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Lay of the 3D Land

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Quote Originally Posted by wraggster View Post
Since the 3DS's launch, many gamers and reviewers have complained about the lack of titles that use the handheld's stereoscopic 3D features in a meaningful way capable of affecting or improving gameplay -- new experiences unavailable elsewhere, something to justify early adopters' expensive purchases.

Some unaccommodating people would act as if 3DS games failing to meet this standard aren't worth their attention. The gimmick of an image that really looks like a dog's tongue is coming out of the screen to lick their face is not enough, not if the novelty ends there. "These puppy kisses mean nothing to me," they will sneer. "Take him away and drown this contemptible creature in a river."

If there's a title that will please those demanding more depth to 3DS releases, as well as those puppy drowners, it's Super Mario 3D Land. This platforming masterpiece is the Avatar of 3DS games, proof that 3D in this medium isn't crap when it's thoughtfully planned and executed, evidence that it's worth the (potential) literal headaches because you just might see something you've never seen before.

Super Mario 3D Land's camera movement and positioning work in concert with the stereoscopic effect to help you gauge distances when leaping across platforms, create tension as spiked balls and other hazards chase you, and even trick you into believing that the cardboard cutouts you spotted with the binoculars earlier are bona fide 1UPs.

The game has Bullet Bills booming toward you, the brothers Mario skydiving away from you, Princess Peach postcards that pop with surprises, etc. And that Bowser boss fight at the end? Are you kidding me? I am shaking you right now to convey that this is neither the time nor the topic for two friends to be kidding each other. Real talk, that 8-8 set-piece played like something designed by Merlin himself, a glorious gift touched by the wisest of wizards.

Back to the Avatar comparison, the concern now is whether upcoming games will continue the system's 3D momentum, or if this is a unique release, a grand experience that won't see a repeat anytime soon. Will Mario Kart 7, Luigi's Mansion 2, or Kid Icarus: Uprising bolster this idea that stereoscopy in games is a perceptible advantage? Is there any hope for third-party developers ever creating a magnificent, polished game undoubtedly improved by 3D?

I believe more quality gameplay-enhancing 3D attempts are coming next year -- from Nintendo at least, and from a handful of other studios later down the line. But I'm also of the opinion that new ways of playing games in the third dimension are the least exciting aspect about Nintendo's handheld.


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Apr 2003
Nottingham, England
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