Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure
In Rhythm Thief, you play as a young man who by day is Raphael, but by night he is the smooth criminal known as Phantom R (well, technically he can also be Phantom R during the day, but yeah...). Unlike most rhythm games, Rhythm Thief has a full-fledged story mode with an intriguing plot following Raphael's search for his missing father. The quest sends him all over Paris, clamoring for clues, solving puzzles, conversing with NPCs, and yes, participating in some rhythmic affairs. Such games include using the bottom screen to touch one four multicolored sections to have Phantom R strike the correct pose behind a statue, using gyro controls to dodge thrown objects heading your way with the beat of the music, or playing two odes to classic Sega rhythm games, Samba de Amigo and Space Channel 5. Rhythm Thief had the unfortunate luck of releasing in North America to only a select few retail stores, being caught shortly after Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, a much more hyped rhythm game, and being sent out with next to no fanfare by its publisher Sega. In Japan it was the top new title on the week of release which was encouraging, selling over 30,000 units. In Europe, the game completely bombed.
Tales of the Abyss
This game is anything by abyss-mal, Tales of the Abyss is a port of a late generation PlayStation 2 RPG. However, this version of the game adds 3DS functionality like stereoscopic 3D (though the effect leaves a lot to be desired) and helpful information on the bottom screen. The greatest change to the PS2 version that the 3DS version contains is the reduction of the lengthy loading times the PS2 original possessed. Sure, the story isn't anything exceptional, and the characters -- especially at the start of the game -- can be downright obnoxious, such as the bratty main character Luke, but if you give the gameplay a chance, you will find that the battle system is fast-paced, frenetic, and fun, the world is teeming with interesting places to explore, and the challenge of the game is quite balanced. On a platform that is starving for traditional RPG games, Tales of the Abyss might not be a game tailor made for the 3DS, but it is one that I would like to see even more players warm up to outside of the 70,000+ at launch in Japan, because outside hardcore JRPG fans, Abyss received little buzz. Namco Europe stated it was satisfied with sales, but when it regards JRPGs in the West, having immensely lowered expectations is generally what the M.O. of a lot of publishers really is, especially with how few copies were initially produced of the game.
Having the ill-conceived idea of making this PSP remake a GameStop exclusive cemented Crush 3D to sales mediocrity. Regardless, this twenty dollar game is certainly worth playing. Crush 3D's main claim to fame is revolving a third-person camera around four views -- north, south, east, and west -- as well as a top-down perspective. While the viewpoint is in one of these five directions, players can perform the namesake maneuver of the game and crush the level. All 3D parts of the level turn into 2D, giving off a 2D platformer-type feeling. Crushing helps in allowing faraway platforms in 3D to be reachable in 2D. Each level requires the player to gather as many marbles as possible in order to open the goal. New variables get added to the gameplay on a consistent basis such as timers, enemies, and obstacles. Thankfully, there are a plethora of checkpoints on harder, longer levels. If you are in the mood for a puzzle-platformer that has a more inviting art style than its PSP counterpart, Crush 3D is a "crush" course on fun.
Cave Story 3D
The original Cave Story was a freeware platforming game similar to Metroid and Castlevania in structure. The game was such a huge success for the developer Nicalis that the company put the game on Nintendo's WiiWare service with a price tag but with more content. With the Nintendo 3DS, Nicalis partnered with Nippon Ichi Software to remake the game with 3D assets on the system. The updated game brought with it new, upgraded visuals, a camera that would zoom in at certain points of the action, and an entirely new level. The problem with Cave Story 3D, despite it being a remarkable rendition of the classic Cave Story game, is that the original could still be downloaded for free while the 3DS remake cost a full retail price of $40 USD. Throw in that a most retailers didn't sell the game in their stores (only online), and you have a game that languished in sales. Whether it deserved to with that price tag is an argument for another day.
Tetris: Axis was one of the final Hudson Soft-developed games created by the company before they were swallowed up by Konami. The game was published by Namco Bandai in Japan, but Nintendo published the game in North America. However, even with Nintendo's backing, the game failed to light up the charts. Tetris: Axis had a relatively basic but slick presentation, but it's not good to judge a book by its cover. The game contained 20 unique modes including Marathon, Computer Battle, Survival, Fit, Stage Racer Plus, as well as two augmented reality modes; 8-player multiplayer both off and online; and the ability to use a Mii. (Seeing your Mii encourage you as you clear lines is always a good time. Perhaps consumers were Tetris'd out. Perhaps consumers were satisfied with the Virtual Console's Game Boy Tetris. All that can be surmised is that Tetris: Axis did not light sales chart ablaze, which is disappointing as there was a lot of entertainment to be had from the game.
Any 3DS games that you have enjoyed that you recall didn't receive much buzz, attention, or sales? If you are interested in other platforms which had overlooked titles on them, click on the SPC Feature Catalog, scroll down a bit to Most Overlooked, and go hog wild!