5 cool new features in the Nintendo 3DS portable game system

Now that we’re beginning to close in on the Nintendo 3DS release date of March 27th, several more details are beginning to emerge about the gadget’s feature set. It turns out that the handheld gaming console is going to have a great deal more to offer than just glasses-free 3D graphics.

Here are 5 cool new features that will come with the Nintendo 3DS:

5 cool new features in the Nintendo 3DS portable game system

1.       Digital downloads through the eStore – Cashing in on the current popularity of app stores, the Nintendo eStore will be a one-stop shop for downloads of game demos and trailers, Game Boy classic games, DSiWare titles, and even some new digital titles made exclusively for the 3DS. While rumors have circulated that the eStore would not be available by the official launch date, a Nintendo spokesperson has confirmed with Eurogamer that the web browser and eStore will be installed in a firmware update upon the console’s first connection to the internet.

2.       Augmented reality games – The system comes with 6 playing cards to be used with augmented reality games. When placed on a table, the 3DS uses the cards in conjunction with the camera and motion-sensing capabilities of the system to create a unique game-playing experience. Nintendo representatives began giving private demonstrations of one AR game at CES 2011, which required the player to move his body to dodge a biting, fire-breathing dragon. Check out this YouTube video to see the feature in action.

3.       Multitasking capability – With all of the multimedia features available on the 3DS, Nintendo thought it would be a good idea to allow players to suspend gameplay at any point in order to access them. Nintendo marketing director Bill Trinen explains: “Specifically for an example with Zelda. If you’re stuck in the water temple and you’re trying to figure out where the last of the switches are that you have to hit to draw the water level down and get all the way down to the boss, you can immediately hit the home button, bring up the browser, go to whatever tip site you want to go to, figure out where that is, then switch over to the game notes, draw a map on your screen to refer to or go right back into the game.”

4.       Pedometer & activity log – The stereotype of gamers being couch potatoes is a thing of the past. The 3DS has a built-in gyroscope that is not only used in games, but also functions as a pedometer which tracks your steps as you walk or run. Take enough steps and you’ll be rewarded with “Play Coins” that can be used to unlock extra content in supported titles. The activity log will track not only your physical activity, but also the games you’ve played and how long.

5.       Streetpass – Going out and about? Your 3DS will be on alert for others in the area. You’ll come home with Mii’s, awards, and gifts from the others you come in contact with. Plus, some games, like Street Fighter IV 3D have special features that will activate in Streetpass mode.