Published on June 8th, 2011 | by Matt1
E3 2011 Day 2: 3DS Grab Bag
The first thing we did today was run straight to the Nintendo booth. Several reasons for that. They’re games look promising this year. They always have some of the best free merchandise (this awesome collectable pins for each of their games). And of course that new controller for the Wii U.
The doors opened. We ran. Only to find a line that was already wrapping around the main hall. If you wanted to play the Wii U, you needed special privileges. And special patience. The line was well over an hour wait, and that was just the line to get into the booth. Since this year at E3 I’m not technically Press, it seems I will have to wait just a little longer to get my hands on the new console. I’ll be posting up some impressions from watching it later, but that’s all I’ll be able to do.
Nevertheless we moved on to the 3DS games, where several new games (along with their corresponding collectable pins) were waiting. We tried them all, and here’s my first opinions of them.
Luigi’s Mansion 2
So here we are again. A decade later and Luigi’s finally getting a sequel. The first Luigi’s Mansion was a launch game for the Gamecube, and this game is pretty familiar to those who’ve played the original. I particularly enjoyed the first game for it’s interesting setting and gameplay, quite unlike any Mario Bros. game before (or any game for that matter.)
The controls are pretty solid. Move with the thumbstick, flashlight with A, suck ghosts up with R. The flashlight works a little differently now though. It’s always on, but you can charge it up by holding the A button. Releasing sends out a blinding flash of light and stuns any ghosts in front of you. Holding the A button for longer charges the flash more. Shining the flashlight on the ghosts without charging just causes them to go invisible, so learning this new system takes a little getting used to. Even more so, because while you’re charging your light you can’t rotate your direction, though you can still move.
Once you get used to this fact, it’s just a matter of making sure you’re definitely facing the way you want before you start the charge. Over time this will probably get easier as you get used to the system.
Similarly disorientating at first, angling your vacuum/flashlight up or down is done with the Y and X buttons, or by tilting the 3DS around. Note: you’re going to want to use the buttons, because tilting the 3DS around is an incredibly stupid design choice when the 3D effect is ruined by even the slightest orientation change (Starfox 64 3D makes this same mistake). Overall this looks like a fun game though, depending on when it comes out, I may pick it up. It’s not as high on my priority list as some of these games though, and if they all end up coming out at the same time (Holiday ’11), then Luigi’s Mansion may be a miss.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
It’s Zelda. It’s Ocarina of Time. We’ve all probably played it, and if you haven’t you should.
I’m not going to go on a “It’s the best game of all time ever forever,” rant (because I’m not that absolutist, it’s probably not), but it is still an amazing game and if you own a 3DS or are considering buying one, this one is certainly a reason to get one. It’s a great game, the controls translate perfectly (even better than the original) to the 3DS, the graphics look beautiful, the new Boss Battle Time Attack and Master Quest mode add longevity to the game for more experienced players. It’s a great game. This 3DS remake does nothing to hurt it and you should go play it as soon as you can.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Note: As of writing I have only played the multiplayer. One of our group played the single player so the opinions presented will be based on his experience.
Kid Icarus’s multiplayer experience is…interesting. It has the potential to be really fun, but something about the controls throws me off. Using a touch screen to control the camera in a fast paced death match mode feels unwieldily in a lot of ways, it’s a little to slow, and sometimes you can’t turn fast enough to see your enemy. The running system uses a “double tap to run” method, which sometimes works and most of the time makes you run when you don’t want to and walk when you’re trying to escape an enemy.
After a few minutes these problems felt lessened as I got a better grip on the controls, but it still wasn’t a completely smooth experience. This is where the lack of a second analog stick on the console does hurt it slightly. Something about trying to hold the 3DS in one hand while tapping and sliding along the touch screen with the other throws off the balance of the portable. Playing this mode with 3D on is almost impossible because of this.
I want this game to be good, but the multiplayer didn’t completely convince me. I think with a little more time on it I could get a better feel for the controls but it’s not as fluid as I would like.
Mario Kart! Again!
There’s not much to say here. It’s Mario Kart. It’s smooth, it’s fun. It feels a lot like it’s DS predecessor. Some of the new gimicks involve your kart turning into a hang glider or submakart during certain sections. And the game also looks very pretty, but overall doesn’t seem to be amazingly new.
If you liked Mario Kart before you will probably like this one, and if you didn’t…well I haven’t played enough to see if the cheap-ass AI has been changed, but you probably shouldn’t expect too much from this game. I will probably be picking it up, because Mario Kart is fun series to play either by yourself with friends, even if this one doesn’t really change that much.
Starfox 64 3D
This game is awesome. I loved it as a kid, and just like Zelda above this remake does nothing but improve on the original game with new graphics, modes, and some pretty cool multiplayer.
The levels look much more fleshed out. New designs for the cities and ships really show off the hardware on the 3DS. Although we’re all sick of that “look at stuff fly towards you in 3D!” stuff, I must admit I was impressed the first time I shot an enemy and shrapnel and explosions flew past my ship and out of the screen towards me. It doesn’t feel overly gimmicky. I’ve actually been impressed thus far with game developers not falling into the trap of just having stuff launch at the screen to take advantage of the 3D, so I hope this doesn’t set any precedent for them to start.
The multiplayer is also a blast. New levels that have interesting environments (compared to the original game’s flat, boring maps) and item pick ups keep it varied. A neat feature is the live video stream with the front facing camera that monitors competitors reactions and displays them for all to see. At the end it takes a little snapshot and allows the victor to get one last annoying grin while his rivals stare stone faced at the screen and secretly plot his downfall.
As I mentioned before you can tilt the handheld in place of using the thumb pad to steer. Don’t do this. It’s no where near as effective as the normal method and once again the only real purpose it serves to remind people there’s a gyroscope and accelerometer in the 3DS. And it completely ruins the 3D effect. Like I said, stupid.
But pointless optional gimmicks don’t stop Starfox from being great, and I can’t wait to pick it up when it ships this winter.
Last but not least, Nintendo’s mascot is back for another round of platforming. Really throwing in the retro feel this time, the Tanuki suit makes another appearance, as does the traditional flagpole at the end of each stage.
This is game is basically a cross between New Super Mario Bros, and Mario galaxy. Both in control and aesthetics. There’s a run button, which is unusual for 3D Mario games, and taking a hit will make you shrink, requiring a mushroom to go back to the full size plumber. The game plays in both 3D and 2D sections, switching depending on what part of the level you’re in.
This is one of those games that most 3DS owners will probably get, because it’s Mario. Honestly, I wasn’t totally blown away with what I played. Something about the controls seemed really floaty, which is odd for a platformer with such pedigree. The camera angle also was not always helpful, an almost-top-down-but-not-quite affair that made some of the jumps hard to gauge.
Also why is there a run button? Isn’t that the whole point of having an analog stick on the 3DS? Holding a button to run defeats that, and due to the button layout makes the jumping harder, which is already weakened by the floatiness and camera angle.
This is one of the first Mario platformers I walked away from with such mixed feelings. It’s a game I think I will have to see more of before I finally decide to buy.
That’s our 3DS round up! Stay tuned for more, including Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, Mass Effect 3 impression, Batman: Arkham City, and more.