Archive for June, 2012


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3DS XL Vs. PS Vita Screen Size

Monday, June 25th, 2012

We took the PS Vita and the 3DS XL from Kotaku’s recent size comparison image and overlapped them so that you can get a better picture of just how similarly sized the screens are now.  It’s still worthwhile to note that the pixel density on the PS Vita’s 960×544 screen is nearly twice that of the 3DS XL’s effectively 400×240 screen.  When August 19th rolls around we’ll be able to tell for sure just how much better/worse 3DS games look on the XL’s screen.

 

Opinion: Your Game is Boring

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Fable III has been included as a pack-in title with many versions of the Xbox 360 console for a long time, so for a lot of newcomers to this console generation Fable III may have been their first Xbox 360 experience.  For anyone out there curious about this game, be forewarned!  Let me save you the trouble, because this game is about as exciting as doing the laundry.  I’d even go so far as to say that it’s the most boring current generation title that I have ever had the misfortune of playing.

Let me start by offering a brief disclaimer that this article is simply the rant of a single frustrated gamer and this is not the official Game Usagi Fable III review (which happened to be favourable).  A few years ago I had great fun playing through Fable II, which is why I was so eager to dive into the next title in the series – big mistake.  My busy life (also known as a day job) does not afford me much opportunity to kick back and play video games, so when I do find an hour of free time here and there, the game had better darn well be amazing.  I get supremely insulted when I feel like an awful game is recklessly wasting my precious time, so why does Fable III get my bloomers in a knot?  Read on…

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3DS XL High-Res Images

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Here are the high resolution images that Nintendo has released of the upcoming 3DS XL system.  Interesting things to note include that the stylus is once again one solid piece and no longer telescopic, and that the annoying green “3D” light from the original 3DS seems to have (hopefully) been done away with.  Remember that you can right-click any of the images in the gallery below and select “Open Link in New Tab” to see the images in their full huge resolution:

Nintendo Direct June 21, 2012 News

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Well, Nintendo surprised everyone with their Nintendo Direct conference today.  A new version of the 3DS called the 3DS XL was announced and while I would rather have had it announced at E3 (where I could have played it), it still looks pretty decent.  So here’s the big news that we got from the Nintendo Direct today:

  • 3DS XL coming out in North America in both Red and Blue colours (along with a 4GB SD Card) for $199.99 on August 19th.
  • 3DS XL has 90% larger screens than the original 3DS and will also have better battery life.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is due out on July 31st and a playable demo is now up on the eShop
  • Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask coming to NA in November (yay~)
  • New Prof. Layton will also have daily new puzzles available via the Internet for an entire year
  • Namco Bandai team (including leads from Tales games, SoulCalibur, and TEKKEN) will be working with Sakurai on the Wii U and 3DS versions of the upcoming Super Smash Bros. game
  • Art Academy game with art lessons coming to 3DS
  • Kirby 20th Anniversary Dream Collection for Wii (launching Sept. 16th) to include music CD, artbook, and the following six Kirby games: Kirby’s Dream Land, Kirby’s Adventure, Kirby’s Dream Land 2, Kirby Super Star, Kirby’s Dream Land 3, Kirby 64, and challenge levels done in the style of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land.
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2 (also coming out Aug. 19th) will have a Coin Rush mode where you complete 3 challenge levels and then compare scores with others through StreetPass.
  • NSMB2 will also be the first 3DS game to feature full 2-player local co-op for the entire game and bonus Coin Rush DLC levels will be available for purchase after launch.
  • Fire Emblem 3DS coming to North America in 2013.
  • Super Mario Land on sale at $2.99 on eShop starting tomorrow for 7 days
  • 2 new Virtual Console titles coming out for eShop every week now
  • photoshowcase.nintendo.com to be a curated online gallery where you can submit and vote on 3DS pictures starting on July 2
  • Pokemon Black/White V2 coming out “this fall”
  • Pokemon Dream Radar and Pokedex 3D Pro available for purchase on eShop along with Pokemon Black/White V2
  • Also had the first (very short) trailer of footage from the English build of Pokemon Black/White V2
  • Animal Crossing 3DS due out this year in Japan (no love for NA apparently)

Also, here’s a better picture of the 3DS XL from Nintendo of America’s Twitter feed:

I’m not sure what to think about Namco Bandai primarily developing the new Smash Bros. games, but I’ll wait on passing judgement on the game until there’s actually something to see.  The 3DS XL will hurt my wallet, but I’m not actually as upset about it as some other people may be.  The DSi XL is far and away the best way to play DS games, so I’m sure the new 3DS will perform admirably as well.  The only thing I’m really kind of peeved about regarding the 3DS XL is that I’ll probably have to buy a larger version of the Circle Pad Pro to play games like Resident Evil Revelations on it, and that sucks.  Considering everything Nintendo’s learned about needing two control sticks, you’d think they would have been smart and included the second circle pad in this redesign too.  Oh well, I’m getting my Professor Layton this fall, so I’m satiated for the time being.  We’ll continue to keep you informed on the rest of Nintendo’s random announcements in future weeks as they come, so stay tuned to Game Usagi.

Here Comes Another Nintendo Direct [UPDATE]

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

[UPDATE: North America is getting a Nintendo Direct presentation too also starting at 10:00PM CST.  The Nintendo Direct page says that it will be regarding the Wii, DS, and 3DS (again, no Wii U).  You can check out the North American Nintendo Direct page here, and we'll have a combined summary of both of the Nintendo Direct presentation go up tonight after they have aired.]

Nintendo is broadcasting another Nintendo Direct presentation starting today at 10:00PM CST.  Apparently it will focus primarily on the Wii (not the Wii U) and the 3DS, so no one knows quite what to expect accept for perhaps a few more details on the Kirby 20th Anniversary disc for the Wii and Animal Crossing on the 3DS.  It’s not the heavily anticipated announcement of Wii U release details, but we’ll be getting some kind of news from Nintendo tomorrow and we’ll have a summary of the salient points up as per usual shortly after it’s broadcast.  Bear in mind also that this is a Japanese Nintendo Direct and it may not have too much information that applies directly to the rest of the world.  Check in with us later tonight to find out what Nintendo has to say.

New Super Mario Bros. U Impressions

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

We had the opportunity to play New Super Mario Bros. U (NSMBU) with three separate control schemes at E3: controlling Mario via the GamePad, controlling Mario via a Wii Remote Plus and helping Mario using the touch screen on the Wii U GamePad.  When using the GamePad as the primary controller, our PR dude Matt pointed out that we almost didn’t look at the TV at all, instead focusing on the mirror image on the GamePad’s screen.  I see this as a good vote of confidence for the Wii U’s TV-less capabilities, as even when there was a big expensive HDTV showing the same thing in front of us, we preferred the immediacy of the GamePad’s screen regardless of its relative resolution.  This may have been a side-effect of the novelty of having a screen in our controller, but even considering that factor, the GamePad’s screen certainly seemed to be doing its secondary display job well.  Controlling Mario via a Wii Remote worked exactly as it does on New Super Mario Bros Wii — there didn’t seem to be any discrepancy between the mechanical performance of the two games.  To help Mario out using the touch screen on the GamePad you tap in various areas to spawn up to four blocks at a time. If you double-tap a block it becomes slightly smaller, but will dole out coins when Mario jumps on it.  

When the original NSMB came out on the DS, it was a nice refreshing throw-back to the Mario days of old.  When NSMBW came out, it added Yoshis and 4-player multiplayer throughout not only improving upon the formula in meaningful ways, but also paving the way for other 4-player platformers like Rayman Origins and its currently Wii U exclusive sequel.  Now with the double-whammy of NSMB coming out both on the 3DS and the Wii U, I (even with my previous history of Nintendo fanboyism) can’t help but feel that Nintendo’s just trying to print money with the series instead of attempting to make fun and novel games.  If NSMBU comes out at the launch of the Wii U, it will serve as Nintendo’s standard classic Mario launch game, but I don’t see it becoming a perennial favourite that people will look back on as a high-point in Mario’s history like Super Mario 64 or Super Mario World.  Even though it takes more time and effort I would much rather see Nintendo trying a unique idea for the Mario series like Super Mario Galaxy or Super Mario Sunshine then the rather paltry and assuredly short romp that will come in the NSMBU package.  Don’t get me wrong, graphically the game is extremely crisp and there is nothing inherently wrong with the classic Mario platforming style, but even with the minor improvements/additions like the Flying Squirrel suit and the GamePad helper functionality it still feels far too much the same to warrant yet another $60 purchase. 

Nintendo still has time to flesh out the game before its presumed launch this fall/winter and let’s hope they take it to really make the game have it’s own unique style and world.  Anything shy of the depth, level-complexity, and memorability of 1990 game Super Mario World will be a bitter disappointment and a slap in the face for Nintendo gamers hoping that Nintendo has matured past its light casual gaming days and is starting to remember when it made real games.  NSMBU so far looks like it may be worth it to people looking for some light fun on the Wii U, but full-priced retail games these days need to have certain amounts of content to be worthwhile and I truly hope that this game evolves into something worth the admission fee before its too late.

You can see a video of us playing NSMBU in our E3 2012 Wii U Video Roundup.

Wii U GamePad Impressions

Monday, June 18th, 2012

One of the biggest deals at E3 was of course the upcoming system, the Wii U.  Taking up around 98% of Nintendo’s booth, not only were there plenty of opportunities to get your hands on a Wii U GamePad, but there were also a lot of different ways in which to try it.  My first experience with the Wii U GamePad was good, even though the game I tried was perhaps the worst on show for the Wii U.  Tucked away at the back of the Namco Bandai booth was a demo kiosk for Tank! Tank! Tank! on the Wii U that had absolutely no line, so I seized the opportunity to have my first experience with the Wii U only to quickly discover just why the game had no line.  The Tank! Tank! Tank! game was horrible in many ways that I’ll elaborate upon in its own Impressions article, but even in spite of the game’s lacking nature I was immediately impressed with the Wii U GamePad. 

The face buttons on the GamePad have a “squishy” feel to them like those on the DS lite as opposed to the “clicky” feel of the buttons featured on DSi units.  The NFC area below the D-pad is simply a decal and has no other indentation or texturing to differentiate it from the rest of the controller’s face.  The control sticks essentially feel like those found on Wii nunchucks, but with their smooth surroundings they feel more nimble and fluid than their Wii counterparts.  The D-pad is shaped well and feels good, just not quite as good as the textured one found on the Wii U Controller Pro.  The L and R shoulder buttons have a small amount of give to them before their fully depressed which makes me think that they may, if only slightly, be analog as opposed to digital, but the ZR and ZL buttons, while feeling nice, were certainly and unfortunately digital instead of analog.  The back of the GamePad has been given grips so that holding it is more comfortable than the first iteration of the controller shown off at last year’s E3, and it feels surprisingly light and comfortable when in-hand.  The GamePad’s screen was bright and clear on every unit I played, even with all of the standard E3 lights constantly flashing about, but I did have one bone to pick with it.  When doing the “bring the screen up to your nose” test that I do on all portable devices, the Wii U GamePad failed rather miserably.  With systems like the PS Vita and the iPhone 4S, when you bring the screens up to your face their images stay sharp, but with the Wii U GamePad the Mario on my screen turned into a decidedly unattractive clump of blurry pixels.  What this means is that the pixel density or “definition” of the GamePad’s screen is a very standard (ie. poor) one probably around a measly 854×480 pixels. In standard gameplay scenarios this shouldn’t matter much at all, but who given the choice wouldn’t want the greatest possible pixel density in any given screen?  A lower-resolution screen will also be saving both Nintendo and us money, which was probably the biggest consideration in Nintendo’s decision to skimp on controller screen resolution.  The touch screen, while still only being a resistive touch screen, worked really well using both styli and fingers (as is to be expected).  The Tank! Tank! Tank! game, while less than stellar, at least afforded me the rare opportunity to test out the camera in the Wii U controller, which was still fairly low resolution, as is to be expected, but the image of my face that it took was still not as grainy as it could have been.  One aspect of the GamePad that still needs some work is how Nintendo is using its motion sensing capabilities.  For the Zelda Battle Quest Nintendo Land demo the person with the GamePad held it up to the screen as a secondary window into the game world, specifically a first-person view of the archer character, as well as in the PanoramaView demo where the GamePad was similarly used to view a 360-degree video, it was clear that much like with the MotionPlus pointing in Skyward Sword, the system without the help of the IR points fairly quickly loses track of where the “center” view is and the view can fairly easily become misaligned with the TV.  Nintendo themselves noted this shortcoming in recent interviews, so let’s hope they either back-off on using the GamePad as a pointing device or find a better way in which to do so before the system launches later this year.

Overall, my experiences with the Wii U GamePad were decidedly positive and they have not only made me more excited for the Wii U’s release, but have also altered my estimations on the Wii U’s overall price when its released.  Having seen and felt the combined power of the Wii U and GamePad, I think that it is reasonable to expect Nintendo to launch it for a price of $299.99 with perhaps an alternate bundle including a Wii RemotePlus and a copy of Nintendo Land for $349.99.  Time will tell, of course, but I am confident that as long as Nintendo can get a good set of launch games lined up that they will have a success on their hands with the Wii U.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Impressions

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

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With our press-exclusive VIP stickers on our media badges at the Square Enix booth we were ready to… wait in line behind other people with stickers.  There were, however, several games of a more line-free persuasion and one of them was the upcoming Kingdom Hearts title for the 3DS, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (KH3D).  We were going to record a nice gameplay video, but were stopped by one of the booth employees after only getting around 30 seconds of footage of the demo’s opening cutscene. 

For a game that has been out in Japan since March, I was actually a little disappointed with what was on show for KH3D at E3.  While my previous experience with Kingdom Hearts has been fairly limited, I always appreciate it when companies go the action RPG route as opposed to the (in almost every case) archaic and out-dated turn-based route.  What I played of KH3D didn’t seem to stray too far from the classic Kingdom Hearts formula, but during the battle I did encounter something of concern.  The graphics were naturally quite superb and crisp, but even with only a mild amount of action happening on screen there was a noticeable drop in frame-rate.  Any lag of any description in a game on a system as capable as the 3DS is unacceptable, especially in games from respected publishers like Square Enix.  Normally, I would say that there was still hope for the game to be streamlined and mended before its release date, but seeing as how it’s basically only being localized before its July 31st North American release that would be wishful thinking indeed.  If you’re an avid follower of the Kingdom Hearts series, I’m sure you’ll still have a great time with this portable entry, but for people new to the series, I have a slight feeling that KH3D may end up being a less-than-superb introduction to the series if the lag I experienced is more than just a freak occurrence.  The good thing is that we only have around a month to wait to see just how good (or otherwise) the localized KH3D will be, and whether or not its warm reception in Japan translates into success across the pond.

 

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