The quality of major releases that have appeared this year has kept Nintendo’s handheld firmly in player’s hands for the last twelve months, from Bravely Default and Kirkby: Triple Deluxe through to Super Smash Bros. and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby, it’s been a very solid year for the plucky hardware. There’s plenty more to keep Nintendo fans gaming on the go in 2015 as well, not least of which includes the latest hardware revision in the shape of the snazzily named ‘New 3DS’.
The new version of the console adds many of the functions of the 3DS’ much maligned Circle Pad Pro accessory, so players finally get a secondary analogue nub and extra shoulder buttons as well as NFC technology for communicating with Amiibo figurines. Perhaps most importantly though the chunky handheld also gets an improved chipset, speeding up the UI and allowing more complicated games to appear. The downside of these upgrades is that some future releases will only run on the new version of the handheld, splitting the userbase and locking long-term owners out from new software. Only time will tell if players see enough value in the improvements to upgrade, but things are certainly looking good for 2015.
The original version of Capcom’s juggernaut has already been in Japanese hunter’s hands for over a year, with European and American gamers finally receiving the Ultimate iteration of it in ‘early’ 2015. It’s the first handheld version to have fully integrated online multiplayer and this could be a genuine game-changer for the franchise in the West. Earlier entries on PSP and 3DS featured ad hoc multiplayer, and whilst Japanese gamers took the mode to their hearts Westerners never did so in the same way. The ability to party up over wifi should see handheld gamers finally experiencing the series to it’s fullest.
The game of course features both new and returning creatures to hunt, as well as two new weapons in shape of the Insect Glaive and the Charge Axe. Underwater hunting has been removed from this outing, but now hunting grounds offer more verticality and different traversal options as you try to take down your prey. I had some hands on time with the game at this year’s EGX and it plays extremely well, with the different movement options making a welcome change. It’s safe to say that it will absolutely keep fans of the franchise happy, though it’s a shame not to have a home console version releasing alongside it this year.
Also new to this release are Guild Quests which feature different missions for each player, and will generate random equipment with differing stats. Utilising the 3DS’ Streetpass feature gamers will be able to swap these quests allowing them access to multiple versions of both weapons and armour which, as any hunter knows, will keep players engaged for a very long time.
Xenoblade Chronicles is the first release to utilise the power of the New 3DS, meaning that owners of the older versions of the handheld will be flat out of luck if they want to play it. A port of one of the Wii’s most immersive and critically revered RPG’s, it is an interesting poster-child for Nintendo’s new hardware, though it should see the system adopted by many avid gamers.
The game centres around protagonist Shulk, who has probably made a huge jump in popularity thanks to his appearance in the new Super Smash Bros. title. As an open world game, your team explore the landscape in search of answers about the mysterious Monado sword, whilst defending their homeland from the vicious Mechons. The original game was one of the finest releases to grace the dimintuive Wii and it’s certainly amongst my personal favourites on the console.
Whilst the footage we’ve seen so far shows a clear drop in graphical fidelity it’s still impressive to have that open world functioning on the handheld. It’s safe to say that the New 3DS has at least one very strong reason for users to upgrade next year.
After the success of the 3D remaster of Ocarina Of Time, it was only a matter of time before the N64’s other Zelda game made an appearance. Generally considered to be the darkest entry in the series the game is set in Terminus, an alternate version of Hyrule, and tasks players with stopping the Skull Kid. Having stolen the titular Majora’s Mask he uses its power to cause the moon to crash into the land after three days. You play as the hero Link who must repeatedly travel back in time to the start of the three days in an effort to stop the land’s destruction.
Considered by some, somewhat heretically, to be the better of the two N64 Zelda titles, there’s no denying the fact that it is a superb game and assuming that the same level of work is done with this remaster as with Ocarina, 3DS owners are in for a treat when the game arrives next spring.
Having watched the trailer for Fossil Fighters: Frontier it seems like they’ve asked my three year old son what he would like to see in a game and then set to work. Seemingly a mix of racing, archaeology, and pokemon-esque dinosaur battling the game looks bright, colourful and perfectly aimed at younger players.
You excavate fossils that you find whilst exploring in your buggy, and interestingly you have to clean those fossils with your tools/stylus to unlock them. The more careful with this process you are the more powerful the resulting dinosaur, known as Vivosaurs, will become. Offering three on three local and online battling there looks to be plenty here to keep players involved for a long time.
Potentially one of the most exciting games to appear for the 3DS next year, this turn-based action strategy title is being developed by Intelligent Systems, the team behind both the Fire Emblem and Advance Wars series. Sporting a steam-punk comic book inspired aesthetic, you take control of a team of four agents in tactical gunplay which bears similarities with Sega’s seminal Valkyria Chronicles.
With a range of fictional and real characters including Tom Sawyer, a lion-man and President Abraham Lincoln, players harness the power of steam to help stop an alien invasion. Sporting a single player campaign as well as online multiplayer Code Name S.T.E.A.M. should be on every tactical gamer’s radar when it releases next May.