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Is Nintendo 3DS worth £200+?

Opinion: Andy Robinson takes some convincing...

The Nintendo 3DS was given a £188 price tag in Japan this morning, with Western details and VAT increases to follow. With that in mind, we take a look back at Andy Robinson's mental debate over whether it's worth that much cash...

I'll admit it: At first, as my clammy hands clutch its radiant wide screen, I'm not blown away by the Nintendo 3DS.

I'm taking in the new Mario Kart. Of course, it looks great - and, lo and behold, is in full 3D without the need for glasses.

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But that's what I expect to happen, having chomped my way through a million and one E3 hands-on write ups.

Where's the jaw-dropping, the mystifying... the magic? Is the impressive-if-functional experience before me really enough to justify a £200 handheld?

Nintendo's been coy on the price, but we know 3DS is going to be in the current range's 'architecture' - so it doesn't take a genius to work out the hit my wallet will have to take come launch day.

Before I know it, however, boulders and baddies started falling towards the screen. As Mario and Luigi screech out of the various obstacles' paths - and the former lobs a pin-perfect banana on his Brother's bonce - I get it. The 3DS's sorcery has claimed another victim.

The 3DS isn't about making old games prettier, I realise; it's about adding a whole new layer of depth to how we play, judge and perceive video game worlds.

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In 3D, you can accurately judge the distance of an upcoming checkpoint, ramp or projectile. Timing a corner perfectly in a racing game becomes that much more natural; platforming suddenly feels tangible.

Those lucky (and wealthy) enough to own a 3DTV will know all this already, of course - but in my experience, the 3DS's brand of 3D seems even more fulfilling than the glasses-dependant equivalent.

Of the games and videos I try, the most impressive are Resident Evil - which looks absolutely stunning - and Kid Icarus, whose developers have evidently had longer than anyone else to get to grips with the hardware.

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As I play on, many elements of the 3DS hardware itself surprises me. For one, the 3D slider doesn't work like the significant depth-tweaking tool I expect, but rather a 'tuner' to set the 3D effect just right for your eyes.

I can't see bugger all to begin with, but setting the 3D slider to about the halfway point provided a perfect effect, free of the distortion caused by having it up full whack.

The slide pad (that's the 3DS's version of a thumbstick) feels far better than the shallow 'clicky' experience I predicted.

Although there aren't really any games on show at my London demo frantic enough to demand a workout of the kit, the 3DS slide pad is not disorientating to use. Indeed, it feels more precise than the PSP's often cumbersome thumb nub.

On that subject, there sadly isn't much for press to actually play on 3DS yet - it's all mostly interactive 'videos'.

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Pilotwings, however, is one impressive hands-on demo available. Flying through hoops in 3D is a whole lot easier than it was on Super Nintendo.

The new game takes place on Wuhu Island, which you may remember from Wii Sports Resort. The demo allowed two short challenges, one involving the aforementioned plane-and-hoop trial, and another involving popping balloons with a jetpack.

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