Hideki Konno Discusses The 3DS

Hideki Konno Discusses The 3DS

The 3DS caused a real stir at this year’s E3, showcasing not only groundbreaking 3D technology, but also one of the strongest launch software lineups of any console. The universal adoption of 3D by manufacturers and developers should allay fears that it’s simply a passing fad, but even without the additional depth of field, Nintendo’s latest offers a great deal to users. Of course, the 3DS will also likely pave the way for a 3D successor to the Wii, but the Kyoto company were experimenting with glasses-free 3D on home consoles as early as the Gamecube.

"When I was developing Luigi’s Mansion, we experimented with having an additional display, a panel, to attach to the screen in order to enable 3D effects," Hideki Konno, manager of Software Development Group 1, Nintendo EAD, told us during the show as part of an interview which you can read in full in our latest issue, available in UK newsagents on Friday. "At that time, because of the high cost of the 3D panels and the low resolution of the game, it wouldn’t show 3D sufficiently, but we hoped that some day the technology would support 3D."

Facing skepticism in the company, Konno had to convince his colleagues that such technology was viable, and to that end, produced demos of Animal Crossing, Mario Kart and Wii Sports to demonstrate it. Miyamoto and Iwata, on seeing it in action, were convinced, leading to the company’s focus on developing its latest handheld. But if a pitch fails to convince a man as imaginative as Miyamoto without a hands on, how do you go about marketing it to the general public?

While Nintendo has considered running adverts in the cinema (due to cinemas’ ability to display 3D), Konno is concerned that such advertising will be off-message. "Our key point with 3DS is that you don’t need glasses, which you obviously need to use in cinemas. So we think regular marketing and promotional activities will be very tricky for us. I think that a lot of awareness about 3DS will be spread by word of mouth."

Once people have tried it, Konno believes that players will notice more benefits to 3D than a simple visual gimmick. In recreating classic games, he says Nintendo wants to bring "new experiences to old titles". The example given is that better perception of depth in Starfox will allow players to more accurately judge aiming for the rings.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the Virtual Boy. Konno is candid about the device’s failure, and refreshingly to the point when asked whether players engaging in long sessions will suffer any side effects. "I think the sense of eye fatigue differs for each individual. We’ve provided flexibility to allow users to adjust back to 2D. I think the solution is simply that when you feel dizzy, close down the system and take a break. Like with the Wii – don’t swing too much or you’ll tire your arms."

In streamlining the updating process, and pushing content to users, Nintendo hopes to take further strides into the online arena, without the usual associated hassle. "I wanted the system to be as convenient as it can be in the online field," says Konno. "I wanted to realise a situation where you wake up in the morning, open your 3DS and there’s new content already downloaded and waiting for you, not because you went looking for it but because we pushed it to you."

It’s a development of Nintendo’s online strategy which seems as if Konno even has Kindle and iPad in his sights. "Maybe one day consumers will open their 3DS and find that their daily paper or magazine subscription has already been delivered to their device."

You can read the full interview in E217, out in newsagents on Friday.