New 3DS Games Hands-on Previews: Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, Star Fox 64 3D and more

Last night, courtesy of Nintendo and IGN, me and some of the other Nintendo Scene team had the pleasure of playing some of the awesome new titles coming soon to 3DS. You can read all about IGN’s 100th Podcast Party here, but I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you all about these great games and give you all a bit more of an idea about what you can look forward to.

The games on hand to play were Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Star Fox 64 3D, Resident Evil Revelations, Kid Icarus: Uprising and Metal Gear Solid – Snake Eater. I should point out that the games we played were preview editions of the full titles; some indicating that they are still ‘in development’ as they loaded. So, for example, there were only three tracks to race on in Mario Kart 7 and four levels to play in Super Mario 3D Land. I can only think that this means that the full titles will be even better when they are released!

The selection of games on hand was excellent. If the launch line up for the 3DS was like this there would have been no doubt that the 3DS would have sold by the bucket loads by now. No question. Hands down. With a great mix of classic Nintendo franchises thrust into modern day gaming with examples of great use of 3D and gyroscope controls, excellent graphics and addictive, fun gameplay I am confident that when these are released, sales of the 3DS are going to soar.

Mario Kart 7
On arriving at the party, I headed straight for Mario Kart 7 and it was everything I had hoped for and more. I got to choose from 8 characters and went straight for Mario and then selected my kart chassis, wheels and accessory. From what I imagine was only a limited selection for this preview, I chose the classic kart body, added big chunky 4×4 wheels and the hang glider attachment. The other attachment options were greyed out question mark blocks for now.

Straight into the first race and immediately I slid the 3D depth slider to the maximum. Clearly designed with this type of game in mind, the 3D effect was excellent, creating a real feeling of distance as the track loomed into the distance. The controls were tight, the kart handled very well as expected and I was power sliding into the first corner naturally. Picking up coins as you race around the track added a little something extra, missing since Super Mario Kart Advance, and adding to the speed which felt pretty quick and the classic selection of weapons such as the red shell came in very handy as I weaved past other racers into 3rd place quite easily.

As I leaped over the edge of a cliff, the hang glider attachment came into it’s own and I was surprisingly impressed with how floating down to the ground below handled too. Using the analogue control I was able to tilt the kart up and down, collecting floating coins and then diving under pipes in order to land smoothly back on the track. I was even able to use weapons including mushrooms in the air, helping me take another position, before getting into 1st place on the final stretch and winning the race.

Easily my favourite game of the night, I went back to Mario Kart 7 a couple of times later in the evening for some more racing. Further tracks included sections underwater which were also surprisingly easier to race through than I was expecting, with only slightly different ‘floatier’ handling and a great ‘bubble’ 3D graphical effect. The last track of the demo was set in a Donkey Kong Country Returns area; the edges of the tracks littered with DK barrels, bouncing giant flowers like the mushrooms in Mushroom Gorge on Mario Kart Wii and a couple of tight turns in a cave. My favourite track of the demo.

I am really looking forward to Mario Kart 7. With some classic handling, new tracks, new features and great use of 3D, this, for me, will be the reason to own a 3DS. Unfortunately multi-player wasn’t something we could try out, but with online and local wi-fi racing surely set to be the highlight of the game, it’s December release can’t come soon enough.

I wasn’t the only one to enjoy Mario Kart 7 either. Regular Nintendo Scene reader and Street Pass event attendee Raza said ‘My fav game was Mario Kart 7 can not wait to get my hands on it.’ and StealthBuda of Nintendo Scene agreed with me; ‘Hand-gliding over a chunk of the course is fun and the underwater parts of the second track look awesome in 3D. The demo showed exactly what I look for in Mario Kart, the same working formula with a few extras. From what I saw in the several play throughs I had the game is shaping up to be the game to own on the Nintendo 3DS.’

Super Mario 3D Land
As a life long fan of all of the games in the Super Mario series, this will be a must buy when it comes out in November and was a must play last night. There were four levels on offer to play, from what was clearly a demo only version of the game where you could select each level from a home screen broken down into four screen shots.

The levels were the ones we have seen footage of in the E3 footage, a mix of side scrolling sections, a boss fight at the end of an airship section and isometric ‘flip switch’ sections. Generally I was surprised at how tough I found the demo; seeing the ‘too bad!’ message a few too many times as I jumped into oblivion over the edge of platforms or ran off of the edge of flip switch panels. This difficulty curve was just right though, the demo showing the range of different types of game play.

Mario’s roll attack was fun to execute, rolling into the flat ‘cardboard’ Goombas we have seen in the demo footage and somersault jumping from the white bouncy musical note blocks also handled well. Using the raccoon suit was great, using the tail to whip away blocks and enemies and floating from high platforms. The fire flower featured, as did collectible ‘star coins’ and Mario without his hat when he got hit and shrunk in size. Collecting the Raccoon suit leaf put it within easy reach of quick upgrade, placing it on the touch screen for application after getting hit by one of the many enemies.

The graphics in Super Mario Land 3D are great. Colourful, similar in style to Super Mario Galaxy, and the 3D effect was nice, with black piranha flowers shooting ink at the screen and the play areas have a real sense of depth. Walking into under cover areas and to the back of sections to collect the star coins looked effective and traversing over flip switch panels to get over to the safer, solid ground was fun.

There is no doubt that I will pre-order this game and I can’t wait to get my hands on It properly. I am looking forward to seeing what else Nintendo has in store in terms of level design and features that haven’t yet been revealed.

Nintendo Scene reader David said ‘Super Mario 3D Land also looks good although couldn’t really see the 3d effect that well but maybe i just hadn’t found the sweet spot’ and StealthBuda, who had already played this demo at Hyper Japan, thinks ‘The demo shows off the 3D well and how crisp the graphics look and in fact how polished the game looks in general. Mario fans won’t be disappointed.’

Star Fox 64 3D
Off of the back of playing this last night I have pre-ordered this game today. That’s how good it is. A fan of the original, I had high hopes for this one, having lost a lot of time to Lylat Wars on the Nintendo 64 (as it was know in Europe back then) and having recently also played it a few times after downloading it on the Wii Virtual Console. I am not disappointed.

The new 3D version is certainly the best one yet and the fast paced, action packed gameplay came back to me and felt natural to pick up and play straight away. The demo had three missions to play through, including the first Corneria level, the Meteo asteroid field mission and then the Solar level where you are flying above the lava. The visuals on this level were particularly impressive, but generally this is one of the things you will notice about the game straight away; how beautiful the whole thing looks. From the animated characters giving you advice and calling out for help on the touch screen to the explosions, environments and backgrounds on the main screen, everything looks amazing and shows off the power of the 3DS console.

Like Mario Kart 7, this game is also a perfect example of how 3D can improve the game. The sense of depth is very impressive, as enemies fly past far away in the distance as well as meteors right up close to the screen. I found it interesting that I felt comfortable playing the game with the 3D depth slider right up to the max on this as well as Mario Kart 7; something I’ve not regularly been able to do until now with other games such as Ocarina of Time. The mix of gyroscope and analogue pad controls available on the 3DS felt very natural to handle too, gently titling the console to fly your Arwing around the screen and using the pad for evasive manoeuvres.

This button basher, fun adventure shooter is yours to own on 9th September. StealthBuda and I will be reviewing the game as soon as possible, but I have no doubt how fantastic it’s going to be and urge you to get it, whether you’ve played it before or if you are newcomer to the series.

David was impressed with Star Fox 64 3D too, saying ‘Star Fox 3D was brilliant and was my first look at a Star Fox game, I found it hard at first but once I got used to the controls it was really good.’

Kid Icarus: Uprising
I was very interested to pick this one up and play, having read a lot about it previously and watched some great demo footage, but not really had it on my radar as a title I would definitely be purchasing. I urge you to check it out too though if you can, as I was pleasantly surprised.

The first part of the demo was to select a weapon. There were may to choose from, including blades and claws, but I opted for the classic combination of Bow and Arrows. The first level available was a flying stage, with Icarus soaring though cloudy skies under attack from a number of enemies. The game then took you to the ground, with Icarus running on foot and then facing off against a large boss enemy in an arena at the end.

The graphics throughout are excellent, with plenty going on and lot’s of enemies to track and shoot at. The 3D effects are also excellent, again a title where I could enjoy the 3D effect slider at the maximum level. The exciting, varied environments look great with another excellent example of how the 3DS can potray a great level of depth.

The control scheme is what makes this stand out as a unique title though, with a clever use of the L trigger to shoot, using the circle pad to move Icarus around and then tracking your finger or stylus across the touch screen to move your target reticle around. Slightly tricky at first, I soon picked this up and found it a very intuitive way to play. Moving Icarus around independently from the target at the same time felt great, meaning I could dodge the many enemies firing at me and take them out with my bow and arrow at the same time.

The only issue I had with this was the fact that the demo consoles were in chunky metal ‘frames’ which made them heavier than usual and of course, they were also attached to the tables with cables. This meant that my hands soon hurt which made the game hard to play. I am confident that in the real world situation where you can sit back and relax and play the game in your own console, comfort won’t be such an issue. So yes, another one to add to my pre-order list I think!

StealthBuda played this game for the first time last night, and was equally impressed. ‘Kid Icarus looks and plays great. I opted for using my finger on the touchpad rather than the stylus. While the stylus is more accurate, I found it awkward to hold the 3ds in one hand. I played on two of the three available missions. The first was an easy difficulty mission and I breezed through it, even past the boss. But in the second mission the difficult was upped to Normal and it was much harder. It was good to get to grips with the controls on the ground during the easy mission as you had to be a use a lot more tactics in the normal mission to even begin to progress. This is the game I’m most looking forward to. 3v3 multiplayer on this is going to be epic.’

And David had a go too. ‘This was another good game at the event, although I do not think much of the controls on the floor levels as you have to move the camera around using the touch screen which does get annoying. I am really looking forward to this game.’ Raza also commented ‘Kid Icarus was off the hook man…. graphics where insane!’

Other Games
I also took the opportunity to check out the other games at the party, albeit a little more briefly than the above titles which took far more of my attention.

Resident Evil Revelations has some great visuals, and whilst the 3D effect wasn’t as immediate as in other titles for me, the other features of the 3DS such as the touch screen were great. The demo featured a short section set inside a mansion house and let you try out a pistol and shot gun in order to take out the creatures which dropped in from above and then melted into the floor on death. It was classic, slow, creepy and puzzle gameplay seen in the older Resident Evil titles. In one example I was required to drain the bath in the first room in order to find a screw driver which was used to open an electronic lock on a door, via some simple but effective use of the touch screen to ‘un-screw’ the four screws on the font panel and then ‘re-connect’ the wires in order to open the door.

An impressive looking title that needed a little more attention that it could be given at such an event, Resident Evil Revelations is sure to be a big seller on release, something for the fans and one to get your teeth into and spend some time on after the arcade action of Resident Evil Mercenaries.

David said ‘Resident Evil Revelations is brilliant and is really going back to Resi’s survival horror roots’.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 would also benefit from a proper play session, giving the user more time to properly explore the rooms in order to solve the puzzles that were presented. I found a key by ‘knocking’ into some of the room furniture, made my way around some of the ground floor corridors, impressed with the 3D effect, but then soon got a little lost! Shocking and then vacuuming up the ghosts was a fun experience to play and certainly has me keen to get to proper grips with this game when it’s released next year.

I was very impressed with the visuals and as a fan of the original on the Gamecube I pleased to see the game played as I was expecting it to too. The control’s may take some getting used to as the mix of using the gyroscope along with the buttons in order to angle the vacuum around the room seemed a little confusing at first, once again an example of how the heavy bolted down 3DS console hindered the experience.

David said ‘Luigi’s Mansion looks fun, I just wish i had played the original now but maybe it’s good I haven’t as lots of people were saying it’s just more of the same’.

Metal Gear Solid – Snake Eater was the last game I tried out (before going back for some more Mario Kart 7!) and was the game I was least impressed with to be honest. I thought the graphics were good and the 3D effect was impressive, but the controls meant I couldn’t get to grips with it very quickly and so I soon gave up. Not having played any other games in series I had no real expectations for this one, and still don’t have any opinion. The animation on the main character looked a little odd to me too, doing a strange walk through the long grass and it felt a struggle moving about and aiming with the mix of analogue and d-pad controls and I found myself walking around in circles.

StealthBuda spent a bit more time with this one than I did. ‘I’m a huge fan of this franchise and I think Snake as a character is fantastic. But this incarnation just felt awkward. Using the d-pad to move and the buttons to look I crept around the jungle quite happily, but when it came to action, it just felt laborious. Lining up shots from cover was fine, but trying to move and shoot under fire was painful. The game looks awesome and the touchpad inventory/weapon control is solid. I just hope there are improvements to the controls before the game’s release.’

David had a similar opinion to me, saying ‘Metal Gear Solid looks brilliant but at the moment I think the controls need to be improved’. Raza was impressed though, saying ‘The 3D was really full-on’, ‘this game PROPER uses the 3DS to the max & it looked beautiful as ever :D’

So, on the whole, an excellent selection of games available to play means a very bright future for 3DS and some great, classic, Nintendo experiences coming up. I am confident these titles will make the console, and I urge you to play as many of these as you can in order to get a good feel for what’s possible.

Reeesy summarised the events gaming: ‘What a fantastic evening. It was great to see the team and get a hands-on with some excellent 3DS games. Highlights for me were definitely Kid Icarus Uprising, Mario Kart 7 and Starfox 64. Great use of 3D in all three. They ran smoothly, controlled beautifully and overall just oozed that Nintendo magic we have all been craving. The IGN UK Podcast itself was well done, and i racked up an insane number of StreetPass hits. The free drinks went down well too!’

If you were there, or have had a chance to play any of these games elsewhere, please let us know in the comments below.


3 Responses to “New 3DS Games Hands-on Previews: Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, Star Fox 64 3D and more”
  1. My favourite game of the night was without a doubt Mario Kart 7. The flying and sub-water moments weren’t as cheesy as I thought they’d be, I would now say that add a lot to the gaming dynamic, particularly flying. 3D effect is stark but not trying to over impress, adds a lot to the experience. Graphics are very colour full. Now as for the controls, sweet as sweet can be, feels tights and responsive and easy to pull off them power slides. This game is gonna be mad in multi-player. I played all the other games shown here but Mario Kart was the game that made a real impression on me. Nintendo still have it.


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