Now that E3 and the big Nintendo Direct presentations are behind us, so many details about what’s ahead of us have been revealed: information about the upcoming Link to the Past sequel (A Link Between Worlds), big games for 2014 such as Yoshi’s New Island and Super Smash Bros., and more about the next generation of Pokemon – Pokemon X & Y. It was an exciting time for us all, as 3DS owners – no doubt.
With the exception of the 2014 releases, I would like to go over some of the Nintendo 3DS games that I am looking forward to the most this year.
#6: Shin Megami Tensei IV
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Most excited about…an epic, abstract JRPG filled with demonic negotiations and devilish themes.
There should be nothing lost in translation between the Japanese and North American versions; Famitsu originally gave the game a 37 out of 40 score and dubbed it the best handheld game of the week. For what it’s worth, the art direction is absolutely fantastic, as you can see from screenshots of the game – and the dialogue is fully-voiced, from start to finish. I have always enjoyed the negotiations with demons in order to recruit them as party members, and using them in battle always felt like a dark, abstract version of Pokemon. I hope to see the uniquely twisted SMT franchise find its place on the 3DS, and I really want to see some of the DLC support from the Japanese version make its way to America as well.
#5: Mario and Luigi: Dream Team
Release Date: August 11, 2013
Most excited about…the unique, dream-based game design and Mario and Luigi‘s traditionally quirky sense of humor.
The latest installment, Dream Team, follows along with The Year of Luigi by focusing on Mario’s brother – or, his dreams, at the very least. Much of the game seems to take place within Luigi’s dreams, with the player interacting with Luigi in some way as he sleeps to explore the environments and solve puzzles. The active/turn-based combat system from previous games returns, which will be quire refreshing, after the slightly boring back-and-forth routine seen in Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Will Mario and Luigi reaffirm its spot as the better Mario RPG franchise? I can’t wait for hte August release date to find out.
#4: Sonic: Lost World
Release Date: Holiday 2013
Most excited about…the Super Mario Galaxy-like game design and the resurgence of Sonic the Hedgehog.
I have seen it before – Sega bringing back the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and talking it up to be a big deal – but that’s what immediately separates Sonic: Lost World from its many failed predecessors.
Sega didn’t really come out shouting about Lost World, though it has definitely gotten a lot of press since its reveal – and what has been shown off so far looks great, without the need for Sega to sugarcoat anything about it. Normally I wouldn’t be so favorable of its obvious copycat design, but the Super Mario Galaxy style of platforming – with rotating stages, which all seem to toss gravity into the wind – really caters to Sonic’s skill set. Any true Sonic fan will tell you that it has never been so much about the pure speed as it has been about the tricky platforming through multi-path stages. For all intents and purposes, what I have seen in the numerous trailers proves that Lost World is on the right track to getting Sonic the game he truly deserves.
#3: Batman: Arkham origins blackgate
Release Date: October 25, 2013
Most excited about…the Metroidvania-style gameplay in the Batman: Arkham universe.
I’ll be honest, the thought of a Metroidvania-style anything gets me excited; I even enjoyed the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions game on the original DS, just because it held true to the classic game style.
When I found out that the 3DS installment of the next Batman: Arkham game (titled Arkham Origins Blackgate) was being specially designed to imitate the same gameplay, I was beyond thrilled. Even from the early screenshots and trailers, I’m beyond impressed with Arkham Origins Blackgate. It’s not just that it looks absolutely stunning; as you can see in the screenshot, the game imitates the filter of the “Detective Mode” perfectly. The quality of the visuals reminds me of the Xbox Live Arcade game Shadow Complex; I can’t imagine how nice it looks in 3D. Moving on, the idea of using Batman’s various gadgets and abilities just makes a lot of sense for the style of play, regardless of the fact that Batman apparently can’t jump in the game. I can only hope that this one ends up being more like the classic Metroid and Castlevania games than Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, which featured some of the 2.5D combat sections seen in early footage of Arkham Origins Blackgate.
Part of the dev team was actually responsible for Metroid Prime, so the fact that they’re the ones in charge of making this 3DS version special makes me feel pretty confident. In fact, I feel like this one could end up being one of the higher-rated 3DS games of the fall – even above some of the games I’ve already pointed out on this list.
#2: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Release Date: November 2013
Most excited about…an exciting new adventure set in a familiar Zelda world.
Any new Legend of Zelda release would be enough to immediately draw my attention, but when we’re talking about the first original game in the series on the 3DS – and a direct sequel to the SNES classic Link to the Past – I feel more along the lines of “ecstatic, nostalgic joy.”
I could summarize the list of reasons that I am so excited for Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds with “All of the above”, but for those keeping track: revisiting the land of Hyrule after the events of Link to the Past, exploring and finding new items and methods of solving puzzles, messing with the new “merge” mechanic that flattens Link against walls, seeing how the 3D effects impact the game design (including the vertically-based dungeon shown in early trailers), even the thought of mindlessly hacking bushes and collecting rupees or terrorizing cuccos is enough to send me overboard.
Indeed, November feels terribly distant when there’s a new Zelda looming over your head every day. As excited as I am, questions remain – how will the continuation of the plot play out in A Link Between Worlds? What is the significance of the “merge” ability, and how does Link come across this power? How will Ganon be involved, and how will the land of Hyrule – not to mention the all-but-confirmed Dark World – be transformed in this new installment? Will Aonuma and the developers be able to go beyond the thrill of nostalgia and design a Zelda game that is equally fresh and interesting?
#1: Pokemon X & Pokemon Y
Release Date: October 12, 2013
Most excited about…the evolution of the Pokemon franchise.
Full disclosure: besides the birth of my daughter, which should be happening in the next week or two, there isn’t a single upcoming game release, event, or day in 2013 that excites me more than the launch of Pokemon X & Y on October 12. The first 3DS installments of the core Pokemon series, the beginning of the sixth generation, the introduction to a brand-new region and its hundred-something never-before-seen monsters…ahh, it’s like my birthday comes twice this year.
With Game Freak and Nintendo promising to “evolve” the Pokemon franchise with Pokemon X & Pokemon Y, a lot of fans speculated big things – finally jumping to full-3D graphics, introducing new ways to battle, new types of Pokemon…and for the most part, every announcement made by the developers has been a big hit. The huge obvious change – the jump to 3D graphics, from the environments to Pokemon models and battle animations – is going to make quite an impact, and push the Pokemon series into the spotlight like never before. Smaller yet equally important fundamental changes – such as introducing the Fairy-type, which essentially balances the Dragon-type – will make ripples that the hardcore fans will be thrilled about.
New features like Pokemon Amie largely remain a mystery, but the educated guesses of many Pokemon fans suspect this new mechanic could totally change the foundation of the game by taking an all-new approach to the ridiculously complicated Effort Value/Independent Value system, essentially making this entire aspect of the game more approachable and accessible to casual players. Last but not least, the connection between players will be better than ever. The new Player Search System (PSS) will allow 3DS Friends to trade and battle with ease; the always-on WiFi features will even result in real players appearing in your game, where you’re free to interact with them.
Pokemon is definitely evolving – even if Pokemon X & Pokemon Y failed to sell the inevitable millions of copies worldwide, even if they didn’t cause the resurgence in interest of all things Pokemon, even if they didn’t cause any kind of media stir leading up to and well beyond their release, I would still have October 12 circled bigger and brighter than any day on my 2013 calendar.That concludes my list of most-anticipated 3DS games set to release in 2013; what do you think? What games are you most excited for? What would your list have looked like? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!