Archive for the 'Video Games' Category

03
Jan
14

Re-Play Radio (For Now) Episode 35: The Fourth Inaugural Completely Meaningless Video Game Awards, or “The Goaties”

 

Continuing their annual tradition of doing only one podcast a year, Steve and Bryan return with a hefty, two hour-plus chunk o’ audio goodness as they pick apart the highlights, the lowlights, and the side-eyes of the year that was 2013 in video gaming. Thrill to the discussion of which games had the best moments in badassery, the greatest production values, the most interesting stories, the best uses of Aerosmith! Look on in awe as the boys dare to challenge the prevailing media and community narratives surrounding The Last of Us! Cower in fear if you haven’t played all the games you wanted to finish because there are a lot of spoilers in here! Will the boys agree on 2014’s best game? Will there be hurt feelings? Will the term “ludonarrative dissonance” be used? You’ll have to find out by downloading it here.

Show Notes:

Music

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Overworld 2

Super Mario 3D World – Circus

Guacamelee! – Desierto Caliente

Bioshock Infinite – God Only Knows

Gone Home – Self (by Girlscout, AKA The Youngins)

 

Games Discussed and Spoiled (Probably An Incomplete List)

Gone Home

Bioshock Infinite

The Last of Us

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Super Mario 3D World

Saints Row IV

Shin Megami Tensei IV

Batman: Arkham Origins

probably others, it’s a long podcast

 

 

13
Jul
13

The Last of Us, Thankfully

The-Last-of-Us-Gets-New-Batch-of-Screenshots-11

So about The Last of Us.

I finished the game last night and I felt that I needed to write something about it. No, not about how I was mesmerized by its story, and definitely not anything about whether it’s the so-called Citizen Kane of gaming. Actually, let’s take a moment to discuss that, shall we? A big part of why Citizen Kane is so well-remembered today and used as shorthand for achievement in any medium is not only that it was a good movie that told a good story – it was and it did – but rather because it advanced its medium, introducing new narrative and technological approaches that changed the way movies operated. So if we’re going to call anything the Citizen Kane of games it’d probably be Super Mario 64 or something, but that’s a post for another time.

No, I wanted to write a post today about The Last of Us, and why I am very grateful I no longer have to play it.

WARNING: SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP. LIKE, A LOT OF THEM.

Continue reading ‘The Last of Us, Thankfully’

22
Dec
12

Re-Play Radio Episode 34: Someone Else Might Have Gotten It Wrong

walking-dead-1

Just over 9 months after our last episode, the new Re-Play Radio is live! Bryan and Steve sit down to talk about the best, worst, and indifferent games of 2012 in the Third Inaugural Completely Meaningless Re-Play Radio Video Game Awards! This year’s categories include Best Story, Best Badassery, an impromptu Best Twist category, Best Multiplayer, and more, as well as console and platform-specific nods for the best each of the major platforms had to offer. What game will climb, battered and triumphant, above all others to win our Game of the Year? If you have been paying any attention to us at all on Twitter it will not really be much of a surprise.

Download the show here.

SHOW NOTES:

SPOILER WARNING:  This episode, being an end of the year retrospective, includes spoilers for many games, including but not limited to The Walking Dead, Assassin’s Creed 3, Mass Effect 3, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Diablo 3, and Tokyo Jungle. If you are playing these games you may want to exercise caution.

SONG NOTES:

“Re-Play Radio Main Theme (SLAPDASH HOLIDAY MIX)” – Brad “Scooter” Pack, hastily and poorly remixed by DJ Wencezlazzz (aka Bryan)

“Assassin’s Creed 3 Main Theme” – Lorne Balfe, Asssassin’s Creed 3 Original Soundtrack

“117” – Kazuma Jinnouchi, Halo 4 Original Soundtrack

“Take Us Back” – Alela Diane, To Be Still (ft. on The Walking Dead)

31
Dec
11

The Gods of Cheap Content Demand A Sacrifice: Bryan’s Ten Best Games of 2011

I promised in the most recent episode of Geekspeak that we would try to put more content on this here blog. As you may or may not know, content is difficult to generate and even moreso to write. That’s why so many people are so bad at it. What usually happens in this situation is that hacky writers fall back on year-end retrospectives, pithy commentary on things they enjoyed or meant something to them. It’s a pretty pathetic practice, really, one anyone ought to be ashamed of stooping to in the name of pageviews

Naturally, we will embrace it wholeheartedly in this post.

See, I like video games. We even have a podcast to that effect. But I get tired of all the end-of-year Game of the Year lists that propagate themselves throughout the Webosphere. I find them commercially crass, ethically bankrupt, and wholly deficient for one simple reason: They are not my opinions. To that end, I propose that this a definitive list of the ten best games of 2011, and anyone who disagrees is wrong. That’s the power of the Internet.

10. Jetpack Joyride

I have been known for my general disdain for the concept of the App Store and its “anything-goes-no-matter-if-it-sucks” approach. I stand by that statement – if the future of handheld gaming is Angry Birds, I want no part of it – but there are some gems that poke through the rabble now and then. Jetpack Joyride is one of them – it’s simple, challenging, addictive, and most importantly built for the platform it is on. I cannot stress that last part enough, as like many of you I am tired of console or handheld experiences being shoved onto the iPhone in the hopes of making some filthy, filthy lucre. I think all game designers should resolve not to include virtual buttons, joysticks, trackballs, or anything of any sort in their iOS games. Make them cheap, make them for the platform, and give it its own identity. Jetpack Joyride fits the iOS system perfectly, and I found myself losing a surprising amount of time to it when I first picked it up (and even still now).

9. Pokemon Black/White

On the complete opposite of the handheld spectrum is the dichotomous Pokemon Black & White. Where Jetpack Joyride is a fun way to kill a few minutes while you’re waiting for an appointment or trying to go to sleep, this latest entry in the Pokemon series continues the franchise tradition of devouring hours of your precious time. What’s more, it improves on its predecessors in virtually every regard – battles are faster, sprites animate, an interesting “seasons” mechanic has been added, and the online play is dramatically improved. I think I sunk somewhere between 80 and 90 hours into this game, which earns it a spot on this list by default.

8. Bastion

Bastion is a weird game because it is so thoroughly reliant upon its hook. You take away that hook, and you’re left with a pretty good but not outstanding hack-and-slash RPG/dungeon crawler. But the hook is there. And it’s wonderful. Bastion gets a lot of mileage out of an amazing soundtrack and  reactive narrator that comments upon your actions and progress as you cut your way through its brief but infinitely replayable campaign and side missions, with an amazing vocal performance by Logan Cunningham. Towards the end of the game, I found myself running past enemies just to trigger the narrator’s next bit of plot exposition. I was literally hanging on this game’s every word. And that’s why it’s great.

7. Mortal Kombat

For the longest time, I hated Mortal Kombat. I was a dyed-in-the-wool Capcom fanatic. Chun-Li ‘Til I Die. MK was stilted, hard to control, and relied too much on its gore and shock value compared to the beautifully animated, easy-to-control Street Fighter series. Sure, the series improved over time – I was actually pretty fond of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, even if I am the only one – but I had no real intention of ever actually taking the franchise seriously. Until this year, that is, when Netherrealm Studios got it right. Here was a deep, beautifully-designed fighter. Gone were the awkward, jerky animations and overly precise combo system. The team tweaked and polished the core Mortal Kombat gameplay, throwing enough wrinkles in to keep things interesting, and topped it off with probably one of the best single-player campaigns of the year. This was a fighting game that actually took its story seriously, and other developers can probably learn a thing or two from it. There’s so much to see and do in this game that it took some companies two tries and a lot of squandered fan goodwill to match it.

6. You Don’t Know Jack

I am better than you at You Don’t Know Jack. Always have been, always will be. So when I found out that THQ was releasing a new version of one of my all-time favorite game series (right alongside Mario), I was stoked beyond words. This game is great as a single-player experience, unmatched as a party game, and not too bad over Xbox Live. The gameplay is as simple as ever and the writing is just as sharp as you remember, with some really cool additions (specifically the Wrong Answer of the Game, which is just so You Don’t Know Jack) and a cool, minimalist presentation. In short: it’s great. I just hope we don’t wait another 8 years for the next one.

5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

It’s pretty good. You might have heard about it. Had to be on the list somewhere.

4. Portal 2

This, like Skyrim, is one of those “it has to be on there somewhere” picks. Even so, like Skyrim, this game was pretty great. Valve pulled off the unenviable and frankly until now thought impossible feat of turning Portal into a full-fledged retail game. I was cynical as all get-out but by the end (OH, THAT ENDING) I was a believer. Even a sort of sluggish first act can’t tamper the gleeful sting of Portal 2’s story and gameplay, and it probably has the best writing and voice acting on this list. And by the way – I think the ending credits song is better than the first game’s ending credits song. You heard me.

3. Super Mario 3D Land

It took nearly half a year but the 3DS finally got its killer app with Super Mario 3D Land. Nintendo brought the best elements of the contemporary 3D Mario games and combined it with the best of what the classic 2D games had to offer for a game that’s just the right amount of Galaxy and Super Mario Bros. 3. This game is in equal parts exhilarating, heartwarming, teeth-gnashingly frustrating, and addictive.  Any other year, it probably would have been my number one pick.

2. Batman: Arkham City

If you’ve listened to Geekspeak at all over the last few years, you’ll know that I (and frankly, everyone else on the show) am a soft touch for Batman. Doubly so for Arkham Asylum. All they had to say was “yeah, we’re making another one of those” and I would have put it on this list sight unseen. But Rocksteady kept upping the stakes – A (sort of) open world! Playable Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing! – to the point where you wanted to take their hand, stroke it reassuringly, and tell them:

“It’s OK. We are already your friends. You don’t have to impress us anymore”.

But they wouldn’t have listened. And that’s why Arkham City is so great.

1. Saints Row: The Third

You’re rumbling down the street in a stolen tank, vans full of angry luchadores with guns and paramilitary goons at your back. Your companion warbles out some auto-tuned words of encouragement as you leap out of the tank to unleash the hell fury of a laser-guided airstrke on your pursuers, using your magic wrestling mask that can set people on fire to take care of any that are left. Just minutes earlier you were parachuting out of a helicopter toward an enemy gang’s penthouse with the strains of Kanye West’s “Power” urging you on towards destruction, and minutes from now you will be going into cyberspace to do battle with a precocious, smart-mouthed hacker gang leader that likes to turn your avatar into a toilet.

AND THIS IS NOT EVEN THE CRAZIEST STUFF THAT HAPPENS IN THE GAME.

In a year and a time when too many games became overly pretentious, dull experiments in aping cinema that aren’t really games at all, Saints Row: The Third does it right. It’s polished, it’s hilarious, and I don’t know if I should but I do love it so very, very much.

So that’s my list. If I didn’t include your favorite game it’s because I don’t care. Happy New Year!

24
Jul
11

and now, a few words on misogyny in gaming

Friends, we all know when it comes to video games, I have very little to say except quiet, bitter ranting about how I never got a GameBoy for Christmas and my sister got two. However, sometimes I read or hear about a thing and feel the need to get a little feisty on it. Such is the case with the No Girls Allowed Battlefield 3 LAN party in Austin.

Now, plenty of people have commented on this already, and I suppose my two cents as a non-gamer seems moot. AND YET! I know all of the Geekspeak fellas to be kind, gentlemanly folks who actually cuss a lot less than I do (I’m sorry, Grandma). Why a small minority of douches – who feel like they NEED to get all Insulty McRapepants playing VIDEO GAMES – would outweigh the company of ladies who also just want to play the game is beyond me. This is obviously something that goes far beyond geek culture, but should we as geeks embrace these asshats, just because it’s easier than policing them? I don’t think so.

Leslie Kinzel is a much better writer than me. She’s also pretty funny and I almost always agree with what she has to say. You can read her take on this here.

19
Jul
11

a post typed with clenched fists

So Capcom basically did the worst thing they could have done.

I suppose, in retrospect, Mega Man Legends 3 was a pipe dream. There’s not much room in this industry anymore for games that are colorful, creative, and fun. But Capcom’s sudden recollection last year that the series existed gave me ever so slightly a glimmer of hope. Granted, series creator Keiji Inafune’s sudden departure from the company (“sudden” might not be the right word, based on comments he’s made since) put a bit of a damper on things, but given the continuation of the community-focused Devroom project there was reason to think that the game might see the light of day. We even got screenshots, and a trailer, and promise of a paid demo to be released in June with the launch of the 3DS eShop. June, of course, turned into July with no sight of what Capcom decided to call the Prototype Version to be found. Still, though, it hadn’t been officially cancelled! As far as we knew, they were just trying to smooth out some rough spots.

Then, E3 came and went without a peep from the game. Mega Man Legends 3 disappeared from Capcom of Japan’s home page shortly thereafter. Disheartening, but not concrete proof the game that so many of us had waited ten years for was done and dusted. After all, it had loyal fan support, a 3DS market starving for new games to play, and come on – it wasn’t like Capcom is made up of hideous trolls bent on maximizing profits on the backs of tired zombie game retreads and the surgical removal of joy and happiness from the video game industry, right?  That would be silly.

And it would be true.

I’m not going to pretend I am anywhere near an unbiased observer in this case. I love the Mega Man Legends series. I can’t even begin to try to put myself in Capcom’s position because as far as I am concerned they do not have one. Mega Man Legends 1 & 2 (and their delightful spinoff, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne) are among the best games of their era, and probably pound-for-pound the best Mega Man series. To list off the series’ virtues would take all day, but luckily the always erstwhile and erudite Jeremy Parish wrote a fantastic essay on why the series is worth paying attention to and tracking down. I devoured all three games in the series and was left crestfallen when a resolution to Mega Man Legends 2’s cliffhanger ending appeared doubtful if not impossible. It ends with Mega Man stuck on the moon, and for ten years, I waited to find out if he’d ever find his way back home. Now, as I am older, wiser, and infinitely more cynical, I realize that he’s basically gonna be stuck up there forever now.

I rant a lot about how so many gamers, particularly those online, are jerks with overdriven senses of entitlement. I stand by those assessments, but I realize how they might explode my ground here. That said, I don’t particularly care. Because Capcom waited a decade to dredge this series up and dangled it in front of expectant, loyal faces as a possibility only to pull the rug out so they can focus on cramming Frank West into yet another game, I will never buy another Capcom product, nor will I mention them or any of their products on any Geekspeak Network podcast or production after this story is over. No games, no toys, no T-shirts, no more issues of the actually pretty delightful Mega Man comic Archie is putting out. No news and no reviews on any of Capcom’s games past or present. It’s stupid and selfish and petty to say it, but I feel personally betrayed by this decision. I played ball. I bought Mega Man 9 and 10, I bought Street Fighter 4 four times, I even defended the “one save” thing on the (actually pretty good) Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. No more.

Capcom can dress it up however they want. They can blame it on the 3DS market not selling 150 million units less than four months after its release. They can blame it on whatever “criteria” they want to cite. The fact is they mortgaged the trust of the most loyal and devoted fans they had for reasons that do not make sense. And now that it appears there are no Mega Man games are in development, the series as a whole – not just Legends – may well be dead. One of the most acclaimed and important series of all time, left to die on the altar of commerce.

As fans and as the people who keep the lights on at Capcom, we deserve better.

Edit: Steve Watts, ever the sober yin to my raging yang, wrote an equally disheartened but more charitable post on this; he even suggested a way to make it better that makes sense but will never happen.

Edit: Mr. Watts also pointed out to me in an IM how odd it was that the Prototype (paid demo) was intended to be Capcom’s way of testing the waters to see if sufficient interest existed to actually release Mega Man Legends 3; that they canceled the project without ever releasing the Prototype (the very thing that was supposed to tell them whether it should be released) seems like a terrible way of doing business in his estimation and I agree.

Edit (7/19/11): In the harsh light of day, more information is starting to drip out. For example, this image which claims to be a real unaltered screenshot of what appears to be a Capcom employee claiming the game was destined to be canceled pretty much right after it was announced last year. Am I saying I believe that Capcom would go through all the trouble of announcing the game at a 2010 Comic-Con press conference knowing they would axe it at a predetermined date nine months later? At this point, honestly, yes. But we don’t have any proof that this is real so let’s just assume it’s some strong Photoshop work.

Edit (7/19/11): The Devroom crew put out a much more heartfelt and frankly more satisfying statement on the cancellation today. It seems like as good a time as any to mention that my ire is not with the dedicated people in the trenches trying to get games made, but rather the bean-counting executives who scuttle their hard work due to their own timidity and foolishness. Everyone working on MML3 suffered as much from this cancellation as the fans did, probably moreso.

Edit (7/19/11): The plot thickens, thanks to a link sent to me on Twitter from user JakeOJack to a Reddit thread where someone who implies they have knowledge of the game mentions the following:

Legends 3 was cancelled because it wasn’t a good game, and they had no idea how to make it good. Everything about it was just so bland. Then when you factor in the low sell numbers of the 3DS, even if every person who owned a 3DS bought Legends 3 the game still wasn’t going to make a profit. So instead of releasing a game that wasn’t good and wasn’t going to profit, it was cancelled. […] In general a lot of devs are starting to back away from the 3DS, Capcom included. We have a game that isn’t turning out to be very interesting on a platform that isn’t selling well at all – just too many negatives.

Interesting if true, and if true it might cause me to re-evaluate my stance a bit. But there are a few red flags here. First, why not release the Prototype, which was likely far enough along to be released, and at least make some money back on the deal? Second, if it was an issue of quality, why not say that explicitly in the press release announcing the cancellation of the game? It would have made this a much easier pill to swallow and salvaged Capcom’s reputation among their audience. At best, they mentioned that the game did not meet certain “criteria”, which means next to nothing. Third, and this is purely subjective, since when does Capcom care if their games are bland or not very good? I personally would be much more willing to accept the cancellation if they had said the game did not live up to the high standards of the series. As it is, we’re left with nothing more than an anonymous post on Reddit and an upcoming presentation at Comic-Con. I’ll be  keeping an eye on this.

Edit (7/20/11): News is probably going to be slow in coming until later this week. Until then, I wanted to draw your attention to this really nice summation of the situation by LBD_Nytetrayn over at the Mega Man Network. Granted, I’m probably a bit biased since I’ve known him for a while and was at one point affiliated with that website but he makes some excellent points and it’s worth your time to check it out. There’s no better Mega Man fansite on the Web, which makes this pretty much the definitive take.

Edit (7/20/11): Keiji Inafune has expressed his disappointment with and apologies for the cancellation (despite the fact that it wasn’t his fault). Also, Capcom might have called my bluff on this whole boycott thing. Interesting that there’s still no Mega Man.

Edit (7/20/11): Twitter user BotMarley retweeted a couple interesting tweets from Capcom Europe, particularly this one and this one. So now the blame is shifted to the fans, huh? It’s getting harder and harder to triangulate exactly what is going on here, which is why a specific, clear reason from Capcom would be welcomed. It won’t happen, but if it did it would go a long way towards resolving the situation.

Edit (7/21/11): I’ll probably hold off on updating this until after Capcom’s Comic-Con presentation because it’s getting a bit exhausting. But I wanted to share a few interesting things – first, the 100,000 Strong For Bringing Back Mega Man Legends 3 Facebook group, which absolutely requires your Like. Also check them out on the Twitter. Steven Chase ranted about Capcom and compared the situation to the recent controversy over Chase bank and Target’s support of Michelle Bachmann.  Mega Man Legends (Dash) 3 was the number one trending topic in Japan. Protodude tweeted about Mega Man Legends 3 (and Marvel vs Capcom fans) derailing Capcom’s Comic-Con livestream so badly Capcom themselves left.  And finally, a troubling link as one of the Community Devs (the aformentioned Protodude) warns that some shadowy corners of the Internet might be planning a DoS attack against Capcom. Pestering Capcom on their livestreams and forums is one thing, hacking their servers and potentially exposing customer data is entirely different and I find it pretty disgusting. I hope this does not come to pass.

In fact, I feel it’s pretty important to remind any concerned parties reading this: don’t be a dick. I’m as guilty as anyone of being a bit dramatic over the cancellation, and I’ve certainly tweeted some stuff in the heat of the moment that I am not proud of. That said, people seeking violence against Capcom or calling for other illegal activity are crossing a line. I’m actually a bit concerned for Comic-Con at this rate.

Edit (7/21/11): This is getting a bit sad – the Twitter account of what appears to be a Capcom employee mentions concern over threats from fans, even saying they’re afraid to work the Comic-Con booth. Meanwhile, Capcom Europe apologized for their tweets, saying that they were taken out of context due to Twitter’s 140 character limit. For my part, I’m getting even more weary of this situation than I am before. Capcom’s PR bungling is tiresome, but it has also shown a dark and ugly side of the fandom I don’t want to be associated with. I probably won’t update this post anymore. You can get all the Mega Man Legends news you want at The Mega Man Network. Maybe if something miraculous or interesting happens, I’ll come back but frankly I’ve talked about it enough over the last few days.

So my final thought is this: I’m very sad this game is cancelled. Capcom will not be getting any of my money for quite some time if ever, and I stand by that. But frankly, I expected better from my fellow fans. All the good done by the Facebook campaigns and the letter-writing campaigns is unfortunately overshadowed by the reprehensible and unlawful behavior of what I hope is a tiny fraction of the fanbase. When Capcom employees who had nothing to do with the decision are scared to even go to work, there is a real problem. I’d rather have no game than to see people act this way.

05
Apr
11

my first week with the 3DS

So I decided to do something I’d never done this week and bought a video game system at launch. I’m the proud owner of a new Aqua Blue 3DS, which is supposedly the “girlier” of the two colors as my girlfriend and the folks at my favorite non-Geekspeak podcast have been reminding me. Doesn’t bother me much, as I’ve been getting the blue version of every Nintendo handheld since the GBA SP:

 

my president is black and my handhelds are blue

Since I’ve spent a pretty good amount of time with the device, I thought I’d do a wrapup/review of what I think of it. You don’t have to read it. But you’re already here, so you might as well.

The 3DS came pretty damn late from Amazon the day after release, but in all honesty it got here way faster than it should have – I was originally slated to receive it Wednesday the 30th, then Tuesday the 29th. But I got it Monday the 28th. Nothing to complain about there, except for the fact it showed up an hour before I had to get to class. Poor timing, that. At any rate, I had a chance to play around with it before I had to throw myself into writing a presentation for the next day. I noticed right away that the 3DS is way smaller than I was expecting it to be, and I blame misleading photographs online for giving me that perception. I went straight from the original DS to the 3DS so I can’t really compare it to the DS Lite or DSi, but it is significantly smaller than the original. The three-tone color scheme doesn’t bother me like it seems to bother other people, but then again I don’t really care what the thing looks like as long as it works. So I was more concerned with what it could do than anything else. I dropped it into the very convenient and lovely charging dock and picked it up to start playing.  Here’s some of the features I used:

Mii Maker: It’s everything you liked about making Miis on the Wii and really not much else. There are some added wrinkles this time around, like the fact that you can now make a Mii from a photograph of yourself. I tried it and got something that looked really nothing like me whatsoever. Pang tried it and got the same thing. Some people have more luck with this than others, but for me it just wouldn’t work. I think it has to do with lighting and your individual facial features. I ended up having to remake my Mii to look a bit more like me. If you like, you can download my Mii to your 3DS with the QR code below (another cool feature that works very well and lightning-fast).

Face Raiders: This was what Nintendo decided to show off the 3DS with on Jimmy Fallon the other week, and it was probably the right decision. It hits on a lot of what the 3DS can do – pictures, facial recognition, augmented reality, and of course 3D. Most importantly, it’s bundled in with the system and might even be a significant selling point for some folks. You take a picture of yourself/someone else/whatever, and then you can map it on to a little buzzing flying helmet thing and shoot tennis balls at it. If there’s a better use of this technology, I’d like to hear it.

AR Games: AR is nothing new – iPhone apps have been doing it for a while – but there’s something undeniably charming about having a little posable 3D representation of Mario popping out of your friend’s chest. The real stars, though, are the games that you can play with the cards – target practice is a lot of fun, even if there does not appear to be any challenge to the game. Definitely a nice use of the tech, but I’m looking forward to seeing what else can be done with it. More cards? Functionality in specific games? Whatever, I just want to see a bit more of it.

Online/Friends: Nintendo finally (sort of) gets it right (almost) this time around by having one unified Friend Code for the entire system and all its games. You also get to see a neat little list of all your friends and their Miis to see who’s online and playing. However, there’s no way currently to communicate with your friends – no voice or video chat (despite the fact the system is capable of doing it), and in fact no actual text chat either. You get 16 characters to share your thoughts and feelings with the world, and that’s about it. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

Mii Plaza/Streetpass: This is one of my favorite features of the 3DS – the ability to meet other 3DS users and transmit Miis and other data wirelessly without Internet connections has limitless potential. In practice, though, you’re really limited in terms of your surroundings. If you’re in an area where there aren’t a lot of 3DS users, you won’t be seeing everything Streetpass can do. I’ve personally only had 3 hits on the Streetpass so far – one for Super Street Fighter 4 3D and two Mii exchanges – which is not terrible for one week. Protip: Look for “nerd gatherings” like comic book conventions and Renaissance fairs, as well as any heavily populated area like a mall. If you find someone, it’s like a fun present.

DS Backwards Compatibility: There was a lot of hue and cry over the fact that DS games didn’t show up “perfectly” on the 3DS screens. These fears are pretty much unfounded. Some DS games look a little fuzzy, but overall the effect is marginal. I tested Pokemon Black, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and several demos on the device and found that in all cases the graphics looked just fine and certainly comparable to something like the DSi XL. You can start DS games in 1:1 “true resolution” mode if you want, but it takes up a ridiculously small amount of screen real estate. Just let them load in the default mode and you’ll be fine. No need for alarm here.

But what about the games? I’ve played two. We’ll be talking about them on the next Re-Play Radio, but I wanted to share a few notes here:

Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition: For some reason, people seem to be obsessed about comparing this to the iPhone port of Street Fighter 4, saying that there’s no reason to charge $40 for this game when the (admittedly pretty good) iPhone edition is often on sale as cheap as 99 cents. The fact is, this is like comparing apples to smaller, less feature-rich apples. The iPhone version of the game is good but limited by the platform – several frames of animation are missing, most characters are missing, there are no pre-fight intros, no Internet multiplayer, and of course touchscreen controls bring their own problems. The 3DS version is basically a portable version of the console game with 3D effects and a new over-the-shoulder view added, as well as a Streetpass-enabled passive fight mode. Therefore, the best comparison is whether this version is worth $40 when the console version can be had as cheap as $20. That is a much more difficult question to answer, but trust me when I say that not only is this game worth $40, it’s also the best game available at launch. Online play is smooth as silk, and although the 3D effect noticeably affects the framerate, it’s very pronounced and effective with clearly defined layers and depth. The thumb slider works very well, and it passes the Hadouken test with ease. The much-ballyhooed touchscreen special controls are far from gamebreaking (who’s really going to play this at a tournament level anyway?) and in fact work really well. Overall, this might be one of the most complete versions of the game, but if you already have it on the console it might not be a must-have.

Pilotwings Resort: Arguably Nintendo’s showpiece for the system, this is basically Pilotwings with Miis and 3D. You fly various crafts throughout the same island from Wii Sports Resort in a series of increasingly difficult challenges, as well as a fun (and challenging due to time constraints) Free Flight mode. However, if you get frustrated easily, this is not the game for you. In fact, the difficulty curve is very steep – once you get into Gold, it becomes a very different game. Despite the Wii Sports-like facade, this is probably a terrible choice for casual gamers picking up the 3DS. It’s a very well-made game, with great music, gorgeous graphics, and solid 3D. It remains to be seen whether it will be a game you continue to revisit as the 3DS library grows. Personally, I might be trading it in sooner rather than later, as I lack the masochistic streak necessary to enjoy the game to its fullest. If you like a good, stiff challenge and some light flight sim gameplay, though…you will probably want to check this out. Any problems I have with it are really on my end.

I’ll be updating this blog with further impressions as more features of the 3DS are unlocked (a good percentage of its features are currently embargoed until May) and more games are released. If you’ve got questions about the platform, your own thoughts, or just want to share your Mii or your Friend Code, feel free to do so in the comments.




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