When I was recently approached about taking part in Nintendo’s #3DSKidForADay campaign, I was both delighted and perplexed. I mean, as a longtime member of the Nintendo-faithful, how would this differ from practically every other day of my life?!
Then it hit me; what if I took the campaign literally? A lot of our game coverage here at GeekDad leans heavily toward what may or may not be kid- or family-appropriate about new titles and hardware, but what about the simple enjoyment of our resident grown-ups?
With that in mind, I set up what might commonly be referred to as a “personal day.” I cleared my schedule (as much as a schedule can ever expect to be truly cleared), gathered a collection of new and classic games, charged up my new New Nintendo 3DS XL, and I was ready to go.
First up was an old favorite, New Super Mario Bros. 2. Nintendo seems to have taken great pains to get this title back into the public consciousness of late, and, truth be told, it’s been a while since I dove into this 2012 release.
What I immediately noticed was how great the soundtrack sounded through the New 3DS XL’s speakers. First-party Nintendo releases are known for their high level of polish, but this was something I managed to miss all those years ago.
Graphically, NSMB2 is still gorgeous, and the game’s peculiar lean toward filthy lucre—with gameplay tweaks like the addition of the Gold Flower and ample coin-spewing pipes—still helps it stand out from the other New Super Mario Bros. titles. The game’s branching paths and unlockable levels heighten the intensity of this search for gold (specifically those deceptively concealed Star Coins) and make for a varied and satisfying play-through.
The Koopa Kid boss battles—which I specifically remember decrying as overly simplistic—are still fairly textbook, but in this brave new world of Fire Emblems and Epic Defaults, I appear to have come to appreciate this lack of hair-pulling difficulty. That said, the game’s convoluted save system still annoys me a bit.
Sure, you can use the Quick-Save function at any time (on the map menu), but truly saving your progress is typically reserved for when you defeat a boss/proceed to a new level or, optionally, by unlocking a Mushroom House or alternate root with your hard-earned Star Coins.
Next on the agenda was the recent HAL Laboratory-helmed masterpiece Kirby: Planet Robobot. Now, my 11-year-old is a die-hard Kirby fan, so having the chance to explore a Kirby game without his constant—though, I must point out, totally well-meaning—”guidance” was a nice change.
Even all on its own, Robobot is totally enchanting, pairing those classic Kirby change-ups with an equally adaptable mech-suit for a candy-colored sci-fi adventure. But adding in the specialized amiibo Copy Abilities—Hey, Amazon’s had those things on sale for a song over the last few weeks, so I kinda had to pick them up!—further ramps up the fun.
The ESP Copy Ability (for Kirby) and the mech’s devastating Cutter Mode are ridiculously fun to begin with, but being able to scan in the new Kirby amiibo for the UFO ability or Dedede to wield a massive hammer can help spice things up if the adventure starts to feel a little predictable. And, as a side note, this is one of the first times I’ve ever really been thankful for the New 3DS XL’s onboard NFC functionality. While the external reader, used with the previous generation systems, is perfectly user-friendly, turning it on and aligning it just so and waiting for it to pair now seems like a chore by comparison.
As I was nearing the end of my Kirby time, I was reminded that the demo for Yo-kai Watch 2 was available on the eShop. Shortly I was watching the opening movie—an adorable music video featuring Nate’s Yo-kai performing the cartoon series’ theme song.
The demo version of the original game really took my house by storm when it dropped this time last year. It was engaging and immersive and substantial. It gave us a look at what the real game had in store with regard to combat and strategy and backstory.
This one… doesn’t.
It’s a bare bones (no pun intended) affair that just runs you through the basics. You get a quick intro to your grandmother’s Harrisville home, a single instance of combat to spotlight some of the new capabilities of the Model Zero Yo-kai Watch, and you’re introduced to the new cover spirit Hovernyan.
Compared to the previous demo, which allowed you to roam and explore and really get a feel for the world, this one felt rather anemic. Does this mean I’m looking forward to checking out the dual release of Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls any less?
No. No, it does not. This remains one of the most highly anticipated titles in my family—second only to Pokémon Sun and Moon—and I still can’t wait to get properly into it.
Speaking of hotly anticipated releases, the next stop on my glorious gamecation was a return trip to Animal Crossing: New Leaf. With an upcoming (free!!!) update promising to deliver new content and amiibo support, it felt like a good time to buckle down and really get back to the task of maintaining my town.
The kids and I still routinely hop Kapp’n’s ferry head to the Island for some swimming and bug hunting, but it’s been a while since I gave my mayoral duties proper consideration. Obviously, Leif was there to guilt-trip me about all the weeds and a number of old villagers seemed downright surprised to see me.
Still, it felt good to dive back into one of my all-time favorite series, even if it was just to do a little preliminary housekeeping.
The last stop on my day-long 3DS play-fest was Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past. Released earlier this month, this is the 3DS remake (initially made available in the Japanese market back in 2013) of a PlayStation title of the same name originally released circa 2000/2001.
Admittedly, that is a rather ridiculous chronology, but one that fans of DQVII‘s time hopping can likely appreciate.
Fragments of the Forgotten Past is, by almost any metric, a lovely reinvention of already strong source material. The new 3DS character models at last do justice to their Akira Toriyama designs, and the cohesiveness of the overall art direction only seems to increase as the world around your central protagonist and his growing cast of party members expands.
That said, I discovered this world-spanning (world-building?) adventure somehow still boasted a particularly old school aesthetic. While I didn’t exactly find myself subject to the dreaded grind of many classic JRPGs, one could favorably describe the opening hours of Dragon Quest VII as slow. One could also, less favorably, refer to them as downright glacial.
The early adventures of my player character, Prince Kiefer, and Maribel involved, almost exclusively, traveling here to get this thing only to find that you must also travel there to get that thing. Then, once I finally made it to my first battle—against DQ‘s iconic Slime enemies, naturally—I was disappointed to find the overall turn-based combat interface to be a little clunky.
And therein lies my one problem with was Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past; many of its elements seem to have been effectively updated to the modern gamer palate, while others seem solidly stuck in the past. (Which, again, is at least thematically appropriate.)
Nintendo provides a handy quick-start guide to help get your bearings and stay on the right path in this dangerous land where past and present collide, but even that can be a tad daunting. At its conclusion, you are congratulated on completing the games first 20 hours… All that before even being introduced to one of its coolest features: a robust job system.
I am by no means suggesting that fans—of either Dragon Quest specifically or Japanese RPGs in general—ignore this release. In fact, I’d encourage those with the time and the patience to dig into this epic adventure at their earliest convenience. I plan to return to Estard myself someday. But, sadly, this was a portable journey far too big for just one day of idle play.
Nintendo of America provided me with a New Nintendo 3DS XL system and games for review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.