Nintendo 3DS Reviews P-R

Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions
Grade: B-
Publisher: Namco (2011)
Posted: 2011/11/27
Rating: Everyone

screenshotOffering six games in one, Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions packs hours of maze-chomping and alien-shooting goodness into one tiny cartridge. You get three variations of each game, including the arcade originals. The original Pac-Man and Galaga games have aged well in 30 years, but their vertical screens don't lend themselves to the 3DS display, so the objects look tiny. The newer games are a better fit.

Pac-Man Tilt is a conventional platformer with a pinball flavor. It's not in 3D but it does let you tilt the screen in order to slide platforms, guide floating bubbles, or make Pac-Man roll into a ball like Sonic the Hedgehog. It's amusing for a while but I lost interest as the stages become more sophisticated - and tedious.

Galaga 3D Impact is the most ambitious game on the cartridge. It's a 3D, first-person shooter and there's plenty of eye candy as you glide over various planets and ominous space stations. What makes the game unique is how you can move the system around you to aim at the aliens. It's a good idea in theory, but in practice you tend to lose that 3D effect when you start jostling the system. You can aim using the thumbstick instead, but that's not nearly as precise and kind of defeats the purpose.

The final two games straddle the line between classic and modern, and they feel like turbo-charged versions of the arcade originals. In Galaga Dimensions you face hundreds of swarming enemies at a time. Each group has an easy-to-spot leader, and if you destroy him the rest are instantly pulverized. There's no shortage of firepower as you have two rapid-fire "helper" cannons that you can position anywhere on the screen. The frenetic shooting is moderately fun but when the screen gets crowded it's hard to tell what's going on.

The final entry, Pac-Man Championship Edition, probably justifies buying this entire cartridge. It takes the classic 2D formula and makes it bigger, faster, and a lot flashier! Pac-Man can rip through the maze at high speeds as point values flash, and there's no time to catch your breath as new dots constantly appear on the fly.

All the game variations record high scores, and most offer individual challenges to extend their replay value. Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions experiments with a lot of interesting styles while attempting to stay true to the original games. Some work better than others, but I think everyone will find something to like in this retro-minded cartridge. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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Pilotwings Resort
Grade: C
Publisher: Nintendo (2011)
Posted: 2011/4/19

screenshotThe Pilotwings franchise has a long tradition of showcasing the new graphical capabilities of Nintendo consoles, dating back to the SNES edition with its fancy "mode 7" effects. Pilotwings Resort lets you soar over tranquil island locations in a plane, jetpack, and hang glider. On paper, flying and 3D sounds like a match made in heaven, but in practice the small 3DS screen tends to understate the visual splendor of your surroundings. I never felt that sense of exhilaration that I was hoping for.

The exotic environments are pleasant enough, but Nintendo fans will notice that one island was recycled from Wii Fit. A mission mode offers a series of increasingly difficult challenges where you fly through rings, pop balloons, shoot targets, and snap pictures of landmarks. To maximize your score you'll want to use speed boosts to improve your time, and be sure to nail the landing. Landing is not particularly hard and it's very satisfying to land your plane on the strip in the water.

The early training missions are an absolute chore to get through, but things gradually get more interesting, so hang in there. My favorite stage is the one where you chase a car and shoot at its balloons. When the car goes through a tunnel, it feels like a chase scene from a James Bond movie. While I generally prefer the plane missions, the jetpack gives you the maneuverability to freely explore your surroundings. The hang glider relies on "updrafts" to remain in the air, which look like weak tornados. These stages are relaxing but some people may find them extremely dull.

The 3D aspect of Pilotwings Resort is good but not great, and I found that turning down the 3D setting a tad helped me maintain focus. The music is of the easy listening variety - not particularly catchy but not bad either. I've always found it hard to get excited about Pilotwings games, but this well-crafted title is fine for those looking for some leisurely fun. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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Rayman 3D
Grade: B-
Publisher: Ubisoft (2011)
Posted: 2011/5/27
Rating: Everyone

screenshotExcept for the 3D treatment, this is a straight port of Rayman 2 which appeared on the Dreamcast way back in 2000. Ubisoft sure is getting a lot of mileage out of this game, and can you blame them? It's a charming, well-constructed platformer that appeals to all ages. Its smooth textures still look great, although some boxy platforms tend to reveal its age.

Parts of the game seem particularly well suited to 3D (barrels falling toward you in a shaft) but the effect is mostly aesthetic (butterflies fluttering in the foreground). The 3D can be a liability during combat as it's easy to lose that 3D "sweet spot" when frantically targeting enemy pirates.

Besides fighting and exploring you'll collect "lums" which resemble floating puff balls with wings. Grab as many yellow lums as you can or else you may be forced to replay early stages, some of which are pretty long. I found the brief cut-scenes to be funny and clever, and they sometimes offer vital clues so pay attention!

I initially pegged this as a "spring" game, but in retrospect the swamps, bayous, and pirates make it feel more like a summer title. I like Rayman 3D's frequent save points, but not so much the frequent load screens. The controls are generally responsive but the swimming controls absolutely suck. Why does the game sometimes prompt me to hit buttons not on the 3DS controller? Uh-oh!

The audio boasts appealing natural sounds (like bird chirps) and the soundtrack has a magical Disney quality. Rayman 3D may be a port, but this game seems to defy age. If you've never played the original, you're in for a treat. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Resident Evil: Revelations
Grade: B+
Publisher: Capcom (2012)
Posted: 2012/7/4
Rating: Mature 17+ (blood and gore, intense violence, language)

screenshotI was less-than-enthused about Resident Evil: The Mercenaries (3DS, 2011), but Revelations feels more like a good old-fashioned Resident Evil romp. The action takes place on a plush ocean liner and the nautical theme is refreshing. It's not the first horror game to be set on a ship, as Carrier (Dreamcast, 2000) and Resident Evil Dead Aim (PS2, 2003) have also done it - but not as well. The icon used to start the game is a small cast iron box with a big eyeball looking through its round glass window - creepy!

The star of the game is Jill Valentine, and her breasts look even better in 3D. I love the opening sequence in which Jill and her partner board a ship in the middle of a violent storm. The driving rain and sound of churning water really helps set the mood. The ship turns out to be an ideal setting for survival horror with its claustrophobic hallways, dark rooms, and creaky doors. The monsters are these generic white creatures that shamble around and try to give you the big French kiss. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my monsters to be a little bit more disgusting.

Revelations is nicely paced for a portable title, and having a recap between chapters is a nice touch. While the game has an old-school feel, you get all the modern conveniences like 180-degree turning, auto-mapping (on the lower screen), and an auto-save (which says "Saving", leaving no doubt). As good as the game is, there are a few issues. First, the idea of turning the screen red as you take damage is ill conceived. Your eyes need to work hard enough to play a 3D title, and having your vision obstructed is just painful.

Another problem is the crappy map system, which makes it hard to reconcile the 3D map with the 2D ones. Sometimes there's one not-so-obvious item you need to make progress, and you'll waste a lot of time scouring the ship for it. Still, Revelations is compelling, and the water theme means this is a zombie game you can enjoy in the summer too. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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Resident Evil: The Mercenaries
Grade: C
Publisher: Capcom (2011)
Posted: 2011/10/15
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, violence)

screenshotIt's a total rehash, but that doesn't mean I didn't have some fun playing this. Resident Evil Mercenaries recycles scenes and enemies from Resident Evil 5. That's the game where you shot black zombies in Africa ya racist bastard! Just kidding. I like the general format of Mercenaries. Its short, timed stages are well suited for portable gaming. I also like the idea of playing each stage for high score. The problem is, you may not have a burning desire to replay these stages.

The graphics are sharp but the bland scenery doesn't lend itself well to 3D. I wish Capcom had based this off of a more traditional Resident Evil instead. As with many first-person shooters I tend to contort my body while playing, making it easy to lose the 3D effect. Frankly the 3D doesn't add anything to this game so you might as well shut it off.

The aiming controls are pretty tight however and the red laser sight works great. I love how you can approach stunned enemies and bludgeon them at the press of a button. I find it amusing how zombies run toward you at full speed but then suddenly stop in front of you - pausing long enough for you to shoot them in the face. It's convenient!

Bonus items are hard to spot in the scenery, and as soon as you're prompted to pick something up, you've already walked past it. One object you're not likely to miss are those pink snowmen that extend your time. What the heck is that all about? Mercenaries could have benefited from a little tuning. That bat/scorpion boss took me about 50 attempts to kill! When you shoot a boss in his "weak spot" at point blank range 20 times and he doesn't die, something is obviously wrong.

One interesting bonus feature is the ability to play one stage from the upcoming Resident Evil: Revelations title. It takes place on a ship at sea on a stormy night - a concept that may seem familiar to those who remember Resident Evil Dead Aim (PS2, 2003) or Carrier (Dreamcast, 2000). The creaky hull and narrow corridors convey a creepy sense of isolation, not unlike the early Resident Evil titles. It has potential.

Mercenaries however will only keep you busy until you've unlocked the stages. It's worth noting that Capcom took a lot of flack for not providing an option to reset the high scores for the cartridge. If you're buying this game used, you may want to be aware of that. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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Ridge Racer 3DS
Grade: B+
Publisher: Namco (2011)
Posted: 2011/4/19
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI've been a big Ridge Racer fan since the original pack-in for the Playstation, having played every sequel. Consequently, when I started playing this 3DS edition I couldn't help but notice that the courses seemed awfully familiar. I can't verify that all of the courses are recycled from past games, but most seem to be. It's not a serious problem though because there are so many scenic tracks to choose from.

Ridge Racer has always been big on the eye candy, and adding 3D is just icing on the cake. When you're cruising on sunny highways, racing through a desert valley, or cruising through a tropical resort at sunset, everything has an inviting arcade gloss. As you would expect from a mature driving series, the controls are very refined. As a matter of fact, they may be too good!

Steering with the analog nub is ultra-precise, and hitting the brake sends you into a controlled power slide. Even when it looks like you're about to hit a wall, a simple tap will have you hugging the rail and back on the straightaway with no problem. While staring at the screen I would occasionally lose that 3D "sweet spot", probably because I naturally tend to lean my body while racing. A branching championship mode provides long-term play value by constantly introducing new courses and cars.

The audio is the weakest aspect of the game. You can barely hear the techno music over the droning of engines, and that overly-enthused female commentator talks non-stop. I swear she is absolutely obsessed with my ability to slip-stream. "You're slip-streaming!" "Someone's using your slip-stream!" "Don't let them take advantage of your slip-stream!" Shut up woman! Ridge Racer 3D is exactly what I was expecting, but I'm not sure how I feel about that. It will give longtime fans deja-vu, but frankly it will be hard to come up with a better racer for the 3DS. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

River City: Tokyo Rumble
Grade: F
Publisher: Natsume (2016)
Posted: 2018/3/30
Rating: Everyone 10+ (mild language, mild violence)

screenshotThis disappointing sequel to the classic River City Ransom (NES, 1988) falls into a familiar trap. It's not enough to have the same basic ingredients; you need the right blend. Tokyo Rumble offers more missions, stages, moves, characters, and some pretty good music. But the story makes no sense, the fighting is laborious, and you never know where to go.

Tokyo Rumble does at least retain the same squat, boxy characters with goofy facial expressions. But unlike the charming pixelated stages of the original game, the scenery here looks plain and washed out. The ability to zoom in via the shoulder buttons seems neat at first, but the close angle is unplayable and you're always triggering it by accident.

The world is expansive but confusing to navigate. It took me quite a while to realize the map on the lower screen is just a subway map. I wouldn't even have known how to enter a subway station had I not stumbled into some blurry doorway. The characters and school locations tend to have long, confusing Japanese names.

When you strike an enemy the amount of damage appears, but it takes about 20 hits to kill anybody and don't even get me started on the bosses! Even bashing someone with a baseball bat or trash can feels oddly unsatisfying.

Dropped coins can be used to purchase new moves, but saving up is a serious grind. River City: Tokyo Rumble lacks the simplicity that made the original so appealing. As a sanity check I went back and played River City Ransom on my NES, and yeah - it still holds up. This game? No bueno! © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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Screen shots courtesy of, Nintendo Life, NeoSeeker