Nintendo 3DS hands-on, Part I

Yesterday I went to a hands-on preview of the forthcoming Nintendo 3DS. First I’d like to mention a few things about the event itself; if you’re just interested in my views on the 3DS and games then you might want to skip to the next post.

The first I heard about the event was when an email arrived from Nintendo inviting me to apply for the chance to possibly get a single ticket to the event. Maybe. If I was lucky. Apparently I received this invite at least in part because I’ve registered one or more products with them in the past 12 months. That’s great, but it really was literally an invite to apply for a single ticket. No plus-one allowed. My girlfriend is just as much of a gamer as I am, and probably plays her DS more than I do mine, but because she hadn’t registered a game recently she wasn’t even eligible to apply for a ticket. The reason she hasn’t registered? Because we log all our games against a single account, to avoid splitting our loyalty points between us.

Note to Nintendo: Please consider allowing “ticket holder plus one” for future events.

We decided to head to London anyway; we’d promised my 7 year-old niece a trip to the Sylvanian Families shop, so took her along for the day. The plan was that they would have a wander round the shops for a while, and we’d meet in a cafe after I’d finished at the Nintendo event. The invite to the event didn’t specify where it was being held. I only found that bit of information out when my ticket became available for download last Wednesday. Suffice to say that it wasn’t in the centre of London, but rather in Brick Lane, in North East London. Had we realised that sooner, we might not have dragged my niece along with us, but by that point we’d already promised her a day out.

Note to Nintendo: Please give a bit more location information with the initial email. “London” isn’t really specific enough.

There are three underground lines that readily service the Brick Lane area. Unfortunately Nintendo had managed to pick a day when all three were closed for maintenance work. What should have been a fairly simple journey from Arsenal (the location of the Sylvanian shop) to Aldgate East (for Brick lane) turned into an excessive journey to Liverpool Street (the closest station we could get to). Working round the closed lines had delayed us, so I thought we’d take a taxi from Liverpool Street Station to make up some time (and because I wasn’t really sure of my route from there). Unfortunately, due to “the street market” (I think he meant Petticoat Lane market), the taxi driver claimed he couldn’t get us there. He advised walking, as it was “just through there and over the road – you can’t miss it”. We missed it.

After wandering for a little while, we stopped for some lunch and fresh directions, then made our way more successfully to Brick Lane. The address I had was “The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane”. We joined Brick Lane at number 1, and proceeded up the street until a large set of buildings were in sight, bearing the brewery name. We walked up and down Brick Lane through this collection of buildings. Several times. No sign of Nintendo, and no sign of number 91.

We backtracked a little. Number 76 preceded the building. Number 97 succeeded it. We must be in the right area, so we asked one of the locals. “This lot is all number 90 to 95. There’s a helpdesk in that building there.”

The beleaguered sigh from the woman at the helpdesk as soon as I waved a Nintendo ticket indicated that I was far from the first person to have trouble finding it. “If you turn left out of here, there’s a small alley filled with food shops. Turn down there, go to the end, do a left and it’s on the left before you reach the cycle shop.” We followed her instructions and found the place. Suffice to say that the road we needed was too minor to have its own name, and would have been best described as “round the back of The Old Truman Brewery”.

Note to Nintendo: If the entrance to your event isn’t actually on the street you specify, at least provide a map of the locale to clarify it.

We finally found the place – with a footsore 7 year-old in tow – at about 14:25. My ticket was booked for 14:30, but we still hadn’t found a cafe or somewhere for my girlfriend and niece to meet me in afterwards. A bit more wandering got us to Spitalfields Market, where we found a suitable meeting point, and I dashed back to the Nintendo event. I got there at about 14:40.

“I’m afraid you’ve missed the two-thirty slot. I can fit you in at three.”

“In that case I’ll have to skip it.” It didn’t seem fair to make my niece wait any longer.

“Hmmm… Come up with me, and I’ll see if we can get you in. I’d hate for you to miss it.”

I have to hand it to the staff there, they were very friendly and understanding, and did, indeed, get me in. I’d missed a Street Fighter themed martial arts display (no great loss there), and joined the rest of the group just as they were about to be escorted through a Resident Evil themed invasion by a horde of two zombies. A few minutes watching a demo reel, and a few more minutes listening to Jonathon Ross espouse the glories of the 3DS, and we were finally allowed in to play with the machines themselves.

Next time: The 3DS and the games

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