Posts Tagged ‘nintendo’

The first thing that becomes apparent when you boot up the 3DS fresh out of the box is that it’s a miracle machine with the potential to change gaming forever. Whacking up the 3D slider to full for the first time is an unforgettable experience: the background literally warps away into the distance, leaving a clear distinction between that and the text in the fore. The 3D effect is an outstanding one, made all the more impressive by just how effective it is. The slider is easy to position, allowing it to be placed just right for each player’s eye.

After you’ve set up the system to your specifications, you get to take the 3DS online or (if you’re Anne Diamond) set up parental controls to crack down on fun. A quick update from the servers gives you a free demo video – nothing special, just some landscape shots set to funky music, but what it suggests is a wonderful future of full 3D movies in the palm of your hand. In perfect clarity.

The 3DS comes pre-loaded with several Wii-style channels. There’s the 3DS Camera, positioned on both the outer and inner lid, that can take 3D photos at any time by pressing one of the shoulder triggers. 3DS Sound allows players to stick music on their SD card (free with the console) and listen to it whenever.

The Mii Maker returns from the Wii, allowing you to create even more monstrosities with added content and to transfer your existing Miis over. You can also take a photo of people and have the Mii Maker create a face based on it, or scan a QR (Quick Response) image and upload a whole new one. The Wii’s Activity Log makes a return appearance here, as does a channel devoted entirely to Health and Safety. Bloody killjoys.

There are a couple of short demonstration features with the console. First up is Face Raiders, an amusing point-and-shoot title where your face (or those of your loved one/ people on the bus) gets drafted into playing the role of a villain. You then have to swivel, turn and move your body to aim at the attackers, using the built-in gyroscope to point the screen. It’s a short, fun, highly amusing blast that provides a great introduction to the software. More impressive is the Augmented Reality game that utilises the six AR cards provided with the console. In AR, you have to place a card on a flat surface and aim at it with the system. before long, the camera is distorting the surface of the image – be it a table, garden, or sleeping partner’s forehead – and unleashing a pleasing collection of minigames that encourage movement like Face Raiders. Best of the bunch is probably Shooting, as you then get the hilarious sight of a giant dragon emerging from whatever background you’ve chosen.

However, the best features are the most subtle ones. Keeping Nintendo’s tradition of social activity and personal health alive is the excellent StreetPass feature. If you turn on the wireless connection and close the lid without turning off the system, the 3DS keeps a track of how many steps you walk, converting these into Play Coins (ten per day, 300 in total). These can be used in the Mii Plaza, to purchase puzzle tiles to complete images, or to hire heroes in the lightweight yet fun RPG mode. In addition to this, if your 3DS comes into contact with another player’s, your Miis will swap over, bearing gifts for each other and adding to your Mii Plaza count. You’re encouraged to meet as many people as you possibly can and, quite bizarrely, it’s incredibly satisfying to have new faces appear in your Plaza.

In addition, the hateful Friend Codes are (almost) abandoned. While you still need to swap codes with a friend to have them appear on your 3DS, you only need to do it once. After that, you’re saved onto each other’s systems in a profile screen similar (but as not as comprehensive) to that of Xbox LIVE. You can see what the other is playing and leave a message – although rude text will be censored.

You can also return to the home menu at any time simply by pressing the button. The genius is that the game will simply pause quietly in the background. This will allow you to make notes, check your online friends, notifications and – in a future update – surf the internet. All while the game waits paitently for you to return.

It’s brilliant, no doubt about it. But the system isn’t perfect. For one thing, battery life is shocking. With full brightness, wireless and 3D all on at the same time, you’re looking at a battery that will last for a mere three or so hours. After you sort out the brightness and turn the wireless off when it’s not needed, that can last up to five hours – but that is not going to do down well when the big games roll out. Who’s going to want to play Ocarina of Time or Resident Evil: Revalations for just a few hours at a time? Anyone with sense can practically smell the inevitable 3DS Lite re-release with improved battery life.

Also, if you play in the sunlight, the 3D gimmick fails to work. It’s a strange one, but if direct sunlight falls on the screen, then the optical illusions fails to trick your eyes into seeing a 3D image. Instead, the screen will only blur when you slide the 3D bar.

While the battery issues can’t really be ignored, the 3DS is undoubtedly a work of genius, transforming a stagnating playing field into something fresh and exciting. The gimmick is a small one, and there aren’t many games out for it right now, but this is definately technology to get behind.

And we’re back…

Posted: September 28, 2010 in Musings
Tags: , , , , ,

Yes, sorry, got busy again. Trying to write for a multitude of different websites while working overtime at my paying job and spending time with the girlfriend leaves me with very little time to do anything else.

Alltern8:

Sherlock: A Study In Pink
Iron Maiden: The Final Frontier
Alpha Protocol
Sherlock: The Blind Banker
Sherlock: The Great Game
Resident Evil: Afterlife (the edited version)

Connected Consoles:

Lego Harry Potter Sells 2.7 Million Copies
Wii Sells 30 Million Units In US
Metroid: Other M Cutscenes Reduced Sakamoto to Tears
Why Did Red Steel 2 Fail?
Nintendo Release Overload
Just Dance 2 Track Listing
Metroid: Other M Reviews Are In
Conduit 2 Delayed Until 2011
Nintendo Already Know What The Next Console Is
Capcom’s 3DS Titles Not Available At Console’s Launch?
Hilarious ESRB Rating For Super Scribblenauts
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Out November 29th
Ace Attorney Investigations 2 In The Works

ThatGamingSite:

Is Resident Evil 6 Coming Soon?
LucasArts Sacks 80 Staff
Batman: Arkham City Nearly “4-5 times bigger than Arkham Asylum”
Ace Attorney Investigations 2 Announced
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero Review
Halo: Reach Becomes Best Selling Xbox Exclusive In UK
Pokemon Black & White Break Japanese Sale Records
Bobby Kotick Challenged By Insulted Indie Dev

Movie-Moron:

Will Ferrell Beats Off Christopher Nolan
Box Office: Expendables Slays All, Toy Story Shatters Records, Pilgrim Fails
The Expendables – Our Review
Karl Urban Cast As Judge Dredd
Box Office: Expendables Slays Five, Pilgrim Gone
New Live Action TMNT Gets Michael Bay & Iron Man’s Mouth
Toy Story 3 Becomes 7th Billion-Dollar Movie
Resident Evil: Afterlife – Review (the full version)

It’s worth looking at the Movie-Moron Resident Evil: Afterlife review if only to read the hysterical comments from people disagreeing with me.

Hey, how’s it going?

Sorry I’ve been away for a while, things have been hectic. I’ve got a new position at ThatGamingSite where I need to post game news everyday. I was also recently appointed the lofty position of Nintendo Editor over at ConnectedConsoles, something that’s hugely exciting for me (even now, two weeks later.)

I will be posting more stuff here soon – I have a few more Alltern8 links for you, as well as a buttload of game reviews. I’ve recently seen The Expendables, The A-Team and hope to see Inception (all of which will get the review treatment) and I’m listening to the new Iron Maiden album – again, review as soon as I can find the time to squeeze it in.

Stay frosty.

GTA: Chinatown Wars Review

Rockstar’s last attempt at the world of handheld car stealin’, drug dealin’, civilian killin’ fun was the technically-brilliant-if-far-too-short PSP (and later PS2) Vice City Stories. Continuing the theme of big console releases making playtime for their smaller counterparts comes GTA: Chinatown Wars.

While not initially as impressive as the PSP releases, it is definitely in a league all on its own in terms of Rockstar’s mastery of the DS hardware. The Liberty City familiar from the massively overhyped GTA IV serves as the main hub for all your criminal doings, while the perspective has changed the classic bird’s-eye-view as seen in the early GTA games. The scope of the city is incredible – individual locations memorable from the last tour are all present and correct (save for the ‘haunted swingset’) and the entire premise has been completely redesigned around the DS’ touchscreen capabilities.

Cars can be hotwired in any of three different ways – unscrew the dashboard and connect the wires, stick a screwdriver in the keyhole and turn it on or even by connecting a computer to the security system and stopping the numbers as they flash by to hack the alarms. Explosive weapons can be thrown by tapping the icon and flinging it away with the stylus. Tattoos can be drawn on, cards can be scratched, Molotovs filled at gas stations, the list goes on. Just about the only thing you can’t do is chop up crack with a credit card and inject it directly into your character’s eyeball.

You play as Huang, a Chinese immigrant on the way to deliver a sacred family heirloom (a sword won in a card game) to Uncle Lee, who has taken over the Triad family in the wake of Huang’s father’s recent assassination. Unfortunately for Huang, he is robbed, shot and left for dead in the worst place in America… Liberty City.

From there the game delights in giving you an outlandish number of absurd missions and, while most of them involve driving, none of them are ever dull or repetitive. This is a massive contrast to IV, where seemingly every mission required ten minutes of driving to the opposite end of the map for one gunfight, followed by another lengthy drive home. This time, it’s all about the game and the fun. One moment you’re gunning down a drug lord on his boat, the next you’re dropping bombs on groups of suspected informers from a helicopter. The only real flaw to the game is that the gun’s aiming scheme chooses to aim at the closest person to you, even if that means you’re firing into a wall while a goon blows off the back of your head from a few feet away.

The world is so vast and stuffed with so many things to do that you’ll be playing long after the credits roll. In fact, the moment the game does come to its close is a real downer – the story is so good and the characters so brilliantly scripted it feels a massive shame to let it end. But end it must, and if there’s any justice in the real world, the DS will get many more truly excellent GTA games.

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