(Performance Review) First Batch of Nintendo 3DS Games – Baby, They Ain’t Done Yet!


During Nintendo’s Nintendo 3DS showcase last week, I had opportunity to get playtime with many of the handheld’s upcoming titles. Here are a few early impressions.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
I rushed to play this one first. It’s the same game you played in 1998, with far better graphics and an improved control set-up. Using the 3DS’ thumb pad to move Link around the playfield feels really good, way better than the N64’s dust-making plastic stick (and no one’s going to miss the blurry, ugly graphics of the N64 original, either). Ocarina 3D‘s visuals impress with smoother, sharper and more detailed textures. In 3D, Kokiri Village and the Deku Tree look fantastic, with particle effects flitting about in the air, but I did switch off the 3D effects so I could concentrate on winning the Gohma boss battle. Aiming the slingshot and looking around using the gyro scope is cool, and it works, though I preferred just using the thumb pad in the end. Thank god for options. Too bad there’s no release date for it yet.

Welcome ... to the shooting gallery of the REAL.
The Augmented Reality Cards
One of the Nintendo reps placed a card with a question mark block on it on top of a table and told me to aim my 3DS camera at it. I did, and on the screen, a shooting gallery sprouted up out of the card. Mixing real life and 3D graphics in real-time, I moved around the table, shooting little arrows at targets. One of them was hidden by the leaves of a tree and I had to duck down a little to shoot it. Another game had me firing at a dragon until it was defeated. This pre-installed feature’s got a “wow factor” that’s going to make it quite popular.

Multi-leveled arenas return... in 3D!!!
Dead or Alive Dimensions
Wow, Dead or Alive might be relevant again! Tons of characters from the franchise, same basic gameplay and levels, and the series trademark parries are all there. The touch screen assigns hot keys for every major move, and even changes on the fly depending on what’s happening in battle (for example, if an opponent has you in a hold, the “parry” button will appear). Tap it quickly and bam — instant parry. Very versatile. Reps from Tecmo Koei mentioned that there will be a Metroid: Other M arena. I predict that Samus will appear as an unlockable character.

Feel the Dark Hadou
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
Sure enough, this is the console version of Super Street Fighter IV. Which is awesome! Every character, every mode–everything–is present in this 3DS port. The HUD is a little different — the Super and Hyper gauges are simplified — but otherwise, the graphics are identical. It controls just as you’d expect. Similar to DOA, the touch screen has a hot key interface for special moves, including Super and Hyper Combos. Of course, it can be turned off for competitive play, but for inexperienced players this kind of “super move shortcut” thing is a godsend. I was told online multiplayer, including spectator modes, will appear in the final product, as well as options that will take advantage of the 3DS StreetPass. The 3DS-exclusive behind-the-shoulder mode impressed as well. Hardcore types will shun it, but I was surprised by how well it worked in 3D. If Zelda‘s not around at launch this might be closest the 3DS comes to a “killer app.”

ALSO OF NOTE: Both Dead or Alive and Street Fighter run at a faster framerate with the 3D turned off. In 3D, they are at 30FPS. In 2D, 60FPS. Eagle-eyed competitive players who need the full frame count to pull off combos may want to keep the 3D off. It’s a fair trade, though. Both games look great either way.

Wheresoever my arrow lands, bury me there~
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
The unlockable mini-game from Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 becomes it’s own thing. I played this a while, so I guess that means it’s good, though in hindsight I would’ve liked smoother animation and a better touch screen layout. And way more content. The way it is now, it looks like it was made on a budget. Since the majority of the demo was recycled material (the village level from RE4, the slum level from RE5, characters Krauser, Hunk and Chris all return), that doesn’t seem unlikely. Maybe the demo was on easy mode, but it didn’t matter where I shot enemies either. Shoot their knee, their head, their arm — no difference. With some more time in the oven this could be a cool title, especially if multiplayer happens. Or some kind of campaign mode. Couldn’t they have just made another Resident Evil 4 port? Wait, a portable 3D version of Resident Evil 4, one of the greatest games ever made?! How is that NOT happening?

Battle stations!
Steel Diver
This elusive title was going to be on the original DS. And it feels like it. Maybe the full version will really be a robust submarine battle sim, but so far it feels very much like Flash game with its simple controls and simpler objectives. I slowly trudged my way from the beginning of one long level to the end, and shot a rock with a torpedo. Another level had me dodge an enemy torpedo. None of this set me aflame with excitement. The Periscope mode actually treated the 3DS like a periscope, as I moved back and forth searching for submarines to fire torpedoes at in first-person. The game almost resembled an arcade action title then. Maybe if this came as a pre-installed game, or as a cart with a system, it might be viable.

Pilotwings Resort
The Pilotwings series continues to be Nintendo’s tech-demo-pretending-to-be-a-game-series, this time on 3DS. Maybe it’s my terrible eyesight, but this was one of the few games on hand to actually bother me with its 3D effects. Despite constantly blinking my eyes and readjusting the system’s angle, the game controlled well enough for me to get the high scores in the four levels I tried. It’s nice and breezy, but nothing particularly special.

Bark meow woof greltch
Nintendogs + Cats
Cute as a button. Petting cats and dogs can only be entertaining for so long, however, and I found the most fun in accessorizing my cat with a a hat (!), sunglasses and a blinged-out collar, then watching him strut his stuff. Strut strut strut. … Strictly for fans of pet sims. Next.

Asphalt 3D / Ridge Racer 3D
If someone switched the labels between these two I doubt anyone could tell the difference. They’re racing games. You race in them. I quit about two laps in, in both. They control well enough, and look fine, though Asphalt surprised me because oncoming traffic came out of nowhere and crashed into me. Otherwise, someone call Sega and get Outrun on the 3DS. Oh, Outrun, one of the first games to simulate 3D, on the 3DS?! How fitting!

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