Nintendo reveals 3DS augmented reality game in private CES demo

The Nintendo 3DS is likely the most highly anticipated 3D entertainment product in the world right now. Though we have to wait until March to purchase one, two lucky CES 2011 attendees got to experience the handheld gaming device in a private demonstration with Nintendo representatives on Thursday.

Oliver Chiang and David Ewalt, both technology bloggers for, got to test the 3DS for themselves and learned that the device is capable of playing augmented reality (AR) games.

Chiang blogged about the experience and posted a video of Ewalt playing an AR Super Mario Bros. prototype game.

“Pointing the 3DS’ front-facing cameras at a real-life card (with a picture of a Mario coin box no less) on a table, and holding it about 30 cm (about a foot) from the card, a 3-D cartoon box popped up on top of the card as viewed through the screen,” Chiang writes. “After using the 3DS to shoot at the targets that later popped up on the surface of the table, a boss dragon appeared that I had to defeat. Very cool.”

The YouTube video opens with Ewalt staring down at the 3DS while pointing it at the card on the table.

“So I just killed a dragon,” Ewalt says as he circles the table while hovering over it with the 3DS in-hand. Laughter erupts from the group and he adds,” Right here on the table I killed a dragon!”

“The dragon will actually track your motions,” explains the Nintendo rep. ”It knows, even if you walk around 180 degrees on this side, it’ll look at you and know exactly where you are and come up and try to bite the screen.”

“Yeah, that’s what it just did. That’s pretty crazy,” Ewald replies.

Chiang also wrote his own impressions of the game.

“There’s definitely a lot of moving around you have to do in the game, as you correctly angle and position the 3DS to hit the targets in a 3-D space,” he says. ”It also required me to stay fairly close to the table surface where the card was, otherwise, the AR connection would cut out if I moved too far. As a result, I was often crouching or at strange angles myself. Though fun and quirky, that kind of movement could get tiring quickly.”

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime informed the guys that at least one AR title will be available when the 3DS finally launches in March.

This, by far, is the most interesting thing I’ve seen out of all the CES coverage this week. Other 3D device manufacturers should take note. Nintendo looks like they’re going to have quite a hot product on their hands.