Oh, Nintendo, how I love thee…

The Nintendo 3DS was officially released Sunday. After listening to my husband extol its virtues ad nauseam over the last year, I was excited to see if the device lived up to the hype.

Oh, and then some.

The first device (as far as I know) to offer “glasses free” 3D viewing of games and movies, the quality is better than I originally expected. While the resolution suffers to some extent, the 3D effect is surprisingly good. In addition, if 3D viewing makes you queasy, dizzy, or ill, you can simply turn it off.

The original line-up for games on the 3DS is not as spectacular as hard-core gamers might want. Users can play around with other neat aspects of the 3DS, though, while they wait for the release of more games. Take 3D pictures of your friends. Connect via wifi to interact with other users, locally and worldwide. In addition, the 3DS offers “background connectivity” which allows consoles to connect with other consoles in range without requiring any user input.

Another cool feature is the Activity Log which tracks not only game play, but also steps taken while carrying the 3DS. These steps add up to play coins which can be used to unlock special features and access additional content.

Like the Wii, a virtual console is offered for games as well as Mii capabilities. One of the fun things about the 3DS is the ability to take pictures of yourself and friends and then have the console convert them into Miis.

The 3DS comes pre-loaded with a variety of other features and games, several of which take advantage of the camera technology. The 3DS is backwards compatible, allowing users to play DS and DSi games as well as allowing users who are in range to play games together, even if only one user owns the game.

This is all great, you say, but besides being a fun toy and having some pretty cool effects, what does the 3DS really offer us as librarians and educators? Let me present to you my favorite part of the new console: Augmented Reality. Some of you may already know about this feature, but I just discovered it last night when my husband pulled out a pack of cards about the size of playing cards and started throwing them on the floor. The AR features of the 3DS allow you to play games that incorporate 3D features into the background scenery. Several cards create models of video game characters that can be rotated and and turned as well as allowing these models to interact with the table or floor where the cards rest (for example, an archery game simulates the bending and shifting of the platform that the cards rest on).

While a number of the original DS games tended towards educational ends, this is an entirely new and exciting feature. I can’t stop thinking about all of the ways this can be used in education, library programming, and even at home. I can’t wait to get to play around with it some more.