3DS: One Year On

With the North American and European anniversary of the 3DS quickly approaching, now is as good a time as any to take a look back on our brief experience with the infant console.

I was a relatively early adopter of the 3DS, spending what little money I was earning at the time on the system roughly two weeks after launch, picking it up with a copy of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars and Pilotwings Resort. Like most of you I was immediately enthralled by my new toy with it's shiny new no-glasses 3D and it's surprisingly fun Augmented Reality functions, which even the most cynical and jaded gamer would be impressed by. The most overwhelming feeling inspired by the 3DS was one of impending fun; this was not a system that would force feed you a bunch of “cinematic” cutscenes loosely tied together by gameplay. No, it was a system that would throw those out of the window and make sure you played with a smile on your face, battling dragons on your dining room table or capturing your friends faces so that you might shoot them. There was a ton of potential here, my mind going straight to the possibility of using the AR card functionality to build a game around Pokemon Cards, which I still think should absolutely happen.

The initial batch of games released almost seemed like a proof-of-concept, Pilotwings Resort being chief among them for me. There wasn't a lot to the game due to it consisting mainly of challenges to beat your own high scores, giving it the feeling of being little more than Nintendo saying “Look! It works!” Not to take anything away from the game; it was a finely crafted piece of software that did exactly as it set out to do. It just felt a little vacant. This feeling was perhaps offset by Ghost Recon, which set out to prove you could make a compelling, more traditional videogame on the system completely unhindered by the more – perhaps gimmicky – parts of the 3DS. A goal that I feel it absolutely succeeded at. After launch, however, there was something of a gulf of interesting new releases.

Fast forward to June however, and the Nintendo eShop was launched with... not a whole lot. Okay, so there was a huge backlog of DSiWare games and the Virtual Console opened with the promise of delivering all our favourite retro games to us, but there was nothing new, nothing that really took advantage of our shiny new toy. I don't think I was the only one to be a little underwhelmed and disappointed with the eShop at first, though that now obviously isn't the case, with Nintendo and smaller developers filling the virtual shelves with fantastic offerings such as Pushmo/PullBlox and Mighty Switch Force, but the first few months were a little sparse in terms of compelling games.

Also in June, a little game by the name of The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time was released in it's glorious new three-dimensional tunic. My personal favourite game was re-released and all was right with the world. Shortly after in July, Star Fox 64 was given the same treatment. The 3DS served as the lungs that would breathe new life into these classic games, reinvigorating them for the older gamers while introducing them to the younger crowd.

Unfortunately there was a period of several months following this before any game that really captured my interest was released, though this was of course shattered in middle November with the release of Super Mario 3D Land and quickly followed up by Mario Kart 7 in early December, giving us a double whammy of Mario goodness; Nintendo's finest. Nintendo did a great job of updating these two franchises for the 3D handheld, delivering yet another tightly constructed Mario platformer that managed to both stick to the fantastic formula while also being fresh and interesting, while Mario Kart was... well, it's Mario Kart. Mario Kart.

Overall, I've had fun with my 3DS in it's first year of life. There have been disappointments and gaps in the release schedule sure, and I wish Nintendo would just get Kid Icarus out already, but it's been a good year! And with games like Luigi's Mansion 2, MGS3D, Harvest Moon, and Kingdom Hearts 3D just around the corner, this is going to be a fun year.