Tag Archives: Nintendo 3DS

5 memorable bits from E3 2017

As Lucius mentioned, I sort of already went over the games I was happiest to see at this year’s E3, so I thought instead for my end of E3 post I would put together a short list of my favorite E3 bits instead. In no particular order:

  • The new info on Super Mario Odyssey really won me over. I hadn’t stopped to think about it, but people had noticed that all the costumes shown in the game are actually taken from Mario’s cameos from other games, including the Mexican outfit from Qix and the explorer outfit from Mario’s Picross. (Nintendo Life has a nice summary video if you’re interested.) I love game references like these, so I got a big kick out of this. Can we also be expecting doctor and referee outfits for Mario? ūüėČ
  • As Lucius posted, the Amiibo line shows no signs of slowing down, and I’m as excited about the squishy Metroid Amiibo as everyone else; somehow it seems even cooler than the yarn Yoshi Amiibo, although I’m at a complete loss as to why that should be (and probably shouldn’t overanalyze it, haha). I like that Nintendo keeps experimenting with new and fun things to keep the line feeling fresh (even if their actual in-game usage is still fairly ho-hum overall).
  • GoNintendo posted a video about two touching moments that happened during the Ubisoft press conference, where basically Davide Soliani, the director of the newly revealed¬†Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle¬† and Michel Ancel, the director of Beyond Good and Evil 2, got¬†a little emotional as their games were revealed. I’m right with GoNintendo’s RawmeatCowboy that this was worth noting and applauding even though it wasn’t planned at all. It’s all too easy for the overly vocal and demanding (i.e. whiny and immature) people on the Internet to criticize all the hard work that goes into creating any video game, but seeing these developers’ passion for their projects up close and at a big event like E3 is a great reminder that behind all the stupid hype, corporate crap, and focus on sales numbers and Metacritic scores are individual humans who are artists as much as game developers and who deserve our admiration and respect.
  • Also from the Ubisoft presentation was the announcement of Starlink: Battle for Atlas, a game that is entering the video game toy market with customisable ships. I definitely don’t need more toys to clutter my life, but seeing these little ships completely reminded me of the Transformers I had as a kid, and I was hit with a distinct burst of nostalgia. I’ll be keeping my eye on this game to see what how it ends up, and I may even get tempted into picking up a couple…
  • The 3DS has been inundated with puzzle games, so I’m not sure I’m going to be rushing to get Sushi Striker: The Way of the Sushido when it releases next year, but I love wacky games in general and the art style looks great. It’s being developed by indieszero, known for their work on the NES Remix games, so it should be a solid game, despite looking too much like Puzzles & Dragons.

A pretty good E3 all around, and the rest of 2017 is looking pretty good for gaming as well. Now I just have to find the time to play all of these games…

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My E3 cheers and boos so far

Well, the first day of Nintendo Christmas has come and gone, and as usual there were some disappointments, but overall this has been a solid E3 for Nintendo fans so far.odyssy

First off, the cheers:

  • There have been two big 180s for me in the past two days. The first was Super Mario Odyssey, which I haven’t been that excited about as I’ve mentioned before. But the ability to possess objects and enemies immediately opens up tons of gameplay possibilities, and the examples they showed (a Bullet Bill, a dinosaur, and even inanimate objects like springy posts you can use to catapult yourself) already make the game feel like a ton of fun. The exploration also looks more fun than the previous, more mission-based Mario games.
  • The second 180 for me was Mario + Rabbids. The game was leaked awhile back, and it sounded pretty iffy. I like the anarchic Rabbids in general, but I wasn’t looking forward to even more Mario & Luigi type RPGs. It turns out the game is actually in the vein of the XCOM games, which I haven’t really played, but looks like a great change of pace. The Rabbids humor looks like it’s meshing really well with the Mushroom Kingdom, and although it’s disappointing there only seem to be 8 characters (Mario, Luigi,¬†Peach, and Yoshi and their Rabbids counterparts) it looks like Ubisoft has successfully captured the feel of the Mario games, which is great to see.
  • The remake of Metroid II looks fantastic. It’s a tad bit disappointing it’s not a new entry, but the remake of the original¬†Metroid (i.e.¬†Metroid Zero) was great, so I have high expectations for this remake as well. Developer MercurySteam has worked on plenty of Castlevania games, and from the footage they’ve shown it looks like they’re doing a great job.

fewrrs

As for the boos, they’re actually not really boos, but more like mild crotchety complaints from an old geezer rather than big thumbs down. They are:

  • At the top of my list, just because I’m so hyped for the game in general, it was great to see more of¬†Fire Emblem Warriors, but I was really disappointed that they only showed footage of swordfighters. This makes sense from a game standpoint since they’re showing the beginning of the game and it probably eases the players into all the general Warriors¬†mechanics before diving deeper into the more-complex, FE Warriors specific¬†mechanics, but this has the upshot of making the game look like a generic Warriors game. The developers reassured the audience that the game will feature plenty of characters, and many types other than swordfighters, but would it have killed them to show at least one mage or pegasus rider? I just hope they’re saving these reveals for the other days. We have a strong hint that Tiki, a dragon, is playable in the game as they revealed an Amiibo for her, and it would’ve been awesome to have seen some footage of her.
  • I’m kind of annoyed at announcements of games that are just “this game is being developed” with zero info. In Nintendo’s case there were two big reveals that were just that: Metroid Prime 4 and a mainline Pokemon game for Switch. I can understand why companies want to build the hype for projects that will take a long time to be released, but even a bit of concept art or, well, basically anything, would be better than just a completely bare announcement.
  • I’m fine with there being new Yoshi and Kirby games, except that I feel like Yoshi’s Woolly World was just released (it was released two years ago and its 3DS version was released just this past February), and I feel like Kirby has had plenty of games released (perhaps too many) in the past few years. To be fair, it’s been a while since a regular console Kirby game has been released, though. (Kirby and the Rainbow Curse was also released in 2015 but had unique mechanics, whereas the more-traditional platformer¬†Kirby’s Return to Dream Land was released in 2011 on Wii.)¬†It’s disappointing that there are so many other great Nintendo IPs that continue to be neglected, like the Wario platformer series.
  • Lastly, Nintendo announced even more Amiibo than I was expecting, with at least a couple to accompany pretty much every new game they showed off, and they all look great. The downside… having to decide which ones I really have to have. Collecting just the Fire Emblem Amiibo is already hurting my wallet and my desk and shelf space, so this is just a personal twinge of regret rather than anything bad about the announcements themselves.

So that’s my brain dump for E3 so far. Two more days to go!

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Review: Gunman Clive

gunman-cliveIt’s a great name, isn’t it? I can’t think of many video-game heroes with the name Clive, although there should definitely be more. In fact, the only famous Clives I can think of are Clive Anderson and Clive James. But where are all the young Clives? ARE there any young Clives?

And now I’m thinking about a video game starring Clive James. It would see him questing about the Outback meeting B-list celebrities and gently mocking them as he delivers satirical monologues. It would be called Clive James on Video Games in honour of his long-running ITV television show Clive James on Television, and it would feature appearances by Dame Edna Everage, Keith Floyd and Margarita Pracatan. It would be beautiful.

clive-james-and-margarita-pracatan

Gunman Clive is not that game. But it is beautiful nonetheless.

It’s basically Mega Man but in the Old West, although that description doesn’t really do it justice. It starts off with the usual cowboys shooting from behind wooden crates, but quickly escalates to the point where you’re fending off bomb-dropping pelicans and giant robots. It’s charmingly bonkers.

The game is the work of one man, Bertil H√∂rberg, who worked on the excellent Bionic Commando Rearmed – and we even get a cheeky nod to that game with one of the bosses. It’s pretty short – you could probably finish the whole thing in an hour – but it only costs a couple of quid, and there’s a really special character to unlock at the end.

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These 2D platformer-y things usually aren’t my cup of tea, but Gunman Clive just nails the controls and level design so well that it became a joy to play. Dying causes you to start again at the beginning of the level, but the levels are so short that it doesn’t cause frustration, and the difficulty curve is spot on. The art style, too, is wonderful, all sepia tones and sketchbook lines that look great in motion.

Yet despite creating a little gem of a game, H√∂rberg seems to be fairly humble about his achievement. In the gameplay trailer, he describes the game as “a generic oldschool sidescroller” with “weird artsy-looking 3D graphics” and “lots of brown”.

For the record, Bertil, I love brown. More please.

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Review: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

Majora's MaskMajora’s Mask 3D is now officially my favourite Zelda game.

I never got around to playing the N64 original, although I remember my sister raving about it at the time. I seem to recall that it came in for some criticism for reusing a lot of the assets and game engine from Ocarina of Time, and the fact that it came out at the very end of the N64’s lifespan probably didn’t do it any favours in terms of reaching a wider audience. By the time of Majora’s Mask‘s European release in November 2000, I’d long since fallen in love with the Dreamcast, and I was happily hoovering up every SEGA game on offer. It wasn’t until the launch of the GameCube in 2002 that I drifted back towards Nintendo.

But it seems that during my Dreamcast love-in I really missed out on something rather special over on the waning N64. Majora’s Mask may share assets with Ocarina of Time – and in fact it’s a rare direct sequel in the Zelda canon, following on from the events of OoT – but in every other respect it’s utterly distinct from every other Zelda game out there, not least because Zelda isn’t even in it.

Link, there's something... not quite right about you. I can't put my finger on it...

Link, there’s something… not quite right about you. I can’t put my finger on it…

For a start, it’s dark. Whereas Twilight Princess was dark in a literal sense, as well as having the whiff of teenage angst about it, Majora’s Mask is dark in the sense that bad things happen to good people quite regularly. Oh, and the world is going to end because a massive evil moon is about to smash into it.

You can help the people of Termina with their problems, but at the end of the game’s three-day cycle, as the moon is just about to smash into Clock Town, you’re forced to got back in time and start over again, with everything reset except for a few key items in your possession. That means all of your good work is undone over and over again. At the end, I had the sudden realisation that although I’d managed to cease the tyranny of Majora’s Mask, all of the other terrible tragedies in the game had still unfolded in that time line, because it’s impossible to help everyone in the space of three days. The cows still get stolen from Romani’s Ranch. The robber still steals the bomb bag from the old lady. The Goron elder still remains trapped in ice. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt ennui at the end of a Zelda game.

And in fact, the ending itself is a bit melancholy. There’s no punch-the-air triumph. It’s all just… well, sad. And then there’s the fact that the masks you wear contain the spirits of dead people. And when you put them on, Link literally screams as his body transforms. Every. Damn. Time.

Interestingly, Skull Kid actually has a cameo in Ocarina of Time.

Interestingly, Skull Kid actually has a cameo in Ocarina of Time.

Majora’s Mask is also downright weird. It feels like the designers have been given total free reign to run with the strangest characters and ideas they could think of after the success of the relatively strait-laced Ocarina of Time. There’s a dead dancer who gives you a blank mask with a tiny version of his head poking out of it. There’s a huge, masked blacksmith who only communicates in grunts. There’s aliens. There are giants who are seemingly all legs and noses. There’s the utterly mysterious Happy Mask Salesman. There’s a ghost that lives in a toilet bowl. And of course there’s Tingle, the 40-year-old would-be fairy in a green unitard.

In short, it’s bloody brilliant.

And although I never played the N64 game, I’m extremely impressed with the job Grezzo have done with this remake after seeing some comparisons of it with the original. The 3D works wonderfully, and the graphics have been given a complete overhaul. But perhaps more importantly, they’ve made some very sensible tweaks to remove some of the frustrations of the N64 game, like giving you the invisibility-granting Stone Mask right when you need it, rather than just after the frustrating stealth section in which it would have been really kinda useful.

I simply couldn’t get enough of Majora’s Mask 3D. Whereas I eventually wandered away from Ocarina of Time 3D, leaving it unfinished, I spent tens of hours hunting out every last secret in MM3D – and I still want more.

Bravo, Nintendo. Bravo.

Buy The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D from Amazon.

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I think I’m done with Pok√©mon Shuffle

This time last year, I had a bit of a rant about Nintendo jumping onto the free-to-play bandwagon. I suggested that Pok√©mon Shuffle was an example of “the worst model of free to play, where the user is constantly nagged to spend money”, and I suggested that the upcoming Fable Legends “gives a good example of how f2p should be done”.

pokemon-shuffle-169

Well, what a difference a year makes. Fable Legends has now switched from being “upcoming” to being “never-coming” after Microsoft pulled the plug and shut down Lionhead Studios for good measure (boo!), while I’ve spent a good chunk of the past 12 months sinking a surprisingly huge amount of time into the very game that I singled out as “the worst model of free to play”. I’ve just checked, and in total I’ve been playing Pok√©mon Shuffle for 39 hours and 12 minutes, making it the fifth most played game on my 3DS.

I suspect I’m not alone in sinking so much time into this fairly slight game. Apparently Pok√©mon Shuffle has been downloaded more than 4 million times now, and judging by the amount of people I see playing it on Streetpass, it’s a fairly full time hobby for a lot of people. But I wonder how many of them have shelled out actual money for the game’s features? Even if it’s just a tiny percentage, I suppose it will still lead to a tidy profit for Nintendo – you can see why the company wants to pursue f2p.

And to be honest, after all my ranting, Pok√©mon Shuffle really isn’t all that bad in terms of demanding your money. I’ve managed to play through most of the game without paying anything, and unlike many other free to play games, it doesn’t scream out for your cash every five minutes. Plus I’ve been impressed with the regularly updated content and competitions – the designers have certainly made an effort to keep the Pok√©mon flowing, as it were.

It’s also a very well-made game – it’s home to the expected level of Nintendo polish, and the central mechanic of collecting Pok√©mon is as addictive as ever. Without the hook of attempting to capture the beasts after successfully beating their puzzles, it wouldn’t be half as compelling – attempting to fill out the Pok√©dex is still a major draw. Plus the music is excellent, and I found myself humming along to the accordion-soaked mega-evolution tune quite happily.

Chespin pokemon shuffle

The game also proved perfect after my son was born last year. Suddenly my gaming time dwindled to near zero, but I often found myself with five minutes to spare here and there – often at 3am in the morning – and Pok√©mon Shuffle was the perfect game to fill the gap. The fact that you are limited to five goes before you have to wait for your hearts to ‘recharge’ didn’t really matter, as by that point there would more than likely be some sort of baby-related business to sort out – or I would have fallen asleep. It also helps that you can play the game one-handed with the stylus, for the times when a baby happens to be asleep in your other arm. And the fact that it’s all pretty simple and requires little brainpower or dexterity is also a bonus, as severely interrupted sleep has tended to rob me of both of those faculties.

However, I think I’m pretty much finished with the game now – by this point I’m up against opponents that seem impossible to defeat without buying items or levelling up my Pok√©mon to obscene levels, and I just don’t have patience to spend hours grinding, or the willingness to throw money at the game. I suppose its simplicity is both its brilliance and its curse – its lightweight charm was perfect for filling a niche in my life, but this lightweight nature is also the reason that I don’t feel justified in investing any money into it. Perhaps if it just cost a couple of pounds to start with I wouldn’t have had any qualms about buying it – but then again Nintendo probably made far more money by making it free to play.

Either way, I’ve hit a wall – and I don’t feel like paying to climb over it.

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Review: Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros.

Mario-Luigi-Paper-Jam-BrosDoes anyone have idea why they changed the name of this game in Europe and Australia? It was simply called Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam in the United States, which is a great little pun considering it features the characters from the Paper Mario universe causing chaos in the Mario & Luigi world. But Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros.? Does that even make sense?

They did the same thing with the previous game in the Mario & Luigi series, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, which became Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. when it crossed the pond (and flew down under). Again, a seemingly pointless and nonsensical name change. I can only imagine it was done to avoid some sort of copyright infringement, but I can’t think what that infringement could have been.

Anyway, name gripes aside, I’ve been looking forward to playing through Paper Jam, which is only the second Mario & Luigi title I’ve played after the Game Boy Advance original, and – shock horror – the first game featuring Paper Mario that I’ve ever played. The SNES game Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door has shamefully been on my ‘to do’ list for about a decade now – but enough about gaming backlogs, I feel like I’ve done them to death recently.

My first impressions of Paper Jam were overwhelmingly positive – the humour I remember from GBA Mario & Luigi is very much intact, and the addition of Paper Mario really elevates the gameplay, introducing more mechanics that involve the three characters together, such as trio attacks and various origami-inspired trio moves. It’s utterly charming, and I had a big grin plastered across my face for the first hour or two.

396px-3DS_Mario_LuigiPaperJam_scrn01_E3

But after that initial charm spike, the graph of the gameplay embarks on a long, steady, downward slope as repetition and ultimately boredom set in. Ploughing through the various enemies in the game involves using the same attacks again and again and again, and by the end I was desperate for some more variety or for more interesting twists in the story. And speaking of the story, despite the addition of paper antagonists, everything pretty much unfurls exactly as you’d expect it to, as it has done in countless previous Mario titles. Bowser > Princess kidnap > Castle assault > You know the rest.

The trio attacks and bros. attacks can be a lot of fun, involving various intricate button presses, but they also take ages – and by the end I found myself shying away from using them for normal enemies because I knew they would take so long to execute. You spend most of the game with the same handful of attacks, too, with the last few seemingly becoming available in a flurry towards the end. Unfortunately, some are way easier and more powerful than others, so I found myself sticking with the same old attacks again and again while others barely got used.

By the end, I was actively avoiding enemies because I was just so sick of going through the same old battle animations. Even worse is the fact that each area tends to be filled with the same type of enemy, so you can find yourself fighting something like ten Hammer Bros. in a row and doing the same thing each time. But the bosses are a different matter – they actually tended to be a lot more fun to fight because they could take you down so easily, which meant a degree of tactics was required rather than simply repeating the same old thing. Having fewer regular baddies and more bosses would have been a big improvement, as would increasing the depth and variety of the regular fights.

It’s all a bit too linear as well. You end up going through each area twice as part of the story, but there’s little of that excitement you get from Metroidvania-type games, where exploring previous areas unlocks all sorts of goodies. A few experience-point-adding beans can be dug up in previous levels once you’ve found the drill move, but they’re hardly worth the bother. If only the designers had hidden more substantial things throughout the levels that would make exploration more worthwhile – perhaps they could have added hidden costumes for the main characters, like the fun ones in Zelda: Triforce Heroes, or maybe there could have been many more trio and bros. attacks that were hidden rather than simply handed out as the story progressed.

And then there’s the amiibo support, which actually kind of breaks the game. Tapping a Mario-series amiibo lets you use a unique and often very powerful move in battle, such as completely restoring your HP. What’s more, this doesn’t actually count as a move in the turn-based gameplay, and you can tap as many amiibos as you like during a battle, as long as you don’t tap the same one twice. All this means that an already easy game is made even easier.

Paper Jam is far from being a bad game, but after it’s initial promise it ends up running out of ideas and becoming distinctly average. I loved the start, but by the very end I actually felt relieved it was all over. Never a good sign.

I forgot to mention the papercraft battles. Well, they're, ahem, pretty lightweight (pun intended).

I forgot to mention the papercraft battles. Well, they’re, ahem, pretty lightweight (pun intended).

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The New 3DS Will Require Some Hoop-Jumping

Sadly it seems I will have to jump through several hoops in order to enjoy my new 3DS XL (buy on Amazon) on the day of purchase. I’ll be trading in my old 3DS on the day, so I’ll need to transfer all my old games and saves to the new 3DS: unlike with Apple devices, you can only have your Nintendo Network ID (NNID) active on one device at a time.

So for a start I’ll need to connect both 3DSs to Wi-Fi in the shop to do the transfer (the transfer is via bluetooth I think, but the 3DS needs to connect to the internet to verify the NNID). Hopefully this should be easy enough, as long as I can log on to the shop’s Wi-Fi.

Getting a new 3DS? Make sure you have one of these handy.

Getting a new 3DS? Make sure you have one of these handy.

But then it gets a bit tricky. I also need to transfer my 16 GB SD card into the new 3DS – which is a problem because the only way to get at the SD slot in the new 3DS is to take the back off with a #0 screwdriver. This seems like a ludicrous design decision considering that a huge number of new owners will have to change or update the SD card at some point, and it’s not like most people have a #0 screwdriver lying around. Even worse, there have been some reports of people shearing the screws as they try to take the console apart.

The problems don’t end there though. The new 3DS comes with a micro SD card rather than an SD card, and the standard one is only 4 GB. That means I’ll have to buy a new 16 GB (or higher) micro SD card, along with a micro SD card adapter, and then transfer the save data from my old SD card to the new micro SD card using a PC.

A new 3DS with its bottom exposed.

A new 3DS with its bottom exposed.

But possibly the most niggling question is what happens to the pre-installed game on the new 3DS. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is already saved onto the new 3DS XL – presumably on the 4 GB micro SD card – so what happens to it when I transfer my old games and swap in my new 16 GB micro SD? I checked on the forums, and some people think that you’ll be able to download the game again from the eShop after doing the transfer, but I’ve written to Nintendo for confirmation.

Most of these problems could be avoided if Nintendo copied Apple’s system and allowed you to have your NNID on multiple systems, so you could download games you’d already purchased and keep your save files in the cloud. If anything, this would be a big help if your 3DS is ever lost, broken or stolen, which sadly happened to me not long ago (thankfully, Nintendo were very helpful and sent me new versions of the downloaded games I’d lost, although I still lost all my saves and pictures). But the decision to hide the micro SD card behind a screwed-in panel seems ludicrous. It reminds me of the ill-fated Nokia N-Gage, a mobile phone/portable console that had to be dismantled if you wanted to switch games.

Ah, the N-Gage, why did it ever fail? Oh, wait a minute, I know why.

Ah, the N-Gage, why did it ever fail? Oh, wait a minute, I know why.

The folks at GAME have promised they’ll be on standby to help out with this system transfer nonsense on the day of release – fingers crossed they have some #0 screwdrivers handy. I have a feeling it will be a very long morning.

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