Friday, August 23, 2013

SPC Quickies - Volume Twelve: Over Thirty Nintendo 3DS Games Swiftly Reviewed

Phil here. It has been over a year since the SPC Quickies have been seen. To say they have been on a long hiatus would be no lie. Well they are back, and to celebrate I'm doing something wild, something crazy, something insane. I will be doing quickie reviews (one paragraph maximum reviews) for over thirty unique Nintendo 3DS games. If you recall, I've done such antics with the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS and PSP in past Quickie segments.

Regardless, this time around we're focusing on the Nintendo 3DS. As always, a 1 is the worst a game can be scored, while a 5 is the best. Many of these games have been reviewed already, some have not, but will have full reviews in the coming months (i.e. eventually). All right. The basics have been covered, so let's begin!

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy - The Ace Combat series jetted onto the Nintendo 3DS, and despite its title, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy had nothing to do with its console big brothers, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. The game featured fantastic aerial combat, breathtaking environments, and excellent 3D. This remake of Ace Combat 2 really did things right. Perhaps the things it didn't get so right were the brevity of the main campaign and the lack of multiplayer. Still, if you want to soar with the eagles, there are few Nintendo 3DS titles like Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy. 4/5

Animal Crossing: New Leaf - After not doing much to change the series with Animal Crossing: City Folk, Nintendo's Animal Crossing team vowed to create enough changes to make for a stellar new entry in the franchise with Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Can a paragraph possibly cover all there was to this wonderful life simulator? There was the ability to be mayor and control where public works projects would be built, as well as creating ordinances to make stores stay open later or earlier. The customization was absolutely sensational, offering nearly every facet of the game to be tailored to the player's whim. After 250 hours total play time, it's only now that I am feeling a little burned out with the game. That is simply amazing. 5/5

Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone! - A budget priced Nintendo 3DS game (well, as budget a price as $29.99 is), Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone! taught players the ins and outs of creating works of art through multiple step lessons. The software was an excellent teaching tool, going over paint, colored pencils, normal pencils, and pastels in the various lessons. One could hang their completed work in the interactive gallery, as well as share their works via Swapnote. An entertaining piece of software to show one's creativity and hone one's skills, Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone! is a stellar learning tool. 4/5

Crosswords Plus - Before you go thinking that Crosswords Plus was merely a game full of crosswords, know that the game also featured word searches and anagram puzzles. There was even a word of the day and free downloadable puzzles. The handwriting recognition wasn't too bad, the presentation and music wasn't offensive, and the whole package worked well. It was just a shame that this title wasn't released as a merely a lower-priced digital-only game, as that would have been perfect for this type of game. 3/5

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D - Nintendo's main monkey returned into the spotlight, coming back with a platforming adventure from the Wii with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. This Nintendo 3DS port came with eight all-new levels, a new easy mode that had Donkey and Diddy able to be hit an additional time each, and stereoscopic 3D. Monster Games did a fantastic job with this game, and the lack of motion controls for rolling and performing other feats made for a better game, despite the lack of 60 frames per second. 5/5

Fire Emblem: Awakening - The strategy RPG series got a new installment, and according to rumors, had Fire Emblem: Awakening not sold well, we wouldn't have seen the franchise anymore. Thankfully, the game did great numbers on both sides of the Pacific. Regardless, Awakening was the perfect entry to introduce a new face to, as it had a casual mode, where a unit's death in battle didn't mean they were gone for good. The original mode was still present, but the casual mode allowed for more players to enjoy the more accessible version of Fire Emblem. Add in an intriguing story, great characters, fun maps, and tremendous tactical gameplay, and you have one of the best games on the Nintendo 3DS. 5/5

Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning - The first brand-new Harvest Moon to set up shop on the Nintendo 3DS, Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning brought with it a lot of fresh content, including better character customization, village customization and house customization. Speaking of beginnings, this edition of Harvest Moon started out very slow, with a wide array of tutorials that hampered the experience. Fortunately, once you got over that initial hump, A New Beginning gave players a grand sense of freedom to play however they wanted. 4/5

Heroes of Ruin - Disappointing is a word that aptly described n-Space's Heroes of Ruin. An attempt to bring a loot-based action-RPG to the Nintendo 3DS, Heroes of Ruin was a game that had technically sound social features for four players to hack and slash foes together online, but the actual gameplay was mediocre at best. There wasn't too much that was wholly original with Heroes of Ruin, and the end game left much to be desired, with little to do after the game had been completed. 3/5

Kid Icarus: Uprising - Masahiro Sakurai, creator of Kirby and the Super Smash Bros. series, chose Pit's universe to focus a game around. The end result was Kid Icarus: Uprising, one of my favorite Nintendo 3DS title bar-none. The controls are decidedly not for everyone (particularly if you're left handed), but overcoming that hurdle, you will find a game that was rich with action, content, and hilarity. Kid Icarus: Uprising was full of things to do, chapters to complete, bosses to defeat, goals to tidy up, and a presentation that was simply astonishing. 5/5

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance - The Kingdom Hearts returned to a Nintendo platform, but this time the final product was excellent. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance served as a bridge to the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III with Sora and Riku participating in a Mark of Mastery exam to determine who will become a Keyblade Master. This led to some intense combat thanks to the all-new Flowmotion ability, multiple brand-new Disney worlds to explore, and run-ins with the cast of The World Ends With You. Though the worlds are disturbingly empty, Kingdom Hearts 3D still delivered on its promise of a good time. 4/5

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D - SuperPhillip Central listed The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as our favorite game of all time. The Nintendo 3DS remake that contained upgraded visuals, easier item management, and a harder Master Quest made this version the definitive one. Even after all of these years, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is still a massive achievement in both game design and structure. Its influence is seen even to this day. If you've never played this amazing game, then the Nintendo 3DS version is a perfect pickup. 5/5

LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins - If you were like me and still weren't wanting to bid farewell to LEGO City after playing LEGO City Undercover on the Wii U, then you probably plopped down the cash for LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins. Despite all of the game's problems-- the loading times between areas, the poor draw distance, the pop in, the emptiness of the world, the less entertaining story, etc.-- the game was still a blast to play, finding collectibles, completing optional tasks, and exploring the world. It was just the LEGO City fix I needed. 3/5

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon - As part of the Year of Luigi, the green clad plumber returned to his ghost-busting days with Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, a notable improvement over the GameCube original. Not only was capturing ghosts made more accessible (and more fun), the mission-based structure was a more enjoyable alternative to simply exploring one grand mansion. Instead, Luigi trekked through multiple mansions, each with their own theme, creatures and puzzles. The online component, the Scarescraper, didn't feel like an afterthought either, making Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon a terrific title, despite some bad boss battles. 4/5

Mario Kart 7 - The seventh mainline installment of the Mario Kart series sped onto its third handheld system with Mario Kart 7, a game that featured a glorious collection of new and retro tracks. The addition of kart customization (though randomly unlocking parts was tedious), air and underwater segments, and online communities made for a kart racer that multifaceted and massively fun. Unfortunately, the nasty blue shell reared its ugly head once again into the Mario Kart series, bringing with it races where you'd be leading the pack the whole time only to be thwarted at the last turn. 4/5

Mario Tennis Open - While nowhere near the stellar level that the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color iterations of the series have reached, Mario Tennis Open gave Nintendo 3DS a Simon Says-like approach to tennis. Through running to colored spots on the court where your opponent hit the ball and using the appropriate shot, you could take your rival to the cleaners. Many did not like this mechanic, but I happened to enjoy it. It was different, yes, and I wouldn't rate the game higher than past installments, sure, but Mario Tennis Open gave me plenty of entertainment. 4/5

New Super Mario Bros. 2 - The aesthetics of the New Super Mario Bros. series may not deliver the most jaw-dropping visuals or eye-pleasing graphics, but that's purely a cosmetic detail. Digging deeper, one will find that New Super Mario Bros. 2 offered the tight mechanics and terrific level design that Mario platformers routinely possess. The fact that the game was made by a more inexperienced team, just learning the ins and outs of making 2D Mario, is all the more impressive and gives me great hope in the future of the franchise, long after the old guard is gone. 4/5

Paper Mario: Sticker Star - Compared to previous Paper Mario entries, it was very easy to see why people were not pleased with Sticker Star. The game completely removed many of the features fans liked of past games, including partners, badges, and the ability to gain experience and levels. Instead, Paper Mario: Sticker Star focused on earning coins from battles to buy new stickers, the tools to Mario's arsenal. For a game designed for everyone in mind, the puzzles in Sticker Star seemed rather obtuse and hard to figure out without a guide. This led to some frustration-inducing moments, especially in boss battles, where you might have lacked the right sticker to deal serious damage to the enemy. 3/5

Pilotwings Resort - My favorite launch game from the Nintendo 3DS lineup was Pilotwings Resort. While the game only featured one island, Wii Sports Resort's Wuhu Island, the myriad missions and the variety of them more than made up for the lack of scenery. One mission you'd be diving downward in a squirrel suit, the next you'd be shooting at targets in a plane. Even still, Wuhu Island had plenty to explore, particularly in the fun free flight mode. Pilotwings Resort might have felt watered down compared to its Nintendo 64 predecessor, but the game was still a lot of fun. 4/5

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity - I don't have much experience with the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games. In fact, Gates to Infinity was my first foray into this type of Pokemon spin-off. The game had the player transformed into a Pokemon of their choosing (well, out of a small selection) and a partner to join them through a story full of mystery and wonder. Think of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity as a roguelike for beginners. Even then, there were plenty of difficult optional areas to keep players interested, invested and challenged despite the cheery presentation. 4/5

Pokemon Rumble Blast - Repetition is sometimes a really bad thing, but in Pokemon Rumble Blast, the first Pokemon game to hit the Nintendo 3DS, it can sometimes be relaxing. Fighting through wave after wave of Pokemon through ultra-linear dungeons was something that I enjoyed greatly. There was always the hope that you'd defeat a powerful Pokemon and have them join your team. This made returning to past dungeons a must for a completionist like myself. Regardless, there wasn't much to the gameplay, which meant for most players, Pokemon Rumble Blast would wear out its welcome fast. 3/5

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask - Professor Layton and the gang were brought back on the case with Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask. The shift from the Nintendo DS to the 3DS brought with it 3D character models instead of 2D art, more complex puzzles, and a story that was a thrilling ride from start to finish. The addition of free downloadable puzzles meant the length of gameplay would last long after the main story and mystery was solved. 4/5

Project X Zone - I was absolutely bouncing off the walls (not literally, of course, as I can't legally do that anymore) when it was announced that Namco Bandai was bringing this crossover game to the West. Unfortunately, the final product was less than spectacular. Project X Zone contained battles that went on far too long-- a true test of endurance rather than fun. The repetitive nature of the game only accentuated this problem. While it was cool to see some of familiar video game faces, the gameplay just didn't gel with me. Project X Zone isn't a horrible game by any means; it's just a disappointment. 3/5

Rayman 3D - Rayman 2 has practically been ported to every platform under the sun. It is the game that Ubisoft just cannot seem to let go. I would have preferred that they did, because Rayman 3D was all kinds of mediocre. The game had already been previously released on the DS in the form of Rayman DS, and like that game, Rayman 3D did little to distinguish itself from the Nintendo 64 version of the game. The titular 3D wasn't worth its weight in lums, and actually detracted from the experience. What I'm trying to say is, if you have an option to play Rayman 3D, just check out one of the original versions of Rayman 2 instead. 2/5

Resident Evil: Revelations - Recently released on HD platforms, Resident Evil: Revelations first debuted on the Nintendo 3DS. It featured a more prominent focus on survival-horror, as well as a nice mix of action. It was a superb blend of classic Resident Evil and modern Resident Evil. Raid Mode was a loot whore's dream, giving two players either locally or online the ability to mow down waves of enemy fodder in hopes of acquiring powerful weapons. Forget Resident Evil 6-- Resident Evil: Revelations is where it's at. 5/5

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D - Taking a mode that many fans loved from Resident Evil 4 and 5 and making an entire arcade experience out of it seemed like a crazy idea, but there was enough content in Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D to justify it. Each mission gave new challenges, settings and hazards to overcome, and teaming up with a friend or total stranger online was a grand old time. The caveat of the game is that once you start a data, you cannot delete it. A backhanded way to prevent used games sales, for sure. 4/5

Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure - This was the type of game that made me remember why I loved SEGA. It was the type of game that the old SEGA would have made, yet the modern SEGA did instead. Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure had a Professor Layton-like story with multiple rhythm-based mini-games sprinkled throughout the story. My main issue with the game is the rating system. You can do well through the entire mini-game, but if you make one mistake, your ranking goes down immediately. Shouldn't the game grade you on an average of how well you did? Still, Rhythm Thief was an original and entertaining experience. 3/5

Ridge Racer 3D - On your mark, get set, go. Ridge Racer roared onto the Nintendo 3DS with Ridge Racer 3D. While the game did not bring much of anything new to the long-running arcade racing franchise, it did deliver plenty of fast and frenetic races. The courses were fun to drive on, the sense of speed was there, and the amount of cars was a bit diverse. Perhaps the one complaint I could bring to Ridge Racer 3D was the lack of any kind of online multiplayer. 4/5

Samurai Warriors: Chronicles - I don't know much about Japanese history, so playing through Samurai Warriors: Chronicles, another launch game for the Nintendo 3DS, had me scratching my head in befuddlement quite a few times. It got to the point where I simply skipped scenes, as I didn't feel that I was missing much. Thankfully, I didn't miss the gameplay, which will turn off a lot of players due to its repetitiveness. However, being able to switch between multiple characters on the fly meant you didn't have to be everywhere at the same time. You could have your comrades in arms deal with problems. Samurai Warriors: Chronicles isn't the best in its genre, but it is serviceable. 3/5

Sonic Generations - I want to know what happened to Dimps. They made some relatively good 2D Sonic games with the Sonic Advance series and Sonic Rush series. Their Nintendo 3DS offering with Sonic Generations was just woefully bad. Level design was sloppy, poorly conceived and more horribly executed. Bottomless pits were the main annoying worry to deal with, and the mission mode did not offer much reason to return to it. Sonic Generations was not a good game, but at least the pain of playing it didn't last long. 2/5

Star Fox 64 3D - Fox McCloud might not have been given a brand-new adventure to star in, but at least Star Fox 64 3D proved that Nintendo hadn't completely forgotten about the Star Fox crew. Those who expected something entirely different from this upgraded version of Star Fox 64 were sorely unhappy. Star Fox 64 3D featured pretty much the majority of content from the Nintendo 64 original. The only additions were optional gyro controls, three difficulty settings, and an updated multiplayer component. While it was nice seeing the Nintendo 64 classic with enhanced visuals, there wasn't too much that was different with the Nintendo 3DS remake. 4/5

Super Mario 3D Land - Many are very disappointed that Nintendo EAD is working on a sequel to Super Mario 3D Land rather than a Super Mario Galaxy-like title. After playing through Super Mario 3D Land multiple times, I certainly have no problems. Super Mario 3D Land was a sublime mixing of 2D and 3D Mario sensibilities. It had the 2D linearity and obstacle courses of games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and the 3D movement of Super Mario 64. The game could be as hard or as easy as you'd want, pending you used the Tanooki Suit religiously or not. Perhaps the greatest part of Super Mario 3D Land was just after you initially beat Bowser. You think the game is over, but then 3D Land surprises you with eight more difficult worlds. Truly an outstanding game, and a great reason why I'm so happy to see Super Mario 3D World on Wii U. 5/5

Super Monkey Ball 3D - It pains me to see how far the Super Monkey Ball series has fallen after the marvelous GameCube entries. Super Monkey Ball 3D walked a tightrope between insultingly easy and frustrating. Like Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, there was no way to delete a saved data. Furthermore, the added modes did little to bring enjoyment. One was a haphazard Mario Kart-wannabe that was somehow more frustrating than Mario Kart Wii, and the Monkey Fight game was like a one foot deep swimming pool in how much there was to it. 2/5

Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition - The best selling fighter on the Nintendo 3DS launched with the system. It brought with it optional touch-based controls for performing moves, a multitude of characters to fight with and against, and online play. Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition did a lot right, and it was a technical showcase on the Nintendo 3DS when it launched. It still looks impressive two years later. The only technical issue with the game was the static backgrounds, no doubt due to the 3DS's humble power. 4/5

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy - One of my favorite rhythm games period, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy merged rhythm-based gameplay with RPG-style leveling up. The soundtrack was a Final Fantasy fanatic's dream, featuring music from all thirteen mainline installments of the Final Fantasy franchise. Many popular songs were included, such as One-Winged Angel, Dancing Mad, Blinded by Light, Aerith's Theme, Eyes on You, and many more. Leveling up series all-stars, earning new items and skills, acquiring crystals to unlock more new characters, and enjoying this celebration of Final Fantasy was something that I immensely enjoyed. 5/5

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