Nintendo 3DS preview event – London

The 5th and 6th of February 2011 saw many Nintendo fans make the journey to London’s Brick Lane in order to receive a special treat. Specially selected gamers that applied to get into one of Nintendo’s 3DS preview events were given the opportunity to go and get a first-hand look at the upcoming new portable in all of its glory, and naturally I signed myself up for the privilege.

 

Upon entering the building where the event was held we were treated to a display of past Nintendo portables, this display featured each of the past Nintendo handhelds ranging all the way from the Game and Watch up to the Nintendo DS. It really is quite remarkable to see how far portable gaming has come when it is laid out in front of you like that and it made me feel pretty nostalgic. My thoughts then went to my now neglected Gameboy colour which is gathering dust, however there was little time to feel guilty though as we were then greeted by one of many booth babes (another positive part of the event!) and after a quick explanation of the 3DS’ “Spotpass” feature, taken through to the next section.

 

This section of the event was the last hurdle I had to jump over before reaching my goal – Nintendo’s 3DS. We entered a room that featured a man sitting on a stage that looked pretty familiar, and once I’d noticed that the man was dressed as Ryu from the Street Fighter series, it was obvious that we were standing in front of Ryu’s stage from the game itself. What followed was a pretty awesome fight between Ryu and Ken (who emerged from behind the scenes once the “insert coin” sound was played) that certainly had me applauding at the end of it… or it would have had I not been holding my camera at the time.
Ryu and Ken

Ryu and Ken pose after an epic bout.

 

We were then led out of this room and into another where we met Chris and Claire Redfield from the Resident Evil series. A speech about a “T virus outbreak,” “great danger” and a dark room filled with screams ahead left me a bit nervous, but when walking through the room it was more entertaining than frightening to see “Chris” and “Claire” wrestling with various zombies from the Resident Evil games. I almost yelped from fear when Claire brushed past me on her way to the exit, because she brought back some bad memories… but that’s enough of my ghost train flashbacks from when I was a kid.

The Resident Evil cast.

 

Once we had left the Resident Evil room, we were finally at the good stuff – The Nintendo 3DS console in all of its glory. I was surprised at the amount of consoles on show for us to try out; there were at least 50 of them in total to ensure that no-one missed out. Once I had entered the room and finished gazing around in awe at the treasure consisting of Nintendo 3DS babes and consoles laid out before me, I made a beeline for any unoccupied console I could find.
My initial impression of the console was “argh my eyes!” as I had yet to find that sweet spot which enabled the magic to happen, and this my only gripe with the 3DS so far. In order for the 3D effect to work properly you must be at an exact position with your face and the console aligned perfectly, and then you can’t move. This may not seem like a big problem for some people as most of the time you will be centrally positioned anyway, however if you want to get comfortable by moving or have the privilege of glancing away from the screen once in a while this will quickly get annoying. I spent more time than I’d have liked to simply trying to align my eyes with the 3DS’ screen properly in order to get the full 3D effect of the games, however when I did, It. Was. Amazing. I have never been a fan of 3D and I honestly planned on simply playing my games in normal 2D when I got Nintendo’s new handheld, I simply wanted it for the online experience and the ability to play games like Super Street Fighter IV whilst on the go, but now even the thought of the 3D slider on the 3DS not being in the full 3D position seems blasphemous!
I’m sure this is a phrase that you’re tired of hearing by now, but you really have to see it to believe it, it has to be experienced.

 

The first game I laid my hands on was Ridge Racer 3D. As I’m a big fan of the Ridge Racer series this was actually the game I was most looking forward to getting my hands on at the event, the game did not disappoint. The 3D looked stunning on the console as I mentioned before, however the graphics also played their part in making the game look great. The game was very pleasing to the eye and easily looked better than the PSP versions of Ridge Racer. The 3DS analogue stick (coined “Circle Pad”) was very responsive and a blast to use when driving, I definitely favoured it over the d-pad when using Ridge Racer’s famous (or infamous in some places) drifting around corners. I was also glad to see additions to the game not present in previous handheld versions such as slipstreaming and different levels of nitrous, Ridge Racer 3D truly does feel like it will be the best Ridge Racer experience available when it releases after the 3DS later this year, and I for one can’t wait to get my hands on it again.

 

The next game I managed to get a hands-on look at during the event was Pro Evolution Soccer 3D. I was once a big fan of football games, however not only was that a whole generation ago (for some reason I simply stopped buying football games after I retired my PlayStation 2) but also my personal preference was the Fifa series to the Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) series. That didn’t stop me from having a great time with PES 3D though. After getting used to moving my head around in front of the screen like a snake being charmed, my first impression of the game was “wow! The 3D looks amazing!” It was a phrase that I used a lot throughout the day, but it was true. The 3D effect looked particularly brilliant in PES 3D and I was blown away by the visuals because of this. The graphics didn’t look like anything to write home about, but they certainly weren’t horrible either and are a noticeable step up from the Nintendo DS console like the other 3DS games. Gameplay-wise I can’t really comment on any improvements as like I said, I’ve been taking a break from football games for a while now, however it definitely played just how I remember PES playing all those years ago. Will I be buying PES 3D? Maybe, but I’d say that it’s a must buy for any football fans that will be getting their hands on the 3DS when it’s released.

 

I managed to tear myself away from the awesome visuals of PES 3D (after letting a second goal hit the back of my net in the space of 30 seconds…) and find myself an unoccupied console featuring Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition (SSFIV3D) to my delight. I’m a big Street Fighter fan and I’ve loved Street Fighter IV since its release in 2009 and then the Super version’s release in 2010. As Super Street Fighter IV has been available to play on home consoles since April 2010 there was little to surprise me in the 3D edition which is an exact port for the 3DS, however the “Dynamic camera view” adds an interesting… “dynamic” to the game which is fun and fresh to use. The dynamic camera shows the fight from a point behind your character giving an over the shoulder view of the action. It certainly is new and interesting, but I don’t see myself using it much over the traditional side-on view. This is the game in which the 3DS’ circle pad began to really shine for me as it made pulling off the traditional motions of the Street Fighter series much easier than the d-pad allowed. I was actually quite proud of myself when I managed to pull off one of my fancier combos with Akuma on the 3DS. The wireless battles in SSFIV3D were available for us to try out at the event and so I wasted no time in trying one out. Armed with the confidence of pulling off my earlier combo, how could I lose? I found out soon enough when the booth babe watching us play challenged me to a fight as a reward for beating my friend. She wasted no time in using a function exclusive to the 3D edition of SSFIV which allowed her to activate special attacks by simply pressing the icon of the attack on the touch screen. After 3 rounds of watching Ryu hurricane kick back and forth across the stage like a Beyblade, I had to concede defeat as one last cry of “HYAAAAAH” sent Akuma flying backwards onto the floor unconscious. I let her win anyway.
It was clear to see then that the game would be accessible to anyone whether they could pull of the special attacks by performing the motions or not, this news will be long awaited for by some people who have simply stayed away from the Street Fighter series due struggling with the controls. Unfortunately the spotpass feature was unavailable for viewing and so I can’t comment on that, nonetheless I eagerly await being able to play Super Street Fighter IV in all its glory whilst travelling – and in 3D no less!

 

Kid Icarus: Uprising was next on the list of games for me as I managed to land myself a spot on an unoccupied machine. For this game I was given a stylus to play with which was great as all of the others had been removed due to potential thieves. The stylus for the 3DS is extendable which is a nice feature albeit a little bit pointless, that didn’t stop me from fiddling with the stylus during the loading screen through. Kid Icarus: Uprising was another of my anticipated games for the 3DS and so I was very eager to get my hands on it, I wasn’t disappointed. After picking from a choice of 3 weapons, I was thrown into a battle situation which saw me flying around shooting what appeared to be giant eyeballs out of the sky. I’d heard a lot of complaints about the controls of the game and so I was a little worried when trying it out, after playing it though I can’t see the problem. I had no trouble with flying around, aiming and shooting with the circle pad, stylus and left shoulder button, and when I realised that the controls for moving vertically in flight were inverted I found it even easier! The controls for land battles were much the same as those in flight, except when moving the circle pad up and down on land your character “Pit” moves forwards and backwards instead of up and down. The gameplay for land battles was also pretty much the same as in the flight mode besides the fact that you can use melee on enemies when you get within range of them. The 3D effect for this game was yet again beautiful once I had aligned myself with the screen, it really gave the monsters a noticeable sense of scale as I fought a huge two-headed dog in a coliseum. After getting a teasing taste of what Kid Icarus: Uprising has to offer I’m eager to see more, this game is definitely shaping up to be one of the more interesting new titles for the 3DS for me.

 

Once I had finished slaying the giant two-headed dog and thwarting Medusa’s evil plans, I moved on to try a much more light-hearted game in the form of Pilotwings Resort. Being a lover of flying in computer games I was eager to try out this game too, I decided to opt for the “Free Play” option so that I could get a feel for the controls at my leisure. The circle pad shined here just like it did in SSFIV3D, and it made turning and changing altitude feel that much smoother when compared to the d-pad. Turning the 3D slider up to max and aligning myself with the screen resulted in the beautiful Pilotwings Resort’s beaches, towns and hills really come to life as I lazily sailed over them in my little plane. The game is just so calming and relaxing with its gorgeous sunsets that even crashing into the lip of what appeared to be an active volcano and ejecting from my plane didn’t detract from the feel much. Pilotwings Resort was the best game for me today in terms of actually showing off the 3DS console, it really used the 3D effect to its advantage and made the beautiful resort come to life whilst proving the uses of the new circle pad.

 

After indulging in the relaxation of the Pilotwings Resort, I returned from my holiday in order to take to the battlefield with my Lightsaber and defeat the droid army in Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars 3D (TCW3D.) I’m a big fan of the Lego Star Wars series and I’ve already preordered TCW3D, so I quite happy to be have the opportunity to play at the event. I was quite surprised by how much better the 3D effect made the game look, TCW3D is definitely another one of those titles that shows of the beauty of the Nintendo 3DS’ party trick to its fullest. The gameplay was exactly the same as the previous versions of Lego Star Wars which certainly isn’t a bad thing; the same variety in terms of being either a Jedi, clone trooper or otherwise still exists and it is still possible to switch between these identities whilst in the middle of a level. Another thing I was happy to see is that TCW3D hasn’t lost the sense of humour that its predecessors own, I actually laughed out loud when a droid hit its head and fell out of the gunner seat of a tank when driving into a cave, I may have gotten a couple of strange looks from other gamers but at least I found it funny… I’m happy to see that this series has ported so well onto the 3DS and I cannot wait until release to get my hands on this game again and use the force – in 3D!

 

Another racing game was on my line up next at the event as I stumbled onto Asphalt 3D. I have previously enjoyed Asphalt 4: Elite Racing on my Nintendo DSi XL console, and I was therefore eager to get my hands on this for some more high speed action. I’ll start of by saying that yet again the 3D looked brilliant and really brought the game to life, I loved admiring my Bugatti Veyron as I tore down main roads in pursuit of my rivals. The game itself plays in exactly the same way as its predecessors with you earning your nitrous by picking up floating nitrous signs around the track as you drive. I have little to say about this game to be honest as I didn’t get very long to try it out, but I can say that from what I saw it was at least as fun as the DSi version and it featured better graphics, that’s a win-win right?

 

Next up was a highly anticipated game due to be released on the 3DS, however people that can’t wait that long to play it can simply look back to their N64 collections and play from there. I’m of course talking about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (OOT3D.) Now I’ll be honest here, I’ve never played (or particularly wanted to play) a Zelda game before. Yes, I know, it’s shocking but what can I say? As a result of this I chose not to play today either, instead choosing to watch my friend play so that I could get a good look at what the game was all about. I have to say that it looks a lot more interesting that I thought it was and I watched with great interest as my friend killed the “Queen Gohma.” I will definitely be buying the game when it is released, although that’s partly because I have several gamer friends that will hurt me if I don’t.

 

After watching The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D I was eager for some action of my own, I therefore decided to go and find Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D satisfy my bloodlust. Inspired by the performance by “Chris” and “Claire Redfield” earlier, I equipped my shotgun and began popping heads. The 3D effect yet again brought the world to life and looked stunning and while it may sound like I was getting bored of it by this point, I wasn’t. You truly have to experience it just to see how gorgeous it can make all of the games on the 3DS look. Not being a huge fan of the Resident Evil series either I had no previous experience with what to do in the game, it wasn’t a problem though as when you have half a dozen guys in your face whacking you with spades and various other objects you catch on pretty fast. I managed to survive for a little while by running into different corners and frantically switching between my weapons by using the touch screen to press their icons, however it wasn’t long before a couple of hits too many left me almost dead. “Y to resuscitate” is the message that the screen presented me with, with the Y button’s icon moving to tell me that I needed to tap it. I guess I didn’t have the skill required though as after watching Chris stumble around for a few seconds, it wasn’t long before he keeled over and died. I’ve decided that I’m not very good at Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Whilst I’m not very good at it that didn’t stop the game from being fun, however whether I personally enjoyed it enough to buy it is something I’m not sure of yet but I have no doubts that fans of the series will gain immense enjoyment from this portable instalment.

 

The final proper game that I got to try out today was Nintendogs + Cats. To put it simply for this game, I loved it but it suffers from the same problem as the first game: it’s only fun for about 20 minutes. The 3D on this game was simply stunning, when I whistled for my cat to come over to me it looked as if it had literally come out of the screen to greet me. I found myself doing the now tyical gestures associated with 3D technology as I reached out to the 3DS screen and tried to feel my feline friend, I was sure that I could touch it! When my little kitty put its paws up again the screen and started mewing, it took every fibre of my being not to just *squeeeee* on the spot and start talking in a high pitched voice to it, it was so cute! The graphics looks great in this game and it has the same charm as its predecessor, it essentially is the same game with the addition of Cats. I wasted no time in dressing my kitty in a pair of Sunglasses, a Stetson and a bandana, I called him “John Meowston” in honour of Red Dead Redemption’s protagonist (I know, awesome right?!) So like I said before, this is a great game and it’s highly entertaining… for a little while. If you liked the original Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS however, you should love this one even more.

 

Once I had spent my share of time in the 3DS games room at the event (an announcement let me know when I had,) I moved on into another room which featured several more 3DS consoles in order to demonstrate other features which were the Augmented Reality (AR) cards and Face Raiders.
Face Raiders is a game in which you take a photo of your face using the 3DS’ inner camera, and your photo then gets turned into various different enemies which you have to shoot in order to save yourself. This game uses the camera function of the 3DS in more ways than one, because as well as using the inner camera to photograph yourself, you must then locate your enemies by moving the console around and finding them with the outer camera. The L button is used to shoot. Unfortunately this game is not in 3D, but it still remains to be extremely fun to play (and watch someone playing) and it’s free and included with the console!

 

I also had a turn at playing AR Archery, a game played using an AR card for the 3DS. This game was played by using the 3DS’ outer dual cameras to move around in much the same was as in Face Raiders and shoot targets that appeared with the left shoulder button. I was very impressed by how well the augmented reality worked, at one point I even had to move the console over a box that appeared in order to shoot a target inside the box! The boss for this game was a dragon that had to be killed by shooting different segments of its body, and I had to move the console around in order to see the different segments so that I could hit them. I was (and still am) very impressed with the technology that was on display today.

 

The last feature of the 3DS that I got to play with today was the camera, and to be honest I wasn’t very impressed. The pictures that were taken were in 3D as promised and it was quite clear to see that they were, however the quality of the pictures really was quite terrible. I wasn’t looking for amazing 14 megapixel shots with the 3DS, but I didn’t expect it to look so pixelated. Taking 3D photos is a great feature but if you can hardly see what’s in the picture it quickly loses functionality.

 

The absolute final piece of the 3DS experience that I was treated to today were some trailers of upcoming games and content for the soon to be released handheld. The Mario Kart 3DS and Animal Crossing 3DS trailers especially had me excited for the future as the DS editions of these games kept me entertained for hours on end. I was also very impressed with a trailer for Eurosports and Sky Sports 3D on the 3DS as I have never actually watched sports in 3D before, I have to say though that it looks brilliant and I look forward to watching some sport as well as movies on my 3DS in the future.

 

After a good few hours of banter and gameplay at the Nintendo 3DS event in London, it was unfortunately time to go home. I honestly could’ve stayed in that building all night playing games if I’d been allowed to. All I can say after walking out of there is that the future looks incredibly bright for handheld gaming and it’s all thanks to Nintendo. I cannot wait until I have my very own Nintendo 3DS and I’m sure you all feel the same way.
If you would like your chance to get your hands on the 3DS, The Midlands MCM Expo in Telford has announced that it will be host to the European premier of the 3DS on Saturday 19th March. For more information and tickets  go here

The Nintendo 3DS goes on general sale in Europe on the 25th of March.

The girl that be- that I let win against me at Street Fighter!

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