Between time constraints and pushy booth bouncers, there was no way we could get enough time to sample every great demo and trailer available in Nintendo’s 3DS play area last week. However, we did get to try a good number of them, and we share our reactions on our favorite playable demos below.
Star Fox 64 3D
Evan: I love Star Fox 64, so seeing the game in 3D was pretty phenomenal. Even better, Nintendo has touched up the visuals with better textures and a more impressive draw distance. The controls were a bit loose on the 3DS Slide Pad, but Nintendo will fix that over the coming months. My favorite part of the demo, though, was seeing an enemy ship fly in behind me. The adversary appeared to be popping out of the screen, until I quickly flipped Fox’s Arwing and blasted the foe into oblivion. Yes, this is nothing new, but the 3D made the old seem fresh again. And let’s be honest, I can’t wait to shoot Slippy.
Tidman: At first I was really excited to get my hands on this demo. I mean, when cold make a better showing of the 3DS hardware than a remake of a game that revolutionized 3D in games as we know it now. And the demo was ok. It definitely looked nicer than I remember Star Fox 64 looking, the graphics were better than many Wii games I’ve played. But after playing the demo I came away feeling a little underwhelmed. Maybe it was the slider feeling a little lose on that demo unit. Maybe it was the complete lack of annoying banter. Maybe it was just my pigheaded clinging to the original title, but while it was a good tech demo, I’d actually prefer this one to never see the light of day in retail.
Noah: Star Fox was one of the first games to come to mind when I first heard of 3DS, quickly followed by F-Zero. I’m a bit of a sci-fi dork, I guess, but I have always loved Nintendo’s franchises in the genre. That made playing Star Fox 64 3D my number one priority in the 3DS area, but I think my expectations were too high. I was confounded by how slippery the slide pad was– I was constantly over-correcting and, worst, tilting the system on steep turns, which ruined the 3D effect. And since it had been over a decade since I played the game I didn’t remember all the controls, and without the chatty guidance of Fox’s friends I fumbled quite a bit. Last, I noticed the 3D effect got flickery and distracting in the middle of the screen when I flew close to the screen’s edge, which further dampened the whole experience. That said, it was my first 3DS game play experience, and I didn’t have as much trouble with Pilotwings Resort, so maybe some of it’s just getting used to the hardware.
DJ Hero 3D
Tidman: It didn’t go all out with the 3D effects, instead using a minimalistic approach, but this was honestly one of my favorite playable demos in the 3DS. I’m really looking forward to mixing it up when this game inevitably releases, hopefully at the 3DS launch, because DJ Hero 3D proved that just because the system uses 3D doesn’t mean traditional gameplay styles have to be thrown out the window.
Noah: I’m a big DJ Hero fan, so this was also a fun experience. The gameplay is a simplified take on the real thing– more like Elite Beat Agents with taps, scratches and swipes. But the audio quality is fantastic and once you get in the groove it flows well. This was a good example of a game that doesn’t need 3D whatsoever, but Vicarious Visions used it in a tasteful manner that was just enough to suck you into the experience even more.
Evan: Developer Vicarious Visions is one of the best third-party developers for Nintendo platforms, and the company proves that once more with this impressive demo. Adding extra depth to the note highway is not integral, but the inclusion is a visually pleasing effect. The music bumping out of the system was pretty sweet, and the touch-screen controls (while possible on the DS or DSi) worked well. I really hope Vicarious gets the opportunity from Activision to fully explore the possibilities of DJ Hero 3D.
Noah: This title, explicitly built for 3DS, is not the 1-to-1 recreation of Wii Sports Resort‘s Wuhu Island that you’ve read about. It’s close, but it’s a simplified version that doesn’t have as much complexity in the world geometry as the original– I just wanted to put that out there as some starstruck writers at other outlets have said otherwise. Nevertheless, Wuhu Island did look great (particularly the draw distance) and, once indoctrinated to the slippery nature of the slide pad via Star Fox 64 3D, I had a slightly better time getting around. Being able to aim for floating balloons is pretty fun in 3D.
Tidman: Can I say most impressive playable demo? There were two sections, a jet pack and an airplane, and both played wonderfully animating well. This game truly looks like it was made from the ground up for 3DS. The controls were responsive and the graphics popped… literally. If this become more than just a tech demo, it’s safe to say that I’m definitely planning on getting it as soon as I can.
Evan: I may have to talk to Tidman and ask him what he’s smoking. I agree with Noah, this was visually one of the least impressive demoes shown at E3. (Ridge Racers 3D takes the cake, though, as it was downright ugly.) Like he said, Wuhu Island was lacking the detail of its Wii counterpart, but Nintendo will most likely spruce it up for the full retail release. As for the game mechanics, I basically just flew through red-ringed hoops. I had a good time, but I want to see a lot more creativity with the challenges.