3DS Launch Game Impressions
Super Street Fighter IV
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition is a superb little fighter, suited well to the 3DS on both a gameplay and visual front. Certain gameplay compromises like the mapping of the combo buttons to the shoulder buttons as well as a lack of an online tournament mode certainly hurt the experience, but the great design, accessible core gameplay and deep StreetPass mode make Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition one of if not the best 3DS launch title.
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Rayman 3D is a solid platformer which focuses on exploration in an interesting world. Rayman 3D also brings nothing new to the table other than the 3D feature, and as a result those who have already played the million other versions of the title could find it a little boring. If you are looking to revisit an awesome adventure, or even start one for the very first time Rayman 3D will offer you some solid gameplay, and a whole lot of fun.
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Nintendogs + Cats
Nintendogs + Cats is the only first party game we believe will be launched alongside the 3DS in Australia; it hasn’t actually be confirmed yet. My experience with Nintendogs may have been tainted somewhat, as I was handed a 3DS by a girl with a vacant look in her eye who told me it was “Nintendo Dogs.” I hate cats, so the addition there hasn’t done it any justice in my books. Biased hatred aside, it’s pretty much exactly the same as the DS game with improved gorgeous pets. Even 2D screens show that individual hair follicles are visible on your lovable mutt, making it one of the best looking games on display. The demo capitalized on the extra dimension by giving you toys to throw into the distance, and had your dog jump up onto the screen once she had retrieved it. It’s not the type of thing gamers will want to play, but once again expect it to dominate the casual market.
I stuck it out in Asphalt 3D, despite my declining skills. I began in 2D mode to contrast the unparalleled level of depth offer by a gentle switch of the 3D depth slider. The difference is uncanny, and transforms the experience from run of the mill racer, to an engaging battle for supremacy. You don’t really notice that you’re playing a 3D game in the heat of battle. Everything moves so fast and you adapt to the new layers of space within the screen, as if it’s how you’ve been playing games since they shifted into three dimensions. Turn it off, and it’s immediately apparent that 3D has made a world of difference. Unfortunately, despite my eager start racing into first place, I gradually went downhill to come in at 6th by the end of the third lap due to copious amounts of reckless driving. Nevertheless, Asphalt is a solid arcade racer that looks fantastic, and a worthy launch title.
PES 2011 3D
After playing PES 2011, I’ve since been informed that it’s a PSP port, but you wouldn’t know it. It was emphatically the standout with an amazing display of 3D visuals. Not only did it come close to rivaling the Wii’s graphical prowess, the 3D effects gave a better insight than anything else into the system’s potential. It’s much easier to see how far down the pitch a teammate or opponent is, and brings a new perspective to the game of virtual soccer.
Super Monkey Ball 3D
Super Monkey Ball 3D brings the vibrant, charming world of Monkey Ball into another dimension. The ball-captive monkey rolls around in the foreground, while the upcoming environment to traverse is spaced out in the distance. There are two control options: the first uses the gyroscopic sensor, tilting the console to manipulate the environment and the monkey’s movement, in the same vain as the iPhone version. This is utterly useless, as it distorts the 3D image if you don’t move your head, and entire body, in exactly the same line and speed as the console. Motion sensing and 3D does not work at the same time – of course, you can lower the 3D or turn it off to avoid the issue. The alternative is to use the circle pad, which is not only more precise, it allows you to actually play the game. While still fun, Monkey Ball has lost some charm since the GameCube days, and you get most of the gameplay, minus the 3D, on the much cheaper iPhone version.
AR Cards are the Wii Sports of the 3DS. Six cards are packed in the box to showcase the basic abilities of a new dimension in gaming. We all received a card at the start of the night, but the raging environment probably wasn’t the best place to try them. Mine had me shooting a box for coins, but didn’t last long as the console had to be held nearly exactly 35 centimeters away from the card; closer or further caused the game to lose the card and stop. This was somewhat difficult on a small pillar that doubled as a drinks stand, but the potential is certainly there. Face Raiders was another pre-installed quirky title that forgoes the 3D and has you take a picture of yourself or a friend and aggressively shoot their face in a rapidly dissipating environment. The face in question will move around you in 360 degrees and the cameras will pick up your real life surroundings and use them as the background. That requires you to physically move around in a dizzy motion to shoot the crazily Japanese-inspired flying head. While I wasn’t sold on the AR experience, I can see the potential, and am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt that it will improve in a more spacious location.
Ridge Racer 3D
Ridge Racer 3D is the second arcade racer to compete for your affection at the 3DS’s Australian launch. Like Asphalt, Ridge Racer uses 3D to present a better sense of spatial awareness, but isn’t as noticeable in-game due to the hectic speed. Ridge Racer stays true to the series’ roots with accessible controls and has even taken a leaf out of Mario Kart DS’s book, with simple drifting.
Splinter Cell 3D
Whilst the game offers a long single-player campaign with secondary mission objectives for the completionists out there, the lack of multiplayer brings the game's worth down significantly. The game feels like a very basic port of a great game from the past, and the lack of online functionality hurts the experience. However, the campaign is solid and looks great, and is worth checking out for fans of the series.
LEGO Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars
The Clone Wars on the 3DS takes advantage of the 3D aspect of the handheld in certain areas -- jumping onto particular ledges and jumping over gaps are actually easier thanks to the added depth. However, the gameplay is nothing special, and whilst it maintains the charm we've all come to love from the LEGO Star Wars series, there is little originality in the game's overall uninspired design.
Combat of Giants: 3D Dinosaurs
The 3D is neat in Combat of Dinosaurs, but apart from that, the experience is pretty much a dull ride. The concept is great, but it seems to be let down by a lack of gameplay variety and depth.
Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars 3DS
Shadow Wars' great experience is driven by superb strategy gameplay, although it's let down in the multiplayer department by a lack of depth and options. Shadow Wars is actually a really fun game, especially for fans of the genre, and is one of the better 3DS launch titles.
Keep checking back at DS.MMGN.com for more 3DS game reviews.
By Gaetano Prestia, Ben Salter and Stephen Heller