Going into this event, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Obviously, you get the goofy, gimmicky stuff (the Street Fighter IV and Resident Evil stuff pretty much being that) but it’s more about what was going to be the experience and feeling you get about a system that has mixed views going into its release at the end of March.
Nintendo is one of those companies whose rights overshadow its wrongs but even I kind of doubted things would work out with it. People doubting the high price of entry ($250 in America, £220 in Europe) and the quality of the release day catalogue (which, to their credit, has improved recently) putting people’s minds in doubt over whether this will follow the DS Lite, the DSi and even the DSi XL in being big time sellers.
If people doubt the last two, the fundamental point of the system, the 3D, cannot be doubted. It works and, in some cases, works really well. One of the better demonstrations of this was Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D. Done in the field view instead of the TV camera view in most football games, it is a really nice showcase to the pure scope the 3D brings, giving you a good view of the pitch as you either chase your opponent or run towards the goal to score. It doesn’t quite convince me to not stick to playing it on the home consoles and also, graphically, it kind of looks poorer then it really should, but as a showcase title, it gives justification for having 3D involved in the first place which, in the age of 3D movies and large screen 3D versions of games, isn’t an easy thing to do.
The other game is the much talked about 3DS installed software ‘Face Raiders’ (the game known as Face Ace back at E3) where you take a picture of yourself or someone else you know and then, well, chase their face around and shoot it. This, again, is a great showcase of motion tracking because, as demonstrated by people at the show, you’ll be moving the 3DS all over the area to find the targets to shoot at. If you get it right, it’ll capture your face and transform it into some kind of evil floating head Ming the Merciless, sticking it in a helmet and shooting it around. It’s not exactly the most perfect measurer of accurate face scoping (got measured as a young adult in one game and a baby in another…huh?!) but it was a tonne of fun and will probably be scarier when you get all your friends and family on there and shoot them a lot.
I will say, though, that despite this some of the 3D doesn’t feel right. Steel Diver is one of those games. I didn’t really play enough of it to really get it, but the basic idea is that you drive a submarine using the touch screen around various areas and shoot missiles and whatnot. Nothing really stuck out about it, especially in terms of scope and view since it’s in essance, a 2D sea shooter with weird controls and not much going on unless you play a really hard mission. Basically, it felt bland.
Besides that, the rest of the launch titles varied to degrees and some of them are worth checking out (Pilotwings Resort, Ridge Racer, even Nintendogs + Cats) and some are…well, not that different to their console counterparts (Splinter Cell, Lego Star Wars III) and not being able to at least test out the Ocarina of Time remake is something I’m kicking myself for not doing. At the same time, though, that isn’t why you should be picking up a 3DS. Nintendo have, on tech alone, created something very special in terms of a handheld competitor. The price point may not be the best for everyone and some of the games may not capitalise on this as much as others have done, but to say that they merely tried to jump on the James Cameron fronted 3D bandwagon would be exceedingly unfair. If more companies, including Nintendo, capitalized on even the motion sensors and the StreetPass and SpotPass features, Nintendo could have another huge handheld hit on their hands to once again blow Sony out of the water.
The Nintendo 3DS is out on March 25th. The best offers seen for it have been £197 over at Amazon and Tesco.com.