Nintendo DS Wiki
Nintendo 3DS
Manufacturer Nintendo
Released Japan.gif February 26, 2011
Europe.gif March 25, 2011
America.gif March 27, 2011
Australia.gif March 31, 2011
Online service Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
Price Japan.gif ¥15,000

Europe.gif €169.99
America.gif $169.99

Backward compatibility Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi games
Preceded by Nintendo DS (2004–Present)

The Nintendo 3DS is an eighth generation Nintendo video game handheld released on February 26, 2011 in Japan, March 25, 2011 for Europe, March 27, 2011 in America and March 31, 2011 in Australia. It succeeds the first Nintendo DS line of systems. One of the most noteworthy features of the handheld is the ability of the upper screen to display 3D without the need for glasses in a technique known as Autostereoscopy. It is backwards compatible with Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi games. The system is motion and gyro enabled and features analog circle controls, referred to by Nintendo as a 'Circle Pad', a first for a company handheld. As with the Nintendo DSi, the Nintendo 3DS has a camera function, however, the outer camera is composed by 2 lens, similar to the human vision, enabling owners to take pictures and view them in 3D. The system is also able to provide optimal comfort levels, as shown by the 3D depth slider and adjustable telescopic stylus.


The Nintendo 3DS, like its predecessor, features two screens. The top screen is widescreen and capable of displaying 3D graphics without the need for 3D glasses, in a process called autostereoscopy, while the bottom screen is a touch screen. The bottom screen is unable to display 3D graphics, a decision made by Nintendo due to the abundance of smudges that would obscure the images produced, as well as the fact that the hand of the player and a stylus would get in the way. While not confirmed, scratches may also have played a role in the omission of 3D on the bottom screen. The player is able to adjust the depth of the 3D via a 3D slider Nintendo implemented on the right side of the upper screen of the handheld. The 3D slider was made in order for players to find their preferred 3D depth. Those who wish to turn it off completely (either if they want to if they can't see 3D due to myopia) are allowed to do so. Nintendo has made statements that the 3D technology allows long periods of play without eyestrain. Nevertheless, they have discussed the possibilities of implementing a feature in games that suggests that players take a break every once in a while, like the Virtual Boy, and have reportedly suggested that third party developers do the same.

The 3DS contains several other enhancements over the previous Nintendo handhelds. The Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL both had a camera built on the inside and outside of the system. This returns with the 3DS, though this time there is 2 lenses on the outside camera, with both of them being only slightly separated so that, when the player takes a picture, it can be viewed in 3D, like the human eyes. The inside camera is now stationed above the top screen rather than below it (as the DSi) and can take 2D pictures. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has confirmed that 3D video recording will be coming to the 3DS this November through a system update that also updates StreetPass' Find Me and Puzzle Swap, and an updated version of the Nintendo eShop.

New to the 3DS is the Circle Pad. Similar to an analog stick, the circle pad is the first of its kind on a Nintendo handheld. The standard buttons present on the Nintendo DS are also on the 3DS, including the face buttons (A, B, X, Y), Start and Select, the D-Pad, and the shoulder buttons (L and R). A new button called the HOME button, similar to the one featured on the Wii Remote, allows players to instantly go to the 3DS's home menu and switch between other games & apps. Doing this will not stop the progress the player made in a video game as they are capable of going back to where they were by pressing the home button again.

A motion sensor and a gyro sensor, similar to the one featured in Apple's iOS platforms, was incorporated into the Nintendo 3DS. With these two sensors, the 3DS is efficiently capable of discerning the movements of the Nintendo 3DS. For example, in a racing game, the 3DS would be able to apprehend that the players is rotating the handheld like a steering wheel. According to the system's developers, the sensors weren't included in the system until right before the Nintendo 3DS's unveiling at E3 2010, noting the consensus of the company that something in the system was lacking.


Two new welcome additions to the Nintendo 3DS are StreetPass and SpotPass. When in sleep mode, the 3DS can gather information from other 3DS owners when it enters its range. With this feature enabled, players can receive the other 3DS owner's Miis, game information (such as high scores), and more just by passing them by on the street. Unlike Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, a Nintendo DS game that required the game's cart to be in the DS and the mode activated, the 3DS's StreetPass allows for information exchanges to be performed on any game that the player owns, regardless of if they have it in the system or not. With SpotPass, the system is able to detect wireless hotspots and LAN access points of many public services such as restaurants, and automatically download content, updates and more to the system. This mode works both when the system is on or in sleep mode.

There are several pre-installed applications on the Nintendo 3DS that can be accessed on the Home Menu. The 3DS's Home Menu is similar to the one present on the Wii and Nintendo DSi systems. Unlike the Wii's Home Menu, separate applications are not referred to as "channels", because the 3DS is a portable gaming system, not a TV system. The Home Menu can be accessed at all times by simply pressing the home button on the 3DS. Doing so will not erase any data on the game currently in progress. You can also access the home menu when playing 3DS games or virtual consoles. You cannot, however, access it when playing DS or DSi games. There are also certain times in software when you cannot access the Home Menu, like the Wii (such as when a game is loading or saving).

The Miis, made famous with the Wii, are heavily featured on the Nintendo 3DS. The Nintendo DS featured some games that made use of the Miis, such as Personal Trainer: Walking, but did not feature a Mii application. The 3DS's Mii creation tool, titled Mii Maker, has numerous noteworthy enhancements over the Wii's Mii Channel. The most extraordinary new feature is the ability to take a picture of someone and have the Mii Maker automatically produce a Mii of that person (the player can subsequently make alterations if they prefer). In StreetPass Mii Plaza, an application similar to the Wii's Mii Parade, Miis that have been obtained through StreetPass (see above) can be viewed here.

In the Nintendo eShop, players can download classic Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Game Gear and Turbografx-16 games as well as titles made specifically for the service. Games made available on DSiWare, the Nintendo DSi's similar service, can also be purchased here. Classic Nintendo console video games released initially on the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System will also be available for purchase through the eShop with enhanced, 3D visual effects.

In addition to the preloaded applications there is a diverse set of preloaded video games that come with every Nintendo 3DS. Most of these video games are listed under AR Games and make use of one of the six AR Cards that come with every unit. In all there are around 15 AR Games with all but one having to be unlocked. Around half of the AR Games can only obtained by using the Activity Log's Play Coins. Face Raiders is another game that comes included with the system. With it, the person's face (taken with the inner camera or the outer cameras) is placed on different balloons that must be destroyed. Two games that make use of StreetPass, Find Mii and Puzzle Swap, come pre-installed with each device. Find Mii is an RPG style game where players try to escape a tower by battling enemies. The only way to get through the tower is by finding other player's Miis using StreetPass. In Puzzle Swap, players try and finish a 3D puzzle by acquiring puzzle pieces using StreetPass. Nintendo 3DS Sound is also StreetPass enabled. With it, players can see which songs the other person listens to the most.

The Activity Log promotes a healthy lifestyle by rewarding an active player with Play Coins. The Activity Log, like StreetPass and SpotPass, was made in order to get the 3DS in the pocket of the player as much as possible. It records how many steps the player takes and gives them Play Coins that can be used in retail games as well as games that come preloaded onto the system (such as the AR Games, see above). The Activity Log also keeps track of the games the user has played on their Nintendo 3DS and lists information on each one such as the amount of time spent on each game, the average time, the amount of times played, the first time the game was played, and the last time it was played.

3D effects[]

The 3D effect is the primary new feature of the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo advises that, in order to view the 3D properly, the user holds the unit approximately 10 to 14 inches away from their eyes (25-35 centimeters). Each user has their own "sweet spot" that can be found by adjusting not only the depth of the 3D visuals but also the height at which the Nintendo 3DS is held. The depth of the 3D effects can be altered by using the 3D depth slider on the side of the system. Nintendo suggests that users should regularly take 15 minute breaks in order to rest their eyes. While Nintendo's official stance on the product is that it is entirely safe, they ask parents of children under the age of seven to use the parental controls and restrict their children from viewing 3D images and instead put the system in 2D mode.

Tilting the Nintendo 3DS at an angle while 3D is turned on will cause the viewer to lose the effect and see a distorted image. For this reason, Nintendo asks its users to look at the screen head on. Looking down at the touch screen and back up at the top screen should not cause strain for most people and will not cause the viewer to momentarily lose the 3D effect when they return to the top screen. Some people are unable to see 3D images for various reasons, whether it be poor eyesight or blindness in one eye. For this reason, Nintendo suggests that players with this problem turn 3D off.

Licensed screen protectors used on the top screen, if used properly, will not diminish the 3D effects or the image produced. Nintendo notes that unlicensed products, having not been approved or disapproved by them, may cause the 3D images to recede.

System and feature updates[]

Through system updates, Nintendo will deliver improvements to the Nintendo 3DS. In order to receive the latest update from Nintendo, users are required to go to the System Settings menu on the Nintendo 3DS, touch "Other Settings" and go to page four where the user will find "System Update". After accepting the Terms of Agreement, the system will urge the player to charge the Nintendo 3DS while the update is being downloaded. It takes several minutes for the update to download, though if it seems to have stopped, it is advised that the user turns the system off and try again. Updates may make minor enhancements to the 3DS or include new features such as the Nintendo eShop, Netflix, the Internet Browser, and the ability to transfer DSiWare games to the Nintendo 3DS. An update which contained the eShop (among other things) was released on June 6, 2011. This November, the 3DS will be getting an update providing 3D video recording, StreetPass Find Me and Puzzle Swap levels, HD improvements, and an updated version of the Nintendo eShop.

Technical specifications[]

Nintendo 3DS
Weight 230g, or 8 ounces (note: original DS weighs 274g). This weight includes the battery pack, stylus and SD card.
Dimensions 2.9 inches high, 5.3 inches long, 0.8 inches deep
130x74x20 mm (this is less than the DS Lite's dimensions)
Screen Top screen: 3.53 inches display (3.02 inches wide, 1.81 inches high) with 800 x 240 pixel resolution. Wide-screen LCD display, enabling 3D view without the need for special glasses. 16.77 million colors. 400 pixels are allocated to each eye when 3D is enabled.
Bottom screen: 3.02 inches (2.42 inches wide, 1.81 inches high) with 320 x 240 pixel resolution. LCD touch screen. 16.77 million colors.
Battery 3-8 hours, lifespan will decrease the more it is used, timespan depends largely on the screen brightness, which game is being played, and the depth of the 3D images.
Wireless communication 2.4GHz. Can exchange data with other 3DS units through SpotPass and StreetPass. Can connect to the internet via wireless LAN access points (compatible with WPA/WPA2 IEEE802.11b/g security).
Cartridges Cartridges during the beginning of the 3DS's life span can store up to 2 GigaBytes of information.
GPU DMP Pica200 IP core
Camera Internal: One internal camera, resolution is 640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
External: Two external cameras for creating 3D images, resolution is 640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
Controls Four face buttons (A, B, X, Y), two shoulder buttons (L and R), 1 D-Pad, 1 Circle Pad (analog stick), a Touchscreen (lower screen), Accelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Start and Select buttons, power button, three cameras, volume and 3D depth control, and home button. Stylus is telescoping and is 100mm when extended.
Nintendo 3DS battery pack
Model name CTR-003
Battery type Lithium-lon
Power capacity 5Wh
Nintendo 3DS charging cradle
Model name CTR-007
Input/output DC 4.6V 900mA
Dimensions Height: 86.5mm / width: 138.2 mm / thickness: 31.8 mm
Weight Approximately 87.4 g
Nintendo 3DS AC adapter
Model name WAP-002 (USA)
Input 120V 60Hz 7W
Output DC 4.6V 900mA
Dimensions Height: 67.5 mm / width: 47.7 mm / thickness: 23.0 mm
Weight Approximately 80 g
Cord length Approximately 1.9 m
Compatible products Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DSi XL, Nintendo DSi

System Colors[]

  • Aqua Blue
  • Cosmo Black
  • Flame Red
  • Misty Pink (coming soon in Japan)


3D beginnings[]

File:Famicom 3D poster.jpg

A Famicom 3D System poster.

On several occasions Nintendo has experimented with 3D technology. Overall, the several attempts had mixed results critically and commercially. Nintendo's first descent into 3D was as early as the Famicom era when they released the Famicom 3D System in Japan. A clunky accessory that players were required to place on their head, the 3D System was used in very few games. In fact, of the games released, Nintendo only published one title that made use of the accessory called Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally. Other titles released that were 3D System enabled include Highway Star (Rad Racer in Western countries) and Falsion. The device was ultimately a failure, with numerous consumers complaining about the motion sickness they experienced when wearing the goggles. This, in addition to the dismal support it received from developers including Nintendo, led to its cancellation. It was never released outside of Japan.

Not one to give up, Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi, who always wanted the objects in video games to pop out at the player, continued investing money in 3D technology. Gunpei Yokoi was the lead designer in the next project, titled the Virtual Boy. The Virtual Boy was an interesting project but failed for several reasons. Yamauchi conclusively saw a larger chance of success in the Nintendo 64 and diverted most of his attention, manpower and money to that product while almost anticipating a certain doom for the less appealing, unsightly and awkward Virtual Boy. Despite a nice sized marketing campaign, the Virtual Boy was discontinued in less than a year. In anticipation of the 3DS launch, president Satoru Iwata surprisingly discussed the Virtual Boy with lead designer Shigeru Miyamoto.

File:E3 1995.gif

A woman playing the Virtual Boy at E3 1995.

The two shared their thoughts on the device and Miyamoto concluded that one of the reasons the Virtual Boy failed was because it didn't share the same technology with the superior Nintendo 64. He said that the Nintendo 64 was meant to "confront 3D head-on", while the "Virtual Boy was using different technology to aim at enjoyment of 3D without rushing in the general direction 3D was headed at the time." He went on to say that the wire frames that the Virtual Boy employed "weren't terribly appealing", saying that he thought initially about using them for the Nintendo 64 but abandoned the idea when he realized that they didn't work well for video games. Iwata also recognized that the red-and-black visuals were also a detriment to the system.

Since then, Nintendo experimented with 3D in several instances but never released the products to the market. Every Nintendo GameCube is 3D ready, however no accessory was released or even announced that made use of the GameCube's capabilities. This fact was revealed years after the GameCube was discontinued, and it was also reported that Luigi's Mansion, a launch title for the system, actually was at one time working in 3D. It's interesting to note that Hideki Konno, the product producer of the 3DS, was also the director of Luigi's Mansion. Iwata noted that, had they released an accessory for the GameCube that took advantage of its potentiality, it would have been more expensive than the system itself. Soon after this, the designers of the Game Boy Advance SP merely examined the possibilities of 3D without special glasses for the handheld, but decided against the idea when they discovered that the resolution of LCD was too low at the time, which would have lessened the effect of the 3D stereoscopic visuals. More recently, Hiroshi Yamauchi enquired about the possibilities of adding some kind of 3D effects to Shigureden, a display focusing on Hyakunin Isshu playing cards that Nintendo assisted in the development of. Ultimately, the designers didn't have enough time when it came to creating such an effect for the exhibit and thus deserted the idea. Miyamoto, who was involved in the creation of the Shigureden, stated that even though they didn't manage to create something special for the exhibition, he and the rest of Nintendo managed to learn a lot about 3D in the process, which assisted in the development of the 3DS.



Konno was the producer of the 3DS.

Nintendo claims that they begin development on their next system before the current system has even been released. This is true with the 3DS, as the designers have claimed that they began performing research into the next product. At the time, the developers had no clue whether or not the Nintendo DS would be a success, and thus planned a successor with two screens in the event that it succeeded and another with one screen in the event that it failed. Clearly, with the unanticipated and unprecedented success of the Nintendo DS, Nintendo went on with their plans in developing a second dual screened handheld.

In the summer of 2008, Hideki Konno came on board as the overall producer of the Nintendo 3DS. He is well known as the producer of such titles as Mario Kart and Nintendogs, and continued this role with the 3DS variations of these titles as well. He revealed that this occurred shortly after the completion of Mario Kart Wii on the Wii system. According to him, Shigeru Miyamoto approached him and asked him to be involved in the creation of Nintendo DSi Sound, a sound application built into the Nintendo DSi and subsequently the Nintendo DSi XL. Soon after Nintendo DSi Sound was completed, Miyamoto went up to him once more and offered him the role of producer on the new Nintendo 3DS. This would have been the first time that Konno was ever involved in an actual piece of hardware, though he notes that he has always been interested in handheld gadgets.

Like the handhelds preceding it, the Nintendo 3DS was developed by Nintendo Research and Engineering. The team was formed during the inception of the Game Boy Color and has been the primary architects of Nintendo handhelds ever since. Kenichi Sugino, the manager of the Design Group at Nintendo R&E, was responsible for the look of the Nintendo 3DS. He has been involved in several of Nintendo's previous handhelds in addition to the Virtual Boy. According to him, they made the 3DS as small as they possibly could, which is why they didn't have any immediate plans for a smaller successor (as they did with the Nintendo DS and DS Lite). When approached about the possibility of 3D with the new system, Sugino was instantly opposed to the idea, saying that past experiences with 3D experimentation had made him traumatized. His fears were compressed, however, when he saw a demo of Mario Kart Wii in 3D without glasses. Ryuji Umezu, another project director, said he was shocked when he was approached about the idea of not only 3D but also the addition of the stereoscopic LCD as well.

See also[]

  • Nintendo 3DS/gallery - Nintendo 3DS image gallery.
  • Response of the Nintendo 3DS announcement - Developers, critics and analysts' opinions on the 3DS announcement.

External links[]