Well, quite a lot has happened since my last post. First the Nintendo 3DS was released to immediate success with an underwhelming day one software lineup and the inevitable knee-jerk media backlash over a handful of reports of the 3D causing mild sickness following soon afterwards. More important than that, for me at least, I moved to London and hit the reset button on life itself. It should have happened the day after the 3DS release but the house being without a gas safety certificate, just one of a million problems surrounding this move, delayed me for a week. So my new housemate, AntBuoy, and I have spent the last few weeks dodging cockroaches and mice, transporting bits of furniture through Lewisham and going to the cinema, a lot. With Astarico moving in with us today the three of us will soon be starting our theatrical careers. We’re all three Dick Whittington, seeking our fortunes. If only we had a cat to deal with the mice.
Now that we have the interent (it took a while to organise) I find myself with a lot of blogging to catch up on. AntBuoy and I have both bought Unlimited Cineworld cards allowing us to see as many movies as we want for £15 a month. Looks like I’m keeping my new year’s resolution then. In the coming days you can expect reviews of Source Code, Sucker Punch, Rango, Winnie the Pooh and Your Highness, but first there’s the small matter of a new Nintendo handheld to cover.
It’s always a bit difficult to judge a new platform so soon after its release. I could talk about the various features and built-in software but what really defines a console is its games and I’ve only played one so far. The stereoscopic 3D is obviously the big new development and it certainly works well although it took a little while to fully adapt to. The only real problem with it is the way you need to hold the machine in the exact right position to get the effect. You can train yourself to keep your hands steady but this is obviously going to be harder to do in some games than others, case in point, Super Street Fighter IV – 3D Edition.
I’ve never been particularly big on fighting games. Yes, I’m a Nintendo man so I love me a bit of Smash Bros. but Street Fighter is a different beast. It’s relentless popularity thrives in spite of the fact that very little of the gameplay has changed in nearly twenty years. The fourth generation of the series featured beautifully stylised and very colourful 3D graphics on the HD consoles. Naturally the 3DS can’t replicate these graphics in the same detail but the vibrant colours look great and every character and mode from the original SSFIV remains intact. Capcom have clearly spared no expense in bringing this title to the 3DS and as such it is clearly the pick of an otherwise forgetable launch lineup.
You know the drill by now. You pick a world warrior and guide them through an arcade style gauntlet of foes, hadokening your way to the final boss. Punches and kicks are mapped to the four face buttons and two shoulder buttons and each charcter boasts a wide range of tircky-to-pull-off comboas as well as a handful of Super and Ultra combos, requiring some deft finger-gtmnastics to activate. It’s as cathartic as ever and fun for casual players and veterans alike due to the various difficulty settings. Each charcter has their own extremely loose story told in animated cut scenes complete with cheesy voice work but the basic structure doesn’t change. In fact it hasn’t changed since the early nineties, even the bonus levels are the same as ever. This edition does feature a few notable additions to the gameplay. First and most controversially is the mapping of moves including super and ultra combos to the touch screen. Purists inevitably and rightly point out that this is cheating and potentially makes the game too easy but at least its optional and playing online you can elect to choose only opponents who fight with this setting switched off. Does it dumb the experience down? A bit but it depends on the individual. Secondly there’s the 3D mode which lets you fight in an over-the-shoulder perspective, which is the game’s best showcase for the stereoscopic 3D but feels a bit confusing when you’re used to the classic side-on view. Then there’s the Street Pass support which pits collectible figurines against total strangers but I can’t comment on this mode as I’ve never used it.
So what about that 3D? Does it enhance the experience? No, is the short answer, but a fighting game played on a 2D plane is not the kind of title best suited to sterescopic 3D. There’s just no depth to it. It serves as a giddy thrill for a little while but once you’ve got over the novelty you’ll no doubt realise that the game actually looks sharper and better in 2D. We’ll reserve judgement on the console’s 3D feature until the main event, The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time 3D, comes out in June.
Super Street Fighter IV – 3D Edition is an admirably ported title but I have little doubt that the HD versions are a lot better despite having never played them. It looks and sounds good and it’s fun and if you’re industrious enough to complete a hundred per cent it could potentially last ages. I got bored much sooner than that though. The game needs a deeper, more involving one-player mode to fully frame the gameplay which isn’t quite perfectly suited to the 3DS button layout. The frantic nature of the fighting means maintaining the 3D sweet spot is nearly impossible but aside from these gripes it’s a quality title and the best thing available for the 3DS so far.
Presentation – 7
Audiovisually superb but the limited number of modes and eccentric stories fail to set the title alight.
Gameplay – 8
Iconic but not best suited to the handheld platform.
Graphics – 8
Consistently lovely to look at but 2D is better than 3D.
Sound – 7
Tunes are decent, voice acting mostly lame but the battling sound effects are great.
Difficulty – 9
Brutal if you want it to be.
Longevity – 6
It really depends on how into it you are but there’s not enough variety to maintain attention for a significant amount of time.
A succesful miniaturisation of a conservative classic that doesn’t quite feel at home on the console but nonethless excels in its ability to entertain.
out of 10