Nintendo 3DS Impressions from PAX East 2011

PAX EAST 2011

Nintendo 3DS Impressions

It was a rainy day in Boston, but that did not stop several thousand video game fans. They pored into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for the second annual PAX East. While everyone was in attendance for different reasons, one of the big items on most attendees’ minds was the Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo may not have had the large E3-size booth, they made up for it in the amount of systems available. In addition to three Wii consoles, which housed Mario Sports Mix, and several Nintendo DS systems with Dragon Quest and Pokemon Black/ White, they also had 32 Nintendo 3DS systems available with many different demos. The line to try the Nintendo 3DS was wrapped partially around the Nintendo booth, and it did not decrease in size all day. There were also two other places where one could get their hands on a 3DS. One was the Sprint booth, and the other was Capcom.

I was able to try my hand at LEGO Star Wars 3, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, Kid Icarus: Uprising, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D, Steel Diver, Pilotwings Resort, and one of the AR (Augmented Reality) Games. Also, the Sprint booth had Capcom games on 3DS, so I was able to play more SSFIV3D and some Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D. Below, you will find some quick impressions of each title.

“LEGO Star Wars 3”
Essentially, this game plays like the rest of the LEGO games. The 3D is not overly used. After playing through about half a level with Yoda and two storm troopers, I was ready to move on. There was nothing special, but fans of the previous two installments will certainly enjoy this newest LEGO game based on a galaxy far far away.

“Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition”
When talking about fighters on consoles, there are mixed opinions. Some are all right using a controller, while others must have their arcade stick. Personally, I might lean a bit more toward the arcade stick side of things. Nonetheless, Street Fighter felt fantastic on the 3DS. The circle pad offered great analog control, and allowed combos to be pulled off with ease. The only thing I am concerned about is that many will use the touch screen combo buttons to “spam” certain moves without actually learning the more complex button presses. The additional 3D semi-side view was also interesting to try. I do not know if that will be my preferred way of playing; as it was not the best angle, but it was nice for a change of perspective. It may be lacking when compared to the recent Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but you will not be disappointed with Street Fighter on the 3DS.

“Pilotwings Resort”
Having not played much of the original Pilotwings games, I went into this game with little expectations. First, this is the title that showed off the 3D effect more than any other game. The amount of depth added was tremendous. Because of this, it might take a bit of tinkering to find your 3D preference, but when you do, be ready for a great flight through the skies around Wuhu Island. Again, the controls felt great, and there is definitely some good challenge in flying. The demo only contained a small sampling, so it is difficult to know how much content will be in the final version.

“The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D”
I chose to play through the Deku Tree stage, and there was definitely nostalgia running through my head as I trekked through the great tree. As everything flooded back into my head, I realized that I was having a strange feeling of déjà vu and unknown adventure. The re-mastered graphics looked wonderful, and the addition of motion controls for shooting the slingshot felt great. Moving the menu, maps, and items to the lower screen freed up much of top screen real estate. The depth also made it a bit easier to line up jumps. While I cannot fully say this is worth getting if you have played through it before, I can say that it felt and looked really good.

“Steel Diver”
The demo was the portion of the game where you are in periscope mode, shooting torpedoes at surrounding ships. The first round was pretty simple, but the difficulty ramped up when moving on to another level with storms rocking my submarine. This is certainly one of those 3DS games you will want to play in private, as you will use the motion control to look around. Granted, there is another way to look around, but it really takes the fun out of it. Overall, I had fun with this title. The only complaint I have is, like Pilotwings, the demo left me wondering about the complexity of the final retail release.

“Kid Icarus: Uprising”
As I started the demo, Pit was flying. About halfway through, he took to the ground. The basic controls were the same for both, though. Control Pit with the circle pad, shoot with the L button, and look around with the touch screen (functioning as a second analog control). While this was easy for me, I wonder what it will be like for left-handed individuals. The game was fun, though, and I got the impression that this will be one of those epic quests. The bosses are huge, and you will fight for your life through many hours of gameplay. The 3D helped, and it gave a good feeling, especially when flying.

“AR Games: Archery”
Even though there are many AR Games included on a 3DS, I was only able to try the one called Archery. Essentially, I shot at targets and weak spots on enemies. Like Steel Diver, you are bound to look funny while others watch you play. However, after your friends and family catch a glimpse, this is something they will want to come back to over and over. I see this as being the Wii Sports of the 3DS. It was easy to control, especially because you were just moving around, and it was extremely surreal when you saw the table manipulated on the screen. That is actually the most impressive thing about the AR Games. They have the ability to warp and form the surface on which the AR Card is laying.

“Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D”
Over at the Sprint booth, they had four Nintendo 3DS units with Capcom games. One of those games was Mercenaries 3D. Having only played Resident Evil 1, I did not know what to expect from the newer engines. While the demo was short, I did play a mode where I had to kill as many zombies as I could before the time ran out (or I died). After getting use to the controls, the game felt great and looked wonderful. The only thing I noticed was, while all the other titles had varying degrees of depth, the 3D was either on or off in this demo. Also, the addition of the strife when holding down the L button was very helpful. I successfully survived, and I had fun doing it.

Final Impressions
I had no issues on any games with the circle pad or the placement of any other buttons. In fact, I think they made the best decision by putting the analog control on top, and the control pad was still easy to reach. The L and R buttons seem to be better designed this time around as well. I usually did not have a problem keeping my head and eyes in the “sweet spot” for 3D. In fact, the only times I recognized myself getting a small headache was when I was watching others play from the side, meaning that all I saw was a bit of double vision. If you plan on playing with others watching for long periods of time, I suggest turning the 3D effect off for your spectators’ sake.

The Nintendo 3DS has officially launched in Japan (February 26, 2011), and it will soon arrive in Europe (March 25), North America (March 27), and Australia (March 31). After getting a chance to play the Nintendo 3DS at E3 2010 and at PAX East 2011, I can honestly say I am very excited to bring one home soon.

About the author:

Steve has been a Nintendo fan since the NES. He currently owns a NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, Wii, Wii U, GameBoy, DS, DSi, 3DS, and 3DS XL. His favorite types of games are action platformers and multiplayer “party” games. Overall, he loves a game that is pure fun and pulls him in for hours, and if that can be shared with friends, it is even better.

Steve has been blogging for NintendoFuse since April 2008. He started off as an avid reader, and eventually was asked to jump on the team. Currently, he enjoys writing game reviews and sharing breaking news with the fans and readers. You will also find him on the forums as an admin.

Steve – who has written posts on NintendoFuse.