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E3 3DS impressions, part 1
Editorial by 
June 14, 2011, 08:58
I don't how exciting the 3DS presence at E3 was for outsiders, given how most of the games have been known about since the system was first unveiled over a year ago. Perhaps most people expected to be playing these games already. All I can say is that it was impressive to play and see how far along how most of the games at Nintendo's booth seemed to be, and it is kind of a shock to learn that many may not make it out this year. I would buy most of them for a high price, as they say.

Here are my hands-on impressions.

Luigi's Mansion 2

The one new first-party 3DS title announced at Nintendo's conference this year. Perhaps we should have seen it coming, given how much Nintendo has talked about the original GameCube title being made for 3D itself. But I think most people expected a remake or port, not a full sequel.

The game retains the charm of the original, with Luigi as expressive and as well-animated as he's ever been. The 3DS looks great... but it's perhaps the only new element seen in this demo. Everything seems to come straight from the first game, unchanged. You still flash your light at ghosts to stun them (though now you need to hit A to do so), you still suck them up with your trusty vacuum, and you still try to interact with the surroundings to find cash, or the key needed to advance further into the mansion.

Oh, another thing is new: the controls. Since the 3DS lacks the Cube's analog nub, Nintendo chose to assign aiming the vacuum to the 3DS's gyroscope/accelerometers. It works surprisingly well when adjusting your aim vertically, but I do not believe I managed to adjust it horizontally. For the best, probably, as shifting the angle that way would break the 3D.

Nintendo promises not just one mansion, but several. I hope they also promise new puzzles as well.

Kid Icarus

Prepare to meet the Light, Medusa!

Watching the trailer, I can see that the dialog in Kid Icarus as an endearing corniness to it. A shame I couldn't hear most of it in Nintendo's noisy 3DS section, despite being provided headphones.

So what was left for me to check out was the gameplay. I chose the first part of the demo, the easiest one, which started off with a flight section. The slide pad controls Pit, and the touch screen is for aiming You shoot with the shoulder buttons, and can charge your shots. Now, when I say this part of the demo was easy, I mean it: I didn't have to move Pit around much at all to dodge projectiles, as there were barely any to dodge to begin with. The enemies came in simple, predictable patterns, often flying straight into my stream of arrows. Killing them gave me hearts, which I believe simply added time to the counter for the level.

After 2 minutes, Pit finally landed on solid ground. The controls did not change, but all of a sudden you are not on rails anymore but have 360 degrees of freedom. My initial thoughts? The controls were more suited for on-rails gameplay. Turning around is far from intuitive: you need to flick the touchscreen in either direction to make the camera move, and you have to flick pretty hard. Even if you manage to do it on the first try, it is very imprecise. The game would really, REALLY benefit from assigning one of the shoulder buttons to centering the screen behind the character/locking on an enemy.

I managed to make it to the end of the level and reach the boss, a fire-breathing two-headed dog. This fight required nimbly dodging the creature's fiery breath, but again the camera controls got in the way. In addition to that, it required dashing, which involves "double-tapping" the slide pad... a move it was not designed for, in my opinion.

But perhaps I am whining for nothing. Perhaps I got used to the controls in the end, as I managed to defeat the opposing team in the multiplayer part of the demo: a team battle, three against three. Choose your weapon and enter the fray as a simple soldier. Eventually, however, you may be thrust into the role of Pit himself, benefiting from a powerful semi-homing attack and more health (though the penalty when you die as Pit is probably harsher; the bonus for the opposing team when they kill you, probably sweeter). Yes, perhaps I got better with the controls... or perhaps everyone was just similarly handicapped.

Fun though.

Super Mario 3DS

Ah, yes, Super Mario, the game teased at GDC with the logo sporting the silhouette of a raccoon tail. Well, surprise! The raccoon suit is back! Bet you didn't expect it, did ya?

The game felt immediately way too sluggish and slow. Mario moved at a crawling pace, and would barely make the jumps required of him. Then, playing through the second level, I realized you had to hold down the Y button to run. Like in the good old days? Well, not quite, as you can only use the slide pad for movement, not the D-pad. A very strange decision, if you ask me.

So with that discovery, the game felt immediately better. I also quickly discovered the roll move when you press L (crouch) while running, which serves as an attack AND gets you places you could not access otherwise as Super Mario. I grabbed a Fire Flower, and felt relief when I didn't hear the familiar music of time-limited power-ups in the Super Mario Galaxy games: this power-up was here to stay! The other power-up in the demo, the much-hyped raccoon suit, didn't seem to allow Mario to fly but did allow him to slow his fall and hit enemies and blocks with a swipe of his tail.

The levels are more compact, shorter, than I expected; and the camera, more rigid. You have very, very limited control on it, probably less than in Super Mario Galaxy. It is also more static and always shows the action from the same viewpoint, similar to the camera in the Paper Mario games. That makes Super Mario 3DS ironically feel more 2D than any of the other 3D Mario games. That feeling is reinforced when you reach the end of the level and see that familiar flagpole.

None of the levels in the demo were of the sprawling, adventure-y, Mario 64-ish kind. No flat green plain without an abyss to fall into here, it's all platforms hanging over an endless void. This may disappoint some, but to me, it is a signal that Mario in this game will do what he does best: pure platforming. One thing I am fairly certain of: it will be more divisive than people expected.

Resident Evil: Revelations

Definitely the best-looking 3DS game on the show floor (even with the 3D turned off!), Resident Evil Revelations doesn't feel like it is months and months away from completion, and yet here we are. But Capcom can take their time here, as they are clearly doing something right, at least tech-wise.

But gameplay-wise, how is it? It's the familiar RE gameplay you know and tolerate. You walk around, hold a button to run, stand in place to fight, quickly turn 180 by pushing the slide pad down and pressing the run button. Very familiar. If there is a way to shoot while walking, I did not find it, but when playing a demo in a setting like E3, pressed for time, there is not a whole lot of incentive to experiment, you'll understand.

While the camera follows behind you RE4-style, the setting seems more claustrophobic and confined, like the original game. In fact, Jill remarks upon waking up (to her partner at the other end of the radio, she's not talking to herself) that her surroundings look familiar, reminding her of the mansion.

Make your way to the door, and you find it, gasp, locked. Make your way to the bathroom and you see a bathtub filled with murky water. You then... well, no need to go on. You've solved this exact same "puzzle" in half a dozen RE games already.

So you make it out of the room and are attacked by some sort of nasty humanoid leech. You pump round after round into the creature which will just. Not. Die. Dammit, and you're on your last clip! You kill it, watch it melt (seriously), move on, look for more ammo, find a shotgun (yes!), check the bottom screen and see it has only two shells (are you kidding me!?). It's a Resident Evil game alright, and one perhaps more on the side of ammo conservation than action, if this demo is to be trusted.

One controversial addition is that of a scanner. You see, there are still sparkling items throughout the environments that you can pick up, but then there are others which will not be found until you use the scanner. This addition is baffling, as it seems to do nothing but slow down the pace of the game, an unnecessary step getting in the way of simply picking an object. Perhaps Capcom will use the scanner to throw in some extra scares, for instance invisible enemies that can only be seen with the scanner, but they were not in this demo.

Part 2

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06/14/11, 08:58   Edited:  06/14/11, 10:53
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Great impressions!!! Very excited for all four! I wish I had some questions. But I suppose this post will just have to do as a +1.

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 10:28
What was Mario's move set like? Same as ever? Triple Jump? Long Jump? Side Jump?

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 16:38
Nice. The 3DS' lineup really wowed me at E3, everything is looking great. I can't believe Mario 3DS is releasing this year! I would LOVE to see the trailers in 3D, though, I'm sure they look even better.

Luigi's Mansion 2 is being handled by Next Level Games, so it's bound to be top quality since NLG have been stellar on the Wii hardware with Strikers Charged and Punch-Out!! I'm glad to see this series return, I quite enjoyed the GCN launch title. I also hope they come up with new ideas, and multiple mansions sounds great already.

I have a feeling I'm going to love Mario 3DS. See, I've always preferred 2D Mario games ever slightly, even though the Galaxy games are admittedly near-perfect. I see the 3DS Mario adventure being a mix of the best of both worlds.

Kid Icarus looks like good fun, it gives off a Sin & Punishment vibe. I trust Sakurai to deliver an awesome game. Any word on if the multiplayer mode is online?

I'm not super excited for OoT 3DS, but it is my favourite game of all time so I'll probably want to play it at some point. Strangely, I'm more intrigued by StarFox 64 3DS, which looks beautiful from the videos.

MArio Kart 3DS is a system seller for me. Love me some Mario Kart. I think you touched on few new mechanics that look fun, and it seems that the awesome powersliding mechanic from MK Wii will make a return here. One thing you did not mention is that they're bringing back the coins which have not been seen since the GBA's Super Circuit. Should add more of a skill factor to races, so the hardcore will be happy. I hope Nintendo pours all the love of MK Wii's online mode into the 3DS version. I want to be playing this game 5 years from now, regularly. No snakers, and no hackers. Make it happen.

The other game I'm interested in is RE Revelations, which looks stunning. I am happy about the reports that it is a mix of RE4 and REmake. I'm disappointed however that Capcom is selling the Mercenaries mode separately, and at full price. Pretty dick move, if you ask me. You could argue that this allows them to focus more on single-player and have more content on the cart, but for me the Mercenaries mode became essential post-RE4 and extends the life of the game significantly. There better be a lot of content in RE Revelations or I will be disappointed. To this point, it sounds like this scanning mechanic is simply added to extend the game's length artificially. I liked your ideas about how it could be used but I'm going to remain skeptical.

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 16:42
I'm oddly excited about Luigi's Mansion 2 despite not being a big fan of the first. I guess now, knowing exactly what it is, I can come into it without being disappointed.

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 16:47

As I said, I forgot to experiment, haha. I didn't try backflipping from crouching. I did give the 180 flip a shot... before I discovered the run button, so it didn't work. I don't think I ever had the space anywhere to triple jump.

I fail at impressions.

Anon said:
and it seems that the awesome powersliding mechanic from MK Wii will make a return here.

Yes, it's there and it feels great.

And yes, coins! What was weird was that they seemed to come back from lap to lap. It may be different in the final game, though.

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 18:32
Question, do the stages in Mario 3DS feel as short as the ones in the NSMB games? It kind of sounds like they're really short, point to point type stages as opposed to something you can really get lost in. I guess Galaxy's stages weren't that long, but still.

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 18:49
They did feel that short, yes.

That said, there were alternate pathways that were easy to miss, exploring more could have added some length to some of the levels a bit. For instance, in one particular level, there was a floating platform with 3 switches on it, each extending a bridge of sorts to another platform. If you chose the "wrong" one first, like I did, oops, you were all of a sudden at the flagpole already, missing out of what the other two switch/bridges led to.

But I'm willing to bet the level would have felt short anyway.

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 18:53
Good impressions!

I was pleasantly surprised to see a sequel to Luigi's Mansion, and not just a port/ remake.

Kid Icarus looks like a great game, but I do worry about the controls. It just sounds so uncomfortable. It does make you wonder why Nintendo didn't add that second circle pad on the 3DS like a lot of people were hoping for.

Also, I think you mean Tanooki suit, not raccoon suit! Based on your description of the level design in Super Mario, I feel this is a good step in the Mario platformer series. It is kind of odd that there's a run button on top of using analog control, but I feel like this will work for the game play Nintendo is going for.

I understand you are pressed for time when playing at E3, but I've heard from other impressions that you can in fact move around while shooting in RE: Revelations.

Wow, so the game scenario you described for Revelations makes me hungry for more. The claustrophobic corridors and the ammo conservation is the kind of stuff I loved about the earlier RE games. I can't wait!
And yeah, the scanner seems kind of weird, but I'll guess we'll see what else it adds to the game. I know Anand will love it!

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 19:11   Edited:  06/14/11, 22:01
Does the 3D effect help you with platforming within SMB3DS?

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 19:56
Nice impressions! You'd asked me earlier about my thoughts on the Scanner. It reminded me a little of Metroid Prime but it worked in a strange way--like, you'd scan some area under the tablecloth and it'd say "Item Found" but when I went to get whatever it was, it wouldn't be there. Then it'd end up being behind the table somewhere so...yeah, it was somewhat confusing. Invisible items always felt a little annoying to me (like the Lens of Truth mechanic) because who's gonna want to comb over every facet of each room? It might work out better later though.

Otherwise, I thought the game was supoib.

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 20:01

I think so. Though the camera angles were also a huge help. I mentioned the camera acting like the one in Paper Mario, but occasionally, it would also switch to an overhead isometric perspective. Coupled with the 3D, it did make the platforming seem more accurate.


Yeah, it was weird. Also, it was a bit more cumbersome than in Metroid Prime due to the lack of lock-on...

Posted by 
 on: 06/14/11, 20:36   Edited:  06/14/11, 20:36
In the new Luigi's Mansion, it seems like the light is a much bigger part of the gameplay. Kind of like Alan Wake. Also, it looks like you can combo ghosts now? So maybe there will be a high-score mechanic, or something. I'm kind of excited about the game, but I hope they can make the core concept last longer than it did in the original. And that they can hit a steady 30fps in 3D.

Still kind of nervous about Kid Icarus. I was never a fan of Hunters-esque controls on the DS. I guess I'll just play this one while lying down. I wonder if Sakurai will be able to achieve smoothly functioning online play. That could be kind of fun, if not particularly suited to the franchise. The 'lives' system sounds interesting. Overall, not a slam dunk.

I hope Super Mario 3DS has a 'hold to walk' option, like Super Mario 64 DS should have (but didn't). But I have very high hopes for this game. The videos look fun as hell. It may be slowed down a bit, but that may be a better decision on a handheld. Especially for a demanding game. The 3D really looks to make a difference in the video. It's slick that you can run and duck to slide under things, just like in the original SMB. Slam dunk.

RE: RE: Revelations... scanning, eh? I just played the demo for Bionic Command Rearmed 2, and THAT GAME has scanning, as well! WTF. It kind of sucks, too. Revelations looks beautiful. I expect good things from it, even though I've probably never played more than a couple hours of any RE game. Portability FTW?

Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 20:32
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