New 3DS

After a day with the New 3DS, my most important impression is that it’s about damn time. The 3DS family finally has hardware deserving of its library and lineage.

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While the original 3DS has a nice, sturdy housing (comparisons to a hamburger merely an issue of aesthetics), its interior was lacking. I took issue with the odd membrane-esque Home/Start/Select buttons, as they never felt good to push. My purchase of the XL wasn’t due to its increased screen size (I found the original perfectly sized for portability), but because of a general dissatisfaction with the feel of its inputs, as well as how easily the top screen could be scratched by the bottom’s ridges. However, that happiness was short lived. The XL’s build quality was lacking, and the system would squeak and creak as I held it. And those scratches on the top screen persisted in this form as well.

In holding the New 3DS XL, I could breathe a sigh of relief. Not since the DSi XL has Nintendo built such a wonderful handheld.

Paramount is that it doesn’t feel like a big chunk of weak plastic. It’s beefy, and has a nice heft to it. It’s still no Vita (which feels as if it was forged, not manufactured), but it’s close. Button placement is great, with Start and Select found just below the face buttons , just as they were on the DSi. The new ZL and ZR buttons are very accessible, something that I was concerned about initially. My only issue with these buttons isn’t with, but their use in older titles that offered Circle Pad Pro support. Resident Evil Revelations was one such title, and with the CCP controls on, the aiming and firing commands are mapped to ZL and ZR which feels pretty awful on the New 3DS. Others, like Kid Icarus Uprising and Super Smash Bros., feel pretty great. While the C-Stick can’t replace the ease of the additional Circle Pad the CCP offered, it works well. Uprising‘s use of the CPP was for lefties like myself, so it’s nice that the New 3DS still allows for that same accessibility.

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Not enough can be said of the handheld’s more stable stereoscopic 3D. It works as promised, and despite months of being happy with a 2DS, I’m excited to dip back into these 3D waters. I’ve actually been using it quite a bit, realizing that losing the 3D effect in previous years was the biggest reason behind my decisions to do without it.

System performance is as significant as Nintendo said it would be. As highlighted by Super Smash Bros. dramatically reduced load times, the extra bit of power the New 3DS offers is put to good use. Applications like the eShop and Miiverse load very quickly, and the internet browser is very much worthwhile now (I used it for some Majora’s Mask help and never felt like I should have just used my phone instead).

Is it a necessary upgrade? No, I’m sure plenty will do just fine with whatever variation of the 3DS they own. The New 3DS is a suitable name for the hardware, as it’s a nice bump for Nintendo’s latest portable. It’s a collection of little things that add up to a great handheld.

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Theme Machine

It’s nice that I can throw some change at Luigi after his Year came to an unceremonious close (with some putting the blame of Nintendo’s financial woes on his weak, weak, shoulders). I’m sure he needs a little pocket money, considering his position as the “other brother” and Nintendo looking to him for answers on why his year wasn’t a massive success.

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I didn’t think I could be won over by the 3DS themes, and in large part I wasn’t. While the theme store teases a darling Animal Crossing theme (starring Nintendo’s Lightning, Rosalina Isabelle), I was disappointed by the bland design of the rest. There’s one based off of Mario’s sprite from the original Super Mario Bros., but it focused on the colour white, and I thought the point of these themes is moving away from the sterile chamber I’ve been locked in for years now.

Luckily, Luigi’s smiling face was there, as if to say “It’s-a alright, Tyler. You can-a always count on-a me.”

He may always play second fiddle, but on my 3DS, he’s a god damn star.

It’s October, So Here’s Something Freaky

Since it’s October, I feel the need to get in the festive spirit. All I did last year was link to the spooky work of the Nintendo Fun Club Podcast (who are at it again this year with an upcoming Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest podcast special), so I have a lot to make up for.

So here’s my first attempt at scaring your pants off.

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Yeah…that’s it. It’s a Vita with some tissue paper over it. And it’s my Twitter avatar, so it’s hardly a SIIYP exclusive.

It’ll get better, I promise!

Positively Smashing! (Super Smash Bros. for 3DS)

Now that I’m playing Super Smash Bros. like crazy again, I’m facing the fact that my Link is a liiiittle rusty. Like, I need to go in for Tetanus shots kind of rusty.

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When Brawl came out, I was in full on Metal Gear Solid hype mode. I wasn’t on the hype train, I was the train. The Metal Gear Solid Essentials Collection released just 10 days after Brawl, and that was a huge turning point. It led to me beating MGS 1, 2 and 3 for the first time, and cemented my decision to drop Link…and use Snake as my new Smash Bros. main.

So now, 6 years later, I come back to Link with hat in hand, and tail between my legs. I won’t deny that I pined for Snake’s announcement, or that I won’t return to him should Sakurai grant my wish, but until then I hope Link and I can Smash bros…together.

Take A Bow (Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call – 3DS)

Ooooooh, so this is what the first Theatrhythm game could have been. Curtain Call exists not only as a sequel done right, but also as an idea that the publisher finally realized had genuine potential after the original’s reception.
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While this is just a theory, it doesn’t take much to realize just how meagre an offering the first Theatrhythm was in comparison to its successor. I’m not speaking of just the song count; despite how significant three times the amount of songs is, that sort of content growth is expected. Curtain Call’s variety of modes on offer is what blows me away.
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It’s been a long time since I’ve played the first game, but there’s no forgetting its lackluster efforts at keeping my attention. While the songs and mechanics on offer were nice, it was pretty much a time killer; something to dip into for a bit when I had the chance. The Dark Notes were Theatrhythm’s attempt at creating a hook to catch me with, but the song’s it used grew repetitive as the mode built itself with a small selection of the game’s music. It was a drag, and a real stain on an otherwise terrific title.

Curtain Call farts on the first game’s lunch in that regard with Medley Quest, a mode that puts your party on branching paths with various “stops” (songs) along the way. Your team’s health bar is constant from song to song, with the goal being getting to the stage’s boss before dying. The stages are organized by length, meaning the longer the stage the more songs to play (and just one health bar to do complete it with). The rewards are constant, and the branches mean a return trip isn’t quite the same as your first time around.
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Also on tap is a very fun multiplayer mode. While it’s interesting to face off against the computer, it’s thrilling to take on your friends through the power of the internet. Just last night I played a few matches against Qoopa Klub’s Jeremy Johnson, and got my butt handed to me. As expected, you compete for points, but the wrench thrown into the mix is the power ups. While they’re easy to scoff at (and I certainly did at first), they add a lot of confusion to the mix, and the results are hilarious. Maybe those who believe Mario Kart is tarnished by the Blue Shell will take issue, but the power ups in Curtain Call do an excellent job of adding a bit of madness to the experience. The game’s rhythm targets can speed up, become hidden until the last possible second, and even shrink down before expanding back just when it’s time to hit the mark. If there’s a way to turn them off, I want nothing of it. What makes online play so appealing is that whether you win or lose, you can choose a Collectacard, which shows off some character artwork as well as providing an optional stat boost to your party members.

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Curtain Call is rich with content, shaming its predecessor with its collection of modes and trinkets. It makes sense that Square-Enix is billing this as the last Theatrhythm game, as I doubt anyone will be wont of more. DLC is on offer, so there’s even more on the way. You almost expect the cartridge to bulge a bit with all that’s on board.

I think Curtain Call is owed a standing ovation.

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Think Pink

It’s fair to say I really like pink hair.

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Soul Sacrifice Delta

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Destiny…which isn’t a handheld game…

Soooo…what does this say about me? I’m not sure, but I’m really enjoying the option to create a female avatar, and it’s even greater when I can dye their hair such a wonderful shade.

What’s even crazier is when some designer out there feels the exact same way.

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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call…just wait until I unlock Serah

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The Wonderful 101’s Queen of Rage…Wonder-Pink, ladies and gentlemen.

So as crazy as I am, at least I’m not alone.

I’m not sure of why this is, but it is a recent development. For the longest time I crafted male protagonists, it just felt expected. But eventually it got boring. 99% of what I played cast me as a man or boy, so why waste the opportunity to try something else?

Another reason is my daughters. It wasn’t until I had them in my life that I realized how underrepresented they are in media (well, positively at least). Coraline, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away are my oldest’s favourite films, and should she see the games I’m playing, I want her to see a strong woman there too.

Surge Protector! (Azure Striker Gunvolt & Mighty Gunvolt – 3DS – Preview)

Azure Striker Gunvolt isn’t the run and gun shooter I expected. As I discovered how much more meticulous it was, it dawned on me how appropriate a response Gunvolt is to the race of filling Mega Man‘s shoes. Inti Creates’ own Mighty No.9 is fulfilling that need, so why put out more of the same?
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The difference is clear upon the discovery of just how weak your pistol is. Instead of a weapon, the true purpose of Gunvolt’s handgun is as a marker. By shooting an enemy, a reticule is placed upon them and they’ve now been set as a target. Our pony-tailed protagonist’s true strength takes advantage of the situation, as Gunvolt is able to attack these targets using his Flashfield. As a circle of electricity surrounds him, bolts shoot out independently to destroy the enemies. While I’ve only played for an hour or so, in these early moments I’ve already seen some creative enemy designs that required me to make careful use of this power.

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