3D movies might be doing the business in Hollywood right now, but in the home – as with HD – the appeal of gaming and sports will be key to persuading consumers to make the switch to the next dimension.
In PES 2011 3DS we have a title that ticks all the boxes and in portable form with no need for comedy specs or another new telly – and it duly delivers arguably the most visually impressive experience of the system's launch line-up.
If sales figures were a football score, FIFA 11 vs. PES 2011 on home console would be a drubbing in EA's favour. PES producer Seabass and his team, after much soul-searching, made important and positive steps forward for the franchise in last year's version – but that didn't stop the gap in sales from widening ever further.
On 3DS, though, with no FIFA at launch it's an open goal for Konami and a fantastic opportunity to set the pace on a new platform. As European PES Team Leader Jon Murphy says at the 3DS showcase event in Amsterdam: "It's the first PES we've ever had out for the launch of a new machine, so I think that tells you a lot".
Content-wise PES on 3DS is a port of the most recent PSP version, minus the Copa Libertadores, with 60 countries, 170 teams and the Master League. In the demo version available at the conference, the only option is Real vs. Barca – but that's enough for a useful taster of the action and a preview of the game's most radical feature: Player's View.
A short playtest is insufficient to judge whether the game will be as subtly playable in the over-the-shoulder camera view – it's such a startlingly different way to experience PES that some brain rewiring is required. But as a showcase of 3D it's phenomenal.
Off all the games I've tried on the console, nothing comes close to the stunning sense of depth PES achieves when the camera is positioned just behind the keeper for a goal kick, and the other end of the pitch really does look like it's a hundred metres away.
As impressive as other 3DS titles are, the third dimension is typically far shallower than is seen here with the sudden and striking awareness of the space around you on the pitch.
During play the dynamic camera swoops and rotates around, following the player under your command. An arrow icon at the controlled player's feet points towards the opposition goal at all times to give you a sense of your bearings.
It's confusing at first, compensated by the thrill of pumping a ball down the wing for another player to run onto as the pitch stretches out before your eyes. And while falling clearly short of the detail of the PS3 and 360 versions, smoothly-animated player models look great on the small screen.
The game's locked to Player's View in the demo units, but I was able to grab a sneaky look at a full preview version. Here, the game is displayed in standard side-on view: instantly familiar to fans, but the 3D effect – even when set to max – is not very dramatic and appears to make little real difference either way.
Murphy tells me: "When you're playing it in Player's View it really makes a difference. You can see a different perspective, perhaps more like how a footballer would on a pitch, and it does change the way that you play, the way that you see passes."
It's clear that for new tech thrills, Player's View is where it's at, so let's hope extended time with the game reveals it to be a viable option for serious PES play.
There was no opportunity to test wireless features in Amsterdam, but we do know that the game will not support full online multiplayer. Instead, you'll have to make do with local matches over wi-fi.
Meanwhile, Nintendo's not-yet-convincing StreetPass feature is exploited here to 'play out' games while in sleep mode using Master League data – unlocking players and teams over time for use in the actual game if you're victorious.
While the 3D display is being a flashy bastard up top, the touch screen has the unglamorous supporting role of displaying the radar in-game, and can be used for additional commands such as making substitutions.
Where the bottom screen could shine is off-pitch, with Game Plan strategy fiddling now possible using the stylus – which ought to facilitate the process no end.
Beyond the visual trickery, PES 2011 3DS controls the same and feels as responsive as the PSP version, with the added bonus of the console's well-designed analogue nub. With its indented surface giving a far better feel than PSP's equivalent, you should feel more comfortably in control of your players without the need to switch to the d-pad and lose subtlety.
A release date isn't confirmed but Konami is aiming to be there on day one, 'launch window' at worst. And, as noted, that represents a great chance to make a mark on a new console and send a message to EA ahead of the inevitable arrival of FIFA.
As it stands, PES 2011 is a gorgeous example of the 3DS hardware and the potential of 3D to be more than just a sexy gimmick. We'll let you know if the game lives up to the promise as soon as we can get hold of a copy.