Nintendo World 2011

Last weekend was the first opportunity the public had to experience Nintendo’s 3DS. Nintendo is something of a shy company in Japan – they haven’t had an event like this in five years nor attended Tokyo Game Show in even longer.

Despite being a pretty big deal to gamers everywhere, the event itself was a low-key, no-frills affair. Unlike TGS, music was not being blared across the hall, publishers weren’t going all-out with their stands and there was barely a cosplayer in sight. Booths were clinical in their design, and the white outfitted attendants made sure to wipe down every corner of a 3DS after attendees had had their way with it.

Attendees were inundated by larger-than-life 3DS ads promoted by idol group Arashi emblazoned across the entrance and TV spots looped on every screen on the show floor. Every advert shown displayed them reacting to the delight of opening a 3DS, which tended to go along the lines of “eh?… huh… wuh-waaaaaaaaaaaa!” and then cut away from their ecstacy before the inevitable Scanners-esque headsplosion while a voice-over explains you don’t need 3D glasses to experience 3D on the Nintendo 3DS.

Several stage events took place on each day but they detailed little to no information that playing the demos and watching the videos available on the show-floor didn’t already provide. The only show-stoppers were held at 12:30 and 16:00 on each of the three days where thirty-minute “Nintendo Game Music Live” performances were held. Each day hosted a different guest composer/musician, but the same medleys were played each time – Donkey Kong, Animal Crossing, Mario and Zelda.

The show floor housed a total of 16 areas, all but one showcasing playable 3DS games or features. The only promotional prizes being given out were from Capcom which came in the form of paltry, though still appreciated, postcards for Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and Resident Evil Revelations.

…but enough of all this nonsense. What you really want to know is what the 3DS is really like and whether it really does what it says on the tin or not. Well, yes it does. However, some games pull the effect off more successfully than others. The 3D effect is only visible to the person directly in front of the unit, and some of the games have issues with blurring if you are holding the 3DS closer than 45cm or further than 60cm away from you. If you play a bit too frantically and turn the screen even slightly away from you this can also cause the 3D effect to “split”. Nintendo staff were keen to remind everyone before playing about the 3D slider that is sometimes required to “fix” the 3D effect for the player and anyone younger than six was not permitted to play in 3D.

Let’s go over the unit itself. It is not much larger nor heavier than a DS lite. It is glossy both inside and out and therefore prone to fingerprint smudges. The stylus slots in at the back, and the headphone jack is in the front-centre. The slide (analogue) pad is soft and glides smoothly and freely around, but the directional pad is not really up to snuff with previous efforts, but neither is it as awkwardly out of place as it looks on the unit. The ABXY buttons as well as the shoulder buttons click in a similarly pleasing fashion to their predecessors, but the Select, Home and Start “buttons” are rather ghastly plasticky fake buttons that give a similar feeling to poking blister packs. The bottom touch screen is effectively identical to its DS counterparts while the wider, 3D screen dominates it above. To the right of the 3D screen is one of the most important features – a 3D slider. I think the best way to think of this is in a similar way to the old-school monochrome Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Light contrast slider. Maxing it out will create the greatest amount of 3D distance between the foreground and the background whilst turning it down reduces this distance. Turning it all the way off turns on the 2D mode which dramatically decreases the jagginess and generally improves the visual quality of most games. Above the 3D screen is a single 0.3MP camera, while behind it are two more 0.3MP cameras capable of working together to take 3D photos. The unit will be available in “Aqua Blue” and “Cosmo Black” colours upon launch next month in Japan. Aqua Blue is the better of the two. Nintendo has sadly confirmed that the 3DS will be region coded, meaning if you import a Japanese 3DS you will not be able to play Western games on it.

Attendees were not given the opportunity to play around with the menu system first-hand but a number of videos showed it to be a heavily-modified version of the DSi “Channel” menu with a host of new features such as a pedometer and history features similar to that of the Wii. Miis have found another home on the 3DS and can either be transferred from the Wii, or a built-in application can take and process your photo to give you a selection of Miis that look similar to you. One of the pre-bundled channels will be the 3DS Camera, where you can take 3D photos or… er… take photos of yourself and a friend opposite you to blend your faces together to see what your children might look like. Another channel is “Face Shooting”, where the 3DS will scan your (or, indeed, a friend’s) face and then manipulate it to look happy, sad or angry. This face is then used in a mini-game that makes use of the 3DS unit’s built-in 3-axis gyroscope and 3D camera where you have to move the 3DS around frantically trying to find where in your vicinity the scanned face is and shoot it in the mouth with a tennis ball before it homes in on you for a big, wet, sloppy kiss. The last of the channels which was playable was AR (Augmented Reality) Games. This used the 3D camera and a special playing card to create a targetting game on the surface in front of you. It starts off simple enough with you having to move the 3DS around to centre the crosshair on a target and then firing, but soon enough the surface in front of you caves in and folds out to reveal a dragon in a hole that you have to take out in a similar fashion to Space Harrier’s dragon boss – attacking segments of its body until it surrenders. The AR card can also be used to make your Mii pop up and pose on any surface – including yourself, so you can take a picture with them.

The other feature that caught my eye was displayed in many videos – “StreetPass”. When you knowingly or unwittingly pass by another 3DS carrier in public, certain items or unlockables can be traded across. For example, Miis of people you have passed by may find a home on your 3DS, or SSFIV3D bottle cap trophies may unlock. This feature will undoubtedly find its place in the next generation of Pokémon games after Black and White.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was the star of the show, and the first queue I ran to once I had my foot in the door. Three areas were playable: Kokiri Forest, the first dungeon “Inside the Deku Tree” and its boss, “Gohma”. While it appears that the final version of the game will not come with all the extras Super Mario 64 DS did, it will of course come with higher quality textures, some nice anti-aliasing in 2D mode and, of course, 3D. The dungeon was sadly not the superior “Master Quest” version, but we can’t have everything. The only notable addition was the ability to make use of the 3DS’ gyroscope when weilding the slingshot – from the first person view you could either aim with the slide pad or actually move the 3DS around to aim. Taking out Gohma in this fashion is harder, but certainly more satisfying.

Resident Evil Revelations was a short demo. Playing as Jill, I had to navigate through some dank, dismal corridors and fight three enemies not unlike the Regenerator enemies from Resident Evil 4. The 3D wasn’t eye poppingly fantabulous so much as just there, but Capcom evidently tried to make use of the tech by having a few bats and rats pop out now and then.

Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition quite simply blew me away. This was, hands-down, the best looking game with the most convincing 3D at the show. The fights themselves are playable from a 2D (classic) or 3D (over the shoulder 3rd-person) point of view. The 3D view worked much better than you might imagine. All your favourite SSFIV characters are back, and this time they are also available to collect in bottlecap trophy forms to boot!

For a flagship title, Kid Icarus: Uprising came with some rather dodgy controls. It’s certainly a very pretty game, and the Space Harrier-esque shooting sections are faultless, but once Pit touches the ground and starts hopping around you need to move the camera and shoot using the stylus, which can become a little tricky. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was why the game was only playable on a stand rather than freely in the player’s hand. Hmm.

Pilotwings Resort was the title I had the highest hopes for. I don’t know whether it was my glasses or my eyes just being plain wrong, but I was having trouble with the 3D simply not working for me. If it was just a chance occurrence then I am indeed looking forward to it though.

Japanese launch title Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask had the usual gameplay tropes – exploring around, prodding civilians with your stylus and solving obscure puzzles, but this time, in 3D. The first puzzle on offer was a simple but pleasing one where you had to control a ladybird through a rotating cylindrical maze to help find its lover. The second puzzle involved guiding a king penguin to the centre of an iceberg by having him break his slide by running into other penguins… even more complicated than it sounds. The 3D pops nicely for the anime cutscenes, in-game cutscenes and the puzzles themselves.

Other playable games on show were:

  • Dead or Alive Dimensions looked about on par with the Xbox 1 iterations of the series, which is no bad thing. It has a “Chronicle” (Story) mode which makes more use of 3D in cutscenes, but the in-game 3D was not as noticeably impressive as Street Fighter’s. A full roster of 25 characters are playable although five were greyed out – most likely boss characters but a possibility of a couple of new faces.
  • Steel Diver, a submarine game which I’m sure is an evolution of a DS tech demo from E3 2005. Uses the gyroscope, but nothing to write home about.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D was a rolling demo where all you could do was move the camera during certain cutscenes. Looked pretty, but I was having trouble getting the 3D to work properly with my glasses on. It didn’t really deserve the amount of floorspace it had.
  • Samurai Warriors ChronicleRidge Racer 3DWinning Eleven 3DSoccer (PES) and nintendogs + cats were all pretty much what you’d expect. The titles you all know and might love, but with more 3D.

Finally, my round-up of the unplayable titles worth mentioning that had gameplay videos running on 3DS units: Paper Mario 3DMario Kart 3DSAnimal Crossing 3D, Puzzle Bobble 3D and Super Monkey Ball 3D were all, unsurprisingly enough, worthy 3D counterparts of their predecessors. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D somehow fared better than Revelations, but maybe that was just because it had HUNK taking out zombies in the opening scenario of Resident Evil 5Cubic Ninja is the only original 3DS IP worth its salt as it looks like a cute, fun puzzler with eye-popping 3D and gyroscope gameplay. Lastly, Xevious 3D, looked particularly neat with its mix of old graphics and gameplay with a proper 3D plane, but I can’t see how it’ll be worth its full retail price as a cartridge game.

The 3DS launches in Japan on February the 26th with a launch line-up including Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Ridge Racer 3D, nintendogs + cats and Winning Eleven 3DSoccer (PES). The European release date is expected to be in March and will be officially announced on the 19th of January.






3 responses to “Nintendo World 2011”

  1. Colin avatar

    Got my cash sitting ready for that bad boy 🙂

  2. Mark P avatar

    I *was* really quite excited for the 3DS but the Launch line-up seems pretty ‘meh’.

  3. Danny avatar

    Indeed. More titles are said to be coming out in March though. Let’s hope the West gets a better launch line-up (Zelda).

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