Review by Neko_Bijin
I’m reluctant even to admit that I own a Nintendo 3DS. Apparently they’re used by grown men for acts of indecency in Japan. But I bought one for slightly less disreputable purposes. It’s essentially an NES that fits in my pocket—the only thing I ever wanted in life since I was 13. Mine is the XL model, which is necessary for anyone with lousy eyesight, and the 3D aspect just plain doesn’t work for me (this is true of about 10% of the human population, I gather). The StreetPast feature has caused me reflexively to move closer to clusters of loitering teenagers as I go about rather than further away, so it may yet get me killed. There’s also an e-Shop that I haven’t figured out. I buy all my games on little plastic cartridges that I insert into a slot to play, the way God intended. Here are a review of the games that I own.
Mario Kart 7
Near as I can tell, the game hasn’t evolved much since its SNES debut. Thank goodness! The object is to cross the finish line first, and there’s a plethora of karts and Mario characters to choose. You can compete against friends in a head-to-head race while you sit side-by-side on the veranda, but why bother? You’d rather just play the duel mode.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
This is my favorite Zelda in years, maybe the best since the original. It’s a sequel to the SNES’s Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and it retains everything that made the original game fun while discarding all the garbage that’s accumulated in the meanwhile. No half-hour tutorials. No unskippable cut-scenes. No grinding for bug carapaces. And the wall-merging feature makes a rather stale franchise feel fresh as new. As with every Zelda title, the puzzles are the main event, and the level of difficulty is perfectly gauged. (If you get stuck, you can buy a hint with “coins” that you get by exercising with the 3DS in your pocket. No foolin’.)
On the one hand, this game is a kind of masterpiece. Clearly a lot of work was put into the environments, the character models, and into the many, many character classes. Even the dialog is less cringe-worthy than I feared. On the other hand, there’s nothing here that wasn’t already present in Final Fantasy 1 for NES. After you’ve figured out how the characters and the jobs work, the main source of fun isn’t advancing the (rather meandering) story but in sending and receiving (via StreetPass or the Internet) the most interesting “combinations.” (Explanation: damage comes in various types, as well as with status ailments, e.g. blindness, poison, etc. Matching the correct damage type to the appropriate monster is the raison d’être of this type of game.)
Kirby: Triple Deluxe
This game comes out May 2nd in North America, so I don’t have it yet, but it’s likely to be the 3DS’s swansong. Kirby games always come out late in a platform’s cycle, after the programmers figure out how to squeeze every iota of juice out of the system. To my mind, the Kirby series is the hardest to keep fresh of Nintendo’s franchises. Giving Kirby bigger and more impressive attacks can only work for so long. We’ll see how the new one measures up soon enough.
I like having a game system in my pocket that doesn’t receive phone calls or text messages, but I dislike the reproachful looks I get on the commuter train when I use the stylus. I’m unlikely to buy any more games for a while since I’m too old to understand Pokemon and Smash Bros. leaves me cold. Maybe I’ll figure out how to download Excitebike.
Like the rest of you, I assume that Nintendo will continue slowly circling the drain for a few years before finally giving up the game business altogether in favor of licensing Mario toys and tee shirts. Pick up a 3DS this year as retailers discount them to clear the shelves before Christmas.