3D Gaming for only $5

About 15 years ago, I was a kid who loved Star Trek. I found a neat little kit down at the local Ollies Bargain Outlet, called the Star Trek Crew Member’s Exploration Pack. It had some assorted knickknacks: a poster, an ID card, stickers, a small book, a journal, a papercraft  communicator that you could build. The best thing it had was a special pair of 3D glasses that could turn any colorful image into 3D.

If you ever look at a red image on a blue background, you might notice that the red almost pops out of the page, it is because different wavelengths of light refract at slightly different angles when passing through the retina. Because red and blue are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, there can be a perceivable difference. This is known as a chromatic aberration in photography, and is a problem that can cause blurry images. Chromadepth glasses work by purposefully exaggerating this effect to create the illusion of depth. In this case, reds will pop out, greens are neutral, and blues appear pushed back.

What is nice about these is that not only do they work with anything with color, but they are also cheap too. A pair can be had on Amazon for only a couple of dollars. Plus they can be found at almost any toy or art store under the Crayola 3D line. Now that you have a pair, what can you do with them? I would start with the Super Mario series (blue backgrounds, green and yellow designs, red foregrounds). Tetris looks pretty good too. In fact, this works with quite a bit of the Retro-gaming genre. For example, watch the trailer for Retro City Rampage, it is almost as good as if it was on a 3DS.  Shmups work very well; Beat Hazard and Geometry Wars look indescribably amazing. Try out anything that has a flat vibrant art style and/or is 2D (indie games, platformers, adventure games, and puzzle games).

Don’t stop there, it works with movies as well. Tron looks good. Practically anything that is heavy on animation, non-realistic CGI (think 80’s style CGI, not like the Matrix), or bright vibrant colors should work. I could also  recommend the “Stellar Cartography” scene from Star Trek: Generations (wow, a reason to watch that film…) and the “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite” segment (i.e. the “Star Gate” scene) from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also, if you are a fan of space exploration, check out The Beautiful Universe, Hidden Universe, and ESOcast podcasts for free videos featuring beautiful astronomical images  from the Chandra, Spitzer, and ESO observatories, respectively.


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