Nine 3DS Games That Impressed at E3

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With the Wii U announcement, you could be forgiven for overlooking the 3DS games at E3. I’ll admit, it wasn’t until I went back through my list that I realized how many interesting games are coming up for the new handheld.

Nintendo seems well aware that it has the PS Vita breathing down Mario’s neck and needs to make the most of the time between now and when Sony launches its high spec handheld.

Here are the games I saw that really stood out (and I hadn’t heard much about before the show):

Luigi’s Mansion 2 promises to bring lighthearted cinematic chills to Nintendo’s 3DS handheld with a captivating tale of rattling chains and floating bedsheets.

Luigi's MansionLuigi's Mansion

Luigi's Mansion

The only surprise more welcome than Nintendo’s sudden announcement of Luigi’s Mansion 3DS at this year’s E3 expo was that the game was available to play immediately after the press conference. Normally between a game’s announcement and release there is a drip-feed of tantalizing information and screenshots before the lucky few are able to get some quality time with a game nearing completion.

A whole new game, rather than a re-release of a prior title on the 3D system, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a legitimate sequel to the classic GameCube adventure.

Playing Luigi’s Mansion 2, it immediately feels as though this game has somehow found a perfect home on the 3D handheld. While traversing the external environments the camera sits close behind Luigi as he moves forward into receding depths to reveal a haunted residence in the distance.

Nano Assault makes great use of the 3D display and provides an addictive shooter experience on the move.

Nano Assault 3DSNano Assault 3DS

Nano Assault 3DS

Nano Assault is the follow up to Nanostray 1 and 2, a pair of sleeper hits which provided some good old-fashioned bullet-hell style shooting on the Nintendo DS. Like Ikaruga these games reveled in a classic 2D scrolling style, but utilized 3D models and a dynamic camera.

The adventure begins as you travel inside a living body to rid a victim of the damaging affects of a deadly and intelligent virus. In Nano Assault, Majesco Entertainment moves things to 3D and makes some interesting changes to the shooter, while retaining the feel and pace of a classic arcade shooter.

Rather than a scrolling screen, each of Nano Assault‘s 20+ levels are based on a rotating world (a little bit like Super Mario Galaxy, only with spaceships and missiles) which represents a living cell which must be cleared of virus particles. Once all of the enemies have been cleared in a particular arena, the player can then progress to another part of the body.

Driver: Renegade 3DS promises a return to the feel of the first Driver game’s movie car-chases and Starsky and Hutch appeal.

Driver RenegadeDriver Renegade

Driver Renegade

What made the original Driver so compelling was the weighty, movie-like vehicle handling, with hubcaps that would pop off around the first fast corner and Dukes of Hazzard-style leaps over the slightest road incline. In short, it was the perfect movie car-chase experience.

It’s easy to overlook just how ground-breaking the original Driver was, providing gamers with their first taste of riding around an open 3D city with free exploration — an amazing 2 years before the ground-breaking Grand Theft Auto III caused the “sandbox” genre to explode.

With Driver: Renegade, Ubisoft is returning to the series’ roots of driving-focused action, setting the story of the game immediately after the events of the original Driver, showing a desperate Tanner turning to vigilante justice in order to see the criminal elements of New York City brought to an end.

Star Fox 64 3DS will offer a new 3DS mode, the original N64 mode and Versus mode. The versus mode can accommodate up to four players to battle against one another and also supports download play so that you only need one copy of the game to play with friends. Currently, and curiously like many other Nintendo 3DS games, Star Fox 64 3DS doesn’t offer an online multiplayer mode.

Star Fox 64 3DSStar Fox 64 3DS

Star Fox 64 3DS

In a similar approach to Zelda Ocarina of Time (3DS) the game will also make use of the motion controls to enable you to aim by simply tilting the console to control the Arwing.

The final piece of news about the game’s new features over the N64 original is the use of the 3DS internal camera to take a picture of your face which is then used as your avatar in the game — similar to Ridge Racer 3D.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3DS is the green shoots of third party buy in to the new console. A new Metal Gear game is big news on any platform, on a Nintendo system it’s all the more surprising.

Snake EaterSnake Eater

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater

Years after giving us a brief glimpse of the potential of hand-held 3D gaming, one of the greatest entries in the Metal Gear Solid series is set to sneak, crawl and shoot onto the Nintendo 3DS.

Since it was first revealed for the 3DS, fans have been longing to see how this epic action-adventure would work on Nintendo’s 3D handheld. For keen followers of the Metal Gear series, this isn’t the first dip into 3D territory for Solid Snake, the gruff, die-hard mercenary at the heart of the story. Metal Gear Acid 2 on the PSP featured an innovative stereoscopic mode which allowed the player to experience the game in 3D with a special viewing box which came with the game. Those with a good memory will also recall that the game also featured, as bonus content, many of the movie sequences from the original Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater in 3D.

Super Mario 3DS carries the weight of a dynasty on its shoulders. As the pieces come together though, it looks like a pretty safe bet for the first truly 3D Mario.

Mario 64 was an uncomfortable revolution; what you gained in 3D you lost in pixel perfect jumps. Super Mario 3DS can set this straight by using the 3D screen to accurately depict depth.

It is still very early days for the project, but I expect the game will sit in relation to Mario 64 the same way that New Super Mario Brothers does to the original Super Mario Brothers. The focus will be on finesse, execution and revisiting existing ideas as well as introducing a fair share of variety.

Cave Story brings 8-bit platforming to the 3DS. However, an uncertain 3D visual style and the challenge of accommodating touch screen controls still leave a lot to be answered by this darling of old school gamers.

Cave Story 3DCave Story 3D

Cave Story 3D

Cave Story is one of those games deemed worthy of adoration by hardcore gaming fans. Originally free on the PC (and later available on Wii-ware and DSi-ware), it features classic 2D platforming in a homage to games like Metroid, Castlevania and even Jet Set Willy.

The game pits you as an amnesiac character who wakes up in a cave. As you explore a plot unfolds about a megalomaniac Doctor trying to conquer the world. Of course, it’s down to you to stop him — with a combination of well timed jumps, lots of running and a bit of puzzle solving.

Bit.Trip Saga will bring the full Bit.Trip family to Nintendo’s new console. Of most interest is how the games accommodate touch screen controls and whether any additional content will be included.

Bit.Trip.SagaBit.Trip.Saga

Bit.Trip.Saga

Bit.Trip games were originally developed by Gaijin Games for Wii-Ware and more recently the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Each game features Commander Video’s (of Super Meat Boy fame) attempts to save the universe. But more than any narrative similarity it is the bright disco visuals and rhythm-action game play that unites these titles.

Bit.Trip Saga 3DS brings all six of the previously released Bit.Trip games to Nintendo’s new handheld console. The full list of these games include the pong-like Bit.Trip Beat, the pulsating shapes of Bit.Trip Core, the black hole of Bit.Trip Void, the platforming of Bit.Trip Runner, the shooting of Bit.Trip Fate and the cooperative Bit.Trip Flux.

It remains to be seen whether the 3DS version will offer enhanced visuals (although this is likely) or new challenges and modes (which is less likely). In terms of controls a clear precedent has been set with the iPhone versions of the game, which the 3DS is likely to adopt, although without the multi-touch aspects.

Pac-Man and Galaga Dimensions 3DS will mesh modern and retro gaming with a collection of six games on one cartridge.

Pacman and Galaga DimensionsPacman and Galaga Dimensions

Pac-man and Galaga Dimensions

Celebrating Pac-Man‘s 30th anniversary, and following up early success on the original DS (Pac ‘n Roll and Pac Pix), Pac-Man and Galaga Dimensions 3DS includes a series of new and classic games. The original arcade versions of Pac-Man and Galaga will be presented with a 3D effect to mimic looking into an arcade cabinet.

Pac-Man Championship Edition and Galaga Legions are also part of the package. These are popular modern iterations of the series on Xbox Live Arcade and other platforms, although it’s a shame the more recent Pac-Man Champion Edition DX won’t be included.

New titles created exclusively for the 3DS release are Pac-Man Tilt and Galaga 3D Impact. Pac-Man Tilt is the only part of Dimensions restricted to 2D. It’s a side-scrolling platformer controlled using the 3DS’s tilt sensor. You will navigate Pac-Man through a series of puzzles, avoiding ghosts and taking advantage of springs and pinball flippers. Galaga 3D Impact is an on-rails shooter, moving the action to a first-person perspective for blasting away alien invaders. Using the gyroscope, you will need to move the DS and your body to aim and dodge incoming attacks…

When you add these to the games we had already heard about before E3 (Mario Kart, Animal Crossing and Kid Icarus to name a few), the 3DS looks well catered for in the next few months. The only problem will be which of these I can afford to buy. Time to start saving up now, I think.

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