Medium: Game – Portable
Stimulus: The Nintendo 3DS First-Year Rorschach
Last Friday, I picked up a brand new fire red Nintendo 3DS. I’m pretty pumped about my new acquisition. I can take or leave the 3D screen option, as it’s pretty hard to maintain a steady gaze and fight off the eye strain. But I love the improved touchscreen, which is so much more responsive and usable than the old clunky Nintendo DS screen. The inclusion of motion sensor controls on the system, in which you get to aim the screen instead of simply aiming a controller, also works wonders.
I’m pretty skeptical about game systems in their first year. The hardware can get pretty buggy, and a solid collection of titles doesn’t develop until at least the second year of a system’s life. Yet I found four games for the 3DS that looked good enough to merit picking up this new piece of technology, and I obtained them all. Three of these games are remakes, and one is an established minigame set loose on its own. Yet each one is a blast; even the worst of the bunch is above average.
Submitted for your approval: the best of the Nintendo 3DS, thus far.
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition: I remember getting written up at work for Protestant-bashing on a St. Patrick’s Day years ago, ditching out to take an extended break at Best Buy, playing the original version of this game there, and feeling okay with the world. This is the better version of that game. It plays as great as I remember, but the real star in this edition is the touchscreen, which is an absolute godsend. No more fighting like a thumbless, black eyed chimp trying to enter convoluted commands to execute one’s special moves; the four touchscreen buttons can be programmed to bust out any command with a simple tap. The simplicity is breathtaking.
Resident Evil – The Mercenaries 3D: The weakest of my four purchases is still a fine game. The premise of this minigame turned full release is simple: choose a character, choose a mission, and shoot as many zombies as possible before time runs out.
The Mercenaries does have a few issues, though. It suffers from a weird form of slowdown when there are many baddies onscreen, in that the zeds furthest away seem to run around in a stilted slow-motion. Also, this is not a game to go in for the long haul; missions get pretty monotonous quickly. This one seems built for multiplayer.
Is it worth new game price? Probably not, but The Mercenaries is everything good about Resident Evil ultraviolence distilled into a quick little injection.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D: This is the flagship, the standard-bearer of the 3DS. There is no question. In what seems to be a trend with this system thus far, Nintendo took a decade-old game for the Nintendo 64, made it beautiful, and added some neat tricks to the gameplay. The result is not only an epic, sprawling quest that doesn’t feel old, but also a game that is far superior to most new releases. Vital and magnificent.
Starfox 64 3D: Nintendo’s other big rerelease from the Nintendo 64 days is a pretty slick update on Starfox 64’s classic of space combat. The big selling point of this version is the ability to steer one’s spaceship with the 3DS’ motion controls, which is a cool feature but also one I think works best in combination with the traditional and more stable analog stick steering. Again, this is an old game that has much more life in it than a lot of new games have.
The verdict? The 3DS is worth the purchase. It doesn’t hurt that the system’s price just dropped a hundred bucks, either.
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