I got to play much more 3DS the other day, and more games including Street Fighter, Resident Evil Mercenaries, Asphalt 3D and Steel Diver. All in all I must have got about 2 hours playtime on various games, so how does the system hold up after that?
I’m more hyped than ever. Nintendo Australia had set up a 3DS area in the middle of Parramatta shopping centre, with 12 to 15 playable 3DS units. While waiting in line a dude came up to me with Asphalt 3D tied to his crotch, so I started playing with it. The game is FAST! It was hard to take the 3D in at first; it seems a bit glitchy. There was an awesome moment when I ran into a streetlight pole at full speed and it danced around in midair and came towards me like it was going to hit me in the eye. The game itself was fairly glitchy; cars would hover above the ground a fair bit and the handling was a bit stiff. I’m not quite sold on this but I do want to play more. Hopefully the game is less buggy by release.
When the place finally opened up I went in and searched for a 3DS that wasn’t occupied; first thing I got to was one of the AR games. It was the one where a cube comes out of the table and targets pop up. After using the 3DS motion sensor to aim and shoot all the targets, a dragon popped up. I had to move the 3DS around the dragon that was popping out of the table in order to hit its weak points on its back and in its mouth. A really cool demonstration of the AR possibilities.
The first real game I played was Resident Evil Mercenaries. It’s absolutely insanely good. The graphics are outstanding, it looks just like RE4 on GC / Wii, but the 3D felt a bit different to the other 3D games i’ve played so far. It felt a lot less intrusive and noticable, so much that I forgot I was playing a 3D game for a short moment. Then I shot a red barrel in the distance and the explosion quickly blew my mind as it came towards me, flinging an enemy forward with it. The controls were great, very fluid, and I managed to use a pistol, shotgun, and even aim a sniper rifle effectively. Movement is done with the analog nub and you hold R to aim. The touch screen was used for switching weapons: just tap the one you want to use. Resident Evil Revelations was there too but only in video form, but it looked even better. There was also a short MGS3 trailer which had impressive 3D but didn’t really show much gameplay.
Steel Diver was a mixed bag. I should have played this a lot more than I did but I found it pretty boring at first. The first level I chose had me looking around in first person to find ships to shoot. Missiles went slow and you had to anticipate where the ship would be to hit it. It was alright but not really engaging. I went back to it later and tried a different level, one of the 2D ones. It was a lot better, it involved moving the submarine in 2D from left to right through caves to get to the end. There’s three notches you can play with for movement of the sub, and its all done with the touch screen. There’s a slider for height/depth, one for speed, and one for the direction the sub is pointing. It was quite enjoyable after I got used to it; it relies heavily on micromanagement and multitasking, requiring you to constantly adjust all three if you want to move and shoot things properly. I think it could get pretty intense in the later stages. You can also pull the speed slider to the middle and just sit there and take things in. Another thing I loved about the 2D area was the 3D. The way the background was actually in the background makes the whole thing really easy on the eyes.
Street Fighter’s 3D felt the same; I was very surprised by this game. There’s always so much shit going on at once in fighters and 3D helped me take things in. Things being in multiple layers was refreshing and playing the game gave me a nice feeling I don’t usually get from fighters. I’m not a big fighting game fan – they stress me out – but this was comfortable. Focusing on the fight makes the background basically disappear. There’s an option to play in either “dynamic” or “standard”. I found standard much better as your focus doesn’t have to constantly adjust. Dynamic has the camera panning around during the fight and makes things a lot more intense.
Pilotwings was the first game where I had to pull the 3D slider down a bit to see properly. Its 3D is very realistic in the sense that if you look at something in the distance, the plane will go blurry. I didn’t play this too much, just had one go in the plane; it played exactly the same as the plane game in Wii Sports Resort, and Wuhu Island seemed the same, even the information icons were there. It looked really good, but I’d have to see a lot more to consider it worthy of a purchase. It had the option to fly with a jetpack or hang-glider as well which I didn’t get to try.
There was one game that stood above all the rest for me, and it wasn’t even playable. Mario Kart 3DS had a trailer looping on one of the 3DS displays, and the 3D effect in it was extremely good. Pipes and trees were popping out of the track, and the draw distance was marvelous. It was the most “3D” game I’ve seen, the tracks felt whole and real, and the items and obstacles like goombas and boulders were menacing. The part when Mario and Luigi drift around a corner to reveal a huge ramp in the distance gave me goosebumps. Makes me want to play a game where you look around corners, having the distance suddenly “appear” and the 3DS get “deeper” is really cool.
Mii Maker was pretty cool, I took a photo of myself and it planted itself on a Mii body in 3D, then morphed into a Mii head, it looked a little bit like me but not entirely accurate, mainly the chin area. After taking the photo it lets you tweak certain things though so its pretty easy to get a Mii to look like you. While on the Mii Maker 3DS I took the opportunity to press the Home button and scour the menu. Firstly I opened the Activity Log, and was surprised to see Bubble Bobble had been played on this 3DS for 3 hours, yet it was nowhere to be seen at this event or the last one. Things like Activity Log, 3DS Camera, Mii Maker all appeared here, and you can sort them either by total time played, amount of times played, last played or even first played. I can see myself checking the Activity Log quite a lot; it’ll probably be my top game. Then I’ll be checking the log to see how many times I’ve checked the log. Oh the excitement!
Another thing I checked out in the Home menu was StreetPass. I searched for anyone doing it but to no avail. This was probably the only 3DS in the place with the feature on anyway; all the other 3DS units I pressed Home on went to a black debug screen. I saw a few cool things I didn’t expect in the StreetPass menu. There was an option to go on a quest with other Miis, I tried to select it, but I was denied because nobody else was StreetPassing. It also had the option to buy a buddy to go on a quest with – this is bought by the coins you get from walking. Unfortunately the 3DS didn’t have enough, and only had 64 steps on it. Makes sense considering it’s tied to a platform.
I experienced no weird after-effects from playing this time, and I played quite a bit. One thing I’ve noticed though is that when I look at normal screens now I try and imagine them in 3D. I was playing Dragon Quest 9 earlier and the battles would be great in 3D; I could almost imagine the effect myself. I’m convinced this system will change the gaming landscape and make a huge impression on the world when it launches. Every single person there was blown away by the 3D. When I was in the line for Zelda the two kids playing it in front of me were constantly saying how cool it was and talking a million words per second; it was like they just saw santa claus. I think one kid wet himself when he took out the slingshot. The whole day was very surreal.
Looking ahead at the launch lineup, it’s tough to decide what to get. None of the top games will be available straight away. I might just take the plunge and get Steel Diver. I’d really like Super Monkey Ball 3DS to be good but Sega seem to be hiding that game for some reason, same goes for Ubisoft and Rayman, they haven’t been playable anywhere and they launch in a month. What’s everyone else getting?