Tag Archives: Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance

3DS RPGs Blog - Banner

Blog – Thanks For All The Role-Playing, 3DS

3DStination.com discusses how the role-playing genre has flourished and become one of the stronger points for the Nintendo 3DS; particularly in 2013, where the latest RPGs have arguably established themselves as some of the best 3DS games to date. Continue reading
Top 10 Nintendo 3DS Games Banner

Top 10 Nintendo 3DS Games

Over the span of time I’ve been posting on 3DStination.com, I have compiled two different lists of the five best Nintendo eShop games to date (which you can see here and here), but I have said nothing about my ten favorite retail releases. I’d like to change that now.

To be honest, it wasn’t easy to narrow my “best of” selections to just ten. In the two years the 3DS has been available, there have been more than two dozen games that I’d personally recommend purchasing to almost any player.

Regardless, here are my ten favorites – keep in mind, many of these are personal picks/based on my 3DStination review scores, but others have been selected for different reasons:

Continue reading

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance - banner2

Review – Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop DistanceGeneral Information
  • Developed and Published by Square-Enix
  • Released on July 31, 2012
  • Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-Owned @ GameStop.com)
Summary

I decided to opt out of writing my full Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance review until finishing the entire game. As a result, it has taken me over two full (and very busy) months to get around to publishing this.

The worlds of Disney & Square-Enix meet yet again in “Dream Drop Distance”, the latest installment of the Kingdom Hearts series, available exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS.

That being said, Square-Enix’s action/RPG was one of my most-anticipated games of 2012, 3DS or otherwise. I admit, I wasn’t exactly expecting brilliance, but I hoped that the Kingdom Hearts franchise might pick up some momentum after this new installment. Fortunately, this happens to be the case – at least, as far as I’m concerned. Without further adieu, here is my summarized review of KH3D, including the parts that I liked and didn’t like so much about the long-awaited 3DS title:

I Liked:

The Console-Quality Production Values

I should just get it out of the way and say that Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is one of the best-looking, best-sounding games ever released on the Nintendo 3DS. To say that it reaches “console quality” does it little justice; in addition to the beautifully-rendered character models, highly-detailed environments and silky-smooth animation, KH3D benefits from some of the greatest 3D effects on the 3DS to date.

The story still doesn’t make a lot of sense, but any interaction with the cast of “The World Ends With You” is welcome, as far as I’m concerned.

The soundtrack is utterly fantastic; it goes without saying that the Fantasia stage is as much of a treat to the ears as it is to the eyes. Equally impressive is the voice acting, featuring a wide cast of Disney characters such as those from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tron: Legacy, and Pinnochio. Finally, I really enjoyed the cameos from the cast of The World Ends With You…Neku & Co. have never looked better. Take a look at the footage below and see for yourself just how great the game looks; then think of how much cooler it would be if it was in 3D:

The New & Improved Mechanics (FlowMotion & Reality Shift)

Compared to past Kingdom Hearts games, Dream Drop Distance plays like a dream – this is largely due to the new game mechanics, such as the “FlowMotion” movement system and the “Reality Shift”attacks.

Sora tries his hand at parkour in Dream Drop Distance.

FlowMotion is probably my favorite of the two; basically it allows for slick, acrobatic movement through the environment with the simple press of a button. This feature allows you to swing from vertical poles, “grind” handrails, and more…not only does it look cool, it’s highly practical for traversing each of the stages in the game. Finally, it really opens up the real-time combat system, making some of the aerial battles more exciting than ever before. Moving on, the Reality Shifts are more useful for puzzle-solving or dispatching enemies…each stage features its own unique use of the function, my favorite being the one from Tron: Legacy, where you de-code various bits of text to perform different actions in the game.

Jeff Bridges’ cameo doesn’t hurt, either.

The New “Spirits” System

Another one of the new ideas that I really enjoyed was the “Spirits” system; basically you can create your own versions of the “Dream Eater” opponents that you encounter throughout the game, put them into your party with either Sora or Riku, and earn special experience points to earn new abilities and skills. It’s almost like Pokemon combined with the Sphere Grid (Final Fantasy X) and the License Board (Final Fantasy XII).

Your Spirits accumulate “Link Points”, which can be used to unlock new skills, abilities, and status buffers for Sora/Riku.

The Spirits ultimately replace Sora’s previous companions, Goofy & Donald, but I enjoyed being able to customize my own party and interact with the spirits through the “Spirits Menu”. This part of the game makes use of the AR camera (you can take snapshots of your creatures within your real-life settings…sweet!), adds a lot of depth, and extends the replay value by giving you an incentive to “collect ‘em all”. For a Pokemon fan such as myself, this entire concept is pretty great.

You can take snapshots of your Spirits with the AR camera; there are also mini-games for “feeding” and training them.

The Game Keeps Giving

If you haven’t already gathered that KH3D is a content-rich experience, believe me – it is. It took me roughly 35 hours to play through my first time on the standard difficulty setting; a lot of those hours were admittedly spent toying around with Spirits or the AR camera function. However, the majority of time was invested into exploring each of the stages, clearing the “Reports” and charting data for all of the Dream Eaters, finding the hidden treasure in each stage with Sora and Riku, unlocking the special “Trophies” for certain milestones, and reading the descriptions of the countless characters and locations featured in the various worlds.

Those who strive for 100% completion will be delighted to find that Dream Drop Distance offers plenty to keep you working for a while; I didn’t spend any time checking out the special battle system between Spirits, which supports multiplayer…I also didn’t check out the “New Game+” option after I finished playing the first time. Ultimately, there is a lot of contentto be found here, and all of it takes advantage of the hardware in impressive form.

I Didn’t Like:

The New & Improved Counter-Intuitive Mechanics (Drop Gauge & Command Deck)

Unfortunately, not all of the newer concepts that were explored in Dream Drop Distance make the “best of Kingdom Hearts” list; I would like to focus specifically on the “Drop Gauge” and the “Command Deck”. While neither of these mechanics make KH3D a lesser game, they certainly present additional obstacles to work around. Ultimately these seem like pointless obstructions, where other new concepts (FlowMotion, Spirits,etc.) fit very smoothly and feel like intuitive components of the overall design.

The “Drop Gauge” is where the “Drop” part of Dream Drop Distance comes from; this new concept essentially puts a limit on your play time with either Sora or Riku. When the meter is fully depleted, the action comes to a halt as you’re abruptly “shifted” to the other character, put right back into the same point of the game you played when you last “dropped”. Basically, this is makes it an incentive to focus equally on Sora and Riku, but it ultimately means that you must play through roughly the same parts of the game with both characters.

You can use items called Drop-Me-Nots that replenish your Drop Gauge, but getting too far ahead with one character just means that you’ll have to catch up with the other – the result is that Dream Drop Distance occasionally feels like less of a “parallel adventure” and more of an exercise in repetition and patience.

Unfortunately, the Drop Gauge is only a fraction of the pain-in-the-ass that is KH3D’s “Command Deck” system; outside of basic attacks and movement abilities, Sora and Riku are required to equip their skills through the Command Deck. The deck is split into “slots”, with stronger skills requiring more slots than weaker ones.

This whole system would work just fine if the Command Decks were expanded a bit more; unfortunately you’re limited to just a small handful of slots for the early parts of the game, which really puts a restriction on the amount of things you can do in combat.

Sora and Riku have “Attack” and “Magic” stats that dictate the strength of their abilities, including special attack skills and magic spells…unfortunately, due to the way the Command Deck works, it’s pretty tough to take advantage of magic, simply because you spend so much time waiting for your commands to “re-charge”after they are used in battle. The game ends up feeling more one-sided than it really should, favoring attack more than magic.

Forgetting to equip a healing command such as “Curaga” could be a big mistake if you’ve “Dropped” into a boss battle.

Worst of all; the Command Deck cannot be changed in the middle of a battle. KH3D doesn’t let you access the basic menu when you’re in combat; you’re only allowed to pause or quit the game. Say you’ve accidentally stumbled into a boss battle without equipping a cure spell or healing item; this is an inconvenience – no doubt. Sadly, the problem only gets worse if your Drop Gauge is running low, and you’re about to “drop” to the next character – it means you’ll be forced to drop right back into the same boss fight the next time, without any chance to change your skills. This problem happened to me several times, and as a result there were bosses that I had to really grind through just to avoid re-loading older save data.

The Other Small Nags & Gripes

Without meaning to sound too hard on KH3D, I have just a few more complaints that came up during my trip through the adventure. Fortunately, these issues weren’t game-breaking by any means – just certainly worth mentioning. For example…

  • The camera is clumsy and the “lock-on” targeting system is even more cumbersome. Basically, you can rotate the camera with the L/R triggers…this works fine, although the camera seems to go absolutely nuts whenever you’re in any of the slightly cramped or crowded areas of the game. Also, controlling the camera is an additional distraction when you’re busy trying to fight off a bunch of Dream Eaters, or avoid attacks from a boss character…near the end of the game, half of my failed attempts to finish boss fights could have been blamed on spending time to struggle with the camera rather than using a healing command. Additionally, the target lock is activated when you hold both triggers – this feels awkward and is sometimes difficult to do when you’re trying to navigate the battle area. Even worse, holding both triggers and pressing one of the face buttons acts as a shortcut to your “Link” abilities with your Spirits; I ended up linking with my Spirits countless times throughout the game on accident, wasting their link gauges when I was simply trying to lock onto a target.

 

  • The levels feel more linear and “closed-off” than in any Kingdom Hearts game to date. Again, each world is full of detail and treasures to discover, but each of them feels very limited – almost like you’ve been cut off and barred access from a lot of the space within each area. Combined with the abruptness of the “Drop Gauge” system, the linear level design makes certain parts of KH3D feel like they were designed to be rushed through, not savored or enjoyed.
  • The lack of a “quick save” function really hurts. In general, this may sound redundant, but it summarizes the issue perfectly: Kingdom Hearts 3D is a fantastic game for a handheld system…but it’s not the greatest portable game, at least not where “portability” is concerned. You see, the save points scattered throughout the worlds are not particularly rare, but the fact that you can’t just quickly pause and save the game for any reason makes KH3D less “handheld-friendly” than other 3DS games. For example, New Super Mario Bros. 2 has a Quick Save feature that forces you to resume from the exact point you quit when you re-start the game, deleting the quick save data once it’s loaded. Why not utilize a similar function for a meaty game like Dream Drop Distance? You can always close the 3DS to put it into sleep mode, but what if you need to turn the power off? What if you need to access the Home menu, but can’t locate a save point? These are issues that I encountered in my time with the game – again, not game-breaking, but certainly annoying to deal with.
Recommendation/Conclusion: Buy It.

While it doesn’t come away without a handful of flaws, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance really doesn’t suffer very much as a result: the console-quality production values, slick new gameplay mechanics, and surprising amount of depth hold it together. The result is one of Square-Enix’s greatest efforts in this beloved franchise; KH3D doesn’t sacrifice anything to bring its charm to the portable platform, and it stands as one of the finest titles in the 3DS’s library to date.

If you’re not a big fan of the Kingdom Hearts series, you may not enjoy Dream Drop Distance quite as much – regardless, I think the game offers enough content and such a high level of quality that it makes the purchase justifiable for any fan of RPGs or action games.

Scores ~

Design/Concept: (9.5/10)
Presentation: (10/10)
Functionality: (9/10)
Replay Value: (9.5/10)

Final Score: 9.5/10
Planet Crashers - logo

The Daily 3DS Trailers Report (7/20/12) – KH3D, NSMB2, Planet Crashers

The Daily 3DS Trailers Report will be posted on a regular basis, and includes all of the new trailers for Nintendo 3DS games found each day on the Internet.

Today’s 3DS Trailers Report includes the launch trailer for Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, footage of Renegade Kid’s Planet Crashers, and another trailer for New Super Mario Bros. 2.

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance – Launch Trailer

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWlMv0rjRD8&w=466&h=262]

Planet Crashers – Trailer

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMgKFtcoOfE&w=466&h=262]

New Super Mario Bros. 2 – eShop 3D Trailer

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-gLxCUOyOo]

Kingdom Hearts 3D Review - 2

Kingdom Hearts 3D – New Worlds Trailer

Square-Enix is gearing up for the big release of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, keeping the hype machine running with all kinds of pre-launch teaser trailers and screenshots.

The latest trailer is based on a handful of the new Disney worlds, cameo appearances, and slick new game mechanics such as “FlowMotion”. Most of the video is actually nothing new, especially if you have been following the game closely – nonetheless, it was effective at keeping that “spark” ignited until the July 31 release date.

Check out the video below:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYBJm2zW_-k&w=466&h=262]What do you think?

There are already some early reviews for KH3D published on various websites. Normally I would read some of them, but this is one of my most-anticipated releases of the entire year. As a result, I have decided to hold off and wait for the end of the month, when I finally get my own collector’s edition copy, and have the chance to judge the game for myself.

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance - banner

Demo Impressions – Kingdom Hearts 3D

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!

Looking Ahead - July 2012

Looking Ahead @ July 2012 – From Square-Enix, With Love

Editor’s Note: Just before the start of each month, I will “look ahead” at the upcoming games that are slated for release; then, taking into account the general level of anticipation and the “buzz” within the media, I will select a handful of titles (two to four) that could be worth checking out when launch day finally comes around. Every month, this column will pinpoint the “cream of the crop”, so to speak – just keep your eyes peeled for the games mentioned here!

June is finally coming to an end, and July is on the horizon. This month was full of excitement, with the gaming industry focused on arguably its single biggest “event” of the year: the annual Electronics Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California. All the headlines and buzz that was generated at the conference was great to experience, but as always, the wake of E3 has slowly settled – and July is starting to look better and better.

In fact, where June was fantastic for all the announcements and reading about upcoming games, July actually seems like the time to purchase some of them. This is especially true if you happen to enjoy RPGs; more specifically, if you are a fan of Square-Enix games. The “house that built Final Fantasy” is publishing not one, not two, but three high-profile games for the 3DS – all of which are slated for launch in North America during the month of July.

The first is a Final Fantasy spin-off called Theatrhythm. The second, a dungeon-crawler reminiscent of Diablo – the ambitious Heroes of Ruin, developed by n-Space. Finally, at the very end of the month comes the long-awaited Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. There is no question that all three of these Square-Enix games are dramatically different, though one factor is common among them – each game seems to be “breaking ground” and doing something very innovative with the 3DS hardware.

It would be foolish to ignore the “8-Bit Summer” promotion that Nintendo will also kick off at the beginning of July, but I’ve already discussed the weekly downloads in an article that was posted a few days ago. For now, I’d like to take a look at some of these newer 3DS games, all of which I happen to be pretty excited about – and have been for most of 2012. Without further adieu, let’s glance at this trio of Square-Enix titles:

  • Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy (July 3)

What is it? Square-Enix is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Final Fantasy franchise with this 3DS title; in addition to being a clever, rhythm-based RPG, Theatrhythm features a compilation of music, characters, and scenes that have been taken from all thirteen major Final Fantasy games.

Why should you care? I have been following this one closely for quite some time, actually – I was initially pretty skeptical, but I’ve warmed up to the concept of Theatrhythm over the last few months. It’s an unusual concept for a Final Fantasy spin-off, certainly – but I think this will ultimately satisfy even some of the most hardcore fanboys of the Square-Enix series. Never mind the nostalgia; Theatrhythm really seems like something “different”, despite hosting so many different familiar faces and instantly-recognizable orchestral compositions. I’m not sure how the actual “RPG” part of the game is designed, but it appears that you can lose HP and fall behind in battle if you don’t maintain the correct timing and rhythm. If you’re really keeping score, this will be one of the first 3DS games in North America to feature priced DLC through the Nintendo eShop…if not the very first. I would like to know more about the basics of the game before I worry about extra content, but I am already curious to see how Square-Enix plans to extend the life of Theatrhythm through DLC updates.

Why should you wait? First, Theatrhythm looks a lot like the NDS game Elite Beat Agents. This may sound like a large compliment, considering that EBA generated some very respectable review scores when it debuted a few years ago. Unfortunately, it seems that this FF spin-off is based on timing-based, stylus-tapping mechanics – rather than the precision-based motions, placement, and swipes seen in Elite Beat Agents. The result could hold back the game from proper “greatness”, and my only fear is that there will be a lack of depth, even with the vast roster of characters from the classic Final Fantasy games. Unfortunately, though there were demo versions planned and scheduled for two of the three Square-Enix games coming out in July, Theatrhythm is the odd one out – and we will have to wait until it ships on July 3 to know if it’s properly tuned. On the plus side, that is only 10 days away from when this article was originally written.

  • Heroes of Ruin (July 17)

What is it? This action/RPG, developed by n-Space, is based on dungeon-crawling, item looting, and leveling up by means of hack-and-slash combat. As a result, Heroes of Ruin almost immediately ttracts comparisons to the Diablo series. The difference is that the 3DS is a portable platform, and you can’t really pack up a high-end gaming rig to enjoy Diablo III when you’re on-the-go.

Why should you care? Being completely realistic, Heroes of Ruin will be nothing like Diablo III, and it would be foolish to expect otherwise. Speaking about the gameplay, Diablo has always been a mouse-clicking marathon. Though Heroes of Ruin will definitely test your ability to mash the attack buttons on the 3DS, it looks to offer some variety in the form of four unique character classes. Players can choose between the Savage, Vindicator, Alchitect, and Gunslinger; characters can be fully customized and equipped with special combat abilities, weapons, armor, and more. Heroes of Ruin actually boasts thousands of various items – some can be found by looting the randomly-generated dungeons, but more can be discovered when players take advantage of the game’s StreetPass capabilities. Basically, to summarize this component – which Square-Enix seems to adore – players can purchase the items that have been sold by others through the “Trader’s Network”. Of course, it works both ways: items you’ve gotten rid of will appear for other players to acquire. The game shipped in Europe recently, and the reviews seem to be averaged out at the 8/10 range – roughly what I anticipated.

Why should you wait? Though all the signs seem to point toward “Great” for Heroes of Ruin, I am nervous that there will not be enough support (locally-speaking) for the majority of American gamers to get the full extent out of the StreetPass capabilities and the wireless, local multiplayer component. On the other hand, the WiFi multiplayer should hold up very well, that is as long as the “instant drop” and “instant quit” rules actually work as well for the co-op experience as Square-Enix claims. Enemies will be leveled fairly so that all active players have a chance to put up a fight, but this could become tiresome for experienced players who just want to dive deeper and deeper into the endless selection of items. We will find out for sure when Heroes of Ruin comes out July 17, but in the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for the demo version that was promised on the eShop.

  • Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance (July 31)

What is it? This is the next installment in the popular Kingdom Hearts franchise, and the first on the 3DS – Dream Drop Distance puts you in control of Sora and Riku, two of the main characters throughout the series. It introduces plenty of new Square-Enix & Disney characters as well as stages based on the worlds they’re from – most of them are completely new, such as the stage based on Tron and the cameo appearances from the The World Ends With You characters. Finally, the gameplay is based around the real-time action/RPG combat and platforming sequences seen in past Kingdom Hearts titles, but features a new “FlowMotion” concept that makes the entire system feel and look much, much better.

Why should you care? Kingdom Hearts 3D will be one of the top 3DS games of the entire year, no doubt – that’s why you should care about it. The best way to decide? Download the eShop demo for yourself and give it a shot. Additionally, I’ve written up a “demo impressions” article about the trial version, so check that out (when it’s posted shortly) if you’d like further debate material.

Why should you wait? There really isn’t much of a reason to skip out on Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, unless of course you have no interest in the KH series. This 3DS installment could be among the quality of “system-seller” titles like Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and Resident Evil: Revelations.

In case those weren’t enough for you, here are the rest of the games confirmed for next month:

Other July releases:

  • Myst (TBA)
    Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure (7/10)

    eShop/Virtual Console - Legend of Zelda (7/5)
    eShop/Virtual Console - Kirby’s Pinball Land (7/12)
    eShop/Virtual Console - The Sword of Hope II (7/12)
    eShop/Virtual Console - Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (7/19)
    eShop/Virtual Console - Tumblepop (7/19)
    eShop/Virtual Console - Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (7/26)
    eShop/Virtual Console – Sonic Blast (TBA)
    eShop/Virtual Console – Sonic Labyrinth (TBA) 
What will you be picking up for your 3DS this month? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts about the trio of Square-Enix titles, or any of the other July releases mentioned in this article.
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance - 1

Kingdom Hearts 3D Demo Available Now on eShop

If you haven’t already spotted the news or checked out the eShop this afternoon, the demo version of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is now available on the Nintendo eShop.

I have actually been routinely checking the eShop for the last few weeks, waiting for the KH3D demo to appear on the eShop…and last night, around 3am, it finally happened. I haven’t actually played the demo yet myself, but you can expect a full “demo impressions” article on the site once I get a chance to check it out.

Nintendo 3DS Showcase E3 2012

Quick Thoughts – Nintendo’s 3DS Showcase @ E3 2012

I know this is going up a little bit late, but I’d like to share some of my impressions about Nintendo’s 3DS Showcase at this year’s E3 event in Los Angeles. A little bit of time has passed, and now that the dust has started to settle, it is a perfect time to take a moment to reflect on some of the announcements that stood out the most to me. These are just some very quick impressions and comments, but feel free to leave some feedback, and tell me what you think about the following 3DS games from E3 2012:

  • Fire Emblem: Awakening
    The 3DS installment of the popular strategy-RPG franchise is finally coming to America; unfortunately Nintendo waited until after E3 to say anything about it. There were gamers who wanted to see “new” 3DS games that Nintendo promised at this year’s E3, and Fire Emblem: Awakening would have been really nice to see. For now, I’m still in the dark about most of the details regarding the game – all I can see is that the graphics look fantastic, and should really shine with the 3D effects. Will we see multiplayer features or StreetPass functions?
  • Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
    Nintendo revealed some details about the sequel to the Gamecube cult classic, Luigi’s Mansion – first, the official subtitle, “Dark Moon”. There was some gameplay footage shown during the 3DS Showcase, all of which looked amazing – I was particularly intrigued to hear that Luigi’s ghost-hunting exploits will now include multiple mansions, with more of a mission-based game design. I can’t wait to see how this one uses the 3DS to give Luigi the proper game he’s always deserved – Nintendo confirmed a holiday 2012 release during its E3 press conference.
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited
    I was never the biggest Scribblenauts fan, but I thought the concept was interesting – Super Scribblenauts improved on the ideas, and now it appears that Scribblenauts Ultimate has taken Max’s adventure and transformed it into something even bigger. It will be interesting to see if the 3DS and Wii U versions of Scribblenauts Ultimate have any sort of special connectivity – the console version was also announced for simultaneous release later this year.

  • Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
    I never played the original Epic Mickey, or even Castle of Illusion, the Sega Genesis game that this 3DS title is based on. Regardless, Nintendo brought out Warren Spector during the 3DS Showcase, and that was a big deal: the legendary gaming icon broke down a lot of details about the 2D side-scroller, explaining how it sets itself apart from Epic Mickey 2: Power of Two. Both Power of Illusion and Power of Two are set for a November launch.
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star
    If there is one game that looks like it should use the 3D effects of the handheld very well, it’s the forthcoming installment of Paper Mario – which was officially dubbed “Sticker Star” during Nintendo’s E3 press conference. The sticker concept was later explained during the 3DS Showcase. Basically, players acquire a variety of stickers throughout the game; some can be used for special attacks in battle, and some can be used to trigger events that transform the environments, which look like cardboard cut-outs. Paper Mario: Sticker Star was also confirmed for a holiday 2012 release, though Nintendo provided no further specifics.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
    Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is very close to its North American release date (July 31), but seeing the trailer at E3 made the wait even more excruciating. There wasn’t much information that you would consider “new”, but nonetheless this Square-Enix action/RPG will inevitably go down as one of the biggest 3DS releases in 2012.
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2
    Before E3, I really didn’t care much about New Super Mario Bros. 2 – I had already accepted that I will probably end up buying it, but only because it felt more like an obligation, and because Mario games so rarely disappoint. Still, there was something missing, and I wanted to know more about the game. After the 3DS Showcase, things changed: Nintendo detailed the new features of the upcoming side-scroller, including the incredibly competitive Coin Rush mode (compatible with StreetPass!) and the co-op features (local only, but hopefully we’ll see Download Play). There was a trailer released on eShop after the E3 Showcase, and it gave me a better glimpse of the game – the graphics look nice, and I’m suddenly a lot more excited for the August 19 release. The only question that remains – should I purchase a retail copy, or download the game on the eShop?
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate
    If there is any third-party franchise that has consistently impressed on Nintendo handhelds, it is Castlevania. Konami’s classic series enjoyed some great installments on the Game Boy Advance and the original DS; it was only a matter of time before the first 3DS entry was revealed. This actually happened just a few days before E3, but Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, the sequel to 2010′s Lords of Shadow, was formally announced and thoroughly demoed during the 3DS Showcase. I was thrilled to see some gameplay footage; the combination of 2D platforming and the 3D combat from Lords of Shadow looked like a great mix. I was impressed by the quality of the graphics, which use a cel-shading technique along with the art direction from its predecessor. I liked Lords of Shadow quite a bit, and though I’d still like to see a “traditional” Castlevania at some point, I ended up being more excited about this one than any of the first-party 3DS games that were featured during the Showcase.

I will be putting up more substantial posts about all of these games soon, so check 3DStination over the weekend for more details and in-depth analysis as well as opinions about these upcoming Nintendo 3DS games.