3DS Hands-On

3DS Hands-On

3DS Hands-On

Nintendo's 3DS is off to a flying start in Japan following its launch at the weekend, and there are now only 25 days to wait until the UK launch. Here, we go hands-on with the key titles that will be available when it reaches our shores and deliver our initial impressions.

Nintendogs + Cats

Publisher: Nintendo Developer: In-house

Nintendo’s fantasy of non-odorous pet ownership is a perfect choice for 3DS. The sense of space created by the 3D effect heightens the joy of watching your pet come bounding giddily towards you. The front-facing camera will cause your furry chum to recognise you, and even mimic movements such as a head tilt. Just don’t get so immersed in the fantasy that an impromptu game of fetch causes you to inadvertently fling your 3DS across the room.

PilotWings Resort
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: In-house

In a rare example of 3D actually enhancing gameplay, the depth of field in PilotWings Resort makes hang gliding, biplane flying and jetpack riding through floating rings a far more precise exercise. The breezy island backdrop serves as a calming agent during the game’s more punishing landing-strip challenges.

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
Publisher: Capcom Developer: In-house

The Mercenaries 3D is difficult to categorise. Not because of the shrills about its repackaging – Mercs may be a bonus mode, but it’s one of the very best, and a new persistent structure can only make it better. It’s the control setup. Modern Resident Evil’s tank movements are just about workable on consoles, but squeezed on to 3DS are less comfortable. The analogue nub can’t match two sticks, so aiming is sluggish and fiddly in crowds. Mercenaries 3D crudely compensates by making Los Ganados less aggressive up close, at least initially. Yet Mercenaries is ultimately too good to be swallowed by awkwardness: kill combos rack up, time bonuses smash, and crowds keep on coming. The 3D is used for rare flourishes, such as foregrounding a rifle’s sight during headshots, but otherwise the effect is subtle to the point of being flat. Luckily, Mercenaries has near-Resi 5 detail in its characters and environments, so while it isn’t the most spectacular use of the 3DS’s headline ability, it is beautiful. Add levelling and character customisation, as well as online co-op, and Mercs 3D is the definitive package of this particular score chase. Cramped controls, a little ornery, but too great to ignore – sounds like Resi to us.The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: In-house

It would take a pile of hyperbole at least as tall as the Deku Tree itself to adequately express how much 3D adds to the experience of Ocarina Of Time. The magic is in the small touches – the way the ethereal particles gently drifting down in Kokiri forest brush past as you run; the way the camera swoops past the jutting corner of a treasure chest when you crack it open; the way the map you’ve just discovered rotates above the chest as if you could pluck it from inside the display with your fingers. The 3D simply italicises the richness of imagination that’s existed in the game all along.

Kid Icarus Uprising
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: In-house

Uprising… geddit? While the action rises up skyward on Pit’s flapping wings, the game makes a solid impression with the Sin & Punishment-style rail shooting it allows you to do once you’re airborne. While the action itself may be elegantly straightforward, the controls are clumsy, with multitasking – anchoring the device, controlling Pit with the analogue circle pad and firing with the left shoulder button – driving your left hand silly. Flicking the stylus with your right hand to look and target feels intuitive, but the awkward input scheme provides a niggling distraction that’s hard to shake. Left-handed players are likely to stage a far more literal uprising.

Steel Diver
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: In-house

If you ever wondered what happened to the DS submarine demo from 2004’s E3, here you go. Use the stylus to adjust your sub’s pitch, depth and speed while navigating sidescrolling underwater locations, firing torpedoes at hostile subs. Could very well be a sleeper hit when it surfaces in late March.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D
Publisher: Konami Developer: In-house

Without a FIFA to square off against at the 3DS launch, Konami’s PES franchise has a chance to score some new fans. The dynamic addition of Player’s View lets players shift into an over-the-shoulder Resident Evil 4 perspective, gaining a dynamic sense of the action. The idea may bring to mind similarly inspired, Mode 7-driven SNES football games, but the effect works better here.

Combat Of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D

Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: In-house

Such bitter irony that Ubisoft’s dinosaur fighting game is one of the most under-evolved 3DS titles we’ve had a chance to play. Combat involves mashing a single button repeatedly until a giant arrow tells you to dodge. Then, once you’ve finished off your opponent, you get to crawl through an empty jungle in search of your next opponent. No wonder these fearsome dullards are extinct.Asphalt 3D: Nitro Racing
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Gameloft

A physics-light arcade racer, Asphalt 3D is about as inspired as its name. There’s at least a sensation of speed: the low-res barriers and polygonal skyscrapers whip by, while a nitro-boosting mechanic ensures you rarely notice how basic they look. The 3D effect isn’t especially pronounced at high speeds, and the lame crash camera is an opportunity missed. Asphalt moves fast, but that’s all: it’s otherwise floaty, dull, and awkward to control. Next to Ridge Racer, however, it doesn’t even move very fast.

Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Publisher: Lucasarts Developer: Telltale Games

Whatever else there is to say about the Lego games, there’s no denying the art direction is first class. One of the most delightful 3DS effects thus far is The Clone Wars’ blocky worlds, every brick of which seems solid. As a game, it doesn’t reinvent the Lego template, but as minor spectacle, with its great depth-of-field and near-tangible building blocks, The Clone Wars uses 3DS to great effect.

Face Raiders
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: In-house

One of the silliest, most enjoyable 3DS experiences we’ve tried to date comes bundled with the unit itself. Take a picture of yourself using the hardware’s forward-facing camera and then watch the image come to life, winking, sneering, bobbing and weaving about as you fire little rubber balls at it. The overall objective? Kill your face before it gets close enough to leave a red smooch mark on you, of course.

Super Monkey Ball 3D
Publisher: Sega Developer: In-house

SMB3D’s suspended, round-ended geometry seems built for 3DS. There’s a palpable rush as your ball careens down a ramp, the tile patterns and bananas whizzing past your focal point. The tilt controls are a hash: though subtle, it’s impossible to keep the 3D effect focused while using them, and trying to move your head in tandem with the hardware is a messy business. With normal controls, this is familiar territory that, though fun, will surprise no one – even though the facelift works wonders.

Super Street Fighter IV 3D
Publisher: Capcom Developer: In-house

Ken has a punchable face, and in 3D, it’s even more true. SSFIV’s standard view uses 3D to distinguish the fighters from the backgrounds, but during Ultras and Supers gets more enthusiastic, with the camera zooming into and around the character models. More of a curio is the ‘Dynamic View’ over-the-shoulder camera. SSFIV3D has all the content you’d expect, including online battling and bonuses such as StreetPass figurine-battling. Destined to be the big thirdparty launch hit.

Dead Or Alive Dimensions
Publisher: Tecmo Koei Developer: Team Ninja

In Dead Or Alive Dimensions, Team Ninja bottles the lightning that’s made DOA such a long-lived brand on consoles, picking and choosing elements from the series’ legacy that best show off Nintendo’s new platform.
The backdrops, many ripped from DOA4, with destructible scenery and vertiginous freefalls, ration the effect of 3D to make it valuable and affecting without degenerating into monotony or overkill. The camera feels freer than it has before, stalking the action and framing finishers in slow-motion glory, driving home the 3D effect. Dial down the 3D and you’re still left with the most satisfying, faithful translation of a fighting series to handheld yet. Crucially, the characters – from beginner’s favourite Jann Lee to acquired taste Lei Fang – feel and fight exactly as they should. Trickier fighters like Zack even show signs of worthwhile tweaking, the rough edges of his stuttering attacks smoothed to keep things flowing and board up harsh counterattack windows.

The point of contention is likely to be the controls. The D-pad is the weapon of choice for any beat ’em up veteran and the awkwardness of its position on the 3DS hardware becomes quickly apparent. Touchscreen input will be embraced by newcomers (tap a command with the stylus and your character does the rest), but it’s a concession to accessibility that may be the game’s undoing if it interferes with the overall balance of versus play.
Aesthetic beauty and control concerns aside, the real crux of DOAD will be its harnessing of 3DS’s features, which may finally add that long-missing dimension to the fighting genre: attractive, portable connectivity.

You can read our in-depth thoughts on Nintendo's hardware in issue 225 of Edge, currently available from all good uk newsagents or as a digital download through Zinio.