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The latest on the Nintendo 3DS

With CES 2011 in the books, we've got some new information on the 3DS to share.

After finally getting some quality hands-on time with the 3DS last week and a behind-closed-doors interview with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime at CES 2011, we've got a healthy amount of new information to share about the 3D glasses-less portable.

The 3D effect
Without a doubt, the first time you lay eyes on the 3DS it will surprise you. The 3D effect isn't exactly a "pop-out" illusion, but more of a "pop-in." The best way we've been able to describe it is that it's similar to those Magic Eye images that were so popular in the '90s. Of course, the 3DS yields a much more obvious dimensional shift. Instead of popping out at the user, the effect appears to go deeper inside the top screen of the 3DS.

The 3D effect can be adjusted using a slider, or eliminated altogether. During our time with Pilotwings, we found the 3D effect turned all the way up really increased the overall sense of flight in the game. That said, we're anticipating that each game will have a certain sweet spot for 3D intensity, though the setting remains completely preferential.

In our experience, there seemed to be a certain "handshake" that our eyes needed to make with the device to lock in the 3D. Turning the device side to side did compromise that connection, but we're going to need much more time with the 3DS to determine whether it's a legitimate issue.

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The battery life
Reports began to swarm toward the end of CES stating that the 3DS' battery life would only net gamers around 3 to 5 hours of play time with the 3D effect turned on, with up to 8 hours of original DS game playback. This is a sizeable downgrade from what the DSi XL was able to provide, so clearly 3D performance is a power-hungry feature.

Game performance can improve with 3D off
We're now hearing of at least one instance where turning off the 3D effect can improve frame rate performance. In the case of Dead or Alive Dimensions, disabling the 3D mode doubles the frame rate. This early detail certainly raises the question: will developers abandon 3D to max out the 3DS' hardware performance?

Expect around eight games at launch
The Japanese launch of the 3DS will see eight games along side it for sale. It's safe to assume the U.S. debut will have a similar number, though we're unclear as to which titles will actually be available. We're going to assume Pilotwings Resort and Nintendogs + Cats will be a part of the lineup, but we should know for sure next week. Also, expect to pay slightly more than the average DS game.

Though we certainly have a lot of information, we'll hope to tie up any loose ends at Nintendo's 3DS event--including a specific price and release date--on January 19 in New York City.