Tag Archives: 3DS

I only went and bought a 3DS XL

Yeah, yeah, I’m going back on a promise, but hey. The XL is much nicer than the older hardware and the sexy white Mario Kart bundle coupled with a free copy of Super Mario 3D Land meant getting the hardware with arguably its two best games for a reasonable £160. The fact that I was enticed into spending money on Nintendo hardware and actually getting excited about it shows that the regrowth of my enthusiasm for gaming since taking the freedom road continues apace.

Nintendo 3DS XL

I learnt from the disappointment of getting on board early with the original DS, this time skipping the flawed initial incarnation and the wilderness months when there’s bugger all to play, this time getting the superior hardware right off the bat and having a worthy little library to pick from.

Yes, it’s still region-coded, which I maintain shouldn’t happen on a handheld console and will really hurt if I end up missing out on anything as wonderful as the Japan-only Ouendan on ye olde DS, but overall I’m impressed. I could take or leave the 3D effect and it could really do with a resolution boost on such a large screen – after three years of retina displays, it’s hard to go back – but those are my only complaints. It’s a lovely piece of hardware and the built-in features like StreetPass are impressively forward-thinking for a company as notoriously backwards when it comes to online as Nintendo. The size of this thing does make it a pain to carry in a pocket, but I still find myself making room for it and going out of my way because I want to StreetPass with people.

It’s a shame that idiotic ideas like friend codes and, on newer hardware, time limitations on when adults can buy games keep cropping up to mar Nintendo’s reputation, because the 3DS shows what kind of clever ideas the unlimited potential of networked gaming can bring when coupled with a company with a proven bent for innovation and bringing people together to play.

My next project is to get on Ocarina of Time 3D – and I’m embarrassed to admit this – and finish it for the first time. Get some SNES and GBA games on the Virtual Console as well and I’ll happily put this down as a worthy purchase.

E3 2012 Conference Review

If last year felt like games were running on fumes, desperate for a bit of fresh blood, it didn’t take much to predict what we were going to be seeing this year. Although I don’t think anyone anticipated it being this bad.

For reference, you can find my last few E3 conference reviews here.



It seems like the days of actually using these shows to announce things and get people excited about your platform are long gone, at least if you’re Microsoft. Where were the big, surprising reveals that get people talking, that get them excited for the coming year? There weren’t any. The handful of games that actually impressed were ones we’d seen before and were mostly venerable franchises being supplanted by their “cinematic action game” successors in which you hammer a button and cool stuff happens. Or, if you’re Black Ops II, you do the last game again with Human Revolution’s piss filter on it, which tells you that it’s the future.

But at least you can search Bing and browse Internet Explorer in Spanish now, so that’s something.

In fairness, Halo 4 looked nice, SmartGlass is a very good idea, and Matt Stone and Trey Parker had a good line. And I’m interested in LocoCycle based on that teaser, simply because it’s from Twisted Pixel. That’s it. Thank God they were smart enough to make SmartGlass cross-platform so that I don’t need a Windows Phone to use it, as otherwise it would have been dead on arrival and the sole highlight of the conference would have been two guys who didn’t really want to be there taking the piss out of it.

I’m writing this on Monday evening and crossing everything that Sony and Nintendo bring out the big guns to definitively show up that nonsense as the shite it was.

I didn’t hallucinate that they brought out Usher, did I?



(Full disclosure: I didn’t stay up until 4am to watch this and so my opinions are based on retroactively reading live blogs and watching videos.)

Like last year, I thought Microsoft had left the door open for Sony to steal the limelight, and once again, Sony resolutely failed to do so. Arguably even more so.

First of all, I suspect that Sony has given up on the Vita. Its sales have been poor and there’s been a negative buzz around it, but at the time of writing, with an hour-long Nintendo show dedicated to 3DS software coming up tomorrow, all that was given to the Vita in two hours of Sony setting out its stall for 2012/2013 was a brief mention of exclusive versions of Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. We’ve been here before with the PSP and it didn’t work, and that was several years after release when the hype had dried up and nobody cared any more. To let the Vita get to this point is bad, but to do it within six months of launch is shocking, and if I’d dropped £230 or more on this thing I’d be fucking angry at this non-showing.

The PS3 fared better, but like the situation with the 360, it’s clear that the big guns are tied up on bigger and better things. God of War: Ascension? I don’t care. Like Gears of War: Judgment, it’s a B-team project based on a franchise that has run its course, and that demo could have been any of them. The best and worst thing about any David Cage game is that it’s a David Cage game, and I can’t stand Ellen Page so Beyond is immediately on the back foot for me. Wonderbook is interesting and ambitious but is doomed to be another failed initiative like Move. If I want to read a book I’ll, you know, read a book.

The Last of Us was the best of the show by far, showing Sony’s reliance on Naughty Dog to consistently pump out the kind of experiences that this generation promised. You’d think it would be working on it’s big PS4 title, having wrapped up Uncharted so nicely – and it probably is, in reality – but this shows that there’s at least one new big hitter left in this generation. Two if The Last Guardian ever makes it out, but every missed trade show makes me less convinced that it will.

The Microsoft and Sony conferences were closer than some would like to admit, with one undeniably impressive game each and not a whole lot else, and certainly no major announcements. Sony’s was better because we saw more new games, but it goes without saying that next year is a big one for both of them. Their current consoles look like they’ll be on life support by then.



The expectations on Nintendo’s shoulders were perhaps unfairly high given the failure of the first two conferences to show us anything worthwhile, but even with a new console to show off and such a low bar, Nintendo failed to jump it.

I’m frankly shocked at how bad it was. They actually got Ubisoft, which had knocked it out of the park yesterday with some brilliant-looking games, to give a demo of Batman: Arkham City. That game will be a year old by the time the Wii U launches, and it’s not like it was brimming with new features and content to get us coming back to it. Gimmicky touch controls that people have complained about for as long as iOS has been hosting games are now a fixture of Nintendo (Wii U), Microsoft (SmartGlass) and Sony (Vita) games. Enjoy.

Pikmin 3 was the highlight and then it was downhill from there. No Zelda or Metroid whatsoever. Two indistinguishable Mario games. Dance and fitness games. No price or firm release date for the Wii U, with the only notable announcement on that front being that it supports two controllers – a downgrade from pretty much every system since the N64. Oh, and it halves the frame rate if you run two of them. Have fun.

My Twitter feed was full of people hoping, praying for one ‘megaton’ before the end. An HD Zelda would have done it, at least giving us something to cling on to. Some were even talking about GTA V, notable for its absence at the other two conferences, making a surprise appearance. Nope. It was a collection of mini-games, wrapped around some social features like a Mii-filled PlayStation Home. It worked for the Wii when it was breaking sales records, so here, with no competition in the next-gen console market, is Nintendo sticking to what it now does best.

At least E3 2003 had Pac-Man VS.


Worst E3 ever? It’s up there. After all that build-up, the potential for a showing from certainly one, possibly three new consoles, the best showing of the whole thing was Ubisoft. Who saw that coming?

E3 2011 Conference Review

Every year, at about this time, the gaming world comes together to show us why it’s going to deserve our money this year, and as happens a couple of times a decade it seems like we’re in a generation running on fumes. Indeed, one of the big three has shown its hand already, and such a bold statement of intent will surely mean appearances for the next Xbox and PlayStation in the next 12 months.

And for reference, here are my reviews of 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. This year I’m adding the stipulation that I won’t factor in multiplatform showings, since as impressive as Modern Warfare 3 and BioShock Infinite looked, that has no bearing on the relative fortunes of the consoles on which they were demonstrated.

So, in chronological order…


Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Last year, I wasn’t happy with the first look at real-life Kinect stuff, but I gave it a pass because I was confident that Microsoft knows its market – the people who made the Xbox a success where other ventures had failed. Now, I’m not so sure. How many times during that conference was something that looked interesting unveiled, only for someone to come out and sacrifice their dignity by squatting, hopping, waving and – shudder – fist-bumping in front of thousands of people? Ryse (formerly Codename Kingdoms), which was last year positioned as something new from Crytek for the Xbox core audience has suddenly become an on-rails Kinect game. Fable? An on-rails Kinect game. Ditto Star Wars, Sesame Street… and I have to say I’m nervous after seeing the Master Chief floating through an exploding ship in a fashion not far removed from what a bunch of avatars were doing in Disneyland Adventures not long before.

I’m probably just being paranoid on that one. There’s no way that Microsoft would risk a valuable and popular franchise with that kind of nonsense, is there? Wait… what was that Fable game again?

Back in my territory, Gears 3 looks good, but it’s Gears 3. It’s not going to blow any minds after anyone who’s interested has already played the beta, if not the two previous games, and let’s not forget that this is the second E3 for a game that was originally going to have been long out by now. It’s not new.

So with Halo 4 only present in CG form and a remake of the first Halo hardly likely to win over anyone, I guess it falls to Forza 4, then. In fairness it did look gorgeous, with nary an embarrassing Kinect demo in sight, and after Gran Turismo dropped the ball there’s a big opportunity for Microsoft and Turn 10 to nab that ‘real driving simulator’ label. Not that it matters to me, though. As I’ve said many times in the past, I couldn’t care less about driving simulators and need my virtual driving heavily diluted with arcade action. Bring back Bizarre Creations and Project Gotham, I say.



Sony’s offering was better than Microsoft’s, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to sound excited. On the PS3 front, putting aside re-releases and Move games, I make it Uncharted 3, Ruin, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time and Starhawk. The former and latter are looking excellent and I loved their respective predecessors, but we already knew about them. The others? Meh. I’m sure they’ll be perfectly good but I can take them or leave them.

Coupled with Microsoft’s damp squib, it seriously seems like this generation is running on fumes. Whenever the PS4 and next Xbox turn up, we don’t appear to be in danger of having another PS2, still receiving significant games after the release of its successor.

But of course, the big deal was the first E3 for what was formerly known as the NGP: PlayStation Vita. Strange name, but it makes a break from the PSP and it’s of secondary importance to what is an impressive piece of hardware. The graphics it’s pushing look superb, and the cloud functionality brings the niche connectivity features between the PS3 and PSP into a realm where they might actually get used, as long as its utility isn’t going to be predicated on buying two versions of the same game.

It’s said, however, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and that’s exactly what Sony is doing with the Vita. Even as someone who likes the PSP and still buys games for it, and with the 3DS not so far setting the world alight, it’s an extremely powerful handheld that’s hosting pocket versions of big-console games, and it didn’t work last time. Looking at Uncharted: Golden Abyss, we’ve even got the banner franchise being farmed out to a minor first-party studio. I’d like to be proven wrong, and I’d like to be able to play it for more than three hours without charging, but I’m not expecting either prediction to go my way.

Based purely on the fact that Sony’s conference wasn’t entirely focused on utter shite, it gets bumped up two grades. Then gets one taken away for not featuring The Last Guardian.



If big hopes were on Nintendo with the knowledge that it was to unveil new hardware, they were only enhanced by the other platform holders’ failure. And like many people, I came away disappointed here as well.

First, the other stuff, though. It generally takes a lot for Nintendo to get me excited because I’m a bit bored of another Mario Kart, another 2D Mario, and so on. And don’t get me started on bloody Smash Bros. I’m not yet burned out on Star Fox and I’ll always love Zelda – especially when I’m getting a free one for my under-utilised DSi – so I’ll give them those two.

To be honest, I’m still digesting the Wii U and wondering what to think. I’m generally positive, which may surprise some, even if some subsequent revelations have dampened its gloss somewhat, but we’re going on the press conference, and that was disappointing. I don’t know anyone who didn’t leave with questions, including whether or not it was even a standalone console. It was a failure of communication and, to be honest, the aforementioned disclosures have left me with questions over how much of the omitted information was deliberate. Time will have to tell because it’s certainly not coming this year, but it’ll be nice to have the option of playing Nintendo games alongside half-decent third-party offerings. Until the new Xbox also comes out in late 2012 and restores the console power status quo, of course.

Sadly, the announcement that I’m most looking forward to trading for my hard-earned currency is the Zelda symphony CD. That makes it extremely underwhelming, but that’s one more new announcement that I’m excited about than the other two, so Nintendo comes out on top by default.


This has to be the most disappointing E3 in years. The three conferences were average at absolute best and I struggle to think of one new announcement that interests me. Also, gone seems to be the pleasure in finding obscure new announcements hidden away in the nooks of the gaming news sites, because there aren’t any – maybe we’re finally seeing the impact of every studio that doesn’t make nothing but million-sellers closing down. Running on fumes doesn’t even begin to describe this generation from the looks of things.

Why I’m Not Buying a 3DS

Excitement seems to be high for Nintendo’s new handheld, and that’s somewhat understandable. I watched the E3 conference too and came away suitably impressed, as the company seemed to be doing everything right: some nice technical innovation, an impressive list of new and remade games, a portable Virtual Console for Game Boy games – why that couldn’t have been added to the pointless DSi is beyond me, though – and a nail in the coffin for 3D with glasses. Brilliant. I’m in.

Only I’m not. Here’s why.

  • Region locking. It’s still only rumoured at this point, admittedly, but it’s what the buzz is suggesting and the fact that the DSi has done it doesn’t bode well. I can deal with it on a home console, although it’s definitely better without, but I find it on a handheld to be completely inexcusable. All previous Nintendo handhelds, as well as the PSP, haven’t done it specifically before people take these things on holiday with them and might want to pick up a game or two. And if I hadn’t done that, I’d have missed one of my favourite games ever. Goodbye to that, then. Now that even region coding on consoles is on the wane, it’s an unacceptable retrograde step.
  • Battery life. I own a DS Lite and a DSi, and I honestly regret buying the DSi and tend not to use it. Beyond the size and the region-locking, even in regular DS games without any DSi features, the biggest fault was the battery life. I took both of them on holiday and found myself predominantly using the DS Lite, simply because I could better rely on it to last me through a flight and the time spent sitting around in an airport. And, being out of the country, I could buy games for it without worrying about whether or not they’d work. Funny how that works, isn’t it, Nintendo?
  • I love Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64 and Pilotwings 64. Metal Gear Solid 3 is by far my favourite in the series. Street Fighter IV is a modern classic. And all the usual suspects are here too. But I’m not paying £200 or more just for those. Let’s get some new stuff boasting the creativity that the DS was showing only a few years ago.
  • Game Boy bulky with a crappy screen? Game Boy Pocket. GBA screen impossible to make out? GBA SP or, better yet, a Micro. DS looks like an 80s Fisher-Price toy? Hello, DS Lite. 3DS got a horrible battery life? Do you see where this is going?

It’s amazing me, though maybe it shouldn’t, that many of the same people who crucified the PSP back in 2004 for shit battery life and a pile of console ports are now strangely silent, or maybe banging the ‘good enough’ drum. It was pathetic then and it’s still pathetic now. Nintendo is making a lot of the same mistakes that Sony did with the PSP, and it might get away with them because it’s a company on the up as much as Sony was starting to slide back then. I still think it’s sad, though.

I’m a gamer, so at some point I’m going to buy a 3DS. A 3DS Lite will certainly do it and, I admit, Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney could end up breaking me – I adore both of those series and the crossover is a wonderful idea – but I’m not too happy with Nintendo right now. Maybe it knows something we don’t and whatever comes out at the PSP2 announcement will make the 3DS’s battery life look like an age…