The large crowd at Nintendo’s 3DS Media Event made it difficult to fully sample each of the games on display at the venue, but I was able to get some hands-on time with all of the company’s first-party offerings before I left. Each of the following will be available at launch, making the demos on display at the event a good indication of what gamers will experience come March 27.
Steel Diver was the most innovative of Nintendo’s first-party launch titles. In Mission mode you will guide your submarine through a series of side-scrolling underwater obstacle courses, avoiding enemy ships and the aquatic geography as you make your way toward the designated goal. The sub is controlled by a series of sliders on the touch screen: the one at the bottom is responsible for going forward or backward, while the one at the side allowed you to surface or dive. A wheel in between the two could be adjusted to level out your sub, and you had to utilize all three to successfully navigate each stage. The learning curve was quite high, and it appears you will need some impressive multitasking skills to perform well in the title.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Periscope Strike, a first-person game in which you physically spin yourself (and your 3DS) to find and shoot enemy vessels. The mode offered little in the way of depth, but it was immediately fun. The 3D effects were also quite stunning in this mode, with the waves crashing convincingly against the eyes of your periscope. It should be noted that the only feasible way to play Periscope Strike is while sitting in a swivel chair– doing so allows you to rotate the system much more easily and quickly, and it just adds immensely to the fun. The title also boasts a multiplayer mode, but it was inaccessible on the show floor.
Nintendogs + Cats
Nintendogs + Cats had perhaps the most basic demo on the show floor. After choosing one of three predetermined breed sets (which each contained one dog and one cat), you were brought into what would be your virtual house to interact with them. Despite the fact that your pets are now seen on the top screen, the controls are identical to the first Nintendogs title.
To get the attention of either creature, you simply tapped the whistle icon in the center of the screen and chose which one you wanted to play with. Its silhouette would then appear on the bottom screen, and you simply rubbed this with your stylus to pet it or teach it tricks. There were a few toys included in the demo, all of which functioned exactly as they did in the previous game. The graphics and animations have been greatly improved (and the representative at the display informed me your pet will eventually be able to recognize you by your face alone), but aside from these changes, the title remains essentially the same experience as its predecessor.
Anyone who has played the flight mini-game in Wii Sports Resort will be immediately familiar with this title. The two share many striking similarities, so much so that it can be argued this new Pilotwings is little more than a slight expansion of the aforementioned. There were two modes featured in the demo and three vehicles to choose from (the standard airplane, a “rocket belt,” and a hang glider). Each one handles much differently than the last and has its own unique set of challenges to undertake. Mission Mode will have you completing various standard objectives (flying through a series of rings, popping balloons, etc.), gradually teaching you the techniques and controls you will need to master in the game, and while these were fun and could even be visually impressive, it was easy to foresee them becoming repetitive.
The other mode, Free Flight, is exactly as it was in Wii Sports Resort— you select one of the vehicles and are given a limited amount of time to leisurely explore the skies over Wuhu Island. There are information icons scattered about the resort, and flying through one will give you a brief description of that attraction. You will gradually unlock different times of day to explore (which in turn will offer new attractions to seek), but outside of that, there appears to be little else to do in this mode. Wuhu Island remains a charming locale, brought to life with the system’s auto-stereoscopic effects, but if you do not like to sight-see in video games you will probably be better off missing this flight.