The Future in 3-D

These games haven’t been announced, and probably aren’t being made (yet), but we’d like them to be in 3-D anyway.

By Andrew Hsieh. Posted 04/01/2011 15:00 4 Comments     ShareThis

As you might have heard by now, it turns out the 3DS launch didn’t go over so poorly at all. It broke sales records, Circadian rhythms (of people waiting in line, of course) and possibly even hearts as gamers everywhere turned away from their significant others to develop a loving relationship with their new 3DS systems. But with only seventeen games out for the system thus far, it’s not difficult to see why Videogameland might pine for more. And that’s not just more in terms of games, but more in terms of 3-D. After all, the big draw of the original DS was its touch screen, which promptly spawned games ranging from mildly innovative (Pac & Roll, Ping Pals) to ridiculously insane (The World Ends with You, Elite Beat Agents); the 3-D aspect of the 3DS, while not used particularly much in the launch games, might just prove equally innovative. Here’s some of our top picks for games that need to be in 3-D (like, now):

Luigi’s Mansion

Luigi examines some wardrobes in faux-3D. He’s not impressed.

Let’s pretend for a moment that the last time you played Luigi’s Mansion wasn’t, as it probably was, six years ago, and that all the memories of monster ghosts and people ghosts and Boo ghosts are still fresh in your mind. Remember the first time those ghosts appeared? Forget what people say about the zombie dog scene in Resident Evil— ghosts popping out of wardrobes is something totally visceral. It brings to mind childhood fears and foibles, being tucked in bed while wondering if the bogeyman was waiting inside your Thundercats toy chest. The four-year-old version of you never worried about zombie dogs. But you did– and Luigi did– freak out about ghosts.

And thanks to the graphical capabilities of the 3DS, something like Luigi’s Mansion can be faithfully recreated, and certainly improved. Just as Super Mario 64 DS applied the newfangled touch-screen control philosophy (we won’t discuss how successful it was), so can a game like Luigi’s Mansion benefit from the 3DS’ glasses-free 3-D. Perhaps Nintendo could design a new mansion, presented in 2-D on the screen, with ghosts popping out of wardrobes in full 3-D; alternatively, when ghosts hide from Luigi and his Ghostbusters-esque vacuum, they could meld into the 2-D world, or hide behind (conveniently 3-D) objects. In fact, a remake of Luigi’s Mansion could really use the 3DS capabilities both from an aesthetic standpoint and from a gameplay one– and lead the way toward 3DS innovation.


The single-player “Rescue” mode, where players try to rescue a robot at the enter of a sphere.

Perhaps it’s not so much a classic as it is an innovative title for the Nintendo 64 (formerly Atari Jaguar, but this isn’t Ataridojo), but even if you haven’t played it, Tetrisphere already looks like a good fit for 3DS. (Just look at that screenshot.) First of all, the basics: players start with a sphere, and through placing blocks near similarly-shaped blocks, players start chain reactions that eventually transform your sphere into the more Tetris-y disjointed collection of shapes. But of course, sometimes these blocks fall of their own volition, because the blocks under them are destroyed. It’s a three-dimensional sphere, after all, and for the most part, this sphere ain’t hollow, and this ain’t your normal game of two-dimensional falling-block Tetris. You might see where we’re going with this.

Tetrisphere hasn’t seen much press lately, outside of a few mentions in Nostalgialand, but considering the 3DS fished out Pit from Kid Icarus after years of hermitude (admittedly Brawl must have helped), it doesn’t look like Tetrisphere‘s prospects are horrible. While not exactly mind-blowing gameplay-wise, the 3-D capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS could help players judge where blocks are inside the Tetrisphere, and certainly making spinning the thing a bit more fun. And of course, actual 3-D would make Tetrisphere look like quite the spectacle, what with every level of block represented by varying depths. When it comes to puzzle games, the Nintendo DS never lacked, and 3DS probably won’t either. But its 3-D capabilities opens the system up to more games than Meteos or Professor Layton— though we wouldn’t be averse to a 3-D version of Picross 3D. Tetrisphere awaits.

Metroid Prime

This one’s a doozy. After all, while the 3DS didn’t come with Metroid Prime Hunters: 3-D Hunt, the idea still makes some of us salivate. After all, ever since Wolfenstein 3D, arguably the game to popularize first-person shooters, trigger-happy fans have gone without the actually three-dimensional aspect of first-person shooters. (It’s right there in the name is what we mean. Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nuken 3D …) And while Metroid Prime Hunters (and, sometimes, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes) did some decent multiplayer, the Metroid Prime series as a whole makes for a very nice three-dimensional solo outing. Certain things still pop up in our minds when we think of how Metroid Prime changed the way we viewed first-person games. Samus Aran’s visor fogging up when she got too close to a waterfall on the surface of Tallon IV, for example, or the split-second flash of Aran’s face in pain reflected off that same visor whenever the player directed her towards something a little poisonous. Even without the whole adventuring part, Metroid Prime fulfills some nifty aesthetic benchmarks, and of course, the 3DS can only make it better.

Further, one of the reasons the first-person shooter (or, heck, any first-person game) is so popular is because of the first part of the genre– it’s in first-person. And if you’re like most people, you live life in first-person, reaching out to touch and grab objects around you that have varying levels of depth. Until the 3DS popped out, gamers had no way to recreate that experience, even in first-person games; in Metroid Prime for the GameCube, players certainly had a pleasant time discovering new locales and raising their eyebrows when their visors fogged up, but the picture was still two-dimensional. While the 3DS picture is still going to be (technically) in two dimensions, its simulation capabilities have come a long way– and in Metroid Prime Hunter 3-D, perhaps the 3DS can show off even more. In multiplayer, other players could be more 3-D or less 3-D depending on how far away they are from you; backgrounds that are unimportant could be 2-D, while platforms or power-ups could be in “hey look at me” 3-D. All the while, the most important detail– your crosshairs– would be in one distinct level of either 2-D and 3-D. Eventually, considering the first-person perspective of the game, it might seem almost as though the 3DS is simulating real life– and despite the horror of having Metroids in real life, this doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.

We’ve only listed three games here, and though we tried to represent some pretty clear genres (adventure, puzzle, first-person adventure shooter game), we probably missed a lot. What’s your take on the future of 3-D?

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