Vapour Ware (Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. – 3DS)

Over a life time of gaming, I’ve reduced myself to sticking with my favourites. While the intention of the developers may have differed, when it comes to RPGs, I build a party and ride it to the end. This works for me, and when you factor in grinding, this way of playing never became an issue.

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. doesn’t let me get away with that. It boasts a cast three dozen strong, and it’s best to take each member’s strengths and weaknesses into account before throwing them into a mission. STEAM‘s difficulty is brutal, a game that isn’t afraid to flood the player with enemy forces, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be butting against an endless stream of roadblocks. What Intelligent Systems’ latest taught me is the importance of understanding when the tide has turned.

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Pixelated Puzzle Perfection (Fairune – 3DS)

There exists a want for the Zelda series to go back to where it all began, to drop players into a world without a guiding hand in sight. Despite this, it’s impossible for the Nintendo we know today to go to these lengths. But before one believes their cries will go forever unheard, know that there was someone listening. And while it may not be as robust an experience as The Legend of Zelda was, Fairune is exactly the game you’ve been begging for.

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Best Western (Gunman Clive 2 – 3DS)

Having enjoyed Gunman Clive, there was no doubt that I would enjoy it’s recently released successor. The game’s creator, Bertil Hörberg, jokingly expressed the possible loss of his “indie” credentials for the announcement of this sequel, but whether joking or not he and those involved should be proud of their work on Gunman Clive 2. From a distance it may appear that this is more of the same, but there’s something to be said of the game’s restraint from adding features and nuances just for the sake of one-upping the first game.

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Instead, GC2 manages to best the original just by being a better experience. It became a greater game by continuing the work it laid previously. Sequels can lose sight of what made the original so great, either by trying to gain a wider audience, or merely tacking on meaningless additions. Due in to its intended brevity, Gunman Clive 2 doesn’t have the time to train players on a new set of mechanics. Its focus is on delivering another fun, challenging game, and it succeeds tremendously.

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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.

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.

Smash ‘N’ the Boys (Super Smash Bros. For Nintendo 3DS – Review – 3DS)

It’s funny what some new characters and stages can do to me.

While it would ignorant to believe that is all the latest Smash Bros. game has to offer, there no denying that it’s the rampant fan service that draws us in.

With that said, it isn’t the sight of Zero Suit Samus beating the tar out of Donkey Kong that keeps us playing. While these grand announcements leading up to Smash Bros.‘ release kept the hype train chugging along, it’s the content of the game that will keep me playing til the end of time.

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Theatrhythm Interview by Nintendo World Report

My old stomping grounds, Nintendo World Report, was fortunate enough to speak with Theatrhythm’s producer, Ichiro Hazama. In turn, I was fortunate enough to submit a bunch of questions! You can read the interview in its entirety here, and I’ll include a favourite part of mine below. Tell them Tyler sent you!

NWR: How did your relationship with indieszero begin? Why is indieszero a perfect fit for the series?
IH: When I was working in the merchandising department, I had asked indieszero to produce some Final Fantasy-themed trading cards for us. I really got a sense of the care they put into their work, as well as the enthusiasm they have for the title so I asked them to work on Theatrhythm. With that being the biggest reason for working with indieszero, Mr. Suzuki, the president, and I happened to have a working relationship (superior and subordinate) from our previous job. The fact that I fully understood his potential was also a large contributing factor. Even now, I believe asking them to work on this project was the biggest factor to the success of the game.

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