Review: Super Mario 3D Land

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Super Mario 3D Land is a terrific platformer that mixes moments of insane difficulty with a player-friendly approach and brilliant visuals that perhaps more than any title so far, make a case for 3D visuals as an essential component of gameplay.

How so? Acrophobia, to put it simply. Running and jumping to ridiculous heights has always been at the core of Mario games, and the Nintendo 3DS’ stereoscopic visuals make it easy to imagine what it would be like to ascend – and perhaps fall – hundreds of feet. The handheld’s visual capabilities also make enemies, fireballs and even boomerangs as if appear as if they are capable of flying towards and almost out of the screen itself.

But as nice as the graphics are, Super Mario 3D Land – and any other game – needs to be fun to play to avoid failure. Thankfully, Nintendo delivered a classic Mario experience that relies on the traditional running and jumping exploits of vintage Super Mario Bros. while adding a series of zany and zanier surprises to keep things interesting.

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If you wanted a pink 3DS, Nintendo can sell you one

Nintendo revealed a new pink version of its 3DS handheld today. The pastel-colored hardware comes bundled with one of two different versions of “nintendogs + cats,” and the packaging is predictably adorable.

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Nintendo’s MSRP for the bundle is $169.99, which is the same as the current price for a 3DS all on its own.

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Free advice: How Nintendo can boost 3DS sales (Sony, you can listen too)

Nintendo’s price drop for its 3DS – $169.99 from $249.99 – is the day’s biggest gaming news, and probably something gamers and business journalists will be talking about and debating for the next few days, if not weeks.

The early consensus, which I tend to agree with, is that consumers are unwilling to shell out $250 for a portable game console when they can play games on their smartphones. If a customer is already paying for an iPhone or Android device that can play 99-cent games, why pay more money for another device that plays $40 games?

The only reason, for many people, would be that those $40 games are 40 times more valuable to players than what is available on a smartphone. That is not always going to be the case, and even though I like the 3DS, I think it will be Nintendo’s last handheld.

And I predict the same thing for Sony’s next handheld, the PlayStation Vita. By all accounts, the Vita looks like it will be a terrific piece of technology with a competitive library of games, but I won’t be surprised if Sony finds themselves having to lower the Vita’s price after launch in order to make up for slower-than-expected sales.

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Nintendo throws Hail Mary, lowers 3DS price

Nintendo announced a big price drop for their still-new 3DS portable gaming system. The Big N slashed $80 from the devices’ MSRP, bringing it down to $169.99 from $249.99.

There’s more: Nintendo also revealed plans to release a package of downloadable NES and Game Boy Advance titles for the 3DS. Players who buy the system before the price drop – Nintendo has taken to calling them “3DS Ambassadors” – can get the games free of any additional charge.

The 3DS’ price drop, to be effective Aug. 12, follows many reports, such as this one, of disappointing sales for the new handheld. The 3DS’s big selling point was its 3D visuals, but readers can go to virtually any gaming website and read comments from players lamenting a relative lack of games for the new system.

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Megaman Legends 3 Canceled

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A message posted to Megaman Legends 3′s Developer Room site has confirmed the worst: Megaman won’t be returning to his RPG-lite series on the 3DS.

The project had elicited the help of fans in designing a new character for the game as well as a new robot enemy through contests designed to bring fans closer to the production of the title.

Regular updates were made by the staff within a “Developer Room” site at Capcom’s Japanese and North American sites, fielding questions and keeping everyone updated on the project. It was a rare level of transparency that Platinum Games’ had also engaged fans with through blog entries following the development of games such as Bayonetta.

When Keiji Inafune had left Capcom shortly after Capcom had revealed their Megaman Legends 3 project for the Nintendo 3DS, fans were understandably worried over whether the project would survive without him.

It was already a huge surprise to many considering that the last Legends game, Mega Man Legends 2, came out in 2000. The Mega Man godfather had even mentioned interest in doing a follow-up to Legends 2 in an interview with Gamespot in 2007.

Capcom did their best to assure everyone that the the game wouldn’t be impacted by Inafune’s departure, though it’s hard not to think about the kind of influence one-time series producer could have brought to the game. Yet the collection of blog postings and updates at Capcom’s Developer Room had shown that the team behind the game was working to make it a worthy successor to the series that Inafune had started.

And now, it looks like we’ll never know how it could have turned out at all.

Review: Steel Diver

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“Steel Diver” is a decent little game. The only problem, however, is that it’s not quite $39.99 worth of decent.

The game, which places players in the role of a submarine captain navigating hostile waters, is a launch title for Nintendo’s new 3DS portable but its campaign feels like a throwback to the 8-bit era. Although the game’s designers did find clever ways to make use of the 3DS’ capabilities, most of the gameplay takes place in two dimensions.

I had fun playing Steel Diver, but at a time when developers can offer iOS and Android games for 99 cents, consumers need more from a full-priced game.

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Pilotwings Resort reviewed

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Pilotwings Resort is a simple game, but it accomplished something many titles have not.

It made me smile.

The game, 3D visuals and all, is simple without being simplistic. Players get to fly around Nintendo’s fictional Wuhu Island and complete a series of “missions” that basically involve performing a series of increasingly difficult tasks while aboard a variety of missions. This is a video game in its most essential form. There’s no attempt to mimic cinema, Pilotwings Resort is a game that people can play for 20 minutes or so to have a little fun.

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E3: Nintendo’s Press Conference

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Nintendo came on strong in their press conference. Hot on the heels of the 25th Anniversary of the Legend of Zelda, Nintendo also took the time to finally unveil their successor to the Wii. Did they win everything? I felt their conference did really well for them. But calling it the Wii U? Either they’re being zen about the name, or Nintendo is basically telling everyone that no matter what they call it, they’re ready to print money.

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Tech-Out (finally) reviews the Nintendo 3DS

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Nintendo’s new 3DS portable is brimming with potential, but much of that potential has yet to be realized.

Given its capabilities and popularity of its predecessors in Nintendo’s DS family of portables, the 3DS is likely a product that many gamers would enjoy, but its high price ($249.99 MSRP) means it may not be an essential purchase for anyone who is not rolling in money right now.*

The 3DS’ glasses-free 3D screen is the portable’s most hyped feature, and deservedly so. The portable’s ability to create the appearance of depth and images that seem to float behind the screen’s glass is nothing short of impressive. The technology does not yet seem to be something that will revolutionize the way people play games, although that revolution may come with future releases.

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Nintendo: 3DS owners to get web browser, free Excitebike download

Nintendo announced today that the (kind of) long-awaited software update adding web browser functionality to the new 3DS portable.

Those who receive the update will also be able to download a free 3D remake of Excitebike, a throwback to the NES days.

The software update will be available the evening of June 6 to 3DS owners with access to a wireless broadband connection. The update will also allow customers to buy downloadable titles of such old school Gameboy titles like Super Mario Land and Alleyway.