3DStination re-caps some of the key features and new mechanics of Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds in this preview, also discussing some of the recently-revealed plot points. You can get all of the details after the break.
The latest Etrian Odyssey title for the Nintendo 3DS was revealed today – Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl. Atlus’s dungeon-crawling RPG series has been picking up quite a following, particularly after the last 3DS entry – Etrian Odyssey IV.
As promised earlier this fall, the playable demo for Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion was recently added to the Nintendo eShop.
I’ve been looking forward to this one from the moment I saw it during Nintendo’s 3DS presser at E3, and fully expect it to be one of November’s best 3DS releases. I wasted little time in downloading the trial version of Warren Spector’s 3DS platformer, and came away from my experience very impressed.
I’ve gone through the demo a few times now, and have gone from ‘intrigued’ to ‘sold’ – Power of Illusion really shows a lot of potential. Here are some points that I really enjoyed in the demo version:
1. The art style/graphics.
Power of Illusion is clearly a throwback to the visual style seen in the Sega Genesis era, as you can see from the screenshots on this page. The images and videos of Epic Mickey show how much detail has been put into the 2D sprites and the environments, but seeing it in action – and with the 3D effect turned on – really brings out the gorgeous backgrounds. To say that this is one of the finest-looking 2D games on the 3DS would be an understatement.
2. The old-school platforming.
Again, the gameplay in Power of Illusion is reminiscent of the 16-bit generation, where side-scrollers and 2D platformers dominated the market. One such game was Castle of Illusion, which the 3DS Epic Mickey is based on. With this in mind, the game is very successful at pulling off the feeling of classic side-scrolling games, complete with hop ‘n bop attacks to the heads of certain foes. Others require Mickey’s trusty spin attack. There are collectibles to find all over the place, and exploring every nook and cranny of the stage is fun, thanks to the tried-and-true design. Still, what sets the game apart from other platformers is…
3. The magic brush.
In addition to firing blasts of paint at his foes, Mickey can use a special, magical paintbrush to interact with the environment. This was one of the primary gimmicks in the original Epic Mickey; I never got a chance to play it for myself, but the idea works very well in Power of Illusion. Not only does it set the platforming apart from other games, it adds a level of interactivity with the stages that is pretty nifty. Certain puzzles can only be solved by clicking shaded areas on the bottom screen; using the stylus (or your thumb), you can paint objects into the stage that can cover gaps, spike pits, or other hazards. In addition, you can insert things such as falling blocks that crush your enemies – definitely pretty cool.
I really enjoyed playing the demo version of Power of Illusion; I was already planning on purchasing the game later this month, but now I am fully convinced that the experience will be worthwhile. I won’t spoil everything, but just based on the brief trial, there is quite a large cast of classic Disney characters and locales to see in this game…and that sounds absolutely great to me.
You can check out the demo for yourself by downloading it on the eShop – the file is rougly 800-900 blocks, so be sure your SD card is prepared for it. Stay tuned for a full review of the game on 3DStination.com after it launches near the end of November!
I haven’t been checking the Nintendo eShop as regularly as usual for new demos, which is precisely why I overlooked the launch of one of the latest playable trials – LEGO Lord of the Rings. Granted, I haven’t been looking forward to the latest LEGO mash-up quite as much as a few of the other games with upcoming eShop demos – Sonic & All-Stars Racing and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion are what I really want.
Regardless, I was pretty excited to see LEGO LOTR sitting there in the “new demos” page of the eShop, and wasted no time downloading the trial to give it a shot myself. Actually, I’ve never even been the biggest fan of the films, and have never read the books…yeah yeah, take away my Nerd Card, if you must.
Anyway, the beginning of the LEGO LOTR demo puts you in the furry feet of three Hobbit friends – Sam, Merry & Pippin – and leaves you to your wits in a small forest clearing. I quickly noticed one of the very generous new parts of the LEGO gameplay – LEGO LOTR actually points out the direction you need to go whenever you’re holding an item, negating any confusion whatsoever about “what to do”, in case you ever ran into those issues before. In addition, the special “skills” of your various characters help you to solve the simple puzzles, and LEGO LOTR assists you by flashing the icon of the character on the bottom screen with the skill you need at any particular point.
Beyond these little changes, the gameplay seems largely the same, obviously this time being focused on Lord of the Rings characters instead of Star Wars, Batman or Harry Potter. The “skills” and LEGO-building mechanics work largely the same, only this time they are pretty off-the-wall…for example, Sam can start fires with his flint; Merry can fish for…well, fish, and Pippin can somehow discover hidden items using a special pouch.
Finally, the game looks utterly incredible – again, I’m not much of a LEGO video game fan, but I’ve always enjoyed the style and the humor associated with the characters and the cut-scenes. Unfortunately, LEGO LOTR features voice acting – much like LEGO Batman 2 – so part of the silent humor that was enjoyed in the early LEGO Star Wars games is now voiced-over. Of course, the familiar LOTR music absolutely rocks.
What started out as a quick trip to the local GameStop this afternoon turned into a slightly delayed affair; my original plans were to trade in a few games and pre-order Halo 4, but I quickly noticed something upon walking into the store: the brand-new Nintendo Wii U kiosk, complete with a GamePad controller and a wide selection of games to demo.
Well, I use “demo” loosely…I spotted roughly a dozen videos for games such as New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendoland, Mass Effect 3, Batman: Arkham City, Aliens: Colonial Marines, ZombiU, and Scribblenauts Unlimited. Unfortunately, there was only one playable demo – Rayman Legends.
Then again, I had no reservations about seeing this version of the follow-up to Ubisoft’s critically-acclaimed platformer, Rayman Origins. In fact, along with another multi-console title I just mentioned – Aliens: Colonial Marines – I plan to play Legends on the Wii U, if anything at all.
Moving forward, I had some technical difficulties with the kiosk and couldn’t manage to make any of the videos work. I went straight into Legends, and waited as the demo started up. It was around this time that I realized the GamePad controller wasn’t anchored to the kiosk, and I picked it up for the first time.
Just to summarize the span of thoughts that occurred in the next five or ten seconds, I went from “what the ****” to “whoa, alright” and finally “sweet, I’ve got it”. The GamePad is incredibly light, though it’s also admittedly clunky at first. I have larger-than-average-sized hands, and even I had some trouble feeling completely comfortable with it…for a few minutes.
After breezing through one of the “running stages” in Rayman Legends (dashing to the beat of “Whoa Black Betty!”) I realized that I was already more comfortable with the GamePad than I had ever been with the Wii remote. To put it best, the GamePad feels almost like the “bottom half” of the Nintendo 3DS, where the TV screen is the “top half”. Switching between the two (which is necessary in the Rayman demo) is seamless, and the quality of the GamePad’s screen is impressive, to say the very least. Rayman Legends may not be the most visually-advanced game in the Wii U library, but it doesn’t lose anything in the translation from the big screen to the 6-inch GamePad touch screen.
Using the touch screen requires you to take your hands off of the right side (or left) of the controller; this may seem like a problem, but Legends’ small-screen sequences were designed so that you don’t actually need to use the buttons or anything else on the right side of the controller anyway. As long as future Wii U titles are designed with this limitation in mind, I see the GamePad being as revolutionary and innovative as Nintendo has promised all along.
To put it best, even in the ten minutes that I spent with Rayman Legends and the Wii U’s GamePad controller, I noticed quickly how much utility is involved in using the device rather than a standard controller. Think of it as less of a new way of basic control, and more of a new tool for interacting with games in interesting and different ways. The mechanics that could be created with this thing are pretty exciting to consider; just using it as your radar/inventory in ZombiU could be completely different than anything before, the same goes for Aliens: Colonial Marines’ scanner device.
Will the Wii U prove to be as innovative and revolutionary as Nintendo hopes? You decide; make a trip to your local GameStop as soon as possible to see if they’ve got a Wii U kiosk of their own. Leave us a comment and tell us what you think, or discuss your thoughts about the upcoming launch on November 18!
Square-Enix gets a lot of the credit for JRPGs, but Atlus has always been the silently effective type. Where the creators of Final Fantasy always seem to be struggling to please its restless fanbase, Atlus is busy putting out great stuff like Shin Megami Tensei and Persona. In fact, they’ve already ported SMT: Devil Survivor Overclocked to the 3DS.
Sure, we are on the brink of seeing three very big releases from Square-Enix – all in the month of July, nonetheless – but the “little guy” in JRPGs has its own exciting new game planned for fall 2012. Recently, Atlus announced that Code of Princess will be coming to North America sometime during that time frame, but wasn’t any more specific.
Fortunately, in the time that has passed, details about the game have been revealed – and they sound a hell of a lot cooler than the ridiculous title. For example, the gameplay is based around side-scrolling beat-’em-up action, where direction-based light and heavy attacks can be combined with special moves to form stylish combos and chain attacks. I hope I didn’t lose you at “princess”, because this damsel certainly appears to be less about “distress” and more about “kicking ass” – less Princess Peach, and more Ryu Hayabusa.
As players move through the stages, carrying out all the glorious melee-based destruction, they’ll need to move back and forth between three horizontal planes. This is necessary in order to attack, position yourself properly, and wipe out all the enemies standing in your path. This concept might sound familiar to anyone who played Guardian Heroes; there are actually former members of that game’s development team working on Code of Princess.
Additionally, the game is infused with RPG-like character progression elements such as earning experience points, leveling up, and customizing characters by equipping weapons, armor, accessories, and so on. Being an Atlus game, the “RPG” part of the equation had to come in somewhere – but alongside the fighter Persona 4 Arena for the PS Vita, this beat-’em-up looks like its most “RPG-lite” project in quite some time.
Moving on, Code of Princess appears to offer some variety, allowing players to choose between four playable characters, each with a unique fighting and playing style. For example, the scantily-clad female warrior on the cover is Solange Blanchefleur de Luxe, who carries a massive sword. Then, there’s the swift and agile thief, Ali Vava. Moving on, there’s a zombie-summoning spellcaster named Lady Zozo. Finally, the most off-the-wall of them all appears to be the guitar-playing elf character, Allegro Nantabile Cantabile.
The four playable characters in the game fit well into the 4-player competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes that have been mentioned by Atlus; I would assume that the multiplayer component supports all the basic local functions, but I really hope this one ends up taking advantage of the Nintendo WFC and all the online capabilities that the 3DS has to offer.
Why not include the same join/drop-anytime concept seen in Heroes of Ruin? How will the StreetPass and SpotPass functions be used? What about DLC? Only time will tell what is in store for this one.
One thing that I’m not worried about; Code of Princess looks absolutely stunning. The 2D sprites and flashy, colorful visuals look great, and will only look better when viewed with the 3D effect enabled. The art design is actually led by Kinu Nishimura, who formerly worked on Capcom games such as the Street Fighter series and Capcom vs. SNK. You can see just how beautiful this one looks by taking a look at the Japanese trailer below:
Check back in the next few weeks for more about Code of Princess; perhaps we’ll see this one after all those Square-Enix games have been put away, and before the holiday season starts to get too overwhelming.
Over the weekend, another demo version appeared on the Nintendo eShop – Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. Seeing this one on the eShop at 3AM on Saturday caused me to become admittedly the most excited about a playable demo since the Resident Evil: Revelations trial went online earlier this year.
I’ve been absolutely thrilled about the upcoming action/RPG for a very long time, and it is easily one of my most-anticipated titles of 2012. I’ve even got the fancy $55 collector’s edition pre-ordered at GameStop – going against my usually-strict “no Collector’s Edition” policy.
[Side-rant; I really wasn’t thrilled about being forced to throw down $25 rather than the usual five bucks just to reserve a copy – some new GameStop policy for all special edition pre-orders, total shenanigans if you ask me…]
Nonetheless, my worries were completely wiped away after I ran through this new demo almost half a dozen times. Over the last few days, I’ve gotten comfortable with the new mechanics, explored every inch of the demo, and come to this conclusion: KH3D is definitely the game that fans have been waiting for.
What I liked:
In general, I don’t want to ruin too much about the demo for any of the hardcore fans out there, but I will say this – Dream Drop Distance feels like Kingdom Hearts, and it looks better than the series has ever looked before. Most screenshots and YouTube trailers really don’t do the game any justice; you simply have to play it yourself to see just how well-animated and colorful the visuals really look. The 3D effect is used very well, particularly in the CG cut-scenes…but those really aren’t in the demo as much, just the E3 trailer on the eShop. Anyway, I loved seeing the protagonist from The World Ends With You in the demo – he’s the guy seen with Sora in the image below – and I hope to see more from the cast of that cult classic from the original DS.
The gameplay was incredibly smooth, from what I played in the demo – though I definitely felt a lot more comfortable with the game and the controls after playing the quick tutorial, which explained the basic mechanics as well as the newer ones. For example, Sora’s basic combat strikes and special abilities work the same as usual, but with the added benefit of the slick “FlowMotion” mechanics and the nifty “Reality Shift” attacks he’s able to pull off under certain conditions. Ultimately this is a Kingdom Hearts game that feels faster, smoother and looks far more flashy than anything else in the franchise. This is saying a lot, considering I have the highest level of respect for the original games on the PlayStation 2.
Check out the trailer below for some footage of the “FlowMotion” concept in action:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfiAkGqpG3Q&w=465&h=262]What I didn’t like:
There wasn’t anything in the demo that I particularly disliked, but I was actually surprised that the trial version didn’t support the use of the Circle Pad Pro. Though I actually don’t own one of them myself, I was visiting a friend who did have the “CPP” after playing the demo, and realized that I couldn’t even use the add-on to enjoy two circle pads and easier camera control. This might be the only small issue I had with my experience; the camera isn’t really hard to control by any means, but you definitely need to get used to using the trigger buttons to turn left and right, in addition to holding them both whenever you want to “lock-on” to your enemies. Some of this hassle could have been avoided if the Circle Pad Pro was supported; I am really hoping that you can use it in the final version.
All of that being said, I really don’t want to spoil too much about the demo, but it also isn’t very long by any means. I enjoyed my quick look at the new FlowMotion concept, as well as the 3D effect and visuals from Dream Drop Distance – but I was mostly glad that the game felt and looked so much like the Kingdom Hearts that I’ve loved since the original (which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year) came out on the PS2. As I said before, I’ve got the game pre-ordered at the local GameStop – so in just over a month, I’ll be picking up and playing the full version of Kingdom Hearts 3D, and more than likely I’ll be loving every second of it.
What do you think? Have you gotten a chance to play the demo yourself? What do you think about the controls, the combat system, the 3D effects, the graphics, the FlowMotion and Reality Shift mechanics? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!
This week, another demo was added to the Nintendo eShop – this time, gamers could get their hands on a trial version of The Amazing Spider-Man, Activision’s upcoming action game starring everyone’s favorite web-slinging superhero.
Before downloading the demo, I hadn’t given much thought to The Amazing Spider-Man – I think the upcoming film looks interesting, but I didn’t expect much from the video game tie-in. The last Spider-Man game I played was the Nintendo DS version of Shattered Dimensions, and though I found the “Metroidvania” gameplay to be very interesting, I was disappointed to hear that the latest installment returned to the open-world style of Spider-Man 2. Though Spider-Man 2 was a popular choice for “best Spider-Man game”, I typically don’t care for the open-ended style of play, and perhaps that is why I found myself so surprisingly satisfied by developer Beenox’s latest effort.
What I liked: The 3DS version of The Amazing Spider-Man might be disappointing to those looking for the sandbox gameplay featured in the console versions, but this allowed me to focus on the combat in the demo version. It felt a lot like the system used in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arhkam City; Spider-Man can move around with a lot of fluidity, chaining together combo attacks and avoiding enemy strikes in order to pull off counter moves. Attacks can be chained to form combos, which increases your multiplyer, and ultimately rewards you with experience points that can be used to unlock more special abilities.
To be honest, most of the game feels almost identical to the aforementioned Batman titles, only with a Spider-Man twist. This isn’t even remotely a bad thing; I was actually pretty impressed by how well it all works in the 3DS version. I really liked the new “Web Rush” move, which slowed down time and let me zip around each room, dropping down on my enemies or stunning them with web shots before pummeling them with melee strikes. All of this fast-paced action handles pretty well for the handheld platform; even the camera controls seem to work well on the trigger buttons – I had no trouble keeping the camera under control, even when surrounded by a large group of opponents.
There were occasionally some dips in the frame rate when I played in 3D, but the depth effects were actually done pretty well here – so keeping the slider turned on really let me enjoy the primary function of the 3DS. With the stereoscopic effects, the cut-scenes are made even nicer, but it really helps that they all feature fully-voiced dialogue as well.
What I didn’t like: I really liked the character model for Spider-Man, and the combat animations were very smooth, but everything else about the graphics seemed…well, just a little too much like what you’d expect a sloppy handheld port of a visually-superior console game to look like. The textures were bland, the environments were repetitive, and the enemy models were nowhere near as well-designed as Spider-Man’s. Though I don’t hold most licensed titles to the same standards as most other games – especially their handheld ports – I was really disappointed to see the blatant gap in visual quality between Spider-Man and the rest of the game.
Though I’m fine with the idea of the sandbox gameplay being taken out of the 3DS version, it makes me wonder how much more linear and limited the handheld port will ultimately be: how will Beenox replace the open-ended exploration, the random side-quests, and the extensive amount of content?
Finally, two more small complaints. I did like the idea of using the gyroscope to control Spider-Man’s new Web Rush mechanic, but the implementation is wonky in the demo – and using the feature with 3D turned on results in a lot of eye strain that could have been avoided if the stereoscopic effects automatically deactivated, such as in Mario Tennis Open. Last of all, this demo can only be played 10 times, where past 3DS demos have offered 30 attempts to play them. Even worse, you can’t just finish the trial version and re-start before going back to the Home Menu; the game makes you completely back out and re-start in order to play again. This means you really only do get to play through the trial version a limited number of times – though 10 is still plenty, I scoffed at the reduction nonetheless. Why should players who want to try new games be limited in their means of doing so?
What do you think? Are you interested in picking up The Amazing Spider-Man? Have you played the demo on the eShop? Leave some feedback below!