Sections

3DS Showcase: how Nintendo won me back

Friday, 10th May 2013 06:30 GMT By Stace Harman

Stace Harman’s on-off love affair with Nintendo is well and truly back on. He takes a trip down memory lane and looks at a handful of upcoming 3DS titles that offer some good old-fashioned fun.

Evidently, I’ve been won over by at least some of Nintendo’s current and future output for the 3DS. IOver the last few weeks it’s been nice to play games for the simple fun of playing games and to be reminded that not every title from a major publisher has to involve shooting people in the face.

In the heated playground debates of my childhood, I always sided with Nintendo over Sega. To me, there was something about the boxy little NES with its flip-top cartridge slot and spring-loaded tray that shouted “fun” much louder than Sega’s sleeker Master System. Come 1990, I had a paper-round that paid me the princely sum of £10 a week and so I saved like crazy for a Super Nintendo; to this day it remains the console from which I take some of my very fondest gaming memories.

By the time the N64 arrived I was a fully paid-up member of the Nintendo fan club, which resulted in me dropping £310 on a launch day console and Mario 64 from Dixons. When I took up that esoteric three-pronged controller and stepped into Mario’s 3D world it felt as though the future had arrived. But as the months passed my attitude started to change. I remember sneering at the console’s plastic, toy-like casing and growing disdainful of the brightly coloured additional controllers that were strewn about my bedroom floor.

Shortly after, my lifelong gaming-friend and I swapped consoles for a couple of weeks: my N64 for his hipster new-kid-on-the-block Sony PlayStation. Thanks to Resident Evil, Tomb Raider and wipEout 2097, it wasn’t long before I’d shelved my N64 and bought a PlayStation of my own. When the PS2 was released I bought one with nary a thought for the purple oddity that was the GameCube. At that point in time I felt like I was outgrowing Nintendo’s reliance on child-like wonder; I was, after all, a serious twenty-year-old with all together cooler gaming tastes.

Fast-forward six years and my interested enough in the concept of the Wii to pick one up shortly after launch. Today, half a dozen Wii games sit untouched in a drawer while the console’s in-built messaging system says it’s been two years since I last wielded a Wiimote in anger. I haven’t even contemplated buying a Wii U. Up until three years ago I had kept faith with Nintendo’s handhelds but at some point after buying an iOS device I sold my DSi, convinced that it would suffice for my portable gaming needs. To all intents and purposes I was done with Nintendo, from a personal standpoint if not a professional one.

Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Then, just recently, something unexpected happened. I borrowed a 3DS and Nintendo sent me a copy of the aptly titled Fire Emblem: Awakening. Some two weeks and 53 gameplay hours later I am both fascinated and worryingly obsessed with stats and class choices and, most curiously of all, the relationships that are blossoming between my cast of characters. Fire Emblem Awakening has revealed itself to be the brilliantly simple strategy game I remember from nine years ago wrapped around a comprehensive relationship simulator. I find that I spend as much time planning optimal battlefield position in order to enhance the relationships between my characters as I do concentrating on winning any given skirmish and I haven’t cared this much for a cast of characters since the whimsically joyful bunch found in Sega’s Valkyria Chronicles.

Interest renewed, I went along to a 3DS showcase. I spent some 30 minutes playing through a demo-build of the tentatively titled Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 2, diligently taking notes with my work-head on. Then I immediately played through it again for the sheer fun of it. 30 minutes is not enough time to critically assess a game, of course, but the gamer in me is already excited for the sequel to one of my most beloved of Link’s outings. It feels like the kind of game where the enjoyment is derived simply from playing it, not wrestled from it by achieving its goals, besting its bosses or being showered with achievement points or trophies.

On the one hand, some of this fun comes from the reliance on familiar tropes: the bow and arrow, the sight of a bouffant Link breaking into his little half-jog and, of course, that classic treasure chest jingle that tells you that all is right with the world and you’re winning at life. However, it’s also apparent that this is more than a desperate attempt to tap the rich vein of nostalgia surrounding the 22-year-old A Link to the Past. The “merging”, as Nintendo is currently calling it, involves Link turning into a chalk drawing on the wall to slip through barred windows, negotiate gaps and walk around the angles of a wall to reveal hidden paths, much as the opening 30 seconds of this 10-minute game play video reveal:

In the all-too-brief 30 minute demo I that I played there was the potential for experimental and explorative use of merging, which coaxed many an “a-ha” from my smiling lips. The potential for such moments of dawning realisation in the finished game is huge and serves only to add to the warm, fuzzy feelings in my belly from seeing Link from that top-down view.

While A Link to the Past 2 was, for me, the standout game at Nintendo’s 3DS showcase it was far from the only one that I returned to over the course of the afternoon. Both Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move deserve honourable mentions for providing a satisfying blend of familiar gameplay from their respective series with new twists and tricks. In some respects, what all three of these titles offer is a degree of nostalgia-fuelled retro gaming without the risk of digging out an old classic only to find that it hasn’t aged well at all (GoldenEye, I’m looking at you).

Evidently, I’ve been won over by at least some of Nintendo’s current and future output for the 3DS. I remain unconvinced by Wii U but over the last few weeks it’s been nice to play games for the simple fun of playing games and to be reminded that not every title from a major publisher has to involve shooting people in the face. True, the first-party titles that I’ve highlighted here are all iterative evolutions rather than out and out innovations but they’re also a whole lot of fun. When it comes to this most precious of commodities I, for one, am happy that Nintendo does make them like it used to.

Latest

26 Comments

  1. Erthazus

    Nintendo won me over with Fire Emblem: the Awekening but I still wish that the handheld could be much better. It feels like i’m playing a gorgeous masterpiece on a piece of cheap plastic with super outdated hardware compared to any device, not just Vita.

    Sony on the other hand has a good hardware and no games to play on it. Soul Sacrifice is not a great alternative to what Nintendo can offer too.

    P.S. New Zelda looks fantastic. Can’t wait. I hope for some The World Ends With you 2 announcement too.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. zersus

    What is the biggest problem of the Wii U?
    Exactly, it’s the in house console 3DS!
    And the Legend of Zelda for the 3DS is another mini heart tack for the Wii U :). A couple more of this minis, and the Wii U will commit suicide.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. DrDamn

    A real shot in the arm for the WiiU would be to support downloadable 3DS games via emulation – there isn’t anything which couldn’t be done and if you look at the feature sets they are remarkably similar. The only thing you’d lose is the 3D effect, which is not necessary for any of the gameplay.

    OlderGamer has suggested this a few times, it would be an excellent idea. Not that I trust Nintendo to make the titles available at sensible prices but still.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Erthazus

    ^ Excellent idea for gamers and a shitty business decision.

    Linkking handheld games to Console is a bad idea because handheld will die. Games like fire Emblem is a handheld experience most of the time.

    Sony do this with their games and it doesn’t work really.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. DrDamn

    @1
    Agree on the look and feel of the 3DS. The original design is a horrific plastic monstrosity. One of the ugliest consoles I’ve used. The XL improved things a little, but it still wasn’t great. Shame as the DS lite and DSi were excellent designs.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Erthazus

    ^ I agree with everything you said.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. DrDamn

    @4
    Can’t see how it would kill the handheld. You are just making the games available to a wider audience. People aren’t going to stop buying 3DS’s and start buying WiiU’s because of it. If they were cunning and implemented some sort of cross-buy functionality then they could increase sales of both.

    Some games are naturally handheld games and others are naturally home console games. But there is a big grey area in the middle and even within games where it’s not clear cut.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Digital Bamboo

    @7 I agree. Handheld emulation at home would be good for 3DS & U both.

    Look at the ipad & iphone, very similar devices, one is just more portable. The sales of one don’t cannabilize the other–they both sell a shit ton. In fact, I’d wager that most people who own one, want to own the other. Same could be true for Nintendo’s consoles.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. Sini

    nintendo killing off wii u and focusing 100% on handheld is the best thing they could do.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. ps3fanboy

    so its zelda yet again.. nintendo milk their 80′s franchises like cod, nothing new here that will win me over to nintendo, thats for sure.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. lexph3re

    You know what I think is Ironic? People that say Nintendo should practice something that they always practiced with their Handhelds and Consoles but says that X-Buy and this is a bad business practice.

    Making portables playable on consoles is nothing new. Anyone remember SNES Gameboy cartridge? N64 transfer pak? Gamecube Advance adaptor?

    The only console this couldn’t work for was Wii. Because DS games had 2 screens were Wii had motion controls.

    This Technology has been out for decades and hasn’t even affected the market. But for some reason people forget that when a company they dislike does it or act like a company that’s always done it has to do it.

    Man I hope the gaming community get’s it’s shit together because this shit is growing redundant.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. OlderGamer

    DS/3DS emulation on WiiU would be a game changer in my mind. Thnx for the nod Doc.

    As for the article, I enjoyed it. I think somewhere in the hussle and shuffle of technology, connectivity, hype, and a few other cliches, a game for the fun of it gets lost. At its very basic principle level that is why I am still a Nintendo fan.

    IMO, WiiU offers some truely great gameplay experiences.

    I also tend to believe that the 3DS is prolly the best system on the market(price point, function, and game selection). I don’t own one yet, I think I will in a couple of weeks.

    People can complain about this or that. Nintendo isn’t cool enough, or whatever. But when I play a Zelda game, it is nerviana. Sure the franchise is now in its fourth deceade(80s,90s,00s, and now 10s). But ask yourself, if MS or Sony is still making games and entering their fourth decade, think they will still be making Halo and Uncharted Games? I am guessing so, if they are furtunate enough to still have legions of fans willing to buy and play them.

    In my mind: a great game is great.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. theevilaires

    “DS/3DS emulation on WiiU would be a game changer in my mind”.

    Of course it would they would have software people would want to play on the big screen especially. I wanna hack my Vita so bad to play some DS stuff like the handheld Zelda games like 4 swords and Minish Cap.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. OlderGamer

    Ha, funny you mentioned Minish Cap, I was playing that earlier this week on the GC GBA player.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. lexph3re

    Is it really a game changer to do what they have been doing since SNES?

    #15 1 year ago
  16. DrDamn

    @15
    I wouldn’t say game changer, more very nice thing to have. The WiiU is lacking in great games and the 3DS has an abundance of them. That wasn’t really the case with the SNES was it?

    #16 1 year ago
  17. lexph3re

    Well the N64 didn’t have an abundance of good things either. and it had a transfer pak. Didn’t change anything. Same for Gamecube and the Advance peripheral didn’t change anything.

    I honestly, don’t think havin a 3DS emulation or peripheral will help Wii U either. With the way the gaming community acts about things I truely believe they will find some dumb excuse not to buy it.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. theevilaires

    It wont help them when PS4 launches Lex but it will keep them alive until they get out proper Wii U first party games. I want to use my Wii U other than a cool Netflix player. I think we’ll see the Wii Z in 3 years no doubt.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. lexph3re

    I just want some announcements soon. Something like Project x Zone redux on Wii U. A artsy shooter that makes a character bleed yoshi eggs. I honestly, just want my good reason to buy Wii U. Because as it is I really want one but I don’t want to shell out for it then shell out for ps4 because I know I’m getting that.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. monkeygourmet

    @19

    Nintendo can’t fail at E3, can’t even give an inch…

    A cornered animal is the most dangerous etc etc… :)

    Sony & MS have new machines which will generate free publicity, Nintendo need some absolute MEGATONS!!!

    Obviously they could fuck it up royally, but either way, it’s going to be the best E3 in about 5 plus years!!! (Sad that I’m looking forward to it so much!)

    What’s great is we know certain Nintendo big guns are going to be shown but…. What else?! :)

    #20 1 year ago
  21. Ljink

    I couldn’t agree with that quote any more.

    I don’t know why people are concerned with Nintendo. They have been around longer than the Xbox and the Playstation. They’ve experienced more success and failures than both of them. The Xbox 720 will be a Xbox 360 on crack and the PS4 will be a PS3 on heroine. Yes, we know that they will be powerful, output 100000000p, and have games where you shoot somebody in first person but what else? What haven’t I seen already that they can show me?

    Innovation, although never a 100% route to success, has had me buying consoles for years. And I don’t care what your reasoning is, the Wii U will probably be the most innovative console of this generation. Nintendo is having problems advertising the Wii U because people don’t get it. Same thing with DS. People said “how can I look at 2 screens at once?! Nintendo is really stupid HA!” The DS is now the best selling video game anything on the planet.

    I do think that the PS4 and Xbox 720 will outsell the Wii U due to specs and CoD, Halo, and other FPS but it won’t parse me any. I just want games that are creative. Not something with a copied infrastructure and edited guns and maps.

    Oh yeah, 3DS. Its doing fine. Better than I had hoped. And that’s without one REAL Pokemon game on the console. If Nintendo and Game Freak, Pokemon Company came together to release edited versions of the Gameboy games to accommodate wireless connectivity. At least 1 million 3DS units would be sold. People still remember it. The 3DS is just getting started and it is currently my choice of gaming. Man I talked alot.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. malethief

    The best thing Nintendo could do is bring DS titles to the Wii U virutal console or eShop store or even create a DS player for the USB drive. It would serve as their “gameboy player” since the gamepad had touch screen and a stylus. The 3DS game emulation wouldn’t work as well since sure 3D isn’t a big deal not having it but would take away from their handheld market so why own both. I’m sure the Wii U will pick up steam but right now I see it having the same success as the Gamecube.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. stealth

    Everyone should own a 3ds. And soon everyone will want a wii u. Its going to get the same amazing games.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. Lengendaryboss

    @23
    Yes, because everyone enjoys playing Pokemon, Mario And Zelda spin-offs/Main games/party games on their Nintendo platforms, they don’t need third party support for any type of variety or support.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. monkeygourmet

    @24

    Come on dude… thats just not true…

    The 3DS has more exclusives and varied games of all the consoles at the moment. Also it plays DS games which increases the library tenfold.

    Every gamer should own one. Even Erthazus has taken the plunge!

    #25 1 year ago
  26. Gheritt White

    I <3 my 3DS so much. Play it every day and I can't say the same thinmg about my iPhone, Macbook, PC or X360.

    #26 1 year ago

Comments are now closed on this article.