Nintendo DS, DSi, 3DS News Bits

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Being as I am a huge fan of Nintendo’s cute green dinosaur, Yoshi, I am of course excited for the announcement of a Yoshi-themed 3DSXL. Nintendo has announced that a special Yoshi -themed 3DS XL will launch alongside Yoshi’s New Island when it is released on March 14th.

This special edition 3DS will unfortunately not be bundled with Yoshi’s New Island, but its nice to know that Yoshi is gaining some love with its own specially themed console. The 3DS XL is available for preorder over at Gamestop stores and will retail for the same cost as a regular 3DSXL for $199.99.

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Upcoming releasesClear up your gameplay stash for a busy holiday season of gaming! Things really start to ramp up next week with a few new games and gaming accessories up for release. The highly anticipated Battlefield 4 is due, with a sweet deal for early PS4 adopters when you purchase the PS3 version ($9.99 digital download!). Also due for a four-edition round of release is Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, to be available across multiple game systems. For Wii and Wii U gamers (I know you are out there reading this) there is a very cool edition of the Wii RemotePlus featuring Mario and Luigi designs. At the end of the week on November 1st, gamers wanting to get fit or to track their walking can prepare for the Wii U edition of Wii U Fit with the $19.99 Nintendo Fit Meter (and download the demo soon via Wii U!). Not enough gaming goods? Ok, try your luck with PaddyPower’s new games site with some virtual gaming. Either route you go, you’re sure to keep your itchy gaming finger busy with what’s ahead in November with the PS4, Xbox One, and maybe one of those special edition gold brick Nintendo 3DS XL Legend of Zelda systems!

See more here of what’s incoming this week for gamers in North America.

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Nintendo Aerostream
Nintendo is on a nationwide tour with its Mario and friends emblazoned airstream, packed with previews of what’s in store this holiday season for the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and the newly launched Nintendo 2DS. Discretely tucked away in a Miami parking lot, I had the opportunity to hop aboard for some fun hands-on time with Nintendo’s latest offerings.

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First up was the Nintendo 2DS. Just launched this past weekend, the Nintendo 2DS bears many of the features of the Nintendo 3DS, minus the clamshell screen and, as the name implies, minus the 3D effects. For the younger (or tough and rumble) gamer, the 2DS offers a budget entry into Nintendo’s handheld gaming at a $129.99 MSRP. I searched around the device, first trying to spot where the stylus was nestled into (around mid-section). Nintendo’s on-board representative let me know this device represented much of what Nintendo’s philosophy is for this holiday season – budget and fun gaming. The d-pad felt snappier than that of the 3DS. The overall construction of the Nintendo 2DS felt rugged, if somewhat less portable for its almost square form factor versus the more compact rectangular shape of the Nintendo 3DS. I must admit, I was tempted to ask if I could drop the 2DS to put its rugged look to the test, but I couldn’t think of doing it to the snappy and colorful device. I personally wouldn’t give up my 3DS for the 2DS, but after feeling the rugged construction and snappy d-pad and shoulder buttons, I am tempted to take this on long trips in my backpack. Curiously, there is dual 3D camera on the 2DS which allows users to capture 3D pictures and video to later view or share with 3DS gamers. The Nintendo 2DS offers a great, rugged, portable alternative to playing 3DS and DS game cartridges.

(Nintendo 2DS system, $129.99 MSRP, available for purchase here)

Nintendo 2DS

The Legend of Zelda 3DS

Switching over to the Nintendo 3DS to preview a hotly anticipated game for the holiday season, definitely a must-have for gamers (and a title I’ve already  pre-ordered long ago!) – The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Wow, does this game look excellent on the Nintendo 3DS and play with a smooth-as-butter frame rate. Fans of the SNES Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past are going to love this top-down adventure. The 3D is an embellishment not to be missed, with characters jumping up towards the screen and Link’s wand fire effects blazing up out of the screen. The bow and arrow weapon replenishes using a gauge, giving a bit more free-ranged gameplay. Expect a lot of “a-ha!” moments as the game pushes you to think outside of the previous boundaries of gameplay. Link can go into a flat-sketch mode on walls, opening up new areas to explore and creative ways to get around enemies. Playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds reassured me that this was going to be a definite must-have for this holiday season, sure to steal away time from the many other gaming distractions. A must!

(The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – $39.99 MSRP, available for pre-order here)

Super Mario 3D World

On to Nintendo’s Wii U, another Nintendo flagship title was presented – Super Mario 3D World. I must admit, the cat suits and colorful Mario characters already had me sold on this game. This game is overflowing with cuteness, but packed with challenging and exploration-encouraging gameplay. Four-player co-op is encouraged. If you’re the designated Wii U Game Pad player, rubbing the touchscreen helps to reveal secret items. Transparent pipes make Mario and company’s tubular travels more exciting and animated. Now, the cat suits are killer. I loved Toad’s cute cat suit. Claw attacks and scurrying up walls are fun. Even more fun? Scurrying up flagpoles! Cats and Mario characters are a win-win. And Peaches is on fire in this game, packing a punch of fireballs for the first time. The colorful HD graphics, creative levels, smooth animations, challenging gameplay and cast of Mario characters make this game a no-brainer for your collection (or gift-giving). This game will further propel interest in the Wii U system, in which Nintendo is clearly cutting its niche for a colorful platformer console unrivaled by other systems, which leads me to the next title…

(Super Mario 3D World, $59.99 MSRP, available for pre-order here)

Super Mario 3D World

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the latest gem destined for the Wii U. First off, the title is a bit delayed past the holiday season (estimated at February 2014). If anything, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze proves that your Wii U investment will pay off in 2014. This side-scrolling platform looks and plays incredible. From the onset of Donkey Kong’s crash landing, the graphical treatments and animations look outstanding and inviting. You’ve surely heard about Donkey Kong’s amazing new level of furry detail. That’s only part of the updated graphical package. The reflective metal effect on the airplane, water effects (dive into water and swim in this DK game!) and character design and animation is a treat. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a challenging gameplay experience too, with hidden spots and bonus items strewn throughout. Replay value is encouraged as well – you will miss some items in your first time around barrel-blasting! I’ve been itching for a new Metroid game, but after seeing Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in action, any gamer will appreciate the heart and craft that has been put into it.

(Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, $59.99 MSRP, available for pre-order here)

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Nintendo is sandwiched between some competitive game offerings this holiday season, but following my hands-on with what is around the corner in the months ahead (and recent offerings such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Rayman Legends, Wonderful 101 and Pikmin 3), the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and 2DS platforms offer top-notch, boldly colorful and competitive gaming not found elsewhere. In the very minimum, as a gamer or family/friend of a gaming enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to check out the games mentioned here. A solid lineup!

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To cut (or crack the whip) to the chase, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate is an excellent 3DS execution by game developer MercurySteam. The artwork, action gameplay, storyline and musical composition puts Mirror of Fate within the high quality of Castlevania games. Mirror of Fate is what brought me back to the 3DS after leaving it several months ago, and boy did it have me hooked. I couldn’t put it down, setting aside some other console games I had been playing. And yes, you can count me among the longtime Castlevania fans. It’s one of the few games I play and collect since the series began. The Castlevania series has its share of hits and misses among the many varities (side-scroller, action, puzzle, fighter), but count Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate among the hits. The good it offers far outweighs the bad. Here’s a breakdown after my first play through of Mirror of Fate:

The Good:

+ Varied action and abilities throughout the gameplay perspective of four (or really, mainly three) Castlevania characters.

+ Beautiful gothic cathedrals and ornate interiors in 3D. It will stop you in your tracks at times, to take in the scenery.

+ Detailed, dark villains.

+ Surprising 3D effects, besides the expected differences between the background and foreground. Fire and flying demons tease outward to poke at the player’s perspective.

+ Several nice puzzles dispersed throughout, especially during Alucard’s segment.

+ Dramatic big boss enounters.

+ Cell-shaded cutscenes are a nice interlude from the in-game 3D. Although some may complain about lip-syncing, to me it wasn’t a distraction. The artwork is beautiful. The cinematics are available for playback when unlocked.

+ Fills you in on the history of the prime Castlevania characters, including a surprising revelation on Alucard.

+ Detailed 3D bestiary with information on each beast/character.

+ Ability to leave notes on a map screen for backtracking when new abilities are unlocked.

+ One the fallen brotherhood turns up to be Nintendo’s icon (hint, hint).

The Bad:

- No manual. Not a fault of the developer, but on Konami’s part for deciding to opt with a digital only version. Sacrilege for us Castlevania fans who enjoy the series for its beautiful artwork and atmosphere. Mirror of Fate is available from the Nintendo Store online to appease those who want to go digital, so why Konami didn’t at least provide the Castlevania core collectors with some embellished physical version beats me. Even the pre-order sticker 3DS case offered from another game retailer felt very cheap for the series. Collector’s Editions seem to be a dime a dozen for some games, but the Castlevania series is definitely worthy of it, if not at least a color instruction manual (or even a black & white physical copy!) /rant

- A bit on the shorter duration of the Castlevania adventures. Completionists will likely go on for the 100% and hardcore more (and another surprise teaser incentive at the end that I won’t spoil), though expect a 90-95% completion at around 12-13 hours into it.

To sum it up, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate is a must for fans of the Castlevania series or for those who are looking for a gorgeous looking 3D game. Highly recommended, solid game for Nintendo 3DS gamers (or a good reason to buy a 3DS!). Excellent job, MercurySteam!

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Metal Gear Solids 3DS

Nintendo 3DS gamers have been patiently awaiting for one of the most anticipated games since the 3DS was announced, Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D. Konami has finally set a release date for the 3DS outing with Snake, which will be February 21, 2012 in North America. Pictured above is the final box art of the 3DS release. Enhancing the 3DS gameplay experience, players will make their way through the 3D jungle environments, utilize the dual-screen for easy inventory access, and use the 3DS camera to take pictures of items for camouflage coloring. Another recently announced perk pushing the 3DS gameplay is the compatibility with Nintendo’s recently announced Circle Pad Pro extension. Konami says the Circle Pad Pro will allow for “users to target distant foes with ease.”

About Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D:
“METAL GEAR SOLID SNAKE EATER 3D is set during the Cold War of the 60s, and sees series hero Snake infiltrating the Soviet jungle to bring back a scientist being held against his will. Starting on the outskirts of a military base, the player must use Snake’s stealth skills along with the foliage and shade that the jungle offers as cover to infiltrate unseen. As the game progresses, old faces make unwelcome appearances and a series of terrifying boss characters must be defeated before leading up to a dramatic twist that brings Snake face to face with a key figure from his past.”

For more details on Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D, visit the official Metal Gear website at www.metalgearsolid.com. Keep your 3DS warm for this one!

Pre-order Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D here from Amazon.com.

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