How insane is it that I still do not own a DS? I have no excuse really, as I have a huge list of games for the platform that I would love to play, but fate simply hasn’t had it in the cards for me yet. It’s my very last holdout among the major home and handheld consoles.
After getting my hands on a variety of playable demos and gameplay videos today at E3, I can say this for certain: I will be ending my involuntary DS boycott as soon as Nintendo allows it, even if not everything I saw today impressed me.
First thing is the hardware itself, which I found to be rather impressive. It is going to feel extremely similar to anyone who has ever held a DS before, but I immediatelly noticed how nice the screens look. Having a larger top screen is quite nice of course, and each screen is incredibly bright, with vibrant colors and great clarity. All of the buttons felt quite solid as well, so hopefully there won’t be any durability problems with the 3DS.
Of course, the main thing you’re probably wondering is, “How is the 3D effect?” For me, it was a mixed bag in some respects, but when it is good, it is fantastic. I’ll get into more specifics when I talk about the games I played, but the main thing I took away is that some games appear to be taking better advantage of the 3D effect than others, and it plays a larger role in some games than other. In the end, there were some games where I was glad the 3D effect was there, and others where it just seemed to be there and nothing more. It never quite became burdensome (though I found text in the DJ Hero demo a bit difficult to read), so I don’t believe that the 3D effect will ever really annoy anyone (especially since a slider on the unit can be used to turn down the effect, even all the way to nothing).
I was lucky enough to check out a pretty good number of games. I’ll start with what most impressed me: Star Fox 64 3D. I genuinely felt that the 3D effect added quite a lot to the game, giving a much better sense of depth to the world. Flying under a rock arch simply looked cool, and playing in 3D seemed to make it easier to know exactly when things like arches or enemy bullets were approaching. Even flying over water looked great, with the ship and water having a definition in depth that really stood out as something that we haven’t seen before. I had a bunch of fun playing the game despite its simplicity.
I was also really impressed by a non-playable demo set in the world of of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The game truly did look like a PS2, or perhaps a little better, and the 3D effect added a lot to the game. As Snake crawled along the ground, grass came from feet away and passed by his head, really taking advantage of the 3D effect to show exactly where the grass was in the environment. Another section showed Snake hanging off of a bridge, and rotating the camera below him showed off the depth of his dangling body and the bridge above. Bees also swarmed around him rather often, and even these tiny creatures looked great in 3D.
I also checked out a non-playable demo for Kid Icarus Uprising, which was equally impressive in the air and on the ground. Really, the 3D effect had similar virtues to the above games, but what made this stand out was how fun the gameplay looked. The flying combat appeared to work much like the Panzer Dragoon series, or even a little like Star Fox. The ground combat involved a lot of shooting as well, and while I can’t say for sure without playing it, all of it looked like a lot of fun. One particular section showed Pit grinding on a rail similar to the Ratchet and Clank games, though all the while he was swiveling and shooting. It simply looked like a blast and made me wish the game were playable.
I wasn’t 100% impressed, though. I played DJ Hero 3D, and the 3D effect simply wasn’t very pronounced, and it didn’t add anything to the gameplay. In addition, there was some small text in the game, and I found it a bit hard to read on the screen thanks to the effect. Playing Samurai Warriors 3D was just uninteresting for many of the same reasons, failing to impress with its 3D effects. However, even when the images fail to really pop out at you, these games still look good and should only progressively look better throughout the life of the 3DS.
I am truly stoked for what the 3DS will have to offer. Even the early games and demos that I saw looked great, and I think the hardware is built sturdily. As long as the price is right, I’ll be getting the 3DS into my hands as early as possible.