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Sakura Samurai - Banner

Retrospective Review – Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword - General Information:
  • Developed and Published by Nintendo
  • Released on February 2, 2012
  • Price: $5.99 (via Nintendo eShop)
*NOTE: I ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED THIS REVIEW ON GAME FREAKS 365. YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE ORIGINAL VERSION BY CLICKING HERE.
Samurai Punch-Out!!

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword was released on the Nintendo 3DS eShop a few months ago. Despite being drawn to its inexplicably charming style, I passed over the budget-priced action title for a few weeks before finally giving into the urge to play it.

The game is basically Samurai Punch-Out!!, if you can imagine such a thing: basically, the duel-style combat boils down to the mastery of your katana attacks and dodging the patterns of your foes. Fortunately, the fluidity of the game and its intuitive control scheme support the precision required to skillfully evade and counterattack your enemies. Basic attacks are carried out with the A button, though you’ll tend to dodge more often with the B button, waiting for the right moment between an enemy’s attack patterns to strike. Of course, there is a block/parry function (Right trigger), though the use of this ability takes away any of the valuable “Precision Points” that you’ve collected in the process of pulling off those last-second evasive moves. In addition to collecting gold coins from fallen foes, your Precision Points can be cashed in at the shop located in each village, and ultimately used to purchase useful items, among other things.

More Than Meets The Eye?

The game design is constantly rewarding, with a satisfying sense of progression as you travel across the world map in search of a kidnapped princess. There are three general regions to explore, with the later ones opening up after Sakura finishes each of the levels and tackles a challenging castle stage in each area. The castle levels, naturally, serve as the “boss stages” – Sakura must confront a difficult boss character at the end of each castle to move forward. These battles require you to pull off some of your best moves, and it is also helpful to have an inventory stocked with items. This is really only possible if you re-visit the stages you’ve already completed, stockpiling gold coins.

This may sound like a tedious process of grinding, but it actually makes Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword feel slightly “RPG-lite”, and it never really gets old because the gameplay is just so entertaining to play. Sakura Samurai is certainly deeper than what I expected from the $7.00 download price; the rewarding sense of progression leads to an expansiveness I never expected, though it is by no means as robust as what you would expect from the “upgrade systems” in deeper RPGs.

Still, the game is no slouch: using the gold you’ve collected, you can forge your katana to make it stronger, purchase several different items in the shop, rest at the local inn, or play a variety of mini-games in each of the villages scattered throughout the world map. You can chat with the local villagers, and though they won’t have much to add to the story, there is a feeling that Sakura Samurai could be so much more – perhaps the IP could even be expanded upon for a full retail release, with a bigger map and more in-depth features.

A Lost Art, Or Fresh New IP?

I walked away from Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword completely impressed and admittedly surprised, regretting the time that it took for me to finally invest in the download on the eShop. I don’t think it warrants a purchase from every 3DS owner out there, but Sakura Samurai is certainly one of the finest games on the eShop market – and I would go even further; Nintendo should consider developing this new IP even further.

Recommendation/Conclusion: Buy It.

The swordplay is solid, the combat is smooth, the controls are as intuitive as you could possibly hope for – not only that, Sakura Samurai has an undeniably charming visual style and plenty of components that could be expanded upon. I fell in love with the title quickly after picking it up for the very first time, and I think anyone looking for something interesting on the eShop will feel the same way.

Scores:

Design/Concept: (9/10)
Presentation: (8.5/10)
Functionality: (8.5/10)
Replay Value: (6/10)

Final Score: 8.6/10
Kid Icarus Uprising - banner

Retrospective Review – Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus: Uprising – General Information:
  • Developed by Project Sora
  • Published by Nintendo
  • Released on March 23, 2012
  • Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-Owned @ GameStop.com)
* THIS RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW IS BASED ON EXCERPTS FROM MY FULL REVIEW OF KID ICARUS: UPRISING, ORIGINALLY POSTED ON GAMEFREAKS365.COM YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE FULL VERSION OF THE REVIEW THERE, OR CONTINUE READING FOR THE SUMMARIZED “RETROSPECTIVE” VERSION.
Summary ~

Kid Icarus: Uprising is the long-overdue revival of a 25-year-old Nintendo franchise starring the heroic angel Pit, the goddess Palutena, and the evil Medusa…it has been over two decades since the last installment, there was plenty of hype and anticipation leading up to this release…[Kid Icarus: Uprising] ultimately transforms the classic platforming action of its predecssors into a hybrid of exciting gameplay styles, going the extra mile to offer what is arguably the deepest and most content-heavy 3DS title to date.”

…on the split between air and ground combat:

“… the gameplay splits between flying and ground segments after about five minutes of mindless (but exciting) aerial combat. The flying segments of Kid Icarus: Uprising are no doubt fantastic – some are the most exciting parts of the game – but the combat on foot is what made me fall in love with the game, and I think the critical response to this little learning curve is pretty unfortunate.”

…on the criticisms of the ground-based combat/controls:

“Although there is definitely a learning curve associated with the ground combat, such as mastering the stylus-based camera controls and the touchy dodge/dash abilities with the circle pad, I had almost no trouble playing the on-foot portions of each level. After admittedly struggling with the ground controls for a few minutes in the very first level, I adjusted the camera sensitivity settings and slowly got more comfortable with the circle pad, and had absolutely no issues for the remaining 24 chapters.”

…on the variety & depth featured in the game:

“With all of the different weapon types, the wide variety of enemies, and the focus on weak points and attack patterns, there are so many different ways to play and master the game…The fact that the game offers so much depth is great, but actually providing a reason to dive in and explore the content is even better.”

…on the bantering between characters in the game:

“Rather than breaking up the action frequently to hassle the player with cut-scenes, Kid Icarus: Uprising channels most of its details to the player in real-time. Although some critics have called this “distracting”, I think it works wonders for bringing out the personality of each role, not to mention it keeps the time you spend “watching” rather than “playing” to a minimum.”

…on the online multiplayer features:

Kid Icarus: Uprising is possibly the biggest achievement to date for any online Nintendo title…the online multiplayer is based around the ground combat – and all of those variables from Solo Mode come into play, from the dodge mechanics and various weapon types to the special powers equipped in each player’s customized load-outs.”

Recommendation/Conclusion: Buy It.

“…I would put [Kid Icarus: Uprising] among the ranks of a “system-seller”; a game that should firmly convince anyone on the fence of buying a Nintendo 3DS to finally do so without any hesitation.”

Uprising feels fresh and endlessly intriguing from start to finish…injected with depth and life that it never had before, from the intangibles (charming cast of characters, compelling storyline, creative art style) to the most fundamental mechanics (balance between flying/ground combat, variety of weapons/abilities, plethora of enemy types).”

“Pit’s universe is begging to be explored, and by all means, Uprising serves as the very best launching point for Kid Icarus to take flight once again…I am completely satisfied with Pit’s return to form on the 3DS, and highly encourage you to play it immediately.”

Scores ~

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

Final Score: 9.7/10
Mighty Switch Force - Banner

Retrospective Review – Mighty Switch Force!

General Information - Mighty Switch Force!

  • Developed and Published by WayForward Technologies
  • Released on December 22, 2011
  • Price: $5.99 (via Nintendo eShop)
  • Free DLC Pack Available via Nintendo eShop

Summary ~

WayForward Technologies’ Mighty Switch Force! was one of the more critically-acclaimed downloads that came out on the Nintendo eShop last year. Along with the colorful puzzle-platformer Pushmo, this side-scroller was one of the first games on the 3DS’s digital service that was arguably as impressive as anything comparable on the Xbox 360′s XBLA marketplace, or the PlayStation 3′s PSN shop.

Design/Concept: (9.5/10)
Mighty Switch Force! is largely based around traditional side-scrolling elements such as running and jumping through each stage, avoiding obstacles and blasting enemies – but the design gets really clever when you factor in its “switching” mechanic, which is used to activate special platforms that are scattered throughout each of the levels. The level design is particularly clever, especially in the later courses requiring the skillful timing of “switching” platforms in order to navigate the maze-like stages. There is an emphasis on “speedruns”, so it pays to “master” the concept – something that I value quite a bit. I enjoy a decent challenge, and finding all of the scattered hooligans in each stage of Mighty Switch Force! while also trying to pass the “par time” is quite a task.

Presentation: (9/10)
The 2D sprites are extremely well-animated, the stages are highly detailed, and the artistic style is generally appealing – indeed, Mighty Switch Force! looks as great as it plays. In addition, the catchy chiptune soundtrack really fits the game, though the annoying sound effects made me turn down the 3DS’s audio more often than not.

Functionality: (8/10)
Mighty Switch Force! looks great with the 3D effects activated – in fact, the special effects and sprites really “pop”, giving the graphics an even more enhanced appearance. Additionally, the game was one of the very first to feature proper “DLC” on the 3DS – there were five stages and some other enhancements added to the original version shortly after its release, available for free on the eShop. That being said, where are the leaderboards? Why bother with “speedruns” if there aren’t any online charts to compare your highest scores against others?

Replay Value: (7/10)
Speaking of the lack of online functionality, if there is one thing that really hurts Mighty Switch Force!, it’s the replay value. There are just over a dozen stages, with a small bump to the number if you count the bonus ones on the eShop. You will certainly need to spend a lot of time re-playing some of the stages, particularly if you want to earn high scores and “star” ratings on each…but beside the thrill of clearing each “par time”, there isn’t a big incentive to continue playing. This game really could have used “Achievements” or some other form of benefit for the time investment.

Recommendation/Conclusion ~ Buy It.
Mighty Switch Force! would be rated even higher if its MSRP on the eShop was the same as the temporary sale price ($3.99) that convinced me to make the purchase. Unfortunately, sitting at $5.99, the lack of replay value stings just a bit more. Still, the free bonus content adds five levels and visual enhancements to an already stylish and gorgeous-looking side-scroller; one that excels even more with its clever and inventive level design. Roughly a year later, I would still put it on my short list of “Personal Favorite eShop Games”.

Scores ~

Design/Concept: (9.5/10)
Presentation: (9/10)
Functionality: (8/10)
Replay Value: (7/10)

Final Score: 8.9/10

Mario Tennis Open - banner

Retrospective Review – Mario Tennis Open

Mario Tennis Open ~ General Information:

  • Developed by Camelot
  • Published by Nintendo
  • Released on May 20, 2012
  • Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-Owned @ GameStop.com)
* This retrospective review is based on excerpts from my full review of Mario Tennis Open, originally posted on GameFreaks365.com. You can check out the full version of the review there, or continue reading for the summarized “retrospective” version.

Summary ~

…this game is fundamentally the exact same as it has always been: it’s the Mario Tennis that you have known and loved for years, whether you played for the first time on the Nintendo 64, the Game Boy Color, the Gamecube, or the Game Boy Advance…For the most part, Mario Tennis Open succeeds at everything you’d hope for: it’s a solid game of tennis, from the variety of shots to the roster of characters and the selection of courts.

…on the new “Dynamic Mode”:

I noticed that playing Mario Tennis Open in “regular mode” – i.e., holding the 3DS at a “rested” position, and not using the gyroscopic controls to aim – was ultimately much harder than using the Dynamic View. Basically, the automatic movement in the latter takes away the responsibility of positioning your character on the court, which is actually pretty difficult to do during some of the fast-paced matches featured in this game. Regular mode really brings out this difficulty, which can be maddening at times – a shame, considering the 3D effects can only be enjoyed when the regular mode is active.

…on the unusual lack of replay value:

 For what it’s worth, Mario Tennis Open is one of Nintendo’s most robust online offerings to date, from the extensive collection of unlockable custom items to the glorious return of the “Download Play” feature. Unfortunately, with all those things considered, the game still feels very light on content – unusual, considering that almost every Mario sports title to date has been loaded to the brim with “stuff to do”.

…on the overall quality of the game:

Mario Tennis Open will no doubt satisfy the fans of Mario Tennis games and Mario sports titles in general, but it won’t be for the same stretch of time – the lacking replay value really hurts the overall package, though not enough to forget how solid the fundamentals really are. This game is very well designed, from the various shots and courts and unlockable items to the gimmicky features exclusive to the 3DS and the accessible multiplayer content.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjo2JL5VBeY&w=469&h=264]
…on the small feeling of disappointment:

Unfortunately, the game falls a little short of some admittedly high expectations – but the result is still Mario Tennis, and just knowing that I can turn on the game and enjoy a quick match alone or with anyone in the world online is reasonably satisfying.

Scores ~

Design/Concept: (6/10)
Presentation: (9/10)
Functionality: (8.5/10)
Replay Value: (5/10)

Final Score**: 7 out of 10

** The final score in this review has been adjusted and changed from the final score of the original review. Although the content of the review is still the same, the writer feels that the lack of replay value has greatly diminished the overall value of the game, thus warranting a lower score to reflect that idea.
Shinobi - Banner

Retrospective Review – Shinobi

Shinobi ~ General Information

  • Developed by Griptonite Games and Published by Sega
  • Released on November 15, 2011
  • Current Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $29.99 (Pre-owned @ GameStop.com)
* This retrospective review is based on excerpts from my full review of Shinobi, originally posted on GameFreaks365.com. You can check out the full version of the review there, or continue reading for the summarized “retrospective” version.

Summary ~

… [Shinobi] doesn’t hold back – just like its predecessors, it essentially punishes you for simply choosing to play it, unless you become as skilled as the series’ protagonist (Jiro) himself…[the] over-the-top style is overall very reminiscent of the classic 16-bit side-scrollers found on the Genesis and Super Nintendo…Shinobi also stays true to its predecessors with its fundamental gameplay mechanics, which are quite easy to learn – but as the saying goes, very difficult to master.

…on precision and perfection:

Shinobi constantly judges your performance based on almost every action – from taking any sort of damage (lose some points) to dying (lose a lot of points) or resorting to the use of magic scrolls (lose even more points). If you don’t complete the brutally-challenging stages within the “par times”, you lose points. Basically, Shinobi demands the kind of perfection that just isn’t really seen in modern gaming – and like it or not, the game is actually very fair.

…on the steep learning curve:

Button-mashers beware; the sense of reward that keeps you playing through this game will only come if you really master it – fans of the Shinobi games are familiar with this concept, but the punishing difficulty will likely turn away many of the casual gamers who aren’t as familiar with the relentless challenge of NES/Genesis-era titles.

…on trial-and-error and the idea of perfectionism:

…despite the countless frustrated moments I witnessed in each stage, I couldn’t shake the urge to go back through each stage in the “Free Play” mode to try again for higher scores. Since the game demands perfection for such rewards, there is a lot of trial-and-error involved.

…on “Achievements”:

Shinobi is one of the first 3DS games to prominently feature in-game “Achievements”, which certainly add a lot fo the replay value – particularly if you typically enjoy seeking out all of them. Though many of them require you to be very skilled at the game, there are plenty that almost seem like a “mark of shame” – for instance, the Achievement for using magic scrolls 150 times essentially scolds you for resorting to those abilities so many times.

…on extra content:

Shinobi offers quite a bit of content that extends well beyond the 8- to 10-hour Story Mode. If you choose to tackle the stages on harder difficulty settings, you’ll have to start a New Game – but you can go back any time and play the easier settings in Free Play, regardless. There are also “Challenge Maps” that can be unlocked with the StreetPass functions of the 3DS, or by using some of the Play Coins you’ve collected by walking around with the console in your pocket.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSxGz4s135c&w=469&h=264]…on the overall quality of the game:

 …if you enjoy challenging games – particularly those “old-school” throwbacks or reboots that imitate the game design or fundamentals seen in 8- and 16-bit classics – you will find a lot to like about Shinobi. Fans of the series will definitely appreciate how much the gameplay reflects upon the Shinobi titles from the Sega Genesis. Anyone seeking a solid action title will find it; as well as the flashy visual style, the cheesy-yet-nostalgic techno-rock soundtrack, and the satisfyingly deep amount of bonus content.

Scores ~

Design/Concept: (8/10)
Presentation: (8/10)
Functionality: (7.5/10)
Replay Value: (8/10)

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Tales of the Abyss - banner

Retrospective Review – Tales of the Abyss

Tales of the Abyss - General Information:

  • Developed by Namco Tales Studio, Published by Namco Bandai
  • Released on February 14, 2012
  • Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-Owned @ GameStop.com)
* This retrospective review is based on excerpts from my full review of Tales of the Abyss, originally posted on GameFreaks365.com. You can check out the full version of the review there, or continue reading for the summarized “retrospective” version.

Summary ~

“Tales of the Abyss for 3DS is essentially a port of a PlayStation 2 game from 2006 by the same name. Though it doesn’t sound like much for “exclusive content”, the port boasts 3D effects with the new handheld as well as dual-screen support, in addition to new artwork designed by Kousuke Fujishima.”

…on the protagonist and characters:

“Interestingly, Luke [the main character] is not the protagonist you’d expect. His time spent living in the manor has made him selfish, shallow, stubborn, and sheltered to the point of sheer ignorance – he has no idea what life on the other side of the walls is like, and it shows in every single conversation he has with other characters for quite some time. While he isn’t immediately likeable, Luke comes around eventually – and the supporting characters around him are also pretty strong.”

…on the battle system:

“As with all Tales games, battle is done in real-time, with each encounter starting as the player makes contact with an on-screen enemy in the field. The Tales battle system holds up very well on the 3DS, with players using the circle pad to move around the field, attacking with the A button and using special “Artes” with the B button. Combining these buttons with movements on the circle pad results in new attacks and bigger combos, dishing out more damage and so on. The battle system is actually pretty deep, and as you learn new Artes later in the game, each character in the party can be customized and specialized to a great deal.”

…on the classic style:

“…[Tales of the Abyss] feels like it could be right at home in the 32-bit generation, with its focus on classic JRPG elements like leveling, grinding, managing your inventory, collecting items from fallen foes, and even cooking food by finding recipes across the land.”

…on the addictive draw of the classic RPG:

“…Tales of the Abyss for the 3DS nonetheless benefits from its ability to provide players with that inexplicably “addicted” feeling that comes with many traditional JRPGs. Even if you burn an hour grinding experience points in the same area against the same foes, Tales of the Abyss is fun to play for the 30-40 hours that it asks of players.”

…on the 3D effects:

“…the 3D effects and the colorful art style really make the fantasy world of Aludrant come alive more than ever before, with all the lush and detailed environments found in the game.”

…on the fundamentals:

“…fans of traditional JRPGs will find a lot to love while playing Tales of the Abyss. It by no means re-writes the book when it comes to the fundamentals, but it doesn’t have to, because it simply delivers them in a way that is accessible, comprehensible, intuitive, and entertaining – that’s all that really matters. Playing Tales of the Abyss reminded me of the time I spent playing Brave Story – an otherwise unspectacular JRPG for the PSP that was memorable solely for its solid gameplay. Again, it’s that inexplicable feeling of being “hooked” to the grinding and the leveling that this game really pulls off well – and I know that’s what all the JRPG fans out there really want these days, among the sea of Western RPGs flooding the market.”

Scores ~

Design/Concept: (8/10)
Presentation: (8.5/10)
Functionality: (6/10)
Replay Value: (8/10)

Final Score: 8.1 out of 10

Resident Evil Revelations - Banner

Retrospective Review – Resident Evil: Revelations

Resident Evil: Revelations ~ General Information:

  • Developed and Published by Capcom
  • Released on February 7, 2012
  • Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-Owned @ GameStop.com)
* This retrospective review is based on excerpts from my full review of Resident Evil: Revelations, originally posted on GameFreaks365.com. You can check out the full version of the review there, or continue reading for the summarized “retrospective” version.

Summary ~

“Resident Evil: Revelations is something of a “compromise.” The latest entry in the series is a blend of old and new, ultimately serving as one of the finest “modern” Resident Evil titles and one of the best 3DS games to date. It may still be more “action” than “survival horror,” but Resident Evil: Revelations is nonetheless fantastic, delivering a tense, beefy campaign and a terrific multiplayer component with the addition of Raid Mode. Think no less of it as a handheld game than you would if it were on consoles – Revelations is definitely the next chapter in the franchise, and serves as an important part of the story leading up to Resident Evil 6.”

…on the Circle Pad Pro:

“Revelations is one of the first games to support the Circle Pad Pro peripheral, but I never actually felt like it was necessary, and had no problem playing the game from start to finish without one.”

…on the puzzle- and problem-solving:

“Revelations brings back more of the classic puzzle- and problem-solving elements – it even forces you to backtrack every once in a while, though the map on the bottom screen prevents this from becoming an issue. In fact, other than getting lost a few times, I rarely had trouble making progress in each of the 12 single-player “episodes” (split into four chapters), and the occasional distraction from monster-blasting was actually pretty refreshing.”

…on the “survival-horror” game design:

“Some of the fundamentals of the classics have changed to the point that the “survival-horror” origins of the series have all but vanished from the design. Rarely are your “survival skills” put to the test – at any point in the game, you can carry up to three fully-loaded weapons, a fully supply of three or four different grenades, a melee weapon (knife, machete, etc.), and up to six green herbs. This is all in addition to the new “Genesis” device, which is used to scan the environment for hidden items, and to collect “enemy data” (which ultimately rewards you with more green herbs).”

…on the topic of past Resident Evil games:

“Revelations might feel more like an “action” game than the first three or four Resident Evil titles, but the settings (the rooms, corridors, and deck of the SS Queen Zenobia) and the level designs (cramped interiors, narrow hallways, twisted paths leading to dead ends, etc.) are actually very reminiscent of the classic games. As I said before, you typically encounter one or two “BOWs” at a time, and almost never more than four or five. Rarely are you swarmed or surrounded on all sides by your enemies; this was the idea that actually played a fundamental part in RE4 and RE5′s design, making them feel tense, claustrophobic, and chaotic. While the player may have been bombarded and swallowed up by hordes of undead, there was plenty of real estate to work with. In this case, Revelations feels a lot more like the Gamecube prequel Resident Evil 0 in that it forces you to deal with your foes in a cramped, cluttered, and claustrophobic environment.”

…on Raid Mode:

“As much as I have already said about the game design, the production values and CG scenes, and the story mode, Revelations’ Raid Mode is my favorite part of the entire package. Raid Mode supports solo play, but was clearly designed for local or online co-op. Ultimately this bonus mode feels like the game that last year’s Mercenaries 3D could have been, if it wasn’t essentially Capcom’s test-run for the Revelations design team.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YpRkb664YU&w=469&h=264]

…on the console-calibur experience:

“I would like to point out perhaps the most impressive fact about Resident Evil: Revelations – at no point in my experience did I feel like the game was limited by its status as a handheld game. This is undoubtedly the 3DS’s crowning achievement in terms of production values, from the graphics to the music. In fact, some of the CG scenes look better than what you see in many console titles. Even the in-game graphics are the best on the handheld to date, showing nearly the same level of detail seen in Resident Evil 5, without any major frame rate issues. The clarity is simply amazing; overall the 3DS does a fantastic job of bringing the full Resident Evil experience to life on a handheld system.”

Scores ~

Design/Concept: (9/10)
Presentation: (9.5/10)
Functionality: (8.5/10)
Replay Value: (8.5/10)

Final Score: 9.2 out of 10

Mario Kart 7 - Banner

Retrospective Review – Mario Kart 7

Everyone likes Mario Kart: if Nintendo had simply thrown together a sloppy Nintendo 3DS version of the popular kart racing series, maybe including a few new characters or race tracks, it would still be sitting on some pretty big stacks of cash within a few weeks.

Fortunately, Nintendo didn’t throw together a sloppy 3DS installment of Mario Kart: in fact, MK7 featured arguably the most ambitious online multiplayer component that it had ever attempted. There were 3DS-exclusive features, such as the 3D effects, the first-person view (seen in the image below), and the gyroscope controls used with the new gliding mechanic. Of course, there were still plenty of new characters (Metal Mario!)  and tracks (Neo Bowser City = personal favorite). The developers even threw in a few new items like the “Lucky 7″, the Fire Flower, and the Super Leaf/Tanooki Tail.

Perhaps my favorite part of MK7 was the kart customization; you could earn new parts (kart frames, wheels) and tinker with your vehicle a great deal, allowing quite a bit of unique customization. This was absolutely perfect for taking the action online (via WiFi) and making a name for yourself, joining the all-new “Communities”, or completely falling flat against the toughest international opponents. You could always play locally with a friend – MK7 actually supported the rarely-used “Download Play” function, so you only needed a single copy of the game (and a 3DS for each player) in order to access the competitive races, Coin Battles, and more.

MK7 remains one of the 3DS’s best-looking games: the highly-detailed and brightly-colored tracks were a perfect fit for any Mario Kart title. As an added bonus, the 3D effect was used more naturally and ultimately worked “better” than almost any 3DS game to date (the exception being Super Mario 3D Land). As is the case with all MK games, the soundtrack was infectious and kept the mood pretty light, even when some of the obnoxious blue shell shenanigans inevitably happened.

In the end, Mario Kart 7 was one of my favorite Mario Kart games to date – if it had Mario Kart DS’s “Mission Mode”, it would have easily taken the top spot. The game sold over a million copies, becoming one of the first three titles on the 3DS to do, alongside Super Mario Land and Ocarina 3D. After riding the success of those two first-party titles, MK7 provided the final “push” that the 3DS needed to gain momentum and coast into 2012, completely turning around from its sluggish launch performance.

Recommendation: Buy It. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your gaming tastes tend to include – Mario Kart 7 is one of the 3DS’s best games, and unless you have a personal issue with the franchise, there is no reason that it should be missing from your library. Whether you’re racing the CPU or someone from across the planet via WiFi, MK7 simply rocks.

Final Score: 9.5/10

Lets Golf 3D - Banner

Retrospective Review – Let’s Golf! 3D (eShop)

  • Developed and Published by Gameloft
  • Released on July 28, 2011
  • Price: $3.99 (Nintendo eShop)

I’ve already written some retrospective reviews for past 3DS titles (and I plan to publish more), but for the time being, I would like to turn the focus to some of my favorite games available on the Nintendo eShop.

Without further adieu, I will take a look back at one of the very first 3D games available on the eShop – and my first full 3D download – Let’s Golf! 3D:

Summary:

Let’s Golf! 3D was a simple golf sim that felt much like the classic Hot Shots Golf and Mario Golf titles. There were half a dozen basic courses, based in locations ranging from England (a simple, grassy/forest-based country club) to Greenland (a snowy course set on icy terrain). The basic game design was so simple that anyone could pick it up and play it, and that was nice – LG3D was accessible, and fun to play for a few minutes at a time, whenever the urge to play through a few holes came up.

The campaign mode was decently lengthy, and I spent more than a dozen hours playing LG3D before I completed nearly all of the challenges offered on each course. There was a multiplayer component, so there was actually more content to enjoy, but I never got to play any competitive matches – there was no real competition to speak of, and the lack of “Download Play” meant that I didn’t have any friends to play with locally. The game really would have benefited from Download Play, but there weren’t a lot of 3DS games using the feature when LG3D came out, so I wasn’t expecting it from the eShop title.

Recommendation:

For just $4, Let’s Golf! 3D was a great value when I picked it up last summer, and it remains the same today for any fan of classic golfing titles. The only real issue I have isn’t the price; it’s actually the file size. LG3D takes up more than 1,000 blocks on your 3DS’s SD card, which is a considerably large amount, especially for a relatively simple eShop game. Even after a year of downloading more content, my copy of LG3D is one of the biggest saved files on my personal SD card.

Those comments aside, Let’s Golf! 3D is a solid game, and I enjoyed the time I spent playing it. I would actually be happy to see if Gameloft could expand the game and release a full retail version in the future. For now, this is the best option for golf fans on the Nintendo 3DS.

Final Score: 7.8/10

Mutant Mudds - Banner

Retrospective Review – Mutant Mudds (eShop)

  • Developed by Renegade Kid and Published by Nintendo
  • Released on January 26, 2012
  • Price: $9.99 (Nintendo eShop)
  • Demo version also available on eShop

I’ve already written some retrospective reviews for past 3DS titles such as Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, and Starfox 64 3D. I plan to publish more retrospective articles for games like Resident Evil: Revelations, Mario Kart 7, and Kid Icarus: Uprising, but before that, I would like to turn the focus to some of my favorite games available on the Nintendo eShop.

Without further adieu, I will take a look back at my all-time favorite title on the digital market – none other than Mutant Mudds:

Summary:

It only seems appropriate that the first retrospective eShop review is based on Mutant Mudds. This quirky 2D platformer was developed by Renegade Kid and released in January, and it was the definitive eShop game that really stood out and caught my attention.

Mutant Mudds wasn’t my first 3DS-exclusive download – actually, Let’s Golf! 3D was my first – but nothing before it made me respect the eShop content on the same level as the stuff found on XBLA and PSN. Basically, it was the simplicity and old-school nature of the game that made it so endearing. As you can see, the nostalgic visual style was very appealing, and the chiptune soundtrack made it all even more enjoyable to play.I may have put it best when I originally reviewed the game for Game Freaks 365:

“Mutant Mudds is decidedly a step backward – but refreshingly so, in a way that is completely accessible, satisfies your nostalgic side, and provides a decently punishing challenge.”

There were over a dozen levels in the game (16 to be exact), each containing 100 gems for you to find and collect. The protagonist, Max, could get around by jumping and using his jetpack to hover over obstacles. He could also blast bad guys with his blaster, and use special jump pads to move between the foreground and background. This horizontal plane-switching mechanic was interesting, and though Mutant Mudds was generally linear and straightforward, it was fun to deviate from the path and leap back and forth between the planes, making a careful and calculated dash toward the end of each stage.

Though it was pretty short, Mutant Mudds also wasn’t easy. Somewhat reminiscent of the classic Mega Man titles, part of the challenge in Mutant Mudds was surviving each pixel-perfect jump, avoiding all the obstacles, and making it to the end of each stage with all 100 collectibles before the timer ran out. There were also hidden stages in every level, and the only way to earn 100% completion was to find everything. This difficult task actually made the $9.99 price tag seem more justifiable, despite the fact that it only took a couple of hours to make my initial run through each level.

Recommendation:

Now that there is a demo version of Mutant Mudds available on the eShop, it is hard not to recommend the game to almost anyone. Renegade Kid did a great job creating a game that was accessible, but provided enough content and a suitable challenge that justified the effort of seeking out all the collectibles and finding all the hidden stages. I would have told you to buy Mutant Mudds in January, and I say the same now – it’s the best game on the eShop to date, as far as I’m concerned.

Final Score: 8.9/10

Sonic Generations - logo

Retrospective Review – Sonic Generations

I was looking forward to Sonic Generations for quite a while before it finally came out in November 2011. The mash-up of classic and modern Sonic gameplay sounded pretty slick, and I thought Sonic would finally see the major release that he so desperately needed. Though the console versions were enticing, I was actually the most excited about the 3DS version of Generations: having the game on the go could only be better, right?

  • Developed by Dimps/Sonic Team and Published by Sega; Released on November 22, 2011
  • Current Price: $29.99 (MSRP), $27.99 (Pre-owned @ GameStop.com)

Sadly, Sonic Generations on the Nintendo 3DS wasn’t exactly the same game that was released just a few weeks earlier on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Where the side-scrolling and 3D platforming gameplay that clashed so impressively in the console versions stood as the most unique aspect of Generations, the handheld version was scaled back a bit, resulting in fewer differences between the Classic and Modern Sonic stages.

I never actually purchased Sonic Generations for the 3DS, as I originally intended – there was a delay that ultimately resulted in the handheld version shipping on November 22nd, 2011…just a few days after Super Mario 3D Land. I was still busy collecting every single Star Coin in Mario’s latest adventure, so I opted out of buying my own copy. Instead, I focused on 3D Land, and just before the release of Mario Kart 7 in December, I borrowed a copy of Generations from a friend. Though I only spent about 10 hours with the game, I had enough time to blast through its Story Mode, play through some of its challenge stages, and explore the surprising amount of content the game had to offer. I might have been disappointed by the limitations, but I was nonetheless satisfied to play a solid Sonic title – one that was much sharper with its fundamentals than many of its recent predecessors.

Concept: (6/10)

As I said, the “slimming-down” of the 3D Sonic stages in this handheld version was very disappointing; the result was still a mix between stages played as Classic Sonic (who felt slower) and Modern Sonic (who felt slightly quicker), but with fewer noticeable differences otherwise.

Functionality: (8/10)

Sonic Generations used the 3D effect of the 3DS pretty well with its special stages, dedicated to collecting the various Chaos Emeralds in the story mode. Also, the added depth generally added that little extra bit of flash to each level. The StreetPass function was used in an interesting way, allowing players to transfer data to each other and unlock new “Challenge Stages”. You could also use Play Coins to unlock these – yet another handy installation of a unique 3DS function.

Presentation: (8.5/10)

The music was what you would expect from a Sonic game, but that was actually pretty refreshing, considering the throwback theme of the game. The classic stages from past Sonic titles were brought back with a lot of detail – they were very accurate to the originals, including the killer whale chase from the first stage of Sonic Adventure.

Replay Value: (7/10)

Sonic Generations wasn’t very long – I finished the Story Mode in just a couple of hours, with most of my time spent re-playing a small handful of tricky stages near the end. On the other hand, there were plenty of extra modes that extended the value of the game a bit – speed runs, challenge stages, etc. The game was also very challenging, so the veteran Sonic players could spend plenty of time trying to earn “S” rankings in each of the various acts (levels).

Reviewer’s Tilt: (+0)

I was very satisfied to have played Sonic Generations, but not necessarily disappointed that I didn’t purchase it, as I was planning before it was delayed. The limitations of the handheld port were a let-down, but overall, the gameplay was still solid – and I thought Generations was one of the better Sonic games I had played in quite some time.

Recommendation: Play

If you typically enjoyed Sonic games – particularly the classic ones from the 16-bit era – Generations was actually a decent game to play on the 3DS. Old-school fans of the Sega mascot could find a lot to appreciate, especially with the Modern Sonic stages being so much less “modern” in the first place. On the other hand, don’t go out and buy Generations unless you can find it for a great price, or you’re sorely hurting for something to do. There isn’t as much substantial content and replay value as you could find in something like 3D Land, which is what ultimately made it so much better in November, as it remains today.

Final Score: 7.3/10

Super Mario 3D Land - Banner

Retrospective Review – Super Mario 3D Land

Last November, gamers were barraged with some of 2011′s most highly-anticipated games. Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim, and Skyward Sword were among the big console titles, but the Nintendo 3DS was finally getting a “AAA” release of its own. On November 13, Nintendo released Super Mario 3D Land – at last, the 3DS had its own definitive “must-have” game; the “system-seller” that it desperately needed to show consumers what the new hardware was all about.

  • Developed and Published by Nintendo; Released November 13, 2011
  • Current Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-owned @ GameStop.com)

When Shigeru Miyamoto talked about Super Mario 3D Land at last year’s E3, his main point about the game seemed to be the integration of the 3D effect in relation to the overall game design. He raved about the impact of the depth and said that it made the classic Mario experience feel more natural than ever. I looked forward to the game quite a bit following the legendary creator’s comments, and my expectations were admittedly very high. On the other hand, I was also slightly skeptical about the 3D effect – would it really feel like a necessary part of the game design, as Miyamoto had proudly explained?

The answer was yes, absolutely: Super Mario 3D Land was the very first 3DS game that made me feel like the 3D effect was crucial to enjoying the full experience. In addition, the game was more or less a mash-up of some of the best mechanics from past games in the series – both 2D and 3D. The result was a game that almost any Mario fan could enjoy – a platformer that was satisfying in almost every thinkable way.

Concept: (10/10) 

As I said, 3D Land combined aspects of its side-scrolling predecessors (Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World) and the three-dimensional platformers (Super Mario 64, Galaxy & Galaxy 2), resulting in an all-new game that presented the familiar challenges and obstacles in an exciting new dimension. This was still the “same old Mario”, no doubt – but this was nothing to complain about. What made 3D Land so exciting to play was just how nicely it adapted all those old-school concepts onto the 3D handheld; each of the levels offered a small helping of various Mario-style challenges, and though they were a bit smaller than the stages in past 3D Mario titles, the game seemed to have the perfect pace for fans of portable games.

Presentation: (10/10) 

The graphics, visual quality, music, and sound effects were aspects of Super Mario 3D Land that were essentially perfect. It is pretty difficult to say that any game has the “perfect” visuals, but there is no doubt that 3D Land will look just as impressive when played a few years from now. Each of the levels felt like hybrids of areas seen in the older Mario games – from the classic castle stages to the sections where you jumped into the clouds, collected a Star, and blasted through enemies. The visual design was very nostalgic, but enhanced with the added illusion of depth. Equally impressive was the music; I always found myself humming along to the world themes as I selected stages, and I definitely enjoyed the new versions of tracks from past games that were featured in the new levels.

Functionality: (10/10) 

Super Mario 3D Land was impressive because it managed to use most of the unique features of the 3DS – all of the ones that you would really care about, anyway. Most important of all were the 3D effects, of course – as I mentioned before, Miyamoto boasted that the stereoscopic effects would make an unprecedented impact on 3D gameplay, and he really wasn’t messing around. It was obvious after playing through just a few stages that 3D Land was built around the idea of depth. There were a number of stages that showed off the effect by forcing the player to fall through the sky after jumping from a high platform to a much lower one. With the added depth, it was always easy to collect the coins and stomp the floating enemies, landing safely on the platform below.

In addition the 3D effects, Super Mario 3D Land impressed me with its use of the StreetPass function. Players who connected via StreetPass could wirelessly send their best times and other game data to fellow players, allowing you to compare your own times and compete with friends for bragging rights. This may sound like a relatively small perk of the game, but the StreetPass functionality actually made me enjoy playing through the stages multiple times, going back just to make sure I had beaten all of my friends’ times.

Replay Value: (10/10) 

Like many Mario titles, 3D Land begins with 8 stages – getting through them all takes plenty of time, but it was important to collect all of the hidden Star Coins that were contained in each of the stages. The reason for this, of course, was the surprise of the “secret worlds” that opened up once you found them all – naturally, all 8 secret worlds contained stages that were more difficult, geared toward the advanced players who put forth the effort to seek out all the collectibles.

Opening up the secret worlds essentially doubled the length of the game, so it was a great surprise: what I enjoyed more, perhaps, was the ability to play as Luigi. In the past I didn’t care for Mario’s thinner brother, but playing as Luigi felt completely different – he could jump much higher, though he had less traction on the ground. This made certain stages play completely different; Luigi could reach areas that Mario couldn’t. I really enjoyed going back through the game, jumping to the top of the flag at the end of each stage and earning all the “gold flags” for both characters. Upon the completion of this task, I unlocked the final “bonus content” – a special “Star Stage” designed as the ultimate challenge for 3D Land players. I have yet to complete it – that’s how difficult it was.

Reviewer’s Tilt: (0) 

Super Mario 3D Land is the game that deserves a “10″; I’ve been saying this since the game came out in November, and I wrote my original review. I had never actually given out a “10″ or any other “perfect” score on any review scale before Super Mario 3D Land; my reasoning for this wasn’t because the game was truly flawless, but because it just wasn’t possible for me to find any legitimate complaints that warranted anything less. I feel the same way today, even after tearing through nearly everything the game had to offer: I may have completed all but that punishing “Star Stage”, but I could still pick it up anytime and find myself wasting an hour before I put it down. That’s the charm of any Mario game: they are timeless games that can be enjoyed throughout the generations, even past the point of total completion.

Recommendation: Buy

What can be said that hasn’t already been said about Super Mario 3D Land? If you own a Nintendo 3DS, there is no reason to skip this one – it is the definitive game on the handheld. If you do not own a Nintendo 3DS, and need a reason to consider the investment, this is the first place to look.

Final Score: 10/10

Starfox 64 3D - logo

Retrospective Review – Starfox 64 3DS

After Ocarina of Time 3D came out, the next big Nintendo game on everyone’s radar was actually another N64 re-make: StarFox 64 3D, which launched in September. The original game was a classic, but I was skeptical about the 3DS remake – I had a copy pre-ordered, but I wasn’t expecting to be “wowed”. I was in for a surprise; as a re-make built for handhelds, Starfox 64 3D was actually better than Ocarina 3D in many ways.

  • Developed and Published by Nintendo; Released on September 9, 2011
  • Current Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-owned @ GameStop.com)

Basically, the idea was the same here as it was with Ocarina of Time 3D; StarFox 64 3D brought back the fan favorite from the Nintendo 64 with enhanced visuals and nifty 3D effects, among other things.

Concept: (9/10)

Like I said, there were some aspects of StarFox 64 3D that were just “better” than Ocarina of Time 3D – the original StarFox 64 just mades more sense as a handheld game, with its single-player story lasting an hour, two at most. While this was often considered a flaw when the N64 version came out, each trek through the Lylat System was slightly different – there were over two dozen possible routes, spanning the wide variety of planets – but it was the perfect design for a handheld game.

Corneria never looked better than it did in StarFox 64 3D; the depth effects were especially nice as you passed through the city and over the massive lake.

Presentation: (9/10) 

StarFox 64 3D was by far the prettiest 3DS game to date when it launched last September; even today it still looks absolutely fantastic. The N64 version’s basic, polygonal enemies and level designs were completely replaced by enhanced, highly-detailed graphics that made the Lylat System come alive, much like Ocarina 3D’s Hyrule. On the other hand, where Ocarina 3D’s audio could have been greatly improved with re-recorded music and sound effects, StarFox 64 3D’s dialogue was actually worse due to the new voice actors. Part of the charm of StarFox 64 was the terrible voice acting, but those awful voices were part of the nostalgia that gamers wanted. Certain moments in the game may have looked much better, and even with the improved music and other effects, some of those classic, cheesy lines from Fox, Peppy, Slippy, Falco, and the Star Wolf crew just weren’t the same. I can recall feeling so intimidated by the unsettling comments that Andross made as I flew through the underground corridors of Venom in the N64 version, but there was something “missing”.

Something about the new voices in StarFox 64 3D just wasn’t right, but the game was otherwise very faithful to the original – for example, all of the hidden paths and scripted events returned, just as I remembered them.

Functionality: (8/10) 

One of the things that StarFox 64 3D did so much better than Ocarina of Time 3D was the actual “3D” part – you know, the feature everyone expected to enjoy from the handheld in the first place. Ocarina 3D’s stereoscopic effects were definitely not one of the highlights; on the other hand, StarFox 64 was greatly improved by the added depth. The game also boasted gyroscope controls – I never really used them, because the circle pad felt so comfortable, and my initial experience wasn’t quite as smooth, but I expected much less from the nifty sensor controls. One of the big let-downs was the news that StarFox 64 3D would feature video chat – taking advantage of the 3DS’s internal microphone and camera – but wouldn’t support online play. Video chat was great to see so early in the 3DS’s life, but it didn’t serve much of a point in local games.

Replay Value: (8/10) 

When it first came out, one of StarFox 64′s only major criticisms involved the length of the game; basically it just wasn’t long enough to provide a satisfying console experience. On the other hand, the game made a lot more sense on handhelds: the shortness of the single-player campaign actually made a great portable experience, perfect for picking up and playing for a while, and easy to put down when you were finished. There were so many different routes to Andross and the planet Venom that each trip through the Lylat system was interesting, forcing me to keep an eye out for the different ways to open new routes. Additionally, the Medals that you could earn in each level return in the re-make, and were a satisfying challenge to attempt after I had carelessly blasted through the same planets a handful of times before. I played the N64 version quite a bit as a kid, but I think I ended up going through the campaign more times in the 3DS version than the original.

The Lylat System, exactly as gamers remembered it in StarFox 64.

Reviewer’s Tilt: (+0.5)

In my original review of StarFox 64 3D, I made a certain comment that remains true to this day: basically, my expectations for this N64 re-make just weren’t as high as they were for the other one (Ocarina 3D). Ocarina of Time 3D didn’t disappoint me by any means, but I was definitely more “surprised” by StarFox when it came out. In fact, I had never enjoyed playing StarFox 64 as much at any point as when I was making my rounds through the Lylat System on the 3DS. According to the Activity Log, I put more than a dozen hours into this one, making sure to take a new route with each consecutive trip.

Recommendation: Buy

If you never played StarFox 64 3D, you should definitely check it out – fans of the N64 game will love nearly everything about the re-make, with the only exception being the new voice acting crew. The graphics were amazing, the 3D effects were some of the first that really made any impact on the 3DS experience, and I enjoyed the dogfights as much as I did when I was a kid. Besides online play, this 3DS game could have only been better if Nintendo found a way to release a “rumble” attachment with it – a nod to the Rumble Pack peripheral, which was originally introduced in a bundle with StarFox 64.

Final Score: 9/10

Resident Evil The Mercenaries 3D - Banner

Retrospective Review – Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

The 3DS didn’t have a lot of progress in the first few months following its launch, but the month of June brought two highly-anticipated games to the handheld – Ocarina of Time 3D, and Capcom’s Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. On one hand, the Zelda re-make ended up being one the top-selling, highest-rated 3DS games in 2011. On the other, this portable version of the popular Mercenaries Mode from RE4 & RE5…well, it didn’t.

As a fan of Resident Evil 5′s co-op gameplay, Mercenaries, and Versus modes, I was excited to see how the series would transition to the brand-new 3DS. With no other realistic options for game purchases on my new 3DS, I was already finished with Ocarina of Time 3D and ready for something new to play by the end of June, so I picked up a copy of The Mercenaries 3D on launch day. I didn’t think I could go wrong with a handheld version of the mode that I enjoyed quite a bit in RE4 and RE5 – I even went through RE5′s co-op campaign half a dozen times with a friend, and played quite a bit of its Versus multiplayer mode.
Unfortunately, it only took about ten minutes of playing The Mercenaries 3D to feel like Capcom had obviously released the game as a “test run” for both the capabilities of the 3DS and the interest from “core” gamers, probably related to the upcoming release of RE: Revelations. This spin-off looked like it could have been one of the better games released in the early months of the 3DS; instead, it took too many liberties with the hardware, and the result was hardly worth the $40 price.
In hindsight, Mercenaries 3D would have been absolutely fine…if it were never released for $40, and instead packaged alongside Raid Mode in RE: Revelations.
There were a decent number of missions to play through, but the game was set up so that you played them in chunks, and you were forced to earn certain ratings on each set of missions before you could make any progress. There were a few stages where this caused me a lot of issues, and I ended up going through a lot of trial and error before seeing what was next: the same maps, with the same enemies, all back for more. It got pretty tiring, though I will admit that my lack of entertainment sources at the time made it pretty hard for me to complain.
The basic controls and mechanics of RE4 & RE5 were translated very well and worked nicely on the 3DS – surprisingly well, actually. I felt very comfortable moving around while aiming in first-person, or sprinting around and avoiding enemies in third-person…just as I would if I had an Xbox 360 or PS3 controller in my hands. Even the 3D effects were pretty solid – I mentioned Ocarina of Time 3D at the start of this article; while that game was obviously much better than The Mercenaries 3D, I felt like Capcom’s game pulled off the 3D effects more comfortably.
On the other hand, the overall quality of the visuals was pretty low – the textures, character models, maps, animations, and special effects were all taken from the console versions of Mercenaries Mode. It’s pretty clear that Capcom didn’t put much polish into this one before it was shipped to retailers; even the sound quality was lacking. To make this worse, the volume of the game seemed particularly loud, so the result was a lot of crackling gunshots and the accompanying splatter of zombie brains. These things do not sound great normally, but take the quality down a few notches, and it was even more bothersome.
What is interesting is that Resident Evil: Revelations eventually looked a lot better and played much smoother than The Mercenaries 3D, which makes the game even less impressive in hindsight. The ultimate kick-in-the-shins came from the terribly short demo of Resident Evil: Revelations. Capcom boasted this feature of The Mercenaries 3D for quite a while before launch, and provided roughly 2-3 minutes of play time, with roughly the same number of enemies to encounter.
Even the roster of characters wasn’t very exciting; all the content in Mercenaries 3D was recycled, making the “leftovers” feel even more stale.
Conclusion & Recommendation
 
When Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D came out, it only took a few hours before I regretted making the $40 purchase. Don’t buy it: even with the current pre-owned price ($19.99 @ GameStop.com), I would advise against the purchase unless you are seriously dedicated to the franchise (and you’ve already finished Revelations), or you are really getting desperate for a shooter on the handheld (and, again, you have finished the much-better RE: Revelations).
I’ve done a lot of complaining, but I didn’t actually walk away from The Mercenaries 3D completely unimpressed: instead, I was frustrated about the price the entire time, and wondered why Capcom didn’t cut the price in half before launch. I would have even been satisfied with a $10-15 download on the eShop. Ultimately I didn’t give up on the series, and earlier this year the publisher proved that it had bigger plans after all – Revelations was nothing like Mercenaries 3D, and stands as one of 2012′s top 3DS titles.
Critique & Scores
  • Concept: (5/10) The Mercenaries 3D was basically a slimmed-down, portable-friendly version of RE4/RE5′s Mercenaries Mode. Unfortunately, Mercenaries was free in those games – and it costs $40 for the 3DS, which is entirely too much.
  • Presentation: (6/10) Though it didn’t look awful by any means, Mercenaries 3D was also not spectacular to look at. The grainy quality of the visuals made the low-res textures look messy, and the game could have used a lot of polish, from both the graphics and the sound quality.
  • Functionality: (6.5/10) Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D actually did a solid job of translating the controls from RE4/RE5, and felt very comfortable to play. I personally enjoyed the 3D effects in this game more than Ocarina of Time 3D, but there were some design decisions I really didn’t like – the inability to erase the cartridge data, more than anything. Lame move, Capcom.
  • Replay Value: (5.5/10) Although the single-player experience got repetitive pretty quickly, playing Mercenaries 3D with a fellow 3DS owner is just as entertaining as playing co-op with a buddy through Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot of content to explore.
  • Reviewer’s Tilt: (+0) When the game originally came out, I was more forgiving of its lack of content, but something like The Mercenaries 3D would be an insult to 3DS owners now – and it really felt that way last summer. I just couldn’t get over the price; setting the proper price is important, and fans could have actually gotten some value out of this game if it was within reason.
  • Final Score: 5.8/10