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Hands On: 3DS Third-Party Titles

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Nintendo is proud of the third-party support they've gotten for the hotly-anticipated 3DS system, and they had a whole bunch of titles on display at the 3DS press event for demo. I made sure to try everything at least once, even the football and soccer games.

There were more third-party games than first-party ones, and they included: Dead or Alive Dimensions, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, Madden NFL Football, Asphalt 3D, Ridge Racer 3D, Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D, Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D, and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. (I already discussed Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition in its own post.)

Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D is part of Ubisoft's Giants series, and feels like one of those bargain DS titles you see for $20. The thing is, because it's in 3D, it automatically feels elevated above the bargain bin. You can pick from one of four different types of dinosaurs, with multiple dinos of each type to play as, and fight your way through linear levels picking up items and defeating opposing dinos as you go. Do this with one of each type of the four and you get to fight the big boss at the end. The dinosaur controlled like a slow tank, but I guess that's realistic since it's a dinosaur. What was really eye-catching was that because it's in 3D and the camera is behind your dino, looking down the path, the creature's tail sticks out of the screen at you. It's a pretty nifty effect. You can customize your dinosaur with items and power-ups to make him stronger, and more effective in combat. The battles themselves were actually pretty simple. It's just a matter of dodging your opponent's attacks and waiting for the right time to strike yourself. There's a few different attacks of different power, but it didn't seem like a whole lot of variety. The graphics are nicely detailed, and the dinos look appropriately realistic. And as I said, even though it feels like a simple budget title, the addition of 3D makes you not even notice. Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D is due out during the 3DS launch window of March 27th to E3 in June.

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is simply a 3DS port of the same game that is due out for every other system currently available. The section of the demo that I tried doesn't seem to do anything different to utilize the 3DS in any unique fashion, so it ends up just being LEGO Star Wars... in 3D! But being a LEGO game, it's something I've always had fun playing. I noticed the guy next to me got much further through the demo than I did, though, because my OCD collecting habit forced me to smash everything that wasn't nailed down in order to collect all the little LEGO pieces. I was collecting the secret canisters even though the demo was going to time out after a couple minutes and I couldn't get any credit for it! Actually, it's a good thing the demo timed out, because I might have found myself playing it for the rest of the afternoon! The graphics are clean, although the overhead isometric camera angle needs to be pulled back pretty far to encompass everything, so characters and enemies are naturally a bit on the tiny side. But they still look adorable! You can use the buttons, but in this case, I actually found using the touch screen to activate force powers was easier. Just assembling random LEGOs was simple enough to hold down A until the thing was put together, but when it came to wall jumping with your lightsaber or cutting circular holes in the doors to pass through, swiping the pattern on the touch screen with my thumb worked better for me. The other versions of LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars are due out just before the 3DS launches, but the 3DS port will be out sometime during the launch window.

Although I'm more excited about Resident Evil: Revelations, that title is a lot earlier in development, so Capcom was showing off Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D instead. There were four characters to choose from in the demo, but the final game will have tons of characters from all over the franchise, and the final roster still has not been finalized. There were two playable maps in the demo, one from RE4 and one from RE5, and like the character list, a final tally of how many maps there will be in the final game is still not available. But there will be lots of different missions across all of these maps. The graphics are really impressive, although the action was so fast and furious that I couldn't really appreciate the 3D effects. There wasn't much in the way of things popping out at you, but being able to see just how close the creatures are getting to you is much more unnerving when you can really gauge the distance! The rep I spoke to said that Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D wouldn't be coming out in the launch window, but promised it would be "soon."

Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D has really nice graphics, and the 3D works really well in sports games because the depth of the field really has some depth. There's going to be wireless one-on-one local multiplayer, and five difficulty levels in the single-player game, from Beginner to Top Player. You'll be able to choose from 60 national and 170 club sides, and everything looked pretty realistic, right down to the uniforms and fields. Since I kind of suck at sports titles, I wasn't able to score a goal (in fact, I think I may have scored one in my own goal for the other team!), but it controlled really nice, and animations were fluid. Konami is working on two more 3DS titles for 2011, but I don't know what those are yet. Although they are promising Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D will be out on launch day with the 3DS itself!

EA's Madden NFL Football brings the camera in closer in order to really get the best 3D effect, and includes dynamic cameras for even more 3D drama. During particularly crucial moments, the game will go into slow motion and zoom in, offering you some QTEs in what they're calling "spotlight moments." There's no multiplayer, which is unfortunate, especially given the 3DS's online capabilities, but I was assured that's because they wanted to focus on making the solo experience as good as possible. The full game will have an 11 on 11 mode, but also a more arcadey 5 on 5. The touch screen is a tactical view of the 3D action in the top screen, and you can even draw your plays directly on the screen. I thought the graphics were good, and the 3D depth of the field was nice, but since I don't really know how to play football, let alone videogame football, I can't really offer up an opinion on how it plays! Madden NFL Football will also be available on the 3DS' launch day.

Asphalt 3D is a racing game by Gameloft, published by Ubisoft. There will be 42 licensed cars and motorcycles and 17 locations from Tokyo to San Francisco. I first tried Tokyo, but crashed the demo by getting my car stuck on a fence, so after it was reset, switched to San Francisco, which had some wicked hills. The graphics are nice, if not stellar, but the 3D does a lot to immerse you in the racing. Especially when you go flying over those steep San Fran hills! There will be local multiplayer with up to six racers, and then you can also play various single-player modes including a classic race, a vigilante one where you're the cop, or a high speed chase where you're the criminal on the run. You can customize the cars and upgrade them by collecting points as you race. Also, the game uses the 3DS Street Pass mode to exchange car and player data with other 3DSs so you can play against the ghosts of the people you've tagged. Asphalt 3D will be another launch title.

Namco Bandai had Ridge Racer 3D for show, and it was really cool. It's the usual Ridge Racer arcade-style action, but in 3D, which as I said, works really well for this genre. I felt the graphics were slightly better than Asphalt 3D, even though the vehicles aren't real. There's going to be 20 cars in the final game, and a mix of classic and new Ridge Racer tracks. There won't be any online multiplayer, but you can have up to four racers in local wireless play. The original drifting controls are included for purists, but they've implemented a new easy one-button drift for losers like me. I had a lot of fun playing it even if I only came in second, and was pleased to learn that you can adjust the volume of the music, sfx and voices, meaning you can effectively silence the overly-cheerful announcer woman. She was working my last good nerve, and it was only a two-minute demo! In one of the more interesting features to the game, they've included what they're calling Custom Tour, which allows you to set how long you have to play, and the game will automatically select a series of races that you will be able to complete in that span of time. Ridge Racer 3D will be out during the launch window.

Dead or Alive Dimensons is the other fighter headed to the 3DS, and the graphics look really impressive. Seriously, sometimes you can't believe you're seeing this on a handheld. And in 3D, the throws are awfully nifty. The best use of the 3D effects, though, are when you smash your opponent through the background and the camera follows them as they plummet to the lower level of the arena. There's the usual round of fighting game modes, including local multiplayer, where you can have two players fighting with four characters, two controlled by AI. The most interesting feature is Throwdown Mode, where you collect data using Street Pass and then fight against that player whenever you choose. Basically, the game will develop an avatar for you based on how you play, like who you use the most and your style of combat. It's like a racing game's ghost mode, but for a fighter. Tecmo Koei is promising Dead or Alive Dimensions during the launch window.

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