable predecessors, the Nintendo DS family, cost $130 to $170.

Of course, DS devices (which remain in Nintendo’s lineup) lack the chief selling points of the 3DS, notably 3-D gaming without the sort of clunky glasses you don to watch extra-dimension movies or 3-D TV.

Nintendo hopes such 3-D hocus-pocus will perform competitive magic. The 3DS arrives at a time when Nintendo not only faces competition in mobile gaming from traditional rivals such as Sony (with its handheld PSP) but also from many appealing and typically far less expensive games that work on smartphones as well as tablets such as the iPad.

The 3DS player, at just over 8 ounces and with a 0.8-inch-deep clamshell, is a lot heavier and bulkier than the phone you’ve got in your pocket. It has two LCD screens. The top 31/2 -inch display shows off 3-D. The bottom is a 3-inch touch-screen you manipulate with a finger or, in some instances, with the supplied stylus, especially when you have to type on a small virtual keyboard. You manipulate the action through a joystick-like circle pad, control pad and control buttons.

It took me awhile to get accustomed to 3-D on the 3DS. The stereoscopic 3-D technology inside Nintendo’s new system is cool if imperfect. You are meant to view the 3-D screen at about 10 to 14 inches from your eyes. You’ll have to view the 3-D screen head-on and may have to tweak it with a depth slider control to get the proper effect. Getting dizzy is not out of the question.

I was mostly blown away by augmented-reality, or AR, games that introduce a fire-breathing dragon and other animated characters superimposed on top of real-world objects, such as the coffee table. The 3DS device comes with AR cards that you place on a flat, well-lit surface. In one engaging archery game, you aim the camera at targets that appear on top of the AR card as you walk around the room looking through the screen. Once you’ve hit all the targets, other 3-D characters come after you. Neat stuff.

Gannett News Service

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