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Nintendo 3DS: Futuristic Handheld, Retro Battery

Launch Titles, Game Reviews

When the Nintendo 3DS hits store shelves on March 27th, there will be sixteen different games available for purchase:

  • Pilotwings Resort from Nintendo
  • Steel Diverfrom Nintendo
  • nintendogs + cats from Nintendo
  • Super Street Fighter® IV 3D Edition from CAPCOM
  • The Sims 3 from EA
  • Madden NFL Football from EA SPORTS
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D from Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
  • LEGO® Star Wars® III: The Clone Wars from LucasArts
  • RIDGE RACER® 3D from NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.
  • Super Monkey Ball 3D from SEGA
  • BUST-A-MOVE UNIVERSEfrom Square-Enix, Inc.
  • Asphalt 3D from UBISOFT
  • Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D from UBISOFT
  • Rayman® 3D from UBISOFT
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon® Shadow Wars from UBISOFT

Nintendo sent us four of these games: LEGO Star Wars III, Super Street Fighter IV, Steel Diver, and Madden Football.

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Steel Diver is the one truly new title from Nintendo for the 3DS (Pilotwings and Nintendogs are established franchises). The game is based on you captaining a submarine, going around and destroying enemy subs and surface ships. The periscope on your sub is tied into the gyroscope, so in order to view things behind you, you physically turn yourself and the 3DS around. Damage from enemies is dealt with by rapidly tapping the bottom screen in an effort to repair your sub. The touchscreen also houses your sonar, fire controls, scope zoom and water depth level. There is a mission mode, but we spent most of our time playing in free mode, constantly trying to beat our best time on the different levels. As for the 3D factor, the ships turning to face you in combat seem to float off the screen, and incoming torpedoes are made all the more menacing. All in all, Steel Diver is a pretty fun game that utilizes the strengths of the 3DS well, but replay value is a bit limited. If we had to buy one launch title, we might hold out for something with a little more substance.

If you’ve played Madden on other consoles, then Madden Football for the 3DS version is right up your alley. The game’s controls and layout are simplified and easy enough to manage on the smaller device. You can play through a season, do free play (11-on-11 or even 5-on-5), and there are several different types of play calling. Similar to watching sports on TV, using 3D for a sports game will appeal to the same demographics. EA does a great job with the 3D hardware for this version of Madden, as the players in the foreground really seem to pop out at you. If you’re an avid 360 or PS3 Madden fan, then you’ll definitely be at home with this version.

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is the latest in the fun-filled, time-killing franchise. Like the two LGS games before it, you can control dozens of different characters, from Jedi to Sith and Clone troopers to Trade Federation droids. This story follows the events between Episodes II and III, so you’re still chasing General Grievous around the galaxy. The story mode takes you to several different planets, each with its own unique environments. The Clone Wars, like other LEGO games before it, doesn’t take itself too seriously, so there are plenty of laughs and comic relief.

We really have to commend LucasArts and the job they did with 3D in The Clone Wars, especially since this game easily has the most complex environments out of the four we tested. Alien fauna really stands out in the foreground when you’re walking by, and lasers jump off the screen in the space levels. If you found yourself enamored with the first two LEGO Star Wars titles (we certainly were) then be sure to grab this 3DS title as it combines three things we love: LEGOs, Star Wars, and great 3D effects.

Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is the handheld version of Capcom’s wildly successful fighting game. The story, characters, and moves are all the same, so the transition from the PS3 version of this game to the 3DS version was pretty smooth. The one major difference in the story mode was the lack of video for the cut scenes, which were replaced with images taken from the video coupled with subtitles.

When it comes to fighting, the 3DS has six buttons, so you’ll be able to pull off all of your combos. The bottom screen has presets to automatically execute certain character-specific combos as well as Super and Ultra moves, which should make playing through the game a little more noob-friendly. Capcom did a great job of using the parallax 3D display here, especially during the intro and outro on each stage. Pulling off combos can be difficult at times since, but your hands will eventually get used to the button layout, so you’ll be pulling off Shoryuken’s in no time.

While we haven’t had a chance to play them yet, we would also recommend looking at Pilotwings: Resort, Rayman, Ridge Racer 3D and Bust-A-Move Universe.

Devin Connors currently works as a community manager for Rocket League at Psyonix Studios, but he was previously a senior editor at Tom's Guide, writing about gaming, phones, and pretty much every other tech category. His work has also appeared in publications including Shacknews, GameZone, The Escapist, Machinima, and more.