We Did It. We Played the 3DS !

Yesterday was March 4th. Strangely enough today is March 5th.

Yesterday marked two key things for me, no global tragedy or anything like that but it was the day I finally got to hold a 3DS in my hand. The other being the end of my “no-pokemon information until March 4th” task as Pokemon Black & White were released in Europe. For both of these occasions myself and two others made our way to Liverpool nice and early for the second day of the Liverpool 3DS demo event.

Originally the group of people who I had planned to bring with me to the events were different but after a drop-out and some scheduling problems the travelers mixed slightly.

We made our way to the train station with a target time of 9pm to catch our train through a neighboring town to rendezvous with our third member with the final stop being Liverpool Lime Street.
Arriving at the initial train station we managed to just miss the chosen train as we could see some of the passengers looking through the windows as we approached the platform, though rather postpone our other companion’s plan to board that train, we timed an express train on the opposing platform which managed to get us to our destination only a few minutes later than planned.
Because of this we were still on time to make it to the big white Nintendo house just as it opened, assuming we knew how to get to it. Which we didn’t.

Obviously we had a general idea where to find the place, we knew it was on Williamson Square but then we realised that we had not found out exactly were that was. Luckily we seemed to take a few good turns and found the square will little trouble. Somehow I managed to ask the question “Where is it then?” without actually looking first as it would be pretty tough to miss the large white cube planted in the middle of the area. Maybe I was expecting to hear more noise from the others waiting to go in, yet a queue was non-existent. We didn’t check the time when we first found it so I’m unsure if there was a queue beforehand. After regrouping we were heckled by a woman standing in the queue area with a 3DS in her hands and chained to her waist. Just like the first demo test during last years Electronic Entertainment Expo. The woman invited us to  enter the cube and confirmed my excited hopes that the remade version of Ocarina of Time was playable inside. Now more excited than ever we made our way around to the entrance and was guided through a retrospective corridor housing displays of past Nintendo handhelds along with the holograph displaying pyramid which was seen at the Amsterdam launch event in January. Sadly we were escorted into the demo area without being able to really look at the displays in the previous room. Nevertheless we were here, in a room filled with dozens of 3DS systems to play to our hearts content.

The room was virtually void of any other players, probably due to the time and day, yet each system had another woman waiting behind it waiting to tell you more about the the 3DS and the game in which you chose to play.

Each game available in the demo station had around 2-3 3DS systems displaying the game with around 15 games available to play. Those games were as follows;

Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, Super Monkey Ball 3D, Lego StarWars: The Clone Wars, Asphalt 3D, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendogs + Cats, PES 2011, Ridge Racer 3D, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries, Dead or Alive: Dimensions, PilotWings Resorts and Steel Diver.
Along with the pre-loaded apps such as AR Cards, Mii Maker and Face Raiders.

Instinctively I didn’t stand and stare at what was around me, I had been waiting for almost a year to get my hands all over a 3DS so I quickly asked which table my beloved Ocarina of Time rested at as I chose it to be my first ever 3D game. I was handed a system when I arrived at the demo table and was able to choose three areas of the game to start at. Deciding Kokiri Forest should be the first I see in its remade 3D glory as it is the starting area of the game. Thinking back to other people who had previously tested the handheld, they all mentioned finding the “sweet spot” of the 3D top screen in order for the effect to kick in, yet after a minute or two of playing I realized how I didn’t have to search for it at all. The moment I picked that machine up I instantly saw deeper into the game. It is safe to say the game looks absolutely amazing and the 3D effect just added to that, as it should. The 3D effects defiantly gave the game depth as the environment appears to go deep into the screen with the forest effects floating across the screen on a higher layer.

I spent a good few minutes running around the forest and talking to the woman behind the desk my opinions of the machine. After a quick look around the main hall of the Deku Tree stage I decided to go try my hand at Resident Evil Mercenaries. Now I must say I was hoping for Revelations to be playable but Mercenaries definitely held up to the graphical goodness that Revelations wowed people with back at E3 as the game looked incredible. The gameplay really didn’t allow us to take in the 3D effect or the visuals as well as Zelda did as we had a number of plagued villagers chasing us around with sharp weapons. The sweet spot definitely applied in this game though as I did have to adjust my view to find it. The circle pad control precision of the 3DS really helped in directing Leon around the map although my aim seemed to be a little off (though maybe this is due to me being a PC gamer). The bottom screen of this game was used to swap weapons which helped to keep the action flowing my eliminating inventory screens. Mercenaries plays just like it always has, it is a time attack mode in which you must kill as many enemies as possible within the time limit. Capcom seem to have taken a mini-game from the series and ported it over as a full-priced title which may be hard to warrent the purchase until we what more is offered on the cartridge.

During my time with Ocarina of Time my two tagalongs were playing Ridge Racer and PES 2011 with the 3D effects of Pro Evo being well received due to the depth of the playing field really adding to the realism of the game. Ridge Racer was said to be fun to play but the graphics seemed to be lacking detail and the 3D effect being adding nothing to the game itself.

Also available was a quick demo of Nintendogs + Cats. The game seemed to play just like the DS original only with much furrier animals. The demo was only short but due to the game being a Japanese version it did take a bit of trial and error to work out what I should have been doing and because of my inability to get the pets to jump up at the screen I was unable to get a good idea of how the 3D affected it. Nevertheless the animals were much cuter than before and I may have to pick up the title just because of a lack of any other launch titles which caught my eye. I did enjoy playing the previous entry although I did have several other DS owners to interact with, with none of my friends currently picking up a console I may sit this one out. Decisions decisions.

Next to Nintendogs was a demo version of PilotWings which I vaguely remember from my N64 back in the day. I remembered the objective of flying through the hoops but the demo was already in mid session meaning my character had been flying around the island aimlessly for some time. Because I was hopelessly lost floating around the island I decided to take the time to try just stare at the visuals. I had quite a bit of trouble finding the sweet spot in PilotWings, messing around with the depth slider didn’t help either. With depth playing a key role in this game the fact that it was the only one giving me troubles left me feeling a bit disappointed. The game can obviously still be enjoyed in 2D mode, but screen depth would really help in judging things like distance and speed.

Pre-Installed System Software

We were advised to check out the pre-installed apps of the 3DS by one of the representatives and were shown which area of the room we could find them. By now a lot of people were inside the demo area and things were starting to get a bit cramped.
We decided to try out the AR Card feature first as it was the one which looked more promising to me through the feedback of others. To make this work we simply lined up the consoles cameras with the special card pn the table in front of us. The system showed your current distance from the card onscreen and requested a 35cm distance from it. We pulled back slightly to hit the distance target and soon a small box rose out of the card. By using the shoulder buttons we could shoot the box open and it proceeded to transform into a target practice stage. By moving around the table we were able to rotate ourselves around targets to line up better shots and even got to use this neat feature to walk around a dragon enemy in order to shoot each part of it until it collapsed on the table in front of us.
The Augmented Reality really stood out as a key feature when paired with the 3D screen as it opens up a lot of potential to turn your surroundings into a game of it’s own or even incorporate it into retail games. Hopefully Nintendo, or any other company, will make more use of it than they currently are .

For the next test all three of us were able to play the pre-installed game called “Face Raiders” simultaneously on separate machines. This little mini-game involved taking a picture of your or a friend’s face which would then begin to fly around you as you attempted to fight them off. I was warned by the station’s representative that I would be detected as a girl becuase of my hair length… she was right !
Like the AR Cards you need to rotate yourself around in order to find all of the flying heads and rescue other faces generated from the other images taken on the system’s camera beforehand. Face Raiders was vaguely reminiscent of the mini-game available on the old GameBoy Camera peripheral of the 90’s. It was a fun little pass time and seeing the three of us spinning around on the spot was funny but is defiantly only something you would use for the first week of picking up the handheld.

The Final Set

Finally I turned my attention to the back row of demo tables. Housing Street Fighter, Super Monkey Ball and Lego Star wars. The later two being two game which really don’t interest me at all. As for Street Fighter’s genre it is one which I have never been good at nor have had the attention span really try it. I have played other titles like Virtua Fighter, Dead or Alive, Soul Caliber and Mortal Kombat all before but for games which rely quite heavily on competitive play I have never really been fond of them. Nevertheless I was interested in trying Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition after I had heard good things about it from other sites and even my accompanying cousin.
I’m insure of which character I chose or who I was against but without any idea of the controls I just defaulted to the traditional style of button mashing, which seemed to work in favour of me when strung together with some kind of face smash at the end.
I chose the slightly-over-the-shoulder camera view as it seemed to be the logical choice to show off the 3D effects. It is safe to say that the game already looked nice paired with the 3D depth effects helping to emphasise the moves on screen but it didn’t seem like a decision changing effect for me to spend £30 on.

My last two games were the ones I looked forward to the least. Super Monkey Ball and Lego Star Wars. In a nut shell Super Monkey Ball could use the 3D effect quite well as it has a nice feeling of speed and depth as you run down and around the stages yet the gyroscope control system would cause you to loose the 3D sweet spot of the screen, luckily you can switch to a circle pad control method of turn the 3D off depending on your desired play style. Lego Star Wars seemed to have aiming issues again with the circle pad and some noticeable frame rate drops in areas with the 3D turned on although the 3D effect was very nice on this title.

Kid Icarus was also playable which I only noticed around 45 mintues into our visit. This is one of the titles I had interest in, though not a lot. Kid Icarus was the first 3DS title to be shown and because of that I expected it to be one of the most impressive. The standerds were in my opinion only being set by Capcom and Nintendo with the games on show and this title was no different. Kid Icarus definatly looks like a game that the 3D effect will benefit most from as the game has both in-air and land based stages, both of which look “deep” with a third person view. Because of the depth offered by the 3D effects the stages looked stunning. Kid Icarus is a fast paced action game which fits well with the 3D effects and remains to be a very enjoyable experience with the effects turned off also. Too bad it isn’t a release title.

Steel Diver is another Nintendo title offered at the 3DS Demo Event which I admittadly did not play on my day there. Both of my companions did try it however and both seemed to find the controls to be a little daunting with no tutorial feature running on any of the games. The gameplay seemed slow although got a enjoyable response from one of us once his submarine sprung a leak . I didn’t get a good look at the game myself but the 3D effects seem to be unnecessary for this type of game and it is mostly side scrolling. The backdrops may benefit though.

Finally Asphalt 3D was the final game we played during our almost 2 hour demo test with the system. This is a racing game and was the only title in its genre with a direct competitor nearby. Ridge Racer.
Asphalt 3D’s visuals really stood out to me and were defiantly far ahead of Ridge Racer’s own which is sad as both could quite easily be ports from other systems and should therefor be pretty evenly matched. This just makes me think that Ridge Racer is more than likely a quick system launch cash-in scheme.  Asphalt offered a lot of tracks in its demo yet I was only able to try one, this particular one involved a steep downhill drop which obviuosly work well with the 3D effects. And it really did. I could feel fear as we fell down the hill basically doing a nose drive into the road. I didn’t notice any car damage feature though car ramming takedowns were present (always a bonus) along with stupidly fast speed, again aided by the 3D. This is on my contender list as a launch day purchase. The turning and physics needed work though.

Soon after having a final look around the cube we decided to leave our 2 hour 3DS preview event behind. In all I can say the games on offer from Nintendo and Capcom really show what the 3DS is capable of and hopefully most developers will follow suit with this. The other titles (beside PES and Asphalt) seem to be a rushed which is to be expected really. Although the amount of launch titles Ubisoft have is a little worrying as they seem to be just be plotting to make the most out of day one purchasers. Be wary people.
As for the 3DS itself I actually didn’t find myself thinking about it as we played. Which is a good thing. The device was perfectly weighted and fit very nicely in my hands. I realised afterwards that I didn’t have to adjust it to find a comfortable way to hold it. The 3D effects of the bigger titles were really amazing along with its overall power make me really excited to think of how future titles will look once developers really tap into it’s potential. I suffered absolutely no amount of eye strain or discomfort after playing with it for roughly 2 hours and the 3D effect kicked in with very little effort on the mojority of the titles. The fact that I got so little photos from it all afterwards only prove how engrossed in the machine I was and how excited I am for March 25th. It isn’t long to go now. I still have to work out which game to buy …

Oh and we picked up a little printed 3DS, bought Pokemon Black (and got free styluses) and finally … ate some food. Huzaar. Great day. I’m going to bed.

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