As an early (not super early but before the BIG drop) adopter of the 3DS back in early August, I finally got the system, the pull, was mainly for a number of GBA games I hadn’t had a chance to play (sans emulator) and the NES were a happy bonus.
I also enjoyed the software bundled in for a few weeks and others seemed to enjoy the games Face Raiders, the various Mii related activities and messing around with the 3DS Camera, but the Pokedex App, and the AR Games really seemed to stand out to friends I showed my system off to. That said the software bundled in is good to get your feet wet so to speak, and to show off to other curious parties. Alas for those who want a game to be something heartier/fuller, something thick enough to sink their teeth into, they come out rather lean.
Nintendo helped ease the anxiety in September with the release of games from the NES era(only for 3DS Ambassadors). While not all of them were great, I discovered The Legend of Zelda II Link’s Awakening, and for most of that month was hooked on that game. I did try the other games and played Super Mario Bros. from time to time, Metroid, and Legend of Zelda. The ones other than the ones just listed I cannot recall offhand, and to me, other than Ice Climber and Donkey Kong, are probably not worth recalling at the moment. What made me keep going back to the Legend of Zelda II, other than the near brutal difficulty, was the challenge of 8bit games in general. This game was so very different compared to most other Zelda games in the series, Legend of Zelda 2 is actually very similar to(at least to me) the original Castlevania in many ways. From the presentation of the game in dungeons to the combat mechanics melded with the open “choose your battles, RPG world”, of a game like Tales of Symphonia, on the Gamecube, mixed in with a Zelda formula that works. Furthermore there is strategy to the battles and pattern recognition that also seems to be the focus of the newest game in the series, Skyward Sword on the Wii. You could say its come full circle.
October came along and while I was still enjoying Zelda II, I was looking for something new to try out and hoping Nintendo would keep their promise to release 10 GBA games to ambassadors before the year was out. I maintained my patience, followed updates, got the camera video upgrade (which is more functional and fun then I thought it would be). And November updates aside, when Christmas came (and the updates just prior to it) the enthusiasm I felt was almost feverish at times.
I downloaded the 10 GBA games, all of which seem awesome but that said I have only gotten around to playing a few of them so far and trying the others for a bit before diving into the likes of; F. Zero Advance, Fire Emblem Sacred Stones (the 8th entry in the series in all), and of course the game that I would then go off for the nights following playing almost nonstop, Metroid Fusion (which is one of the best in the series, that to me its tied for 2nd best with Zero Mission and is bested by Super Metroid). To me of the games I’ve played (I haven’t had time with all of them) but the main draw that got me to buying a 3DS early was the promise of playing Metroid Fusion and a host of other games on the go as they were meant to be played. Metroid Fusion is also one of my favourite games of all time, and one that I sadly never had the chance to play “officially”, other than in emulated form, until now. I felt so drawn to play this game night after night after night. Even now 10 years after launch this stands as one of the best games from that era and holds up incredibly well in this one. That all changed the moment I finally got not one but four 3DS games. The games I got were Super Street Fighter 4 3D edition, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Dead or Alive Dimensions.
All through the remainder of December 2011 and for most of January 2012 I was hooked on my 3DS again. Super Mario 3D land plays like a hybrid of galaxy and New Super Mario Bros Wii/DS. There’s a bit of the Super Mario 64 feel in there too and while it plays well and there are a few new and returning power-ups the game still feels a bit rushed. And after getting past World 3 or so it started feeling somewhat stale and rehashed with a few 3D twists here and there. World 5-6 have it pick up in difficulty, and is about average if you’re just going from start to finish but is fairly tricky if you’re trying to complete the level and collect the medals at the same time. I’ve beaten this game and it follows traditional formula for a Mario game, near the end of the main game at least. This game has been good, at times great, but it just doesn’t quite have the same pull or frankly challenge or freshness that games of the past have had to this point. I feel that an opinion of this game will largely depend on how much you love what’s in the game for what it is, or if you feel somewhat bitter towards it (and Nintendo) for playing it almost “too safe”(in general when it comes to this game). That said, the effects, sounds, graphics, and such are great, some of the best on the system thus far. There’s a bit of street pass functionality tacked on as well as well as collecting the medals I mentioned earlier to unlock challenge stages, but not much in the way of co-op or multi-player options, which in light of what New Super Mario Bros Wii/DS brought I’d thought would be a no-brainer of an addition for this game, but then again co-op in galaxy didn’t work as well as envisioned either so “safe” works too. A good game, after beating the World 8 (*spoilers*the main game ends after beating it and another set of levels opens up like a challenge mode I’ve also beat that mode too). This of the four 3DS games has been the game I’ve played least.
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (which I will refer to as SSF43D). This game packs about 80%-90% of the content from the console version of the game and a few new features for the 3DS, such as spot pass figure battles, collecting and trading figures, dynamic 3D view, and of course 3D. This looks very close to the console version of the game, the only drawback being the lack of background animation. This could be due to a lack of space to fit such extras, perhaps it was rushed, or maybe to give the game the feel that you’re playing with action figures in a toy box/set sort of feeling. The controls work well for the most part, the circle pad will take some time to break in (this game and especially another fighting game helped to break mine in) if your 3DS is new it will feel “stiff” at the start, but fear not the d-pad works well too, as to which you prefer is largely up to personal tastes. The touch screen controls can make seemingly impossible combos easier to pull off but as such when you play online the same can be said of your opponents, and this can be annoying. Online battles work for the most part (if you’re new to the series, or rusty, look forward to getting your butt kicked from time to time) but there is lag from time to time, and this can be rather frustrating. All of the characters are unlocked from the start as well as their costumes, and the challenges for each individual character as well as wrecking cars and smashing barrels return. Arcade mode is fairly tough and the challenges can be rather challenging (as they should be). I find myself going between playing this game for hours on end and then leaving it alone for a week or so. Also there seems to be no Japanese audio which is a bummer for purists, and the cut-scenes could’ve been pieced together better but they do well enough as is. For a launch title game, that you can now get for about $20-$30 this is perhaps one of the best games to show off the system to others and is a great game for fight fanatics looking for something on the handhelds. Purists may scoff at the few things lost in porting as well as the lack of a true analog stick, but for newcomers and those who haven’t played in awhile this is a great way to get back into the series.
Mario Kart 7 is a lot like Mario Kart DS. There are a few enhancements to online such as communities and spot pass content. Street pass features are ok (you send your time trial and select grand prix courses to others). The added kart customization features and gliding/underwater features add some freshness to the game. Mario Kart 7 looks great on the 3DS. 3D adds a little to the game but not much. Coins are back and they serve a dual purpose as they both speed up your kart and as you collect coins, you unlock more customizable parts for your karts. The standard modes return(with the exception of quick race for some inexplicable reason) and most of the standard items return (except the fake item box) and there are a few new additions such as the Tanooki Tail and the “7” item that basically gives you an assortment of items to help you get back into the game. Online is usually lag free which is a plus, and there are plenty of people of varying abilities to keep you interested there. The main drawbacks for this game, to me, which I’d hoped would be making a return are the use of the microphone to “blow” away items that can mess you up (literally) and the absence of the emblem feature is a real drag (imagine drawing emblems in 3D. Adding depth and layers could’ve been an awesome pastime adding more enjoyment and customization to the game). Shame that’s out but this is still another great kart game and thus far I’ve completed all of the grand prix and got at least 1 star or higher. Time trials via spot pass and having mini leaderboards for tracks has really helped give it some legs and added competition for those who love trying to find the fastest way around the tracks. So far in a great game one of the best on the 3DS so far, but much like the other games I’ve mentioned. This feels like the game has been rushed (ever so slightly) and there could’ve been more content put into this. The above features I mentioned would’ve played to the 3DS strengths and I think this could’ve been the definitive kart title. Still an awesome game so far you can look forward to a (full) review soon. I’ve yet to use the first person racing view addition.
Dead or Alive Dimensions (which I will refer to as DOAD and the Dead or Alive series as DOA) is perhaps the game I was most weary of in getting, and has turned out to be my favourite of the bunch. The first fighting on a handheld in the series so far, DOAD is also the first time the DOA series has appeared on a Nintendo console. This game pieces together all of the stories from the entire franchise albeit clumsily, but as a fighting game series I really don’t care too much for story involved in them other than this one being rather ridiculous (which is a good thing actually).
There are 26 characters all told, but you start out with far fewer and unlock more as you play the various modes and chronicle mode and you’ll unlock more character costumes as you go. The fighting is very fast and fluid. I find most of the characters are fairly enjoyable to play and with the counter system and a lack of fireballs, the game is fairly balanced (compared to say street fighter at a glance).
This game is great to dive in for newcomers to the series, as it isn’t “easy” but when you play chronicle the game actually tries to teach you the basics as you go, and doesn’t just assume that you’ll know things from the start. However if you want to learn all the tricks your character has you’ll have to train with that character and practice the moves in order to master them. Arcade Mode is similar to Time Attack in Soul Calibur2, Survival will test your endurance and skill as you take on 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, then 100 after beating subsequent survival challenges. Tag mode is fun albeit quite challenging. By the time you get the middle-later stages you need to master tag moves and counters to progress. Throwdown mode is a great way to challenge friends and rivals you encounter via streetpass, and spotpass as you challenge an AI programmed to fight according to their preferred fighting patterns. Taking it online, you can battle against friends (if they have the game) if not you’ll have to look for (often wait) for a fight to open up online. Fights will lag from time to time online (especially if you’re using the 3D effect-which seems to slow the frame rate of the game at times when used in general).
Online feels more balanced and for lack of a better phrase, players seem less “cheap” in comparison to their SSF43D counterparts. The 3D Album and Showcase modes are great too, collecting figures is fun and then taking pictures with the ability to move the 3DS like an actual “camera” via gyroscope controls is a nice touch too. My only nitpick for the Showcase mode is the lack of space to save photos, or transfer them to SD so they can be saved there then deleted (in the game menu screen or 3DS options screen) in order to take new ones. Again this game is just shy of amazing all things considered, this is also my favourite game to play on the 3DS so far (at least before Resident Evil:Revelations was released inNorth America). As such this game has garnered the most attention of the games I’ve played/own so far. Expect a full review soon.
I also got to play the Resident Evil: Revelations Demo recently, as well as the Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D Demo. Both demos were solid offering great gameplay and (especially in the case of Revelations) incredible graphics and a lot of added depth in 3D.
The 3DS has had a rough start when it was released a year ago, nothing seemed to be going right for it and sales were well below expected. Flash forward to a year, a price cut, and a ton of games later and we’re looking at one of the most successful launch years for a console to date. Even more so if and when Nintendo decides to ship their Japanese only titles worldwide. As an ambassador of the 3DS I am currently quite satisfied with what Nintendo has delivered thus far in 3DS offerings. I only hope to see more of this and especially more, currently, Japanese only games see a worldwide release. Also to see a new version of the system at either e3 this year or later this year for launch preferably at Christmas or not long after, and to see how it will interact with the Wii-U and what Nintendo plans for it in the near future.