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The irrefutable, undeniable, official top ten Sonic games

Jun 25 // Jim Sterling
10. Sonic Spinball Sonic the Hedgehog, being a rampant whore, would appear in all sorts of spin-offs over the years, but one of the earliest and most successful was Sonic Spinball. At its heart, the game was a fairly unremarkable pinball experience, with a few notable differences -- chiefly the ability to have limited control over the "ball" and a set goal for each of the four interestingly designed tables.  Being developed mostly by Polygames, Sonic Spinball had a slightly different feel and visual style when compared to other Sonic games. Nevertheless, it was a fun little diversion and one that can still be enjoyed today. It's nothing that actual pinball fans could ever call good, but as a Sonic-themed bit of silliness, it does the job.  9. Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine You'll notice that the early picks in this list stretch the definition of "Sonic game" a little bit. Unfortunately, it takes some blurring of the lines to get this list up to a solid ten. With that in mind, it's worth noting that Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine doesn't even feature Sonic. It does feature Scratch and Grounder though, and those chaps really need to stage a comeback.  Mean Bean takes the form of a Puyo Puyo color-matching puzzler. The Scenario Mode has the player face off against various Badniks, and they're all rather merciless. In fact, the whole game is sadistic. You can be winning by a mile, only to have a lucky combo from the enemy snatch their board from the jaws of defeat and transfer a load of unmatchable "refugee" beans over to your side. This game was fun, but boy was it an asshole. 8. SEGA Superstars Tennis  Shut up! The game was pretty damn good. Okay, so being a SEGA-oriented game, it wasn't strictly a Sonic title but let's be honest -- the game was predominantly about the blue hedgehog and various other Sonic characters. Like I said, I was desperate for games that were both Sonic-related and good. I'll take what I can get. The game succeeded by keeping things simple. At its core, Superstars Tennis is a fairly standard little sports title, and that's why it works. The only convolution comes in the form of super powers that are granted to each character. Outside of the regular matches were a whole bunch of minigames that were nearly all surprisingly great fun.  Plenty of fan service, solid tennis action and great minigames. A far better title than many will give it credit for. 7. Sonic the Hedgehog The original, though not necessarily the best. While Sonic the Hedgehog was, for its time, a kick up the ass of platform adventures, it has not aged with quite the same level of grace as the rest of Sonic's Genesis outings. The lack of a now obligatory Spin Dash move, sluggish pace, and respectively drab levels don't make for a truly great game, but it's still a decent one when regarded in context. It's certainly not bad, and at least deserves a place for its legacy. As the starting point for the series, it laid a lot of groundwork and helped cultivate the kind of gameplay that would make Sonic a quasi-legend. Plus, there are a few standout levels -- most notably Starlight Zone, which had a fantastic theme tune and some cool little gimmicks.  It was easily outclassed by its direct sequels, but the game has earned due respect.  6. Sonic Colors DS Sonic Colors on the Wii was sub-par nonsense and that's scientific fact, proven by science. The DS version? Pretty good, as it goes. A lot of this is due to the increased influence of Dimps on the title. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- Dimps needs to be the primary Sonic developer and it needs some creative freedom, because the studio seems to understand what made the games so good to a degree that Sonic Team does not.  While not totally free of the extraneous gimmickry that has marred most console-based Sonic titles, Sonic Colors DS was at least a more grounded and sensible platformer with very little fluff, and that's why it was actually fun as opposed to infuriating. Decent level design that puts the focus on platforming skill over pure speed is what makes Colors DS a superior offering, and while a few frustrating levels and pointless narrative scenes remain, it is overall a pretty great offering.  5. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 While Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 still remains a controversial game among the Sonic fan community -- many members of which despised it for the most arbitrary and ludicrous of reasons -- Sonic 4 was and is a lot of fun. Was it the huge mega comeback that everybody longed for? Not quite. What it was, however, was the first great Sonic game to hit a console in ages, and those who didn't demand the Moon floating in a bucket of Wish Water were left satisfied.  There are some definite low points. For example, there is a potentially excellent level in which Sonic rides decks of playing cards, which is summarily ruined at the end with an awfully dodgy pitfall section that undoes all the good the stage had previously done. A few bosses and gimmicky challenges reek of the game trying too hard to remain overly complex, when a simpler approach would be better.  Still, the overall experience is terrific, and that's despite the game's Zones being based on some of the least enjoyable levels found in the Genesis games. It takes a lot to make anything based on Sonic 2's Metropolis zone fun, but Sonic 4 managed it. That's worthy of a damn medal.  4. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is viewed by some as the best Genesis game, but I always felt it lacked the same tight level design and unique nineties aesthetic as Sonic 2. It was still a solid followup though, with levels that ranged from great to decent, and a number of inventive boss encounters.  The only real downside to Sonic 3 is how obviously significant the focus on graphics was. There's a whole section in Hydrocity Zone that puts Sonic on rotating plinths. From a gameplay perspective, it's dull stuff, but you got to see Sonic rotate a full 360 degrees, and that was the point. Blast Processing, bitch! While Sonic 3 is a fun game and worthy of its place among the series' best, it's interesting to note that, even this early on, there are signs of the overbearing gimmickry that would kill later games. Marble Garden Zone, for instance, was a boring, slow-paced mess of spinning disc platforms that could barely be controlled by the player, while Carnival Night Zone featured the barrel of mystery that required pressing Up and Down on the D-Pad to maneuver -- a trick that the player is never told. But ... Sonic 3 had Ice Cap Zone, so all is forgiven.  3. Sonic & Knuckles Sonic & Knuckles is, ostensibly, the second half of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. They were supposed to be one game from the outset, after all. Sonic & Knuckles has the edge over Sonic 3 thanks to more memorable levels, an excellent soundtrack (Flying Battery and Sky Sanctuary are amazing) and, of course, a second storyline that featured Knuckles.  Of course, both games can be considered as sharing third and fourth place once you lock the cartridges together to create Sonic 3 & Knuckles.  As good as the game was, it could have really done without the stage involving ghosts and doors that would slowly close shut. Screw that stage a thousand times.  2. Sonic Advance Sonic Advance is the reason why I say Dimps has a better handle on the series than Sonic Team, because it did exactly what New Super Mario Bros. would do several years later -- it kept things simple.  Adopting a "back to basics" approach, Dimps put its energy into proper platforming design and utilized speed as a reward, not as a central gameplay device. Its range of levels and excellent soundtrack evoked feelings of old school Sonic titles and ensured its place as a game I still happily play to this day. At the time, people would ask if Sonic could ever make a comeback. In 2000, he did so ... at least for a time.  Unfortunately, a certain demographic whined that Sonic Advance was "too slow" because they didn't have a clue what had made Sonic games good. The non-existent problem was "fixed" by Dimps, leading to a pair of inferior Sonic Advance sequels that did away with good platforming and focused on running fast. It ruined what could have been a great series, because idiots didn't realize that Sonic Advance wasn't "too slow by Sonic standards" -- it had brought the speed BACK to standard.  As far as I'm concerned, Sonic Advance was the first authentic Sonic experience since the Genesis days and, more importantly, it was the last. Time will tell if Sonic Generations can change that.  1. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 I hate to end the list on a highly predictable note, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is still the best Sonic game made to date and up there with the very best that platformers have to offer. Never has a Sonic been so consistent, with nearly every level being intensely playable, even today, and a range of unforgettable boss encounters.  Sonic 2 featured some of the best Zones in the entire franchise -- the speedy Chemical Plant, the charming Hilltop, and the delightfully oddball Oil Ocean to name but three. Had the game not insisted on THREE ACTS of the dreadful Metropolis Zone, it may well have been perfect. Seriously, three acts? It's like they knew how awful that Zone was and wanted to punish everybody out of sheer cruelty. Wankers.  Anyway, there's a reason why I still play Sonic 2 up until the end of Oil Ocean before switching it off -- it's just that damn good. A run of excellent and varied zones, the best soundtrack in the series, and of course the playable Tails to keep younger brothers occupied instead of bugging you to play the game next.  Yet SEGA does all it can to NOT do things the way they worked best. I'll never understand that, but at least SEGA's released it ten billion times, so I'll never be far away from the best Sonic game ever made.
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Sonic the Hedgehog turned twenty years old this week, and there was much rejoicing. Well ... there was a bit of rejoicing. There was something, at least.  To keep everybody in the Sonic spirit, I have consulted the great...

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Jun 17 // Jim Sterling
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)Developer: Nintendo, GrezzoPublisher: NintendoReleased: June 19, 2011MSRP: $39.99 It's difficult to review The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D simply as a game, because it's a game most of you have likely played many times since 1998. At its core, this is the same Ocarina of Time that you remember from the Nintendo 64 era, with all its charm, and all its 1998-era design.  Focusing simply on the game's enhancements, it has to be said that the graphics alone make this the definitive version of Ocarina of Time. Characters are so much more detailed, with far superior animation, and the notorious "Vaseline" effect applied to background scenery is nowhere to be found. Many of the buildings have been given extensive redesigns, bringing Hyrule to life with greater intricacy and more color. I won't go as far as to call the game beautiful, but it's undeniably prettier in its new clothes. Ocarina 3D provides a far richer visual experience, yet remains so true to the original vision of the game that you might be tricked into thinking the graphics aren't improved very much. It's only when you directly compare character models and scenery between the 3DS and N64 that you really get a sense of how much better Ocarina 3D looks. It's a testament to how authentic the graphical overhaul is that it can be so dramatic and yet feel so subtle.  Sadly, the sound did not get similar treatment. It's by no means a poor audio experience, but it has not been enhanced from the N64 version. It's a good job that music is still absolutely stellar. [embed]203972:39501[/embed] As the name implies, Ocarina of Time is presented with the same 3D visuals you've come to know and sometimes love on the 3DS. While it doesn't exactly add anything to the gameplay, the title certainly looks better with the 3D enhancement. Colors are a little deeper with the 3D slider turned up, and the game appears ever so slightly washed out when you turn the effect down. It doesn't look hideous, by any means, but it is noticeably less pleasant without the 3D coating.  Thanks to the touchscreen, Ocarina's controls are much more efficient and useful, unless you're the type who doesn't like to get thumbprints on the screen. If you're a stylus-only 3DS player, you'll find the lower screen's inventory more fiddly to navigate. If you don't mind using your thumb, then equipping items and whipping out your ocarina is quick and easy.  Gyroscope controls are also included for use with ranged items such as the slingshot or bow. Unfortunately, the 3DS' contradictory design is such that the motion control won't work with the 3D visuals, unless you rotate your head along with the screen at a perfect angle. Failure to do so results in you getting an eyeful of painful screen blur. Fortunately, the 3D slider is conveniently located, and you can always just stick to traditional controls.  As far as the actual button input goes, Ocarina 3D feels surprisingly at home on the 3DS. The only issue is with the targeting system, which requires a press of the left shoulder button. It's feels pretty awkward to keep your finger placed there while trying to move and attack at once, but it's certainly no deal breaker.  For the most part, Ocarina of Time 3D is a joy to play, but there are a handful of niggles. Being a relatively faithful port, a number of annoyances from the 1998 original have carried over to the main game, such as the busybody owl who forces you into conversations. He still tricks you into letting him repeat his dialog by placing your cursor to "Yes" when he asks if you want him to explain things again. Stupid owl bastard. Some of the contextual commands, such as picking up Cuccos, are pretty dodgy, with Link struggling to get a hold on a running chicken because the right command won't appear properly. It's also worth noting that, while it was groundbreaking at the time, the famous Z-targeting system doesn't always work right, and Link will sometimes not focus on an enemy despite the screen's targeting reticule telling you he has. Oh, and Navi ... she's as excruciatingly infuriating as she ever was. So that's good to know. These issues, which still occasionally annoying, do as much to demean the experience today as they did over a decade ago. By that, I mean they do very little indeed. Ocarina of Time still holds up as one of the truly inspiring adventures in the medium of videogames. It's an absorbing, evocative world, and now it's one that can be taken anywhere. To cement this version's place as the ultimate package, Ocarina of Time 3D also includes the mirrored Master Quest version of the game and a Boss Rush mode. These extras are unlocked after completing the original version, and will surely add a little more longevity to game that already provides enough entertainment for the asking price. Ocarina of Time 3D is a game that makes you appreciate how far the medium has come. Ten years ago, the idea of running something like Ocarina on a handheld system would be inconceivable. Now, not only do we get it, but we get an improved version with superior graphics. That's the sort of thing that fascinates me, and makes me very happy to be a gamer in the here and now.  In many ways, this is one of the most pointless reviews I've ever written, as you already know if you're getting Ocarina of Time 3D. More than any other game, I feel the decision to purchase or not was made by gamers the moment it was announced. However, if for some reason you are on the fence, let me tell you that Ocarina of Time 3D is the ultimate version of one of the most endearing videogames you could ever hope to play.  Nothing more needs to be said. 
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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a powerful game. It's a game that, once it sinks its claws into a gamer, never lets go. Equal parts innocent and morbid, charming and disturbing, silly and melancholic, Ocarina of Time ...

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The Wii U was revealed. It's a new console that looks to be more powerful than the current HD consoles, and it has a lot of Wii- and 3DS-style functions in the controller. The controller is really weird and I hate the plac...

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[Update: Just spotted an image of Mimiga Viliiage in polygon form on Nicalis's Twitter and added it to the gallery.] Cave Story 3D is one of my most hotly anticipated titles at the moment. The promise of new content, designed...

Why you haven't bought a 3DS... yet

Apr 11 // Jonathan Holmes
Reason you didn't buy a 3DS #1: The 3DS got bad press The non-gaming press has done a great job of bashing the 3DS, and I know a lot of people that have taken that bad press to heart. A frend of mine, in his early 50's, has already declared to me that he will never allow his children to buy a 3DS, and he's never even used the system before. He has, however, seen the commercials for the 3DS, but they didn't do anything for him. "Looks just like the DS I got my kid for Christmas last year", he says "Except more likely to kill their eyes like that thing that Steve Martin invented in The Jerk". This goes to show that you only casually follow the gaming scene, you likely have no idea what separates the 3DS from the DS or other handhelds, other than that it has 3D, and it might make you go blind. Nintendo said from the start that they were going to have a tough time advertising the 3DS on 2D television sets, but the ads so far really aren't cutting it when it comes to showing consumers what sets the 3DS apart from it's predecessors. That's just the start of why touting 3D as the the 3DS's primary selling point might not have been such a great idea. When you'll buy one: Unless Nintendo changes their PR strategy soon, people outside of the gaming world are not likely to get a 3DS until after they've played one. Ads that show testimonials of real people reacting to the console's 3D display might be a good idea, but a better idea would be to get those 3DS demo units out to every major department store chain in America. I've been showing my 3DS off to my non-gaming friends on a pretty regular basis, and about 3 out of 10 of them went ahead and bought one after checking mine out. One plans to buy one for the AR games alone (mostly for Face Raiders, because she loves looking at her own face). This is despite the fact that she claims to hate 3D, and everything it stands for, which brings me to our next point.   Reason you didn't buy a 3DS #2: You think you hate 3D There has been a huge backlash against 3D movies, and 3D in general, amongst "hardcore" fans of  movies and games. For many people, 3D comes off as a gimmick, and gimmicks almost always piss people off. Then there's the resentment. In the film community, there was a huge backlash against mediocre, 3D blockbuster films like Avatar, Clash of the Titans, and Alice in Wonderland. Seeing these movies make huge numbers while better, non-3D movies tanked at the box office, got a lot of film fans fearful that the movie industry is headed into a 3D toilet. It's not dissimilar to way that Wii games like Carnival Games and Wii Party made big money, and were hated for it, partially because smaller, motion control-free Wii games like Muramasa and Little King's Story only made modest returns. If a crappy, 3D-heavy games make big money on the 3DS, while a well made, minimally 3D games tank, you can bet that gamers will be pissed.   When you'll buy one: Not until you forget about the "3D" in "3DS". I love the 3DS's 3D display, but I don't think it's enough to convert most 3D haters. If you're down on 3D on principle, you're not going to buy a 3DS until Nintendo starts exploiting and promoting all the other things the 3DS can do; movie playback, the better downloadable game service, built-in motion controls, better graphics, better controls, the list goes on and on. Like I said before, I know at least one person who's buying a 3DS just for the AR games. I think there are a lot of people out these who may do the same. The other reason she's picking one up is the she's wanted a DS for a long time. That actually puts her in the minority amongst gamers, which brings me to my next point.   Reason you didn't buy a 3DS #3: You just bought a DS The DS sold very well last holiday season, as it has just about every holiday season since it launched. There are already four models of DS out there, the most recent of which (the DSi XL) has been on the market for less than 2 years. Add on to that the fact that the DS just had a bunch of big name releases, like Pokemon Black/White, Monster Tale, and Okamiden, and you have a lot of people that may not have the burning need to drop $250 on a new console right now, DS or otherwise. March 2011 may have been a little to soon to launch a new DS.   When you'll buy one: This holiday at the latest. If the only reason you don't want a 3DS is because you're currently satisfied with the old DS, that's going to change fast, as DS games stop being released, and more and more must-have 3DS games hit the market. Other than a new Kirby game and a few other outliers, the DS isn't getting any big games anymore, whereas the 3DS has a steady stream of amazing games starting in June, and continuing into 2012.   Reason you didn't buy a 3DS #4: The 3DS was unfinished at launch The 3DS launched with no movie playback, a near-featureless online system, and no online shop or web browser. In many ways, having a 3DS now feels like having a pre-release preview build of the console. The fact that there was a system update the day the system was released just further drives home the idea that when the initial shipment of retail 3DS consoles were sent to retailers, the console just wasn't done yet. It's puzzling that Nintendo would seemingly rush the console out like this. Maybe to get some sales in this fiscal year? Regardless of the reasons why, the 3DS of today definitely isn't as awesome as the 3DS of six months from now will be.   When you'll buy one: Some of you are probably going to wait for the inevitable 3DS Lite (Or 3DSi, or whatever Nintendo calls the next 3DS), which will probably hit in about two years, maybe less if the current 3DS model has the growing pains that the DS Phat did. For the rest of you, all the big features of the console should be rolled out by this holiday, so if you're waiting to download cheap games or play 3D movies on your 3DS, you wont have to wait to long. The same goes for all the games you might be waiting for, which brings us to point #5.   Reason you didn't buy a 3DS #5: The 3DS has no big games Right now, the 3DS is mostly dominated by "arcade" style games; games where story takes a back seat to high score hunting and/or skill building. Pilotwings, Ridge Racer, Super Street Fighter IV, and even Nintendogs all fit that description. The console will also see a lot of ports in the near future (Cave Story, Ocarina of Time, Star Fox, Metal Gear Solid 3), which isn't doing much for its reputation. A a lot of people have trouble getting excited about ports, even if they are ports of classics. Ports and arcade games just don't feel as big to many modern gamers, and for people to plunk down $250 for a new console, they often need something big.   When you'll buy one: If you're a Nintendo fan, you're likely to get a 3DS this year, maybe even in the next few months. Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Paper Mario and the new Kid Icarus will likely be irresistible to the Nintendo faithful. Same goes for Ocarina of Time. Fans of that game seem content to buy it over and over again, regardless of how many times they've already played it. If you're only into 3rd party games, you may be waiting until 2012 (unless you are really into Resident Evil). That said, E3 is coming up in a few months, and that could change everything. More about that in a bit.   Reason you didn't buy a 3DS #6: The 3DS is not a great portable system The 3DS is an amazing hand-held console. Out of the many, many, many videogame consoles in my living room, the 3DS is the one I want to play the most right now. That's playing in my living room we're talking about. When it comes to what console I want to play while in the waiting room at the doctors office, or in line to see a movie, that's where the 3DS runs into problems. The 3DS may be the best hand-held console I own, but it's not the best portable. The 3D display, the gyrometer controls, the AR games, and the console's battery life all work to make the 3DS potentially embarrassing and/or unwieldy to use on the go. That's not true of all 3DS games. I'm totally good with turning the 3D off and practicing some Super Street Fighter IV combos while on the bus or waiting in line. That's the exception though. Right now, just about every 3DS game is tough to play in public spaces. When you'll buy one: Two things are going to have to happen to make the 3DS a contender for best portable. For one, the 3DS needs a better battery. That will happen, if it hasn't already. I haven't kept up with my 3DS battery news, but I'm confident that the console's battery life issues will be addressed sooner rather than later. The other thing is, we need to get some cheap, simple, fun games on the 3DS Shop Channel; games that don't require 3D or other more restricting features of the console. Angry Birds is coming to the 3DS, and that will do well (as it has just about everywhere) but I'm sure that it will just be a matter of months before the 3DS is flooded with games that are similarly suited for portable play. For instance, the Bit.Trip games would be perfect for playing while on the move, and they're headed to the 3DS any time now. I'm sure that's just the start of the avalanche of portable-friendly games set to hit the console in the coming months.   Reason you didn't buy a 3DS #7: You want to be a pirate The DS is easy to play pirated games on. The 3DS, not so much. Reports have been circulating since before the console launched that 3DS would be initially pirate-proof. Some even claim that pirating 3DS games could brick the console. That means that all the people out there who bought a DS, but never paid and honest buck for a DS game, are likely not all that into the 3DS right now.   When you'll buy one: It feels like piracy is inevitable on any console, but if Nintendo has their way, it will be a while before the 3DS is easily and permanently hackable in the way that the DS was . It took hackers about 6 months to get a homebrew channel running on the Wii, and though Nintendo has worked to stop piracy on the Wii with system updates, hackers have consistently found away around them. I figure it will take hackers less than that to crack the 3DS, but even then, Nintendo will fight hard to kill it with updates.   I'd guess we have a functioning homebrew channel on the 3DS by Halloween, but it's never going to be the pirate's paradise that the DS was. That may turn pirates off to the console for good, especially if they end up with a bricked 3DS.   Reason you didn't buy a 3DS #8: You hate Nintendo Some people hate Nintendo, just as some people hate the Yankees, Justin Bieber, and Jon Stewart. For these people, sports, music, politics, and videogames aren't just diversions. They're personal, and once things become personal, rationality goes out the window. There are people that would be happy to buy the 3DS if it happened to be created by Apple, Microsoft or Sony, but because it's a Nintendo product, they can't help but hate it. Right now, the 3DS is not likely to do much to warm the cold heart of the Nintendo hater, especially with the NGP just around the corner, and more and more great games coming to iOS. In the end though, it's all about the games. Hate Nintendo all you want, but if there are games you can't get anywhere else, you're going to get one. The question is, will that happen, and if so, when? When you'll buy one: It all depends on E3. If enough 3rd parties step up and put out 3DS exclusives that are very "Non-Nintendo", the console may just suck in the Nintnedo haters. For fans of western games, we're talking stuff like Bioshock, Grand Theft Auto, Dead Space, Gears of War, and Mass Effect. For Eastern gamers, you've got to have Final Fantasy and Monster Hunter. I'm not talking about Final Fantasy kart racers, Mass Effect mini-game collections or Dead Space on-rails shooters here. I'm talking about "real" games from those series, like how Resident Evil Revelations is a "real" Resident Evil game. It's got to be a game that competes with whats happening on home consoles, or it doesn't matter. With Revelations, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D and Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, Capcom is proving that the 3DS can handle PS3/360-caliber games. Now we'll just have to wait and see how many publishers want to invest in that direction. If they don't start supporting the 3DS en masse by next Christmas, the console will likely be seen as another "casual-friendly Nintendo system", and will suffer the same bad rap that the Wii has been struggling with for the past few years. Conclusion: It's weird to see the 3DS, Nintendo's most earnest attempt to appeal to graphics-focused "traditional" gamers, head off with such a hit-and-miss launch. However, when you look at all the factors that added up to create the console's launch environment, it makes sense that the 3DS wouldn't become the sell-out success that the Wii was right out of the gates. If the 3DS launched near the holidays, and had the support of a new Zelda title at launch, there is no way the thing could have stayed on shelves. The real question is, would that really have been the best thing for Nintendo, the industry, and for us? As it looks now, the 3DS will likely continue to sell at a good rate through out the year, seeing peaks in sales whenever a high profile games (like Ocarina of Time, Resident Evil: Mercenaries, and Mario Kart) are released. That will go on untill the install base is large enough to support the release of truly huge titles like the next Mario game, and whatever mega-publishers like Activision, EA, and Ubisoft choose to release on the system in 2012. In the meantime, the little guys like Bit.Trip series, Cave Story, and whatever Team Meat is cooking up on the console, will have a chance to shine in the spotlight, while Nintendo continues to ramp up production on the 3DS, assuring that there will never be a years of console shortages like there was with the Wii. This may be exactly what Nintendo had in mind all along. They may not have wanted all of you to buy a 3DS just yet, knowing that in time, the reasons why you're holding out on the console will fade away. It's not like Nintendo to completely fumble the release of a hand-held console, is it?
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Two weeks ago from yesterday, the 3DS launched in the USA. So far, the console has sold well, but not quite as well as Nintendo projected. The company expected to move 4 million 3DS units worldwide in the first month of relea...

Are you still playing your 3DS?

Apr 08 // Jim Sterling
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It has come to my attention that I've not touched my 3DS since I reviewed Ridge Racer 3D, and this makes me very unhappy. The Streetpass function is useless here, the collection of Play Coins feels like a waste of time, and N...

Exclusive: Why Fez won't be coming to WiiWare or the 3DS

Mar 29 // Jonathan Holmes
Regarding Fez on other direct download services, Mr. Fish had this to say: Right now we're only concentrating on XBLA, which makes the most sense for us at the time. PC and PSN would also make a lot of sense, but in my opinion, WiiWare just wouldn't be worth our time and effort. It's a dismal system that I don't want to deal with neither as a customer, nor a developer. No demos? Fuck off. Before you fellow WiiWare fans fly into a rage in the comments, keep in mind that Mr. Fish is fully aware that Nintendo has started utilizing time-sensitive demos for some games. Still, depending on who you are and what your game is, that could still mean "no demo" for you. A lot of WiiWare devs aren't graced with a  demo, or see their demo dropped from the service less than a month later. Things aren't looking quite as bleak for the 3DS in general, but still not great for Fez in particular: As for the 3DS, well, that would just have to be a completely different game. If I'm going to make a game that uses stereoscopic graphics, it's gonna be built from the ground up for that. Oh wait! I already did that. http://polytroncorporation.com/games/super-hypercube wink-wink nudge-nudge. Super Hypercube looks quite compelling. I hope Mr. Fish is hinting at a release on 3DSWare here, because I don't have the brains or the tech to get it running on my PC. The budding 3DSWare service could use a few small, eye catching games that utilizes the console's 3D display for more than just looks. Nintendo better allow for 3DSWare demos though, or Mr. Fish isn't going to be happy.
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I had the pleasure of playing Fez at PAX East, the upcoming perspective-bending 2D exploration platformer for XBLA. I also had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Phil Fish, the game's co-creator. While talking about the ideas t...

Eight realistic things that the 3DS needs

Mar 28 // Jim Sterling
1. Overhaul of the Friends System Yesterday I Tweeted my 3DS Friend Code and pledged to add anybody who shared theirs. Within an afternoon, I added over sixty friends (I've now maxed out at 100). While it's cool to see when Dale North is playing with his virtual Corgi, there's nothing else to do. You can't message friends, you can't even get access to their Miis without using a totally separate system (more on that later). Once you waste your time inputting Friend Codes, you have very little to show for it.  Not to mention, navigation is awful. You can't sort your friends by preference or online status. There's no "back" button, so if you've added your 60th friend, you have to manually scroll through the other 59 of them in order to get to the front page and add another. As it stands, the Friends List is a clunky, useless mess. This type of thing is online gaming 101, and really shouldn't feel as archaic and limited as this.  Also -- come on, can we have some leaderboards and social connectivity? Just a bit? It's really not hard to do in the year 2011. 2. Less reliance on StreetPass Right now, StreetPass is the most efficient way to collect Miis and access special features on various games. Unfortunately, this reliance on StreetPass alienates a vast sector of the market. I live in Mississippi, which not only won't sell as many 3DS units, but is also largely anti-pedestrian. You need a car to travel anywhere in this town, with a lack of public transport and sidewalks only featuring in the barren suburban streets or the heart of Jackson, where you'll get mugged before you find a StreetPass user. My situation will likely ring true even for more pedestrianized areas. Unless you live in a huge city such as New York, London or Tokyo, your opportunities to use StreetPass are considerably limited. This locks one out of several Mii-based features built into the 3DS and renders the StreetPass functionality of game cartridges all but useless.  As usual, this comes down to Nintendo bucking up its ideas as far as the Internet goes. More opportunities to collect Miis online, without using those annoying QR codes, would be great. StreetPass is awesome as a concept, but heavy use of it will cut off millions of people.  3. Reasonable (and timely) eShopping The very fact that Nintendo launched the 3DS without having its virtual marketplace online is ridiculous, yet so very fitting for a company that doesn't seem to understand how the Internet works. I'm fairly certain that most of my time will be spent playing Game Boy and Game Gear titles on the 3DS, and I'm fairly excited to see a Nintendo handheld with a robust digital content plan.  Of course, that's if Nintendo ends up using a robust digital content plan. I'm not filled with confidence when I find out that the eShop is not available at launch. Reasonably priced portable games, with a spotlight on independent titles and, most importantly, timely releases for ALL territories, will make the eShop an awesome feature. I don't want to wait to download a game that was available to Japan six months ago, and I don't want to pay ten bucks per Game Boy title.  Fingers crossed that the eShop delivers more than Animal Crossing branded calculators. 4. Support for medium-to-small Western developers This is a really big one for many people. Nintendo is famous for not giving a crap about companies that aren't called Nintendo, and this really should stop. The 3DS is a great place for smaller developers to showcase their talents, especially digitally. If Nintendo does it right, the eShop could provide just as big a spotlight for developers as iOS' App Store. The system is already in millions of hands worldwide, now we just need to make it easy for developers to put their content up.  Nintendo has recently stated that it supports the indie spirit -- it needs to back up that claim with action. I see so much potential for the 3DS' digital output, but that potential rests on the shoulders of a company that remains notorious for not living up to such expectations. Let smaller developers put decent content up through 3DSWare and give them a bit of publicity.  5. More AR gaming If one thing really stands out for its potential brilliance, Augmented Reality gaming is surely it. The 3DS comes with a selection of "AR Cards" that work with the built-in camera to make things appear as if they're in your house. More than just a gimmick, the AR gaming is already providing some fascinating fun, allowing players to physically strafe enemies and shoot them in the back, or move the 3DS around to avoid incoming fire.  As is often the case, however, the current AR offering is a half-assed affair. The 3DS comes with a variety of character cards, allowing you to bring such popular Nintendo icons as Mario, Kirby and Link to life ... except they don't come to life. They just stand there, and you can take photos of them in different poses. Had Nintendo actually bothered to make these characters interactive, almost like virtual mascots that can be played with, it would have been utterly fantastic. I can imagine Nintendo making a fortune in selling booster packs of these cards with brand new Nintendo characters, all of which can be played with like a portable EyePet. The potential is magnificent.  There's nothing stopping Nintendo from releasing new cards that can do this, and I hope it does so. I'd actually buy cards that let me interact with a "living" Kirby or Link as opposed to a virtual statue. I hope that's the direction Nintendo takes, because the current AR character cards are lazy and boring. 6. A useful game suspension feature Right now, it's borderline useless to suspend a game in progress to do other things with your 3DS, mostly because anything you'd want to do requires the suspended game to close. If you need to mess with your system settings, view your activity log, or access any other type of software, you cannot proceed without terminating your suspended game. All you can do so far is check your Friends and Notifications, both of which are pointless in their own right. If your turn your system off, the suspended game is also terminated, meaning you can't exit a game during a plane ride, for instance, and pick it up instantly later. So far, the only thing it achieves can also be achieved by physically closing the 3DS -- keeping a game in sleep mode for later play.  Returning to the Home Screen automatically suspends any running software, and thus you need to hit a notification whenever you want to play something else. What this means, is that game suspension's only real use is in annoying you with a mandatory, unnecessary step between switching from one bit of software to another. What is the point? At least saving a suspended game while powering down the 3DS would give it one practical, applicable use. 7. A game about those badass 3DS Sound parakeets Okay, this is not exactly an exciting improvement for the system, but I can't help adoring those little parakeets in the 3DS Sound program. They happily chirp away while helping you record your own Starscream impressions, and they never judge your singing ability. I've loved these little fellas since they appeared on the DSi, and I still love them today.  If Nintendo were to release an exciting new game all about them, or at least released Nintendogs + Cats + Sound Parakeets, I'd be a very happy man. 8. Full account integration  This, right here, is the big one, and something that affects several previous points. One of the 3DS' biggest issues right now is how gated all of its features are. For example, adding a friend does not grant you access to their Mii. Instead, you need a separate Mii code to access it. Friend Codes and QR Codes for Miis require users to exit the 3DS experience and contact other 3DS uses via an exterior means, and that's simply unacceptable. Why isn't everything integrated and acting in conjunction with another? Xbox Live, cell phones, all manner of online social platforms have set a very basic standard, one the 3DS simply isn't reaching right now.  The 3DS meets us halfway by allowing content transfers between 3DS units, which improves on the DSi, but it's just not enough. Users lack any semblance of online identity with the system, and with every feature being so insular, you get no sense of cohesion. A unified user experience is something that made Xbox Live a huge success, so much so that even the iPhone has been catching up to it with features like the Game Center. Gamers generally like to feel that everything they do on a system is part of an overall, interlinked entity. The 3DS currently fails at this.  These are the ways in which we believe the 3DS could improve -- and quite easily, too. While this article comes across as negative, it's worth stressing just how much we like the system at Destructoid. It's a neat bit of technology that's fun to mess around with and is destined to get a great library of games, as handheld Nintendo games typically do. Things like AR gaming and eShopping are exciting concepts, and I personally salivate at the thought of this system's future accomplishments.  It's just that the system lets itself down with some truly half-baked design. The 3DS feels like it was dragged into the 21st Century, under duress, and it's not happy to be here. It'll do the bare minimum required to be considered modern, but it won't go all the way. All of our suggestions for improvements could be done through simply software updates and decent decision making, though, and if done so, we could have a real contender on our hands.  One can only hope Nintendo does the right thing. 
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The 3DS released in North America just yesterday and reactions have certainly been mixed. Most of us seem to love the system as a concept, and revel in the potential it holds, while remaining unsatisfied with the current laun...

Review: Nintendo 3DS

Mar 23 // Nick Chester
Getting to know the 3DS for the first time Nick says... "My first impression of the system is that it's too small. This is coming off of using the monstrous DSi XL, of course. Size aside, I'd say this is Nintendo's best handheld yet. I think Dale's mentioned it before, but it feels less like a toy than previous Nintendo handhelds; it's easily the company's most sophisticated piece of portable hardware to date. "The form factor is not entirely dissimilar to the Nintendo DS, so you know what to expect here. The big upgrade, at least on the controls front, is the circle pad. This mini-analog stick runs circles around the nub Sony decided to tack onto its PlayStation Portable. With your hands gripping the 3DS, your thumb sits in the perfect place to reach the circle pad for a full range of movement. The rubber material gives you a nice, firm grip when playing. "I've heard some talk about 'loose hinges,' but I feel like we hear that every time Nintendo releases a dual-screen portable. While it may be an issue for some, I haven't had any hinge issues with my handheld." Dale says... "The 3DS is a fine piece of hardware, though I found myself wanting a less floppy top half. I suppose there's a lot of weight there with the larger screen, cameras and electronics, though. The rest is solid. I called it 'impressive' in my unboxing, and I stick to that.  "Unlike Nick, I feel that it's plenty big enough. Users of previous DS or DSi systems will feel right at home. The new buttons are a welcome addition -- especially the new analog pad. I can't wait to finally get to use this thing in a platformer or adventure game. I love the plus D-pad and buttons, as they're very responsive." Now in mind-boggling, glasses-free 3D! Nick says... "While Nintendo seems to want to sell the handheld on its revolutionary glasses-free 3D capabilities alone (it's in the name!), that shouldn't be what pushes you to reach for your wallet."The 3D effect is, in fact, quite stunning in person. The effect is less 'things popping out as you' and more of a sense of added depth. It's almost as if you were looking into a diorama, with little people moving around and living inside a box. "How you view the 3D is going to vary based on a number of factors, including your own eyesight (if you're wearing glasses or contacts, your distance from the screen, the game in question, and more). Fortunately, Nintendo has put an easily accessible 3D slider on the top screen, allowing you to adjust the strength of the effect on the fly. The simple fact that it's so easy to adjust is not only brilliant, but completely necessary, given how nearly every game seems to utilize 3D differently."Not all 3D games on the 3DS are created equal, it seems. For me, a few games were virtually unplayable -- completely blurry, some giving me a double vision effect -- when the 3D slider was cranked up to the max. Others handled it quite nicely. I noticed that this was different depending on whether or not I was wearing my glasses, my contact lenses, or nothing at all. (I'm nearsighted, so I can generally play handhelds without assistance.) Personally, I found that moving the slider up just a touch was the sweet spot -- it gave me a nice sense of depth without becoming too overwhelming or distracting. "Of course, the question remains: is the 3D really necessary? Of the launch games I played, there wasn't one for which I felt the 3D effect truly added anything to the gameplay experience. With the exception of Pilotwings Resort (an argument could be made for that extra sense of depth making landing aircraft easier), I didn't find I needed the 3D to play any of the games. In fact, after a while, I ended up turning the 3D off entirely. It's not that I was getting headaches (a common concern, but nothing that I experienced) or even that I found it distracting. It's that after a while, I hardly notice it's on; instead, I'm more focused on the activity of playing the game itself." Dale says... "The 3D effect is really cool, especially in some of the Augmented Reality minigames that Nintendo has included in the system. It also looks great in proper 3DS games, but not great enough for me to leave it switched on. I'm going on a month of 3DS ownership now, and I have barely used the 3D. I 'check' to see how a new game looks in 3D, and then I shut it off. It's not that I don't like it or don't feel that it looks neat, but I just find that I'd rather play the game without it. Again, it doesn't really get in the way, but I do usually feel like it's something not needed for most of the games I've played." Battery life... or lack thereof Nick says... "It's been no secret that the 3DS' battery life isn't quite on par with what gamers normally expect from a Nintendo handheld. The company itself says you'll get between three and five hours, depending on your usage of various functionality, like the 3D or the system's Wi-Fi. "During my usage, I didn't have any battery issues, placing the 3DS in the charging cradle every chance I got. Of course, only using the handheld around my house has that advantage -- I can constantly charge the device, between and even during usage. Traveling with it will be a different story; most flights I take exceed the battery life of the handheld, which means I probably can't expect my 3DS to be my main form of in-flight entertainment. "Ben Kuchera from Ars Technica actually put the battery through its paces and confirmed what we already knew: it basically kind of sucks. Still, how much this is going to impact you depends on what kind of handheld gamer you are. If you use it on short commutes or just around the house, you should be okay. While that will probably be fine for most gamers (and it has been for my own use), battery performance is clearly the 3DS' biggest problem." Dale says... "I've been everywhere with my 3DS. Day-long trips, overseas flights, road trips -- this little system has some major miles on it already. I can safely say that the standby battery life is awesome. It's really fantastic, even with Wi-Fi on. It's the gaming life that's not as great. You only get a few hours out of your 3DS battery on the go at max brightness, and with the sound, 3D and Wi-Fi on.  "I don't feel like this will be a problem in most gamers' day-to-day life, though. The handy cradle makes your portable gaming life really easy." Rock the charge cradle of loveNick says... "I have to admit, I couldn't initially figure out why Nintendo bothered to include a charging cradle with the handheld. The 3DS actually uses the same power adapter as the DSi, with a similar port on its top side as well. But with the dock, you simply plug the adapter into the dock, and gently place your 3DS into the little plastic shell to begin charging. "What I appreciate so much about the dock is its convenience in practice. I simply set up the cradle on my desk, and every chance I get, I plop the 3DS down like it's a habit. Given the battery situation, I think this was a smart move on Nintendo's part -- it really encourages you to keep the handheld juiced up, because doing so is as simple as putting it down." Dale says... "I joked that I was going to give away my cradle in my unboxing, but I've come to love and rely on the included dock. It's just so handy!" Shooting you in the face with my Augmented Reality games Dale says... "Face Raiders aside (not a great game), the Augmented Reality stuff is really going to knock people's socks off. I've shown off my 3DS to many people now. While most were mildly impressed with the new display and the glasses-free 3D, almost all were really excited by the Augmented Reality cards and applications. "The ability to overlay graphics on a real-time camera display is nothing new, but it's certainly more fun with Nintendo's touch. Seeing your favorite Nintendo characters in your real-life environment is a trip, and it really gets the imagination going for future 3DS titles. Adding 3D to the AR was a nice touch. I think younger gamers are going to flip out when they see this stuff in person." Face!: The Mii MakerNick says... "I'm not a huge fan of Miis; the novelty wore off for me only a few days after I got my Wii at launch. Still, it's nice to see Nintendo trying to tie its products together with the little buggers, and they've done a pretty nice job of bringing them to the 3DS."Of particular note is the ability to take a picture of yourself using the 3DS camera, and having the system auto-generate a Mii for you. The results vary wildly from person to person -- I don't think my Mii (picture in this article) looks anything like me -- but it's nice for those who aren't artistically inclined. As with the Wii, the parts that are included for your Mii are varied, and with some skills and a good eye, you can make some pretty wild-looking characters." Dale says... "I could get all camera-nerd on you and talk about lens distortion, or I could nitpick and talk about how basic the facial detection is, but that would be silly. The Mii Maker is a lot of fun, regardless of the end result. I can't believe how many people thought I was serious about my Mii complaints in the demonstration video we ran. Yes, it's not even close, but I'm sure Nintendo wasn't going for close. They were going for fun, and they succeeded." Is that a 3DS in your pocket or are you just happy to see my StreetPass data? Dale says... "Where has this been all along? Most of the fun I've been having with the 3DS relates to its StreetPass functionality. Being able to walk on the street and 'pick up' data from other 3DS users sounds impossible, but it works beautifully, not to mention effortlessly. Later, when you open your 3DS, you'll find that you can enjoy the Mii Plaza games, see new Miis and find even deeper interactions in many 3DS game titles.  "With your 3DS on, or in standby with Wi-Fi switched on, the system will do all the work. The 3DS will notify you of new interactions when they happen. Game-specific ones are the best. In Super Street Fighter IV 3D, you will be able to use your personal Street Fighter trading figure collection in battle, going up against the people you've passed on the street. You pick your line-up of five characters and watch them go head-to-head. In nintendogs + cats, you'll be gifted free items to use in your game, as well as pictures of other people's pets. It's like an extra social game for every game you own. They're not deep experiences, but they're definitely fun. "This stuff is so fun that I've found myself going Mii-gathering in the real world. It's to the point now where I'll walk slowly in front of someone just to be sure that I get their Mii exchange. Some just look up and grin, like they know exactly what I'm doing." Nick says... "I don't have quite as much to say about this functionality as Dale, so forgive me if I'm not quite as excited. While Dale spent the better part of the last month living in Tokyo with his 3DS, I've been less fortunate. In fact, seeing as how the system hasn't been available in stores this past week, there was little to no chance that I would pass someone on the street, in my car, or at the supermarket who also had a 3DS in their pocket. (Believe me, I tried.) "Even so, I'm still not entirely sold on how successful this will be for many gamers who own a 3DS. If you live in a large commuter area like New York City, for instance, I suspect you'll probably pick up some decent StreetPass stuff. If you're in school (college or otherwise), there's a good chance you can expect a decent volume of data, too. "But for working adults who drive to and from work, it seems the cards are stacked against you when it comes to gathering StreetPass data. For me, outside of bringing the handheld to gamer-centric events (PAX, E3, and more), I'm not sure I'll see much -- if any! -- StreetPass data on a day-to-day basis. I'd love to be proven wrong, though, because I love the concept." Mii Plaza, You Plaza Dale says... "I'm really enjoying the Mii Plaza on the 3DS, even though it's not quite what I expected it to be. I guessed it would be a place where I could see the Miis of all of my friends walking around. Instead, it's a visual collection of the Miis of all the real-world people I've encountered via StreetPass. It's also a sort of hub for playing the two included social games, Find Mii and Puzzle Swap.  "Find Mii is a game that sees your Mii trapped in a dungeon. The Miis of people you encounter are enlisted to spring you out in a classic turn-based role-playing game. You'll use these Miis as playable characters in your party, commanding them to attack or use magic spells to defeat sub-bosses in each of the dungeons leading up to the one in which you're being held captive. It's really basic, but it's fun knowing that everyone else is using your Mii at the same time. "Puzzle Swap is exactly as it sounds. There are several 15-piece picture puzzles to reveal, and the only way to get pieces is to encounter others via StreetPass. The people you encounter offer up any of the pieces they've already acquired, and you do the same for them. In other words, the more people you meet, the more puzzles you'll complete. When completed, these puzzles form a 3D figure that you can view and manipulate in 3D space. I became so addicted to this game that I'd constantly check my 3DS indicator light to see if I had another opportunity to earn another piece. "If you're a lonely person but still want to play the Mii Plaza games, you'll need to take a walk. The 3DS has a pedometer built in. After taking so many steps, you'll earn a Game Coin. These game coins can be spent on the Mii Plaza games, which will give you combatants in Find Mii, or puzzle pieces in Puzzle Swap. Note that there's a daily limit of ten coins, so you'll really have to work to build up your count. Finding friends is much easier." Nick says... "Given my tale of StreetPass woe, you can imagine I didn't have much fun with Puzzle Swap or Find Mii. I was able to get a nice chunk of coins by taking my 3DS to the gym and running with it, but that can only get me so far. In order to get the most of these games, StreetPass data is essential.  "Oddly, your Mii Plaza will only be populated by those you've 'met' through StreetPass. Connecting with buddies via the 3DS' friends list functionality allows you to see their Miis, but those Miis won't show up in your Plaza. Nintendo really wants you to leave the house, and really wants you to go hang out in places where people own and carry their 3DS systems, I guess." Sound Off, or "If You've Always Wanted to Sound Like a Parakeet"Nick says... "The built-in sound manipulation program from the DSi returns here. As far as I can tell, it's mostly identical software, which isn't exactly great news. You can record short sound clips and then modify them in various ways, like adding effects or changing the tempo and pitch. On its own, this stuff is pointless outside of being a diversion; this is about as basic as audio tools can get. Sure, it's fun to record your voice and then alter it in silly ways, but this novelty only lasts for a few minutes. "The good news is that the 3DS supports MP3 files, something the DSi did not. What this means is that in theory, you can use your 3DS as a portable music player. Problem is, the file sorting and playback is so miserably basic that I can't imagine using it as a dedicated music player. The program does have some cool 3DS-specific StreetPass functionality -- trading song info of strangers and such -- which is nifty in its own right. But considering the low cost of competent portable media players and the fact that most cell phones can play MP3 audio, this is a feature I'll never touch." Take a picture; it'll last longerNick says... "The 3DS features both front- and forward-facing cameras, just like the DSi. You can use both cameras to snap photos, which are saved directly to the console's inserted SD card in JPEG format. On the 3DS screen, these images appear passable, but viewed on a PC monitor (or anywhere else, for that matter), the quality is unpleasantly poor. "Taking advantage of the glasses-free 3D capabilities, you can also take 3D photos with the camera. Depending on how you set up your shot -- with reasonable distance between objects to take advantage of depth -- 3D photos can look kind of 'neat.' But 'neat' is about as much credit as I can give them, and when you consider the low resolution of the images, this isn't really taking photography to the next level. I took a bunch just to test out the functionality, but I doubt I'll ever be using it to document my life."Also missing is the Facebook integration found on the DSi, and Nintendo offers no other way to share images with others -- even folks you've added to your 3DS friends list -- from the handheld itself. While there's a chance this functionality could come to the 3DS in a future system update, it seems like a strange thing to omit from the jump." Dale says... "Indeed, there's nothing nice about the 3DS' photo quality, and that's a real shame. It's also surprising, as the image quality on the screen -- before the photo has been taken -- is really nice. I didn't even know it would be so bad until I stopped my initial photo-taking frenzy to check out the images. "I'm hoping Nintendo also brings back Facebook functionality, or at least some kind of friend sharing ability, as these photos are near-useless when they just sit on your SD card." Hey, wanna swap Friend Codes?Nick says... "Along with Miis, a friends list also comes to Nintendo's handheld. Those irritating Friend Codes are still here, unfortunately, but you have to navigate fewer menus to input them than on the Wii. "Once a friend is added, you can see things like their Mii, the game they're currently playing, and a short 'status' message. That's about it, really. There's no way to send a message to your friends. There's no way to see their progress on games, or which games they have in their library. The list does come in handy for games that support online multiplayer, like Super Street Fighter IV 3D, as you can easily find and connect with friends in private rooms. "It's nice that Nintendo is offering a friends list, but the included functionality does feel a bit shallow, at least when you compare it to other offerings on consoles and mobile operating systems." Dale says... "We've been in the Stone Age so long with Nintendo systems' online functionality that I was probably too excited to see the status of my friends online on my 3DS for the first time. I feel like we're finally getting somewhere by even being able to see that! "I don't know Nintendo's plan, but I feel like they're going to beef up the Friends functions as time goes on for the 3DS. It's still early, and there's always firmware updates." Nintendo Handhelds: Extreme Home Makeover EditionNick says... "Everything about the front-end software for the 3DS is a step up from the DSi. Essentially, it's the Wii home screen, but better. From it being cleaner and better organized, to some of the software suspension functionality, everything that came before it feels like a beta in comparison." Dale says... "Yes, the 3DS menu is very Wii-like, but only in the best ways. The Home button is great. Being able to peek in at your main menu is really cool. You can see Wi-Fi status, on-going connections, Game Coin count, step count and more at a glance, at any time. It's clear that Nintendo has been listening to gamers." About those games...Nick says... "Few platforms knock it out of the gate at launch with their games, but the 3DS' initial offerings seem particularly weak. And while your mileage may vary depending on your interests, I don't think there are any 'must-have' games that are hitting shelves alongside the platform, at least based on the batch I've played. "That's not to say there aren't 'good' games; Pilotwings Resort and Steel Diver are two decent first-party offerings, and Capcom kicked it out of park with Super Street Fighter IV 3D. But it's hard to recommend running out and buying a 3DS based on any of this starting line-up; there really isn't a 'killer app' available just yet. "The games that are available do show the potential of the handheld, though. From a visual standpoint (even ignoring the 3D capabilities), titles look stellar on the 3DS screen; it's an immediately obvious step above the DS. The analog circle pad also adds quite a bit to the potential of experiences, which is particularly obvious in the third-person action of LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars." Dale says... "I love Nintendo and own everything they make, but I've never been happy with a system launch line-up. nintendogs + cats is still my most played game, if that tells you anything. As Nick said, there's no must-have for the system. Yet. "That said, all the games look great. Even the half-assed ones, like Ridge Racer 3D, still look nice, and far better than any DS game before them. Super Street Fighter IV 3D looks fantastic. I'm sure there's even more in store for us. I'm really looking forward to E3's 3DS showings."The bottom line Both Dale and I agree that the 3DS is an amazing device, despite a few concerns and gripes. Nintendo has made great strides in both the quality of the hardware as well as the usability of the built-in software. While the glasses-free 3D technology is impressive and on the cutting edge, neither of us are entirely sold on the notion that it's going to change how we play games. As with any platform, it comes down to the available software. While there isn't that 'OMG must have' title on shelves just yet, there's little doubt that some are coming. Just the tease of a brand-new Mario game at GDC earlier this year had us foaming at the mouth. If you're a gamer who enjoys playing a broad range of titles, you'll eventually want to own a 3DS. The question of 'Do you wait?' is something only you can answer for yourself. At $249.99, it's Nintendo's most expensive portable to date, which might make it a hard sell. With no 'must-have' software available right now, the only thing you'll really be missing is collecting valuable StreetPass data. But if you do pull the trigger at launch, we're both pretty confident it's not something you're going to regret in the long run.
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When Nintendo of America's President and COO, Reggie Fils-Aime, says that the company's latest handheld, the Nintendo 3DS, is in a "category of one," he's not kidding. When it ships on March 27, Nintendo's handheld will be th...

Two dudes talk about how much they love Missile

Mar 08 // Chad Concelmo
*** It goes without saying that there are UNBELIEVABLY MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW! Please proceed with caution. *** Chad Concelmo: Last month I wrote a post called "The ten best videogame puppies EVER!". At the time, I hadn't played Ghost Trick, but, no joke, about half of all the comments on the post mentioned Missile. Everyone said I was ludicrous to not include him on the list. I couldn't respond with my "I HAVEN'T PLAYED GHOST TRICK YET!" replies fast enough. But, now that I have played (and loved!) the game, I totally understand what people were saying. Missile is awesome. I seriously am in love with that cute pup. Tony Ponce: For those of you who have yet to play Ghost Trick (and don't mind some major spoilers), you take play as a recently departed spirit named Sissel who must use a bevy of paranormal abilities to solve the truth behind his murder and how he connects to the game's overarching mystery. Along the way, you meet many unforgettable characters such as a smooth-talking police inspector with serious Michael Jackson moves and a romance-intrigue novelist with hair shaped like rose petals. One of the earliest characters you meet is Missile the Pomeranian, the loyal companion to our female protagonists Lynne and Kamila. Unfortunately, he's already dead when we first meet him. Chad: As a huge dog lover, I was overjoyed when I met Missile. HE IS SO ADORABLE! But then I kind of freaked out when I saw him get shot in the face and killed right after he was introduced. That really kind of traumatized me. I mean, seriously. PEOPLE SHOULDN'T SHOOT CUTE DOGS IN THE FACE! But once you make everything right again I felt much better about the situation. And communicating with Missile in the spirit world is an absolute joy. Missile has so much personality, and, for a dog that gets shot in the face, quite the positive attitude! Tony: I absolutely love how naive about the world he is! He can't stand the black "Hello!" because every time one of his mistresses picks it up, she ignores him! When he meets a stranger, he just wants to bark a lot and welcome him! Instead of trying to grasp the nuances of human lifestyles and activities, he just tosses up his paws and says, "I'm a Pomeranian! What do I know?" But he loves his mistresses, and understands life and death enough to know that it's his duty to protect them at all costs. Even from beyond the grave. That's loyalty. Kinda reminds me of a reverse Hachiko. Isn't Missile like Hachiko, Chad? Fan art by Eaglebird Chad: Oh my gosh, you did not just pull out the Hachiko card. Do you want me to start crying right now? Seriously. I am totally getting emotional. Hachi is so amazing. But, yeah, Missile is like Hachiko. He is such a loyal pup, but obviously not nearly as mellow as Hachi. At first, Missile is kind of this quirky dog character that you obviously love, but don't think he will factor into the story as much as he does. He just feels like another one of the many quirky, memorable characters that pops up in Ghost Trick. But as the game goes on, you start to realize the major role Missile plays in the story. There have been many other dogs in many other videogames -- some that even serve as important companions (Secret of Evermore comes to mind) -- but never has a dog felt so complex and vital to a game's plot. It really is such a refreshing thing to see in a videogame. It makes me laugh to think back about some of the long, important conversations my main character had in the game ... and how many of these conversations were with a cute puppy. It's absurd. And once you find out the even more major twist about who Sissel really is at the very end of the game, those conversations feel even more absurd. Awesomely absurd, but absurd nonetheless. But looking past the amazing role Missile plays in the story, the part that really took me over the edge (outside of the game's grand final reveal) was when Missile actually joins you in your mission and becomes part of the gameplay. Once you have to alternate control between Sissel and Missile to solve the game's puzzles I was ridiculously impressed. And they both have completely unique powers! Working together with Missile adds such wonderful variety to an already stellar game. The more I think about Missile the more I genuinely miss him. It has been a long time since I have fallen that in love with an in-game videogame character. How about you, Tony? Did you fall more in love with the character of Missile himself? Or were you more impressed with just the simple fact that Missile -- a Pomeranian -- is featured as one of Ghost Trick's main (and most important) characters? Fan art by Celestiale12 Tony: Missile is one of those characters in a work of fiction who explodes beyond the creator's expectations. In Destructoid's interview with series creator Shu Takumi, he expressed hope that Sissel would have a lasting impact on players, joining the ranks of Capcom icons like Mega Man, Ryu, and even his own Phoenix Wright. Much to his surprise, it was the support character Missile who was the big crowd-pleaser. Every Ghost Trick impression I've read has heaped tons of praise upon Missile, and it's clear to see why after playing the game. All the characters have their own little quirks that make them memorable. For me as well, Missile was lovable right from the start, but so were most of the others. My love went into overdrive precisely because of how his role expands. What makes Missile so special is how the game plays with your expectations. He starts off as just an ordinary house pet. After Sissel rewinds time and prevents Missile's death, Missile races out after Kamila to protect her from future harm, but not before comically bonking his head against the apartment door for several minutes trying to get it to open. You watch this scene, giggle, remark "what a cute doggie," and then move on. Missile bites the big one a second time halfway through the game, but this time he possesses ghost powers that rival Sissel's! Sissel can manipulate inanimate objects, but Missile can swap objects of similar shape no matter how large or heavy they are and he has a longer reach than Sissel! On top of all that, he too has the power to turn back time! At this point, Missile is no longer a support character. He's not just the stalwart canine companion anymore. He's not Rush, called upon every now and then to help Mega Man cross a particularly perilous chasm. He's not Red XIII, who doesn't seem to fit alongside real warriors like Cloud, Barret, and Tifa. He's officially one of the major players. Unlike other games with animal protagonists like Star Fox or Banjo-Kazooie, the world of Ghost Trick is more or less the real world. In the real world, animals are sadly not awarded much significance. A house pet as a hero? Who is this, Underdog? But he is! Just imagine how awesome having a time-traveling, fate-altering ghost puppy would be! Fan art by Kikulina Chad: I couldn't agree with you more about why Missile easily became the fan favorite. Everything you said is spot-on. He is such an adorable, loyal, brave character that it is impossible to not fall in love with him. I would even argue he is one of my favorite characters ever created by Shu Takumi. And this is the guy who created both Ghost Trick and the Ace Attorney series, games filled with a ridiculous amount of memorable characters! What did you think about the ending? When you found out that Ray was actually an older version of Missile, were you surprised? Not only was I shocked to find this out, but when they showed the image of an older, graying Missile, I may have cried a little bit. Seeing that brave little pup instantly turn into an old, wise, even braver dog was a highly emotional revelation for me. Having a dog of my own whom I love very much did not help the situation. Missile was so fleshed out and likable that he started reminding me of my own dog Luna. Seeing Missile dramatically aged at the end of the game made me think of my own dog and what she will look like when she is much older. This moment killed me, because I can't even imagine what my life is going to be like once Luna is not a part of it. Damn, I can't even type this without wanting to cry. It's crazy that a dog character in a very fantasy-heavy game has the power to affect me this much. Damn you, Missile! WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO AWESOME?! Fan art by Chad Concelmo Tony: Now you are making me choke up! And I don't even have any pets! The "Ray is Missile" revelation is mind-blowing on multiple levels. I mean, he's indirectly responsible for how every major event in the game turned out. He saw how that one night played out, watched all his loved ones die without his having the necessary skills to reverse their misfortunes, and then went back in time ten years. With his prior knowledge, he was able to determine the best course of action for Sissel to follow, but he had to remain as a spirit for ten years to do so! Talk about patience! Speaking of patience, ten friggin' years! The average Pomeranian lifespan is about 12 years. If you figure that Missile was only a year old or so before at the start of the game, that means he spent quite nearly his entire life waiting for the opportunity to undo a single night's misfortune. Even though he's a ghost, it would appear that a ghost's powers dwindle around the time its natural life would end. This was his final mission before he passed on. Oh my God! I really do feel like crying now! I feel like we're in mourning! Fan art by Venomshock Chad: This post just went from "Two dudes talking about how much they love Missile" to "Two dudes crying". And I am fine with that. Missile rules. Now hold me, Tony.
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Fellow Destructoid editor Tony Ponce and I are in love with recent Nintendo DS game Ghost Trick. Like, obsessed. It is easily one of our favorite games of the year. The other day, we were talking about how great the game is o...

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North American retail behemoth GameStop has listed a launch bundle for the Nintendo 3DS. For $299.97, the listing offers a 3DS, a choice of Samurai Warriors, Dead or Alive Dimensions or Super Street Fighter IV 3D,&n...

Review: Pokemon Black/White

Mar 06 // Jonathan Holmes
  Pokémon Black/White (DS)Developer: Nintendo/Game FreakPublisher: NintendoReleased: March 6, 2011MSRP: $34.99 Pokémon Black/White is my favorite Pokémon game. That's my opinion. It's also the most robust, fully featured, polished Pokémon game on a technical level. That's an objective fact. Put those opinons and facts together, and you can only come up with one conclusion -- if you like Pokémon, you should go buy Pokémon Black/White. Like, right now Still here? OK, in that case, maybe you don't like Pokémon all that much. Maybe you've never played a Pokémon game, or maybe you just don't get what's so great about the series. If that's the case, I'd be happy to explain to you why Pokémon is so popular, and why Pokémon Black/White is the best example to date of what makes the series so great.   The underlying draw of all the main-series Pokémon games is their slot-machine-like appeal. People today often complain about random battles in RPGs, but the fact is, developers still utilize them because they still work on our brains. On a strictly biochemical level, random battles are effective game design, but only when used properly. Like I once said about Animal Crossing, playing Pokémon triggers the same chemicals in our brains that fire when someone is just about to win or lose something in real life. There is a reason why that kid bothered to hunt for a shiny Ponyta for so long. It's because every time he got into a random battle, the music, the graphics, and the promise of a new Pokémon caused adrenaline and endorphins to fire in his brain. Those are powerful drugs. It's a good thing that Nintendo sells the full Pokémon cartridge up front, instead of charging per random battle. We'd have a lot of bankrupt Pokémon fans out there if Nintendo started to treat Pokémon battles like online poker.   Back to the point, Pokémon Black/White maximizes on the "game of chance" aspect of Pokémon by ditching all the old Pokémon, making a new and exciting reward all the more likely. If you've played the series at all in the past, then you're likely sick of running into Zubats, Geodudes, and Magikarps in the process of hunting for new Pokémon. You won't be seeing any of those guys in the main campaign of Pokémon Black/White. Instead, you'll be treated to 155 all-new Pokémon. Some of them are clearly influenced by previous Pokémon designs (the flying electric mouse Emolga is basically a Pichu with webbed arms and black headstocking), while others appear to be totally new ideas (the fire/bug-type Larvesta is particularly awesome). Regardless of how original these new Pokémon appear to be, it's unquestionably more compelling to have each and every Pokémon in the main game be a new design. This is on top of the enormous laundry list of new features and items found in the game (more on that later). Suffice it to say, there is always something new around the corner in Pokémon Black/White, and that's exciting.   The second big selling point for the Pokémon series in general is that Pokémon (the actual Pocket Monsters themselves) are awesome. I say that as a fully grown married man with two jobs and a relatively normal social life. I know that a lot of people in their twenties and younger associate Pokémon with "kids' stuff," and that's understandable. The less-than-sophisticated accompanying Pokémon cartoon show and movies do a lot to further that notion. As a 34-year-old, I'm sort of oblivious to all that. Pokémon first came out when I was 18. I knew that kids liked it, but by then, I was too distanced from the world of children to fully associate Pokémon with being a kid. Instead, Pokémon was just Nintendo's new turn-based RPG to me. It allowed for player-vs.-player combat, and player-with-player trading, which I thought was awesome. More importantly, it took place in a world that was one part EarthBound and one part Dragonball, but with characters that were one part Totoro and one part Godzilla, with a liberal dose of total insanity cast over it all. To this day, I'm still convinced that Squirtle is one of the most ingenious character designs ever. A turtle that squirts water with a squirrel tail, named Squirtle? Fucking amazing.   None of that design genius has been lost on Pokémon Black/White. The new Pokémon are just as amazing as the old ones, if not more so. The best part is, the designers at Game Freak no longer have to rely just on static images to convey their ideas. Each Pokémon now has a smooth, expressive standing animation. That goes for every Pokémon ever designed -- all 649 of them. I believe that's some sort of record for individually animated 2D sprites in a videogame. Those animations can really go a long way toward making these characters interesting and fun to look at. For instance, when I first saw the new legendary Pokémon Victini, I passed it off as a cheap Pikachu knock-off. That was before I saw his hyperactive dance animations and the tiny changes in his facial expressions, and heard his signature whistling battle cry/death rattle. I love that little spaz so much now. He hasn't left my party since I first caught him five hours into the game, which is saying a lot, since I'm 88 hours (and counting) into my first play-through of Pokémon White.   The attention to detail doesn't stop at the animations. Like all the Pokémon games before it, Pokémon Black/White is an immensely detailed game. Figuring out all the features, systems, and techniques is like a science unto itself, one that I don't think I'll ever fully comprehend. If you want the full laundry list, check out Serebii.net after the review. In the meantime, I'll tell you about a few of the new aspects that really enhanced my time with the game. Right off the bat, you get a starter Pokemon (like in prior Pokemon games), but after a bit of exploration, you'll also get a corresponding monkey Pokemon of complimentary type to go a long with it. Your first gym battle will also change depending on which starter you chose. A little later on in the game, you'll find that you trade online in real time with strangers, which really ups the excitement and potential for online trading. You can also jump into someone else's game and team up with them on special multiplayer missions, and catch Pokémon that are otherwise unavailable to either of you. Then there are the two kinds of triple battles, which are easily the biggest evolution of the Pokémon combat system to date. I honestly never really enjoyed playing Pokémon against other people before.  One-on-one -- and even two-on-two -- battles just felt too predictable and limiting. With triple battles, that's really changed for me. It's a very straightforward improvement, but it goes a long way to making the game more fun.   On the other hand, Pokémon Black/White doesn't just stack new stuff on top of the old formula. It also works to streamline play. You won't have to rely as heavily on moves like Surf, Flash, Strength, and Cut in order to make your way through the campaign (though all those moves are mandatory for certain side quests). It's all part of Pokémon Black/White's overall push to make the player enjoy every second of their experience with the game. The polygon-based backgrounds allow for dynamic camera angle changes that make even walking around the overworld potentially exciting. The seasons change once a month, which both allows for new seasonal Pokémon to pop up, and for new areas to be explored in the overworld. Music changes dynamically in battles, trainers give mid-battle trash talk, you can get video chat calls from NPCs and PCs alike in the midst of playing; the list goes on and on.   There is also a storyline. I've never been much for the storyline of the Pokémon games, but I have to admit that the story for Pokémon Black/White has its moments. The game is about your player and his/her two best friends setting off into the world of Pokémon, a world that much more closely resembles the United States than in prior Pokémon games. Almost right away, you bump into Team Plazma, a group dedicated to freeing Pokémon from the oppression of humans -- sort of like a PETA for Pokémon. What makes them interesting is that like PETA, they may (or may not) have their hearts in the right place, but either way, their methods are often questionable at best. The further you get into the game, the more you get to understand Team Plazma, and the fact that they are a truly bizarre, cult-like organization, poisoned from the inside by entitlement and dogma, but potentially saved by the purity of their Pokémon love. This ambiguity and internal conflict is encapsulated in Pokémon Black/White's main "rival," a character named N. I don't want to give away the details about N, but I'll say that by the end of the game, you'll feel like you've gotten to know this mysterious character pretty well. The game's story may not be Metal Gear Solid 4, but it's definitely a step up from the simple "terrorist/organized crime/environmentalist group uses Pokémon to do bad stuff" narratives of the past games.   There are a few niggling issues I've had with the Pokémon series since day one that still bother me in Pokémon Black/White. The menu system remains overly complicated at times. I tried out the game's limited video chat system with Destructoid's Max Scoville yesterday, and it took about a half hour for us to figure out how to get it going. Max is a smart dude, and I'm not totally dumb myself, but we still needed to bust out the instruction manual and engage in some trial and error just to get online. Find your Pal Pad in your bag, exchange friend codes, then go to the Wi-Fi room (not the Union Room, you idiot!) in the Pokémon Center to get each other in the room, then select your Xtransciever, which does... wait, what does that thing do again? It's all much more work than it needs to be. There is no reason I can see why they couldn't just let you select "video chat" from an "online" option in the game's main menu. For that matter, there is no reason for there not to be an "online" option in the game's main menu, instead of breaking up the game's online modes and settings into multiple different locations. And don't even get me started on the game's "box" system. Why does it still take me more than three steps to get into the Pokémon storage system? Why do the "Deposit Pokémon" and "Withdraw Pokémon" options even exist? These are such little problems, and it seems like such common sense to fix them, that I can't help but wonder if I'm missing something here. I'm pretty sure it's not just me, though. It's probably just another case of Nintendo making an incredible game, but missing the boat on a few basic interface optimization techniques that would do a lot to make their software more fun to use. There are a few other tiny problems I have with the game. Some of the Pokémon animations are a little bland; the "legendary trio" this time around doesn't look all that legendary; and there is the occasional bout of slowdown (usually in particularly large areas of the overworld or in triple battles). I could also do without the mandatory in-game tutorials on how to catch Pokémon and what a Pokémon Center is. They're great for beginners, but veterans like me shouldn't have to sit though that stuff. Overall, though, those issues really do nothing dampen what is the newest, most polished-feeling Pokémon sequel to date. Just before writing this, I tried going back into Pokémon Pearl/Diamond/Platinum to see how it stacked up to Pokémon Black/White. It felt like such a step backward that I could barely stand to look at it. Even without new hardware to rely on, Pokémon Black/White still delivers the next step in the evolution of the Pokémon series.   If you like Pokémon, or ever could like Pokémon, this is the game for you.
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Every new Nintendo handheld gets a new Pokémon game. That's the way it's been for the past 15 years. The OG Game Boy got Pokémon Red/Blue, the Game Boy Color got Pokémon Silver/Gold, and so forth. That ha...

Here are the U.S. launch games for the 3DS

Feb 22 // Jonathan Holmes
On March 27, new Nintendo 3DS owners will be able to choose from the following Nintendo-published games, each available at a suggested retail price of $39.99: Pilotwings Resort™, an aerial adventure featuring airplanes, hang gliders and rocket belts. Players soar above tropical Wuhu Island in 3D as they complete missions or snap pictures. Steel Diver™, a submarine game that involves strategy and combat. The 3D visuals give players the sensation that they are looking into a miniature aquarium as they control the sub’s speed, depth and pitch, and fire torpedoes. nintendogs™ + cats, a game that lets players interact with realistic puppies – and kittens – in a variety of fun ways. There are three versions of the software, each with different starting breeds: French bulldog, toy poodle and golden retriever. But in each version players can unlock and enjoy more than 20 different breeds. Other Nintendo 3DS games in the works for 2011 from Nintendo include The Legend of Zelda™: Ocarina of Time™ 3D, Star Fox 64™ 3D, Kid Icarus™: Uprising and new installments in the Mario Kart™ series. Third-party publishers also have a strong slate of games ready to go on March 27. These include: Super Street Fighter® IV 3D Edition from CAPCOM The Sims™ 3 from EA Madden NFL Football from EA SPORTS Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D from Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. LEGO® Star Wars® III: The Clone Wars™ from LucasArts™ RIDGE RACER® 3D from NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. Super Monkey Ball™ 3D from SEGA BUST-A-MOVE UNIVERSE™ from Square-Enix, Inc. SAMURAI WARRIORS®: Chronicles from TECMO KOEI AMERICA Corp. Asphalt™ 3D from UBISOFT Combat of Giants™: Dinosaurs 3D from UBISOFT Rayman® 3D from UBISOFT Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon® Shadow Wars from UBISOFT Nintendo 3DS also comes pre-loaded with a variety of fun games, applications and features, such as the Nintendo 3DS camera, which can be used to take photos in 2D and 3D as well as be used in other games and applications. For instance, the built-in Face Raiders™ game asks users to shoot at funny depictions of their own photographed faces, while the Mii Maker™ application lets gamers use the camera to take a picture of a person and have an automatic Mii™ character created. The system also comes with six AR Cards, which, when viewed through the outer cameras, bring to life fun and interesting animations and images. For example, when used with nintendogs + cats, users might see their puppies or kittens sitting on their coffee tables or in the palms of their hands. With Nintendo 3DS Sound, users can enjoy sound-manipulation tools or rock out with their Nintendo 3DS system while listening to their MP3 or AAC music files.
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The 3DS is set for launch on March 27 in the United States, and the games that are arriving along with it have just been announced. It's a diverse list of 18 games, and Nintendo is promising that at least 12 more titles will ...

Exclusive: A behind-the-scenes look at Mighty Milky Way

Feb 16 // Jonathan Holmes
Dtoid: What are you hoping players experience when they play Mighty Milky Way?SV: We want players to scratch their brains over devious puzzles. We want them to grittheir teeth as they skim past the surface of a dangerous planet. We want them to sheda single tear when they hear the choirs singing “T-Rex!”. Above all, they should scratchtheir heads at the nonsense, and then smile as they embrace it!Dtoid: How did you come up with the characters for Might Milky Way, particularly Luna. AnyOlimar influence in there? Jetsons maybe?SV: The only thing those characters have in common are bubble helmets! I’m surprisedyou didn’t throw “The Fury” from Metal Gear Solid 3 in there too. We basically justwanted to make a cute little space girl that had a sort of 50’s retro chic, and Luna wasthe result! As you can see in my admittedly crude concept art, she was originally waymore retro. Naturally, that got massaged out as we made the game mightier.The T-Rex was drawn on a legal pad while we were at Jack in the Box. NotJoking. Dtoid: By my count, Luna is the third original WayForward heroine to star in her own game.That's more than a lot of bigger, older developers have done in their lifetime. Is there areason why WayForward is so fond of female protagonists?SV: We’ve actually had several of them over the years in addition to the ones you seeon DSiWare. Our creative director, Matt Bozon, is fond of female leads, especiallyones that are strong characters in addition to just looking pretty. The other directorsand I wholeheartedly agree with this concept, and it’s become one of our core tenets.WayForward fights the misogyny!Dtoid: WayForward also has a knack for designing female characters that aren't overlysexualized or objectified. Do you have general rules around the way that you designyour female protagonists?SV: We like our characters to be attractive and appealing. But, it’s important to let thepersonality dictate the look. It’s easy to make a sexy-looking design, but not necessarilyan attractive character. Discerning audiences can tell the difference, and it’s easy toturn people off. Milky Way’s lead gal “Luna” is a character I’d be proud to show mymom! Side note: whenever I’m working on something bloody or violent, she alwayssays “Why can’t you make another sweet game like a boy and his blob? That game wasso nice…”Dtoid: Back to Mighty Milky Way, what lessons did you learn from designing Mighty FlipChamps, and how did you apply those lessons to designing your new "Mighty" game?SV: The Bozon Bros. designed Mighty Flip Champs, whereas I helmed Mighty MilkyWay. The team makeup and structure was totally different on both projects. However,the Milky Way team looked hard at the unique aspects of Mighty Flip Champs andvaliantly endeavored to bring them to our game. The two Mighty games are verydifferent, with distinct personalities, but we think that’s what’s great! Hopefully we cando another Mighty game with a different team, and it would be a third pillar of quirk! Dtoid: Is there a specific reason for the reoccurring "Mighty" prefix?SV: We wanted to tie the games together so that they would stand out among othergame titles. Ideally, we could make a bunch of Mighty games; games that have thesame reoccurring elements. Players would go in knowing sort of what to expect, and wecould build a library of unique games under the same moniker! Think the Bit.Trip gamesand Pixeljunk series and you aren’t too far off.Dtoid: Is there any potential for a retail release of your DSiWare games? Sadly, there are alot of people who don't have their DSi's online, and I feel like they're missing out.SV: While we love the DSiWare platform, we are always looking at different ways to getour games to the players. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of WayForward’s originaltitles coming to other platforms in the near future…Dtoid: Any potential to bring your games to other download services or consoles?SV: Absolutely! I can’t talk about it right now, but you will hear more about our diabolicalplans very soon!Dtoid: In closing, what's your favorite thing about Mighty Milky Way thus far?SV: The music in this game is truly amazing! However, I am going to have to call outLuna and the T-Rex’s relationship as my favorite part of the game. Their dynamic is justso complicated, realistic, and exciting. Once you play the game, you will understand. Ormaybe you won’t! That’s the beauty and mystery of Might Milky Way.
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I recently went on a tear about how I'd like for more women in video games to throw off the shackles of gender concepts in favor of just being as interesting and genuine as possible. The female protagonists from WayForward ar...

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Wait just a minute. NIS America is publishing (and Nicalis is developing) a remake of Cave Story, and it's going to have 3D graphics presented on a 2D plane with the 3DS' depth-of-field wizardry in mind? That sounds like too ...

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If there's one thing that annoys about piracy, it's the excuses. If you're into piracy, whatever, but don't try to dress it up as something it's not. The flawed logic and the sense of entitlement is the thing that really annoys me, and that's the subject of this week's video.  So yeah, watch it if you want!

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After an eon of waiting, Nintendo has officially dated and priced the 3DS in North America. You can pick up the next-generation handheld on March 27 and it'll set you back $249.99. It wil be available in Europe on March 25th....

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3DS games look pretty good, but do they look fifty bucks good? GameStop certainly seems to think so, as the retailer's penciled in a $49.99 price tag for two of the better known 3DS titles, Dead or Alive: Dimensions and Samur...

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So, it finally happened. Some 3DS news has occurred that's suddenly made me incredibly cynical about the system. Nintendo's Japanese 3DS site has revealed that the upcoming handheld sports a pathetic three to five hours of ba...

3DS stolen from assembly line, photos and vid leaked

Jan 03 // Jim Sterling
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We should have a proper unveiling of the final 3DS model this month, but you know us gamers, we have no patience. So it is that a crafty little bastard stole a 3DS from a Chinese production line, and did what any noble thief ...

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Here it is! The big finale! The climactic closing to our two part awards show special (in case you missed it, here's part one). In this episode we have even more special guest stars, including game developers, game character...

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Want to know what's good? Then you're in luck! The 1st annual Destructoid Show Awards show spectacular is here! In part one of this two-part extravaganza, we showcase the best looking, most disappointing, and hardest to put ...

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Nintendo has announced that its never-ending Pokemon saga will continue on March 6, when Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version for the Nintendo DS hit shelves. The press release announcing this momento...

Preview: ATV Wild Ride

Dec 15 // Nick Chester
Like a lot of gamers, Renegade Kid’s Jools Watsham played Black Rock Studio’s 2008 stunt racer Pure and had the time of his life. But as a fan of handheld gaming, he wondered: “Why is there nothing like this on the Nintendo DS?” Sure, there are a few other ATV/MX racers on the market, but there was a slight problem -- none of them are very good. Unlike most gamers, Jools was in a position to do something about it, and the result is ATV Wild Ride, scheduled to hit retail early next year. At its heart, ATV Wild Ride is about two things -- going really fast and wild stunts. From what I’ve played, Renegade Kid has justified both bullet points, with a speedy game that runs at a smooth 60 frames per second and a nice batch of insane “oh no he didn’t!” tricks. Renegade Kid offers two control styles for the game, and surprisingly I found the default setting to be the least comfortable. “Type 1” maps the gas and, brakes, and boost to the handheld’s face buttons, with a combination of L/R and the direction pad to pull off various tricks. I personally found this scheme uncomfortable, so finding the second scheme hiding in the menus -- which maps the tricks to the face buttons, and the brake/gas to L and R respectively -- completely changed how the game felt. Your mileage may vary, but I'd suggest trying both out early on before you get to some of the game's more difficult races. Of the tracks I played (which was most of them), all seem designed with both speed and tricks in mind, with plenty of opportunities to nail jumps. By pulling down on the d-pad, you can “pre-load” a jump; pressing up as you reach the apex of a hill will get you the most air. Once soaring through the sky, you’ll be able to pull of three levels of tricks -- A, B, and C -- the difficulty of which will depend on your boost pay off. These are the kinds of over-the-top stunts you’d expect from a game called Wild Ride, including one called the “Lanky Doodle” where the racer hops up on the seat and does a single jumping jack in mid-air. (Terrifying, but pretty cool to watch.) The more difficult moves you’ll have to reserve for only the best air, so timing your jumps and finding the best inclines on the game’s tracks is key. The game single-player experience is broken up into a number of modes, including the standard quick race, a score-based freestyle stunt mode, and time trials. The meat of the game is its “World Tour,” which has you competing against CPU racers around the globe at a number of varied locations, including Mexico, England, Thailand, Canada, and the United States. There are 24 tracks in all, and this is a great way to experience all of the game’s content, and even unlock hidden content in the process. “World Tour” is broken up into four separate tours, unlocked by earning points for landing in the top spots in each race. As I found out, they get increasingly difficult. During my first and second tour, I spent most of the time ahead of the pack, far and away taking the lead in every event. I mentioned this to Jools who pointed out that the AI riders get smarter and more aggressive as you progress. He was right -- by the third tour I was struggling to keep up, my ego kept in check as I remained neck and neck with racers right up to the very end. Like I mentioned earlier, there aren’t any monsters lurking anywhere that I was able to see, but ATV Wild Ride does feature its fair share of characters. There are eight riders to choose from, seven of which are locked from the start, each with their own look, style, and voice. One of the riders, the fictional British racer Simon Jeremey, even sounded suspiciously like Mr. Watsham himself. You’ll also have your pick of ATVs, as well, a total of eight. Like the riders, only three are available at start, leaving you something to work towards as you make your way through the tour. Vehicles are rated on four categories -- speed, acceleration, and handling -- with some of the best only obtainable as unlockables. ATV Wild Ride’s music is also notable, as well. It’s the kind of aggressive punk-style music you’d expect from this type of racer, original music by Gregg Hargrove’s band, Swift Justice and the Hired Goons. Why’s that remarkable? Hargrove is Renegade Kid’s co-founder and art director so it’s not likely you’ll hear the music in any other title. “Back in the day I used to attend their live performances here in Austin,” Watsham tells me. “So I was familiar with their songs already, and when it came to the music for ATV Wild Ride, it felt like a natural fit.”From what I’ve played, ATV Wild Ride definitely feels like it'll be a natural fit for fans of high-energy, arcade-style racers when it ships early next year.
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In 2007, developer Renegade Kid screwed with our heads and terrified us on the go with its first-person shooter, Dementium: The Ward for the Nintendo DS. Its next handheld title, Moon, stuck to the first-person formula with t...

Live blog: Spike Video Game Awards 2010

Dec 11 // Nick Chester
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[Update: The awards are over -- you can find a full list of winners, as well as the evening's premiere's right here.] Spike's Video Game Awards will air tonight, starting at 8:00 PM Eastern. You can watch it on Spike TV, or y...

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A new study claims that while iPhone and mobile gaming is on the rise, DS and PSP games are treading water, and the water's getting rather putrid. This is all according to Interpret, who states that market data is signalling ...

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Renegade Kid's next title is ATV Wild Ride. Yes, it's totally not what you were expecting based on its track record with the Dementium series and Moon. The game is aiming to be the best ATV experience you can get on the DS w...

Review: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

Nov 17 // Tony Ponce
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (DS)Developer: Chunsoft Publisher: Aksys Games Released: November 16, 2010  MSRP: $34.99 As previously mentioned, 999 is visual novel, essentially a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The "gameplay" almost entirely consists of cycling through page after page of text on the touch screen accompanied by images with limited to no animation on the top. At junctions, you are prompted to make a decision to determine which story branch you'll follow. The hook here, of course, is that the narrative is broken up by interactive escape segments. You search a room (or multiple linked rooms) for objects and clues to help you solve puzzles that will unlock the exit. You acquire suspicious items, combine items together to produce new tools, and manage a file of important notes. Some objects in a room don't get added to your inventory but instead trigger interesting, often humorous dialog between the characters. Investigation is handled entirely by the touch screen, although there are navigation and menu shortcuts mapped to the buttons for your convenience. You perform a string of individual tasks that can range from the simple -- find an empty vase, fill it with water, then use it to put out a fire -- to the insidious. A good number of puzzles are math-based, but the game provides a calculator and reference sheets to aid those less mathematically inclined. Many of the shortcomings found in other escape games are absent here. Every object you acquire will serve a purpose, so there's no confusion over red herrings. Every interactive object has a generous hit box, so there's no hair-pulling over pixel hunting. There are no time limits and puzzles can't accidentally be made unsolvable. Thanks to the ability to save your progress at any time, you can always return to a room later with a clear head should you start to feel overwhelmed. In total, there are 16 escape rooms, each of which can take roughly half an hour to solve on your first run. Once you solve a room, it becomes available for replay on the main menu. That's quite a lot of content for a game in which such segments only comprise a fraction of the experience. If you buy it just for the puzzles, you will be more than satisfied. So why are you solving escape puzzles? In 999, nine people awaken on cruise liner out at sea and are informed by a masked figure named Zero that they have nine hours to escape before the ship sinks. They become unwilling participants in the Nonary Game, a life-or-death experiment in which they must seek out nine doors with painted numerals and eventually a door with the number nine. Each person wears a bracelet displaying a digit from one to nine, and they can only enter doors in groups of three to five when their combined bracelet values yield a digital root that corresponds to that door number. If they break any of the rules, the bracelets will trigger bombs within their bodies. To my surprise, the story is phenomenal! It's like Saw if it were written by Michael Crichton. It's a fiction-as-fact mystery brimming with moment after nail-biting moment. Truthfully, the story has no choice but to be good, considering that many of the novel sections can run over an hour. The length doesn't matter because it's such a treat, not to mention a damned miracle, to read competent game writing for once. You explore the ship through the eyes of 21-year old college student Junpei. As he comes to grips with his present, he joins up with the rest of the captives, all bearing code names to mask their true identities. Everyone must play Zero's sick game while trying to discover the link that ties them all together. At first, these individuals seem like your stock anime cast. There's the bubbly "Clover," the slow but gentle giant "Seven," the big-bosomed older woman "Lotus," and others. One girl in particular, "June," is actually Junpei's childhood friend Akane, who he hasn't seen in nine years. Once you move past first impressions, you discover conflicted and damaged characters within. As you listen to their stories and personal tragedies, you can't help but grow to love them. Ironically, I believe the reason why it's easier to relate to these people and become immersed in their world is that the game delivers narration through written prose as opposed to carefully directed cutscenes. Absorbing the details and allowing imagination to run wild has a greater impact than an animated scene that would most likely be rife with ham-fisted voice acting. For example, twice do the captives discover a corpse that had been blown apart by a stomach bomb. The narration goes into great detail describing the carnage, right down to the colors and consistencies of the various bodily fluids running down the walls. The still images never show the bodies directly, but these descriptions were enough to make me feel queasy and uncomfortable. And I'm not the kind of person who is bothered by special effects gore in film! I applaud composer Shinji Hosoe for creating a masterful score that really gets under your skin at the right moments. More than the music, I have to give props to the Aksys localization team for not only capturing the mood flawlessly but also injecting some funny dialog to lighten the mood. My favorite moment has to be when June expresses concern about entering an elevator that descends to a level supposedly submerged underwater. Junpei mistakes her fear for hesitation with being alone with a boy and possibly, as that old Aerosmith song goes, going "down" in an elevator. There are six endings in total, most of which involve the deaths of everyone on board, but half the fun is discovering all possible conclusions. When you restart the game, your previous prompt selections are grayed out so that you'll know which choices haven't been made. You can also fast-forward through novel sections you've already read, although after repeated playthroughs you'll wish you could just hit a single button and skip to the next junction or puzzle automatically. Replaying the game is also the only to visit all the escape rooms, and you will have to go through some rooms multiple times. Chances are you'll remember the solutions to those rooms and be able to breeze through in mere minutes. What ultimately takes the game over the top are the discussions you carry with your fellow captives. Every so often, something will remind them of a curious piece of scientific lore. At first, these topics about the curse that sunk the Titanic, glycerin crystallization, morphic resonance, and more seem random, but as you venture down new story branches, you'll start to notice the common thread and the grand mystery will slowly unravel. I guarantee that you won't be able to guess how it all sorts out. You must trigger a specific false ending before you're allowed to go for the best ending. The reason for this is one of the biggest surprises in the game. Without spoiling anything, the game is able to take the very nature of the multiple-ending visual novel genre and weave it into the narrative in a way that makes perfect sense in the context of the story. Beyond that, the game's final revelation is so mind-blowing and is executed so brilliantly that I guarantee it will stick with you for as long as you play videogames. It's something that could only be possible on the DS, and my heart leapt when it happened. To give you an idea of just how engrossed I was in 999, I stayed up past 5 AM several nights in a row plunging down every possible avenue. I don't know when was the last time I was so fascinated by a game, especially one as story-heavy as this. When I look back at the small list of quibbles -- having to repeat escape rooms and fast-forward through text on subsequent runs -- I can't honestly say that those faults detracted from the overall experience in the least! The puzzle portion of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is substantial and enjoyable enough in its own right, but it's the story that keeps you hooked. Here is proof that videogame narrative can be everything we wish it could be and more. It gets you thinking, pulls at your fears and emotions, and hits you with a few perception-altering twists. What else can I do but give this game my highest recommendation?
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A few years ago, I discovered escape-the-room Flash games and was hooked instantly. Shorter and more compact than your typical point-and-click adventure, escape-the-room games such as Crimson Room are a great way to kill time...

Review: Sonic Colors DS

Nov 14 // Jim Sterling
Sonic Colors (DS)Developer: DimpsPublisher: SegaRelease date: November 16, 2010MSRP: $39.99 Sonic Colors on the DS shares the same basic premise and gimmickry of its Wii counterpart, but that's where the similarity ends. Sonic Colors is a straight 2D platformer, bearing far more resemblance to Sonic Rush than anything to be found in Sonic Team's latest console offering, with some notable improvements to the Rush formula, to boot.  The "press right to win" dynamic of Rush has been toned down, with a slightly slower Sonic and levels designed to put the focus on exploration as opposed to simply running. In fact, the levels have nearly all been put together rather excellently, especially the implementation of the Wisps. These Wisps are cute, marketable little aliens that Eggman has trapped in an intergalactic theme park, and they give Sonic various special powers when captured.  Sonic Colors can be completed without having to make use of most of the Wisps, but the game is a lot more fun, and you can score a lot more points (needed, because the game's post-level grading system is damn strict!), if you use them. An added incentive is that using them can be quite fun, too. The levels built around the Yellow Wisp's drill power are especially cool, and many of the gimmicks and routes in each stage treat the Wisps as a far more integrated part of the game, unlike the Wii version where they appear tossed in as a throwaway gimmick.  Dimps has also done a remarkable job of curbing the frustration that usually accompanies recent Sonic games, the ones that operate at such a speed that the only "challenge" in the game comes from trial-and-error pitfall deaths. While Colors can be a rather tough DS game, and there are some cartridge-snapping moments, most of the challenge comes from tricky platforming and making use of all Sonic's abilities at the right time, not from lacking the clairvoyance to know when the next split-second jump is about to ambush you.  A few of Sonic's console abilities are ported over to this game, with mixed results. The homing attack returns, but it's one of the most successful iterations of the ability yet. Homing attacks always hit their mark, and there's no lag or risk of causing an accidental death by daring the follow the game's directions. The power to jump from wall to wall is also quite satisfying, albeit a little sluggish, but pressing the R button to slide through narrow gaps could have done with being scrapped. It barely works properly and it seems gaps have always been placed during speedier sections, which only serve to break the flow of the game.  Colors DS also sports its own variation of bosses, which also vary in degrees of quality. They're all damn challenging, and many of them are quite clever. Just a few feel as if Dimps tried too hard, with a couple of fights that expect you to die several times before you know what the Hell is going on. Fans of bosses that don't take it lying down ought to be satisfied.  The main levels of Sonic Colors are pretty great, but the game's various sub-missions are dreadful. Not only do they feature cameo appearances from terrible characters like Silver the Hedgehog and Cream the Rabbit, most of the missions are fairly inane (capture thirty Wisps within an absurdly strict time limit) and are merely rehashes of previous stages. Fortunately, these can be ignored for the duration of the game.  The game's Special Stages, however, are well worth checking out. Making use of the touch screen, these levels hark back to Sonic 2's classic bonus stages, as you drag Sonic around a tubular track in order to collect colored orbs. It's fairly easy, but that doesn't stop it being fun, and it also features some fantastic background music. I found myself selecting these stages just for how they look and sound more than their gameplay.  If that's not enough, there are also Time Attack levels and even multiplayer stages in which two players can link up and race. While these extras aren't a huge selling point, they're a neat, inoffensive feature for those who really get into the game and want a little more.  While it could have done with scrapping its pointless narrative and extras entirely, and there are a few later stages that could have done with tightening up, Sonic Colors is yet another great handheld Sonic experience. By taking many of Sonic Rush's style but making various strong improvements, it's easy to argue that Colors DS, not Colors Wii or even Sonic the Hedgehog 4, is the real return to form for our spiky blue friend. Its presentation is superb, most of the stages are structure incredibly well, and there's enough replay value to be found, as you can go back to previous stages with unlocked Wisps to open new paths. Even without the gimmick, however, many of the stages are just worth playing again for the fun of it.  Sonic Colors DS is the best Sonic game released this year. Easily. 
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While Sonic the Hedgehog has become quite famous for a string of terrible games over the past ten years, that's only really true in terms of home console output. Hyperbole states that we haven't had a good Sonic game since So...

Silent Hill: Revelation announced as 3D movie

Nov 04 // Jim Sterling
The next Silent Hill movie, Silent Hill: Revelation has been announced, and is being filmed in 3D. The film -- directed by Michael J. Bassett -- revolves around Heather Mason, who is on the run from "dark forces" along with her father.  The first movie was more or less alright, despite gathering much hatred from other fans of the series. I can't say I'm expecting much out of this one, but who knows? Maybe we'll get a Pyramid Head rape scene that looks like it's COMING RIGHT AT US WOOOOAAAAAH! Stupid 3D.  AFM '10: BREAKING NEWS: 'Silent Hill: Revelation 3D' Director!!!! [Bloody Disgusting]
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The next Silent Hill movie, Silent Hill: Revelation has been announced, and is being filmed in 3D. The film -- directed by Michael J. Bassett -- revolves around Heather Mason, who is on the run from "dark forces" along with h...


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