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Hands-on with 10 3DS games and features

A dozen or so titles were ready for some hands-on action this afternoon, and we got a chance to play the majority of them. Nintendo also showed us some of the built-in software that'll be on every 3DS, including the Mii Maker and AR Games.

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D CNET

If you were following along with our live blog this morning, you know the big news: the Nintendo 3DS is coming March 27 for $250. But what about the games? A dozen or so titles were ready for some hands-on action this afternoon, and we got a chance to play the majority of them. Nintendo also showed us some of the built-in software that'll be on every 3DS, including the Mii Maker and AR Games.

The following titles will see launch-day or launch-window releases, between March 27 and E3 2011, according to Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime.

Mii Maker
Miis are coming to the 3DS, and the Mii Maker app is preinstalled to allow for their creation. Better yet, the front-facing camera can be used in tandem to help make the process a bit more accurate. When we tried it out, the resulting Mii was a bit insulting, but after a few minor tweaks it actually did resemble our photo. Creating Miis from scratch is just like the Wii experience we're all used to.

AR Games
AR Games (augmented reality games) will use a Nintendo playing card to manipulate the world through the 3DS' cameras. We had some time with a simple target-shooting game, and the effect is pretty impressive. Even better, the game requires the player to move around the virtual play space as well, adding a whole new dimension to the experience.

Now playing: Watch this: Nintendo 3DS launch games

Steel Diver
Once a tech demo, Steel Diver is getting the full game treatment at launch on the 3DS. Players control a submarine by using touch sliders that control height and acceleration. Torpedos can also be fired at oncoming obstacles, but the section of the game we played focused more on avoiding colliding with the ocean floor.

Kid Icarus Uprising
After about 10 minutes with Kid Icarus Uprising--the very game Nintendo debuted the 3DS with at E3 2010--we're anticipating that the control scheme might be this title's biggest hurdle. We played two parts, one that felt like an on-rails shooter, the other a sort of modified third-person action segment.

Right out of the gate we thought the layout for the shooter was a bit cumbersome, as it combined movement and shooting with the left hand. The right hand was being used to tap the touch screen in order to aim, but we had some difficulty holding the 3DS steady enough to play correctly and maintain the 3D effect. The jury is still out on this one, but we'll have more of an idea when we get our hands on the final game.

Super Street Fighter IV 3D

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
A wave of nostalgia overwhelmed us when we first booted up Ocarina of Time 3D. Widely regarded as one of the best Zelda games ever, OoT looks gorgeous on the 3DS' screen. The 3D effect is fantastic here and really adds an incentive to replay the game. Controls felt tight and responsive, everything we'd expect from a reboot of a classic Zelda title. Look for Ocarina of Time during the 3DS' launch window.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D
PES 2011 3D looks great and implements the 3D effect very usefully. We were easily able to see how far downfield teammates and opponents were, which made a big difference during goal and corner kicks. Gameplay felt responsive and the button layout seemed logical enough. We'll have more on PES 2011 3D when it hits the 3DS at launch.

Madden NFL 11
Graphically speaking, Madden looks like the iPad version of the game, and we think implementing the quick-play system is a great idea for on-the-go gaming. Though we only had a few go-arounds with offense and defense, we were happy with the overall gameplay experience.

A few performance bumps aside (which we'll write off as non-final code), Madden NFL 11 should satisfy Madden addicts when they're away from their consoles.

Super Street Fighter IV 3D
Another game that controls beautifully is Super Street Fighter IV 3D, which looks amazing, too. However, this is the one game that got us nervous about maintaining the 3D effect during real-world gameplay. While playing SSFIV, we noticed that the usual button-mashing a fighting game brings out had us shaking the 3DS an awful lot. This outside movement actually caused the 3DS to go in and out of 3D, which was a bit jarring and hard on the eyes. We'll test this out more when our review unit arrives, but for now it remains a major blip on our radar.

Pilotwings Resort
The new Pilotwings game that we got some time in with at CES 2011 will in fact be a launch title and was playable today as well. We got to try out a jetpack mode that was previously locked, in addition to various new plane tracks and levels. The game will take place in the same environment as Wii Sports Resort, so Wii gamers familiar with that landscape will instantly identify. Check out our coverage of the 3DS from CES for more on Pilotwings Resort.

Steel Diver

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
By far, the best-looking 3DS game on display today, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D was also one of the most fun we played all day. The Mercenaries is a Resident Evil all-star game, featuring characters and environments from the various games in the franchise. We spent some time with both levels available today, and had a blast blowing away hordes of zombified enemies.

The Mercenaries controls just as we had hoped: almost a mirror of its console counterpart. The stylus can be put away for this one, as we had no difficulty using a thumb to change weapons on the touch screen below.

Aside from our concerns about maintaining the 3D effect during gameplay, we were overall impressed with the launch-day and launch-window titles. We found that every game has its own specific "sweet spot" for optimal viewing distance and 3D slider intensity that we're sure will vary by user as well.

Keep it here for the latest on the 3DS and look for our full review in the coming weeks. For more video of the 3DS in action, check out our continuing coverage at CNET TV.