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Five Wares on 3DS

4th July 2011; By Jack

With the launch of the eShop on the Nintendo 3DS last month, users can now download a range of titles directly onto their system, following in the footsteps of WiiWare, DSiWare and the Virtual Console services. With a host of new features, such as StreetPass, motion control and the 3D display, developers now have more tools than ever to use in their games, allowing new ideas and improvements previously not possible. Below I’ve picked out five titles, previously featured on WiiWare and DSiWare, that I believe would make good use of the 3DS’ new features and deliver an even better experience than what’s currently available.

ThruSpace: High Velocity 3D Puzzle

Platform: WiiWare
Publisher: Nintendo
Price: 1000 Nintendo Points

ThruSpace launched for WiiWare in late 2010 ...The game saw you take control of tetromino-like shapes (with even larger -ominoes joining the mix in later levels) as you plummeted towards a collection of walls with only a few choice gaps to squeeze through. It delivered fast and frantic puzzling action as you rotated yourself in order to fit through the holes and avoid smashing against the wall.

While I am generally skeptical about how much depth perception would have an effect of the ease of play for most games, ThruSpace would be one game where I can clearly see the benefit. The game is fast paced and requires precision timing in order to safely make your way through each wall and sometimes I found myself a lot closer to the next wall than I initially thought due to the difficulty in judging the remaining distance. The added depth would help eliminate this problem allowing you to focus on getting your block in the right position at the right time.

Another issue with the title was the controls. While the game itself is quite simple, rotating the block in every direction as well as moving around the screen gave way to quite a complicated control scheme. I know I personally couldn’t play the title myself without the aid of the Classic Controller Pro. However, the Touch Screen could help simplify this as all you would need to do is flick in the direction you want to rotate, while the circle pad or d-pad would handle moving around the stage. Not only would this be simple to understand and execute for the player, but the tactile feedback of flicking the block into the right configuration would help immerse the player further into the game, allowing them to find their shape shifting zone.

After playing ThruSpace extensively, it almost feels like something Nintendo cooked up as a tech demo for the 3DS due to it’s strong focus on depth perception. While the game was perhaps a bit too complex to handle for it’s own good on WiiWare, with the Touch Screen and added depth perception, it really does feel like a natural fit for the system.

Pokémon Rumble

Platform: WiiWare
Publisher: Nintendo
Price: 1,500 Nintendo Points

Pokémon Rumble saw a departure from the usual turn-based battles of the Pokémon franchise, instead putting you in direct control of your creatures, battling against swarms of opponents at a time in a real time battle. Instead of real monsters, Pokémon Rumble put you in charge of a clockwork army, with each Pokémon having a set level and two attacks to square off with. With a constantly expanding army and a need to constantly capture higher level Pokémon to help against tougher challenges, the game managed to create a chaotic blend of constantly changing action in an all-out Battle Royale.

While the main series of Pokémon games would only let you travel with six ‘mon at a time, Pokémon Rumble lets you take hundreds of these critters into each level with you. While the ability to use any of your Pokémon at any time can open up some interesting strategic possibilities, finding the right match for the job is slow, clunky and an absolute chore. Quick switching in the heat of battle can be almost impossible many times as by the time you’ve scrolled through the first four or five Pokémon, you may find your current critter is out of juice. The Touch Screen could really help with this issue. With all your team displayed on the bottom screen and available at a tap you would be able to send out the right Pokémon for the job at any time. Perhaps even filters could be added, allowing you to bring up just water types to help extinguish a particularly feisty Darumaka.

StreetPass and SpotPass would also be a perfect fit for this sort of title. Nintendo could send out special Pokémon (perhaps with a special trait or a unique move set) on a weekly basis, helping open up new strategies, or giving you the edge to push your way through a particularly tough level. StreetPass could also be used in a similar fashion, allowing you to leave a Pokémon shaped present for any passersby. What I’d love to see from StreetPass usage though would be the ability to build up your own team of elite fighters which could then be transferred for use in a Battle Royale. Rather than just providing a new critter, every StreetPass would help expand the games content, giving you new challenges to face and the chance to snag a rare reward in the process.

With it’s sharing capabilities and potential for improved organisation, Pokémon Rumble would make a great fit for the 3DS. Nintendo themselves seem to agree as they have recently announced that a Pokémon Rumble sequel will be heading to 3DS at retail. It will be interesting to see if Nintendo take any of these possibilities into account, as well as what other possibilities they are able to come up with.

Tales in a Box: Hidden shapes in perspective!

Platform: DSiWare
Publisher: Nintendo
Price: 500 Nintendo Points

Tales in a Box (also known as Looksley’s Line-Up) was first released in March 2010, just a few weeks before the public announcement of the 3DS. While the timing may have been coincidence, Tales in a Box managed to give players their first experience of the possible future of 3D gaming as they manipulated a 3D diorama bu tilting the DSi, which would also tilt the viewing angle into the world, letting you see every side of an object as well as anything hidden behind it. The game achieved it’s faux-3D effect using facial recognition software in order to track the tilting angle of the DSi, adjusting the position of each of the games layers, allowing you you explore every angle in order seek out the hidden letter. It was a novel use of the DSi’s technology and one that was truly impressive when it worked, helping create a sense of depth that even some 3DS games struggle to rival.

Perhaps one of the biggest improvements a 3DS re-imagining would bring to the Tales in a Box series is the replacement of facial recognition with motion control. While the facial recognition control scheme helped bring a lot of charm to the title, it suffered in stability. If there wasn’t just the right amount of light in the environment the game would struggle to distinguish you from the background, leading to random jumps in the games controls, limited tilting angles or outright refusal to work. By replacing the facial recognition with gyroscope and accelerometer controls, the game would be able to deliver the smooth experience it currently strives for, making your hunt for those elusive letters as simple as it should be, with the challenge coming from devilish level design rather than temperamental technology.

Tales in a Box
is also a game that would really benefit from the 3D display of the console. The core elements of the game are based on manipulating a multi-layered 3D environment and while the techniques used in the game to create an impression of 3D are certainly impressive, it can still feel a little flat at times due to the limitations of the technology. I haven’t been wowed by the 3D display in any games so far, but I can say for certainty, a game like Tales in a Box would be stunning.

While both of these features would certainly benefit Tales in a Box individually, I am skeptical about both working together well. Since the 3D display has quite a narrow viewing angle, it can be quite difficult to use motion controls effectively at the same time. Personally, if I had to choose between the features, I think motion control would be my preferred choice. I do not believe that that tactile sensation of being able to tilt the world around could be replicated with buttons and a stable control scheme would help improve the title’s accessibility and general reliance.

The Tales of Bearsworth Manor: Chaotic Conflicts / 
The Tales of Bearsworth Manor: Puzzling Pages
Platform: WiiWare
Publisher: SQUARE ENIX
Price: 1000 Nintendo Points (each)

The Tales of Bearsworth Manor series made it’s debut back in June 2010, bringing a bundle of paper bears onto our Wii’s in two very different titles. Both games saw you taking control of a handful of these paper bears and flinging them into a pop up book world, either defending your collection of gems from an invading army of enemies, or trying to collect gems scattered around the pages, using your brains to clear a safe path to fling to.

With its theme of flinging bears, the title seems a perfect fit for the 3DS system, as the Touch Screen would be able to provide a way to accurately set both angle and power of each throw with a flick of the stylus (something the Wii version struggled with at times), while still maintaining the tactile sensation of throwing the bears into the pop-up world.

The game would also make good use of the system’s 3D effects, literally letting the world pop up in front of your eyes. The 3D wouldn’t just increase visual aesthetic though as the added depth could really help when it comes to accurately judging how much power is needed in each flick. Play Coins could also be integrated effectively, allowing you to purchase different bears in order to help give an upper hand on those particularly tricky levels.

Photo Dojo

Platform: DSiWare
Publisher: Nintendo
Price: 200 Nintendo Points

Photo Dojo high-kicked its way onto to DSiWare service in Spring 2010, offering a silly user generated twist on the arcade brawler. The game saw you taking photos of yourself in various fighting poses before stitching them together with some technical wizzardry allowing you to be your own main character as you battle a hoard of your closest friends and family. It may have only been a small title, offering just two modes, but one which provides a lot of hilarity and fun.

With everything in the game being user-generated, from the sprites and sound effects to the backgrounds, Photo Dojo would really be able to utilize StreetPass & SpotPass to expand the game infinitely as you exchange fighters and stages with other players around you. With new challengers appearing around every corner, both virtual and physical, there would always be something new to discover. SpotPass could also offer offerings straight from Nintendo, with developers and your favourite Nintendo characters joining the roster. Ever wanted to see if Reggie really could kick you-know-what? Well this would be your chance!

By opening up the world of Photo Dojo to the powers of StreetPass & SpotPass, Nintendo could either create a work of brilliance as the world becomes your fighting grounds, or one the greatest horrors ever known in video game history. With great power comes great responsibility and the power to create more unsavory creations can be hard to resist for some, as seen with many other user-generated content-based titles in the past. In the right hands though, a 3DS revamp could take the fight to a whole new level.

Feature by Jack
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