Friday, September 23, 2011

Third Rate Game Play: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 2D / 3D [Part 1]

Game: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 2D/3D
System: Nintendo 64 / Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Nintendo EAD / GREZZO
Publisher: Nintendo
Player: Tony / Alex
Experience: Tony has beaten it multiple times. Alex has not.

The Legend of Zelda is seen as one of the absolute best franchises in gaming, and it just so happens that this year, 2011, is the game’s 25th anniversary. Unlike the less-than-stellar anniversary Nintendo threw Mario, Zelda has been receiving a collection of goodies throughout the year, and one of them is a remake of one of the best Zelda games in the series: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

The Legend of Zelda was originally inspired by director Shigeru Miyamoto’s childhood, in which he would wander alone around hidden lakes and caverns. It is from this that he would develop the main exploration elements to the original game, which debuted in Japan on February 21, 1986. The United States would receive its cartridge version in mid-1987. Since then, Zelda has become a major Nintendo franchise, behind only Mario and Pokemon in pedigree. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987) was developed with Miyamoto as the Producer; in this venture, the game was more akin to a classical action RPG, which featured leveling and random battles via side-scrolling arenas and dungeons. Later, when the Super Nintendo released, Nintendo EAD was already far into development with a new Zelda adventure. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past debuted in 1993 and was a return form and then some. The new game introduced a myriad of new items, upgradable tunics, bright graphics, and the aspect of dual worlds, a light world and the menacing dark world. While other Super Nintendo games were developed with the Zelda franchise, they were only made in conjunction with the Japanese-only add-on, the Satellaview. Those games included BS Zelda no Densetsu: Map 1 and Map 2 (which is more akin to a timed remake of the original), BS Zelda no Densetsu: Kodai no Sekiban (Ancient Stone Tablets, which acts as a new adventure in the Link to the Past world), and BS Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce (Triforce of the Gods, which is just A Link to the Past). Finally, before Nintendo debuted a new Zelda for the Nintendo 64, its third major console, Nintendo’s Zelda team worked on a GameBoy adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. In this 1993 release, the game introduced a number of new items and focused on a world different from Hyrule, full of monsters well outside the franchise’s norm.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was originally debuted to the public at Nintendo’s Space World trade event in late 1995, developed using a heavily-modified Super Mario 64 engine. When the game began its development, it was being made with the usage of the special Nintendo 64DD (or Disk Drive) add-on peripheral. This special add-on would allow a larger number of saved objects and situations to be developed over the course of the game. However, Ocarina of Time eventually was put onto a cartridge with the expectation to make expansions with the 64DD in the future. The expansions would never release for the 64DD as the peripheral failed, but the projects would appear in other ways in the future.

When it released, Ocarina of Time would emerge with three versions known to this day: The Collector’s Edition, which was in a limited gold cartridge, the “Red Blood” version, which contains the same contents as the Collector’s Edition without the gold cartridge, and the final version of Ocarina of Time for all future shipments and re-releases.

But this is not only an episode dedicated to the original The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. No, this is also an episode dedicated to the 2011 3DS remake, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. This iteration was developed with some Nintendo EAD help, but it was independent studio GREZZO which did most of the work. GREZZO was established in December 2006; its name comes from the Italian term “Diamante Grezzo,” which means “Diamond in the rough.” According to its company message, it refers to the required work behind polishing ideas into diamonds and building great content from novice game designers. Its CEO is Koichi Ishii, whose previous works at Square-Enix included planning and game design for Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, directorial roles in Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2), Legend of Mana, Sword of Mana, and Dawn of Mana. He also produced the rest of the Mana series, which includes Children of Mana and Heroes of Mana. GREZZO’s first known release was Line Attack Heroes for WiiWare, a game in which players use lines of warriors to attack their enemies; the game was announced in late 2008 as a retail game but would be released as a WiiWare game in Japan only, late July 2010. Ocarina of Time 3D comes as the company’s first retail release.

“The Legend of Zelda™: Ocarina of Time™ 3D takes the Nintendo 64™ classic – one of the most critically acclaimed games ever made – and returns it to the Nintendo 3DS system with the added depth and realism of stunning, glasses free 3D visuals. In this game, Link™ sets off on a legendary journey through time to stop Ganondorf, the Gerudo King of Thieves who is seeking the Triforce, a holy relic that gives its holder ultimate power. The graphical upgrades and three-dimensional depth breathe new life into the expansive world of Hyrule. An improved and intuitive interface, coupled with the easier navigation offered by playing in a world with 3D visuals, give players better control as they solve puzzles, travel through time and explore this immersive world. Whether you're a first-time player or a regular visitor to Hyrule, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a new adventure for everyone.”
"Simply put, I'm really glad we remade it for the Nintendo 3DS system. Earlier, I said that we were able to give Hyrule a kind of warmth or scent in the Nintendo 64 version. Now that it is in stereoscopic 3D, I think we were able to convey the atmosphere even better—thanks to all the hard work that Grezzo put in! We also redid a lot of the textures….And it isn't a port. It is a remake, but in the truest sense of the word."
-General Producer, Shigeru Miyamoto
“I often compare making video games to cooking. If game developers are like cooks, then the games they make are like food. Just as the techniques of the cooks influence the way their food tastes, the techniques and experience of game developers appear in the games...So I thought it would be a failure as a product if people who made the original game weren't involved, causing it to turn out as something that was merely somewhat like the original game, something that looked the same but tasted different. I felt like an important theme this time was how we could make The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D today.”
-Koichi Ishii, Producer, GREZZO

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time follows the adventure of Link, a young boy raised in Kokiri Village who suffers from nightmares involving a young girl and a tall, red-haired menace. It is discovered by the Village’s sage, the Great Deku Tree, that Link is destined to save Hyrule from destruction and must obtain the three Spiritual Stones necessary to enter the Temple of Time and obtain the Master Sword, the sword which can vanquish evil. With the help of Navi, a fairy entrusted by the Deku Tree to follow Link, the young boy must now face off against monsters the world over and find himself pulled through time into a dark future in order to save it.

The game is the first 3D offering of the Zelda franchise, although it still follows a similar game design to that of A Link to the Past. The biggest addition to the series in addition to the 3D perspective is the special Z-targeting system, through which Link can lock onto monsters and other important items for easier fighting and actions. The game also has a day-night cycle which can change the activities in towns and other locations throughout Hyrule. The game has a vast number of other additions which build upon the Zelda formula, although one of the most memorable of them happens to be the introduction to Epona, a horse on which Link can ride around the world in order to travel faster across Hyrule Field and other locales.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a mixture between a remake and a port of the original game. Most of the game’s textures have been remade, and Link’s model has been entirely redesigned. However, some other models have not been given as large an update as the hero’s, and the music has been left almost untouched in order to retain a nostalgic flair. Outside of the 3D display, OoT3D allows players to use the 3DS gyros to aim and look around in first-person. Once the main game is completed, players can take part in the Master Quest, which mirrors the main world and redesigns harder dungeons, and after a while, players are capable of re-fighting bosses within the game for the fastest time. Those having difficulty in-game can look into Sheikah Stones, which provide visual hints on what to do at particular parts in and out of dungeons.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is seen by many as the pinnacle of the Zelda series, and today it sits among the highest-selling games for Nintendo during that generation. It helped shape Zelda into what it is today, and many of the games which released following it were in some way related to the game’s storyline.

As said in the background, Ocarina of Time was developed with 64DD add-ons in mind: the codenames were specifically Ura Zelda and Zelda Gaiden. Ura Zelda was to be an expansion or “Second Quest” for the original, but when the 64DD failed to meet expectations, it was scrapped. This version, entitled The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest, was eventually released exclusively on a special pre-order disk for The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and is what the Master Quest in OoT3D mimics. Zelda Gaiden was much more different, and it would later be released as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which takes place immediately after the events of Ocarina of Time and in a new, near-apocalyptic world.

The next Zelda game, the aforementioned Wind Waker, also took place following the end of Ocarina of Time, albeit from the other timeline (a complicated endeavor to explain, so just agree with me here). Wind Waker changed from the more traditional style established in OoT and shifted toward a cell-shaded artstyle, which initially drew criticism from the Zelda fandom. Following a seafaring Link with the ability to control winds, this adventure was a great departure from the horse-riding Link we had come to know and love from the Nintendo 64. Over time, however, the game and its style grew on the fans, and its style has been used in a number of games since (Four Swords, Minish Cap, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks). In perhaps a bit of overcompensation, the next major game, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, took Zelda to a more realistic, Lord of the Rings-based design. While it was anticipated for a 2005 release, the GameCube title was delayed a year to release alongside a mirrored Wii version, complete with motion and pointer-based control additions. In no surprise, it, too, existed in the timeline of Ocarina of Time, albeit much further out than Majora’s Mask.

Near the end of this generation, the Wii is about to get its first from-the-ground-up Zelda title: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. The game is said to be the prequel to Ocarina of Time and will explain the origin of the Master Sword. Skyward Sword, expected for a November 2011 release, will make use of the Wii Motion+ peripheral and will feature many new ideals for the Zelda franchise, including item creation and multiple passes through dungeons. Needless to say, this 25th Anniversary game will certainly be a great way to round out what Ocarina of Time 3D started.

GREZZO is not finished with Zelda, at least not yet anyways. The company is also the development team behind the DSiWare release The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition. This game is mostly a port of the GameBoy Advance title Four Swords, which Capcom developed alongside the GBA version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. On top of 3DS-to-DSi connectivity, Anniversary Edition will include a single-player option and two extra worlds, one of which contains skins from the NES, GB, and SNES Zelda titles. Seeing their previous products, GREZZO will most likely continue its work with Nintendo. Who knows? We might see another 3D Zelda remake!

People said they were crazy, but they did it. Alex and Tony decide that showing off Ocarina of Time 3D alone was not enough! They decide to start an adventure together, Alex playing the 3DS version and Tony playing the N64 original. Dubbed “2D” and “3D,” the two Links work together to save the world. In this part, the duo works through the first hour of the game. That is: the Deku Tree and meeting Princess Zelda herself! They try to get cutscenes done at the same time to help compare the games graphically, but when the two race through the dungeon, they do not wait for each other.

How did they fare? Find out!

This first part of the en tandem series worked out rather well, considering the situations that arose. In particular, we did not want a glare from the two televisions to mess up the 3DS’s view, but we fixed that with a cardboard blinder that spanned a good two and a half feet long. Unfortunately, as noted by Mark partway into the recording, the 3DS’s view was fuzzier than previous 3RGP 3DS adventures, most likely due to some focus issues that were missed out on as the episode was recorded. In the end, the quality of the 3DS version is less than that of the N64 version, although you can clearly see the 3DS’s improvements in other ways beyond the crisp visuals.

The actual commentary was focused more on the sheer difference between games than trying to be too humorous. We intend to fix that as the game progresses. On that note, we have already filmed the second part and intend to have the rest of the game shown in the future, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Will Star Fox 64 3D follow a similar simultaneous playthough? We will get back to you on that, but things are looking good for the future!

3RM Says: Ignore the giant shrub to your right and listen to me, the Great
Deku Tree! Yes, I was always this red. I'm a redwood, of course!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

StreetPass Princeton: Event 5 Report!

The Nintendo 3DS is entering its first Fall season, and StreetPass Princeton is entering its first Fall season, too. StreetPass is the wireless communication between 3DSs and allows players to swap data without the need to directly connect with each other. StreetPass Princeton was formed to allow Princeton gamers a means to collect StreetPass data for their 3DSs and has since evolved into a regional gaming group for the 3DS and potentially other platforms in the future.

Since its inception, StreetPass Princeton has been to Princeton's Panera Bread,the Quakerbridge Mall GameStop for a Dead or Alive: Dimensions tournament, a park picnic just inside Princeton, and an online gathering in light of Hurricane Irene.

This month, StreetPass Princeton returned to the Quakerbridge Mall Gamestop to hold an event dedicated to Nintendo’s newest multiplayer 3DS title: Star Fox 64 3D. As people walked in, they could see a flyer for the event hanging on a promotional poster, and just below that stood the heads of StreetPass Princeton, holding their handhelds and playing a match of the title game’s Battle Mode. If attendees were a little hungry, free cookies and snacks were provided in the back of the store, where the other members gathered around.

No time for Zynga. More time for SNACKS!

Those who approached the event were handed a sign-up sheet, on which attendees could list contact information as well as opinions on the group and what they could do for the group in the future. From there, people joining the tournament were asked to provide a dollar for an entry fee in order to participate; otherwise, the event was free for gamers to have fun.

Here be, or Star Fox Tournaments...

The Star Fox 64 3D Aerial Ace Tournament set players in groups of four against one another in Battle Mode, using random levels, new power-ups, and large health bars. Some of the matches were set to five kills, while others were set to seven kills. Those in last place would be eliminated, leaving the final group of four in a face-off in the Meteo battleground. The action got hectic at times, and those who were not there to witness the matches, StreetPass Princeton has created a video of the event on their Youtube page, which you can see below. The top winners received a five-dollar, ten-dollar, and fifteen-dollar gift card for Gamestop, although first place also had the option to select a used DS game for up to fifteen dollars. The tournament was a bit on the quick side, but at least it happened!

Even after the tournament was completed, Star Fox 64 3D remained the main meal of the day, especially for co-founder Nick Oehlberg, who proceeded to run through the game’s expert campaign and collect medals along the way (he even let us photograph the images of him beating this mode: here, here, and here. Other multiplayer matches were held for the fun of it, because as for a number of attendees, this was the first way to play multiplayer Star Fox 64 3D at all, and needless to say, it was quite fun. Furthermore, Agent Spectre, who runs the StreetPass Princeton forum, was selling Pokemon models and candy for five dollars apiece, which was quite a deal according to some of the people there. The money earned from the sales of said Pokemon items will be going into producing a banner for StreetPass Princeton’s future events.

I never knew Pokeball technology had been implemented into cardboard cartons...

As time progressed, the event moved outside of the store to the benches, and from there, other people looked at the handhelds to see what we were playing, and a few more 3DS owners new and old stopped by to see what was happening. A group photo was made just before the end of the event, with most of the attendees in the shot. It was a bit smaller than the Dead or Alive tournament in June, but considering the game of choice, I was not entirely surprised. Still, it was a fun event!

We barely escaped the Gamestop alive. We celebrated with games!

A jolly bunch of gamers, we!

The future of StreetPass Princeton is looking pretty intense for the rest of the year. On October 21st, the group will be heading back to Panera Bread on Nassau Street, where cosplay is encouraged, Just Dance 3 will be appearing, as will Skylanders and the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition! Then, come November 6th, the group will gather at Princeton's Palmer Square to witness the official tree-lighting ceremony, and probably enjoy 3DS gaming fun along the way! December is still floating around, but no doubt Mario Kart 7 will take the event by storm. As for next year, co-founder Rob Oehlberg said to expect some adventures outside of Mercer County for the first few months, as the group continues to grow.

Rob runs around setting up the event while gamers play on.

The paparazzi has become paparazzied. That's a word now. I made it. Copyright!!

Apparently Wolf is a Dunkin Donuts kind of a guy.

If you are interested in learning more about StreetPass Princeton and its events, follow the group on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or join the Official Forums!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Third Rate Game Play: Ivy the Kiwi?

Game: Ivy the Kiwi?

System: Wii

Developer: PROPE
(Let's Catch, Let's Tap)

Publisher: XSEED Games

Player: Alex (and together for MP)

Experience: Played up to 4-1

Over the last few years, a number of development heads, best known for creating and building up some of the biggest franchises of yesteryear, are leaving their respective big-time publishers in favor of creating new, smaller development companies. One example is that, over time, Sonic the Hedgehog’s three “fathers” eventually left Sonic Team and Sega, with Yuji Naka being the last, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Yuji Naka joined Sega around 1983, when the company was hiring programming assistants. His first game would be Girl’s Garden for the Sega SG-1000, and from there, his programming skills helped build Sega classics such as Phantasy Star and its first two sequels. However, what really pushed Yuji Naka upward in Sega was the programming behind Sonic the Hedgehog; the other two leads for Sonic were Naoto Ōshima, who designed the characters, and Hirokazu Yasuhara, who created the stages. Naka continued his work with the Sonic franchise, moving to work with Sega Technical Institute on collaborated projects Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. As development moved onto the Sega Saturn, it is believed that the Producer-promoted Naka and his development of NiGHTS into Dreams caused friction between STI and Sonic Team, eventually resulting in Sonic X-treme’s cancellation.

While in the Producer seat for Sonic Team, Yuji Naka helped produce Burning Rangers, Phantasy Star Online, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, and every Sonic Team project until 2006. His only listed directorial role since the promotion was for Chu Chu Rocket! During this time, the other two core creators of Sonic left, with Yasuhara leaving to Naughty Dog and Ōshima creating his own company Artoon.

While Sonic Team was producing Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) for PS3 and Xbox 360, Naka announced his departure from Sega and the creation of his own development studio, PROPE. Since its inception, PROPE has developed a number of games for both Nintendo platforms and other handheld devices. The company’s first major releases were Let’s Catch and Let’s Tap for Wii, the latter of which was split up into multiple games on the App Store a year later. Under the iPROPE sub-label, PROPE had released 10 Count Boxer and Fluffy Bear onto the App Store before Ivy the Kiwi? was released. Ivy began as a Windows Phone game, but the main version happens to be on the Wii.

Publisher XSEED Games was founded in late 2004 by ex-members of Square Enix USA. XSEED’s main goal is to provide unique gaming experiences to American audiences, including a number of games from Japanese developers who are looking for budget publishers. Before Ivy the Kiwi?, XSEED Games had begun working alongside Marvelous Interactive, and the publisher had brought over such games as Little King’s Story, Flower, Sun and Rain, and Half-Minute Hero. The company also published a number of games in the Wild Arms franchise beforehand.

“Play the latest game from the creator of Sonic!

Pillowed on a pile of leaves in the middle of a dark forest, a baby bird is breaking out of a curious egg. Her bright orange head and beak poke out the top of a polka dot shell and she cries for her mother. The forest animals watch her curiously, but apart from them there is no one to claim her. Still trapped in the shell except for her head and feet, Ivy begins walking through the forest calling out for her mother. She meets many other kinds of birds but none are like her and she wanders searchingly for traces of her kind until she finds a glowing orange feather. With a clue now in beak Ivy sets out to follow the trail that will lead her to her mother.”
“One of the ideas was to have consumers be curious about the game. It also plays a role in the game's story, on what Ivy really is. We wanted to have a bit of a deeper meaning… The perfect scenario is to have the customer wonder why there is a question mark, and then after playing the game and seeing the ending, figure it out and say 'oh, that's why there's a question mark.' You'll understand the meaning of this when you see the whole story. We tried our best to put a lot of meaning in a small detail. If you finish the game and find that you have more emotional feelings toward the game, I'll be really happy.”
-Yuji Naka, Producer (Destructoid)
“This project initially started among some of my young employees; they were just doing experiments, and I saw the game, and thought it was a real interesting concept, so we decided to make it into a company-wide project. As someone that's been involved in games, at first I didn't think it would work using a pointer in an action-type game, but just by making two points [in creating the vines used to guide Ivy along], you can control the character somewhat freely, so that was a big discovery for me.”
-Yuji Naka, Producer (1UP)

Ivy the Kiwi? is an arcade title in which players help guide the newborn bird Ivy through multiple worlds in search to find her mother. As stated in the Official Word, she has no idea where her mother is, and being mostly in an egg, she cannot fly. So, she continues to walk onward in hopes to reach her destination, with or without your help.

Players do not control Ivy, who walks continually until she hits a wall and turns back around. Instead, players have to guide Ivy by drawing vines across the world which she can use to climb or be thrown onto higher ground. As the game progresses, players can use the ivy as a slingshot and send the chick bolting across the sky like a rocket. The vines can not only control Ivy but can also protect her from enemies and obstacles which populate the rest of the storybook-designed worlds. While the goal of each level is to land Ivy onto a pedestal at the end of the path, there are also ten feathers located around each level which can boost scores and potentially unlock extra content down the road.

Outside of the main game, there is a multiplayer option in which up to four players are tasked to guide their own Ivy to the exit. Unlike the main mode, however, players can draw their vines on other players’ screens, causing progress problems and potential sabotaging for increased competitiveness.

The game in this episode is the Wii version, although the game is also available on DS.

PROPE has continued its game development on the iOS platform as well as Nintendo-based platforms. Since Ivy the Kiwi?, PROPE released a number of unique games on the App Store, including Just Half (in which you must cut the screen as close to 50% as possible) and PD –prope discover-, a short first-person adventure game in a large floating castle. Outside of iOS, PROPE is developing Family Fishing for Wii via Namco Bandai; XSEED will also be publishing this game in the US this holiday, albeit without the fishing-pole accessory. PROPE is also producing an action title Rodea the Sky Soldier via Kadokawa Games for both Wii and 3DS; while no US publisher has been named, XSEED’s relationship with PROPE appears to be healthy enough for a publishing deal in the future.

Just before Ivy’s release, XSEED Games announced a collaboration with Nihon Falcom to bring over a number of games in the Ys series (Ys Seven, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, and Ys I & II Chronicles) and The Legend of Heroes: Trails to the Skies for the Playstation Portable. Along with that, XSEED has been announcing smaller projects over time, including CyberConnect2’s adventure title Solatarobo: Red the Hunter, expected for release September 2011 for the Nintendo DS.

Ivy the Kiwi? does not appear to have a sequel planned, but shortly after the retail releases of Ivy the Kiwi?, XSEED and PROPE published Ivy the Kiwi? mini for DSiWare. This version lacks the multiplayer modes and extra content in the main game, but it is available for a cheap 500 DSi Points.

After playing a bit of the game for himself, Alex decides to show off the adventure for about a half hour or so before he and Tony take multiplayer for an impromptu spin. While at the beginning, he hunts a little for the feathers, Alex decides to go off and just try to get further into the game with the time he is given, which does not get him too much further.

Ivy the Kiwi? is a nice little title with a unique game mechanic, but its length and more passive gameplay might work against it. The original Japanese version of the game lacked as much color as this version, and I feel it benefited with that extra tweak. The game’s music and sound effects were not of the quality one should expect from a game at this day and age, which is a shame. Furthermore, those not willing to take the time to collect the feathers or get the best time will likely find the game to be short.

Thankfully the multiplayer mode was great, and it made me see how hectic the 4-player modes would be with three people constantly trying to sabotage your adventure while you try to do the same to them. As you find in the video, even with two players the humor and intensity grows quickly as the games progress.

The episode was pretty good in light of this, but there are moments of inactivity from the both of us, so it starts slow but accelerates perhaps a little later than I would have preferred. Still, it was a nice game with a quiet, modest atmosphere around it.

This episode was filmed last year, and it was originally in SD resolution, thus the black bars upon uploading.

3RM Says: Is Ivy a bird? Or is she a fruit? Why am I even asking these silly questions?
Why can't I stop asking questions? Can someone help me?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

eShop Rating-Sales: August 2011

The Nintendo eShop is Nintendo's online shop through the 3DS where people can download games from old Nintendo hardware, DSiWare games, and new download software specific for the 3DS. Because Nintendo does not disclose sales numbers, and developers are most likely barred from revealing them, we do not know how games are doing on the service.

But we might have at least a small hint.

After playing a game on the 3DS for over a hour, players are capable of rating these games via the eShop, and the totals are shown on each game page, showing up to five stars based on what the population thinks. At the very least, we now have minimum sales figures for the games, but with a very large disclaimer: these numbers represent the users who have done the following:

1) Purchased the game
2) Played the game for over an hour on the 3DS, and
3) Chose to rate the game on the eShop.

People who play the games on their DSi systems cannot rate games, nor can people who have not played the games for less than one hour. Since rating cannot be done outside of the eShop, some might have forgotten to or chosen not to rate said games. Also note that a rating does not necessarily correspond with a sale in the month in which it appears, only emphasizing the number of additional people who completed the above steps.

With that disclaimer in mind, let us take a look at how the games performed.


Free Apps
1. Nintendo Video 8847 12048
2. Pokedex 3D 6874 26093
3. Netflix 5274 10816

As we can see, the most-rated product on the eShop is clearly Pokedex 3D, which has just over 26,000 ratings. I figure that will remain the most-rated product on the eShop for the foreseeable future. As Nintendo Video appeared late July, this outcome does not appear surprising to me, but it seems that, even though Netflix is highly rated, it is growing slower than the other two.

Pre-eShop DSiWare*
1. Plants vs. Zombies 790 2976
2. Photo Dojo 682 2147
3. Cave Story 637 2367
5. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! 602 1983
6. Inchworm Animation 505 1288
7. Shantae: Risky's Revenge 440 1630
8. Anonymous Notes Chapter 1 - From the Abyss 368 1038
9. Bomberman Blitz 311 880
10. GO Series: 10 Second Run 311 636
11. Zenonia 310 829
12. Tetris Party Live 279 805
13. Mario Clock 263 763
14. Pop Island - Paperfield 210 620
15. Soul of Darkness 198 473
16. Army Defender 176 452
17. Dark Void Zero 170 503
18. Dr. Mario Express 150 484
19. Extreme Hangman 95 365
20. Anonymous Notes Chapter 2 - From the Abyss 89 315
21. GO Series: Defense Wars 51 103
22. WarioWare: Snapped! 40 149

*These select games have made appearances on the eShop recent releases charts. This chart might be missing other DSiWare games with greater ratings and rating totals.

Something tells me the top five will be close to unchanging as the eShop continues. This month, two more games appeared to my knowledge on the eShop DSiWare charts:

JellyCar 2 (477 Ratings Total)
Arcade Bowling (211 Ratings Total)

We will be adding more games from the older DSiWare selection as time progresses.

Post-eShop DSiWare
1. Afterzoom 166 296
2. Extreme Hangman 2 98 157
3. The Lost Town: The Dust 61 122
4. Antipole 57 91
5. Go! Go! Kokopolo 45 45
6. My Australian Farm 39 44
7. Moto eXtreme 35 74
8. Stratego: Next Edition 32 75
9. Make-Up & Style 32 65
10. GO Series: Portable Shrine Wars 30 32
11. Jewel Keepers: Easter Island 24 37
12. Pro Jumper! Guilty Gear Tangent!? 19 54
13. My Asian Farm 17 17
14. Farm Frenzy 16 25
15. Heart Spaces Euchre 13 24
16. Let's Create! Pottery 13 13
17. Puzzle Fever 12 21
18. Magical Whip 11 11
19. Kung Fu Dragon 9 11
20. Build-a-lot 9 9
21. Beach Party Craze 8 18
22. Trollboarder 7 10
23. Blockado - Puzzle Island 7 7
24. Delbo 6 22
25. Roller Angels 6 19
26. Crazy Hamster 6 6
27. Zimo: Mahjong Fanatic 5 13
28. Hidden Photo 5 15
29. Oscar's World Tour 5 5
30. Play & Learn Spanish 5 5
31. Zoonies - Escape from Makatu 4 4
32. Calculator 3 3
33. Gold Fever 2 15
34. Boardwalk Ball Toss 2 11
35. Just SING! 80s Collection 2 2
36. Go Fetch! 2 2 2
37. B-Team - Episode 2: Ice & Venom 1 1

To think, nearly 40 DSiWare games came out over the summer months! That's a lot of games, but it seems that not too many have been getting a ton of reception compared to the more well-known DSiWare games. Afterzoom has been getting the most reception, but even so, the game would barely chart on the older DSiWare game chart above. Hopefully the actual sales for these games are not as low as they appear here.

Go! Go! Kokopolo from indie group Tanukii Studios and Room 4 Games was the new release this past month with the most response. Even with a modest 45 ratings, it sits in the top 5. Total-wise it has a little ways to go, but it is doing well from the looks of it. Meanwhile, The Lost Town and Antipole appear to be doing well for themselves a month after their releases, which tells me good things about their ratings for the future. A big sad-face for B-Team Episode 2 and Go Fetch! 2, both sequels and both having done poorly for ratings. At least they got ratings in their release month: both Oscar's World Tour and Just SING! 80s Collection had no ratings when they came out and only just got their first ratings in August.

Virtual Console

1. Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX 2469 12759
2. Super Mario Land 1653 7458
3. Donkey Kong 807 2856
4. Kirby's Dream Land 798 1977
5. Mario's Picross 568 568
6. Game & Watch Gallery 326 617
7. Gargoyle's Quest 125 125
8. Alleyway 107 521
9. Avenging Spirit 71 71
10. Qix 60 140
11. Baseball 49 99
12. Radar Mission 41 180
13. Fortified Zone 32 76
14. Tennis 30 121

While there have been a few great games released on the Virtual Console thus far, you would think more than three games would be released in August before the big Fall season. Mario's Picross released at the beginning of the month, and its ratings show that quite well. Gargoyle's Quest, the first Capcom title for the Virtual Console, was only out for a week when the month ended, but it seems to have gotten quite a number of ratings thus far, and quite a few of them are positive! Avenging Spirit currently sits with the least ratings of all Virtual Console games (behind another Jaleco game, Fortified Zone), but it will most likely climb in number as time progresses.

It should be noted that the top four has remained that way consistently in both sales and ratings charts. Link's Awakening DX is, to date, the most-rated and probably highest-selling game on the Nintendo eShop that has never been free.

3DS Download Software
1. 3D Classics: Excitebike* 2807 16091
2. Let's Golf! 3D 759 895
3. 3D Classics: Xevious 417 660
4. 3D Classics: Urban Champion 191 191

*This game was available for free in June. Most ratings are most likely not purchases.

It is a shame to see so few unique 3DS software being sold on the eShop months into its existence. Nintendo will most likely be releasing three more 3D Classics over the rest of the year, but I imagine more 3DS games in general must be coming, especially when you look at Japan's output of 3DS software already.

Excitebike will most likely be the most-rated game for a long while. 3D Classics: Urban Champion, which released in the second half of the month, is the only 3DS download game to debut in August, and it looks like it will be moving slowly, as general thoughts are negative on its inclusion. From last month, 3D Classics: Xevious is doing pretty well, and Lets Golf! 3D is looking to accelerate without any competition. Looking at the Coming Soon section, I don't think it will have much for a bit longer yet!

1. 3D Classics: Excitebike* 2807 16091
2. Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX 2469 12759
3. Super Mario Land 1653 7458
4. Donkey Kong 807 2856
5. Kirby's Dream Land 798 1977
6. Plants vs. Zombies 790 2976
7. Let's Golf! 3D 759 895
8. Photo Dojo 682 2147
9. Cave Story 637 2367
10. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! 602 1983

*This game was available for free in June. Most ratings are most likely not purchases.

And so ends what appears to be a pretty quiet month for the eShop. Mario's Picross was number 11, just shy of the list (if you include Excitebike), and the the second and third-highest debuts are 3D Classics: Urban Champion at 24 and Gargoyle's Quest at 29. Go! Go! Kokopolo sat at 40, showing that new DSiWare seems to be getting the short end of the stick, while the older popular DSiWare continue to sell.

What's up for this month? Well, the Ambassador program started last week, so I somehow picture those games appearing in its own section for the time being. Meanwhile, Four Swords is expected to appear for DSiWare, although the game is supposedly free and will be treated as such here.

Hope anyone out there enjoys my number obsession.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

StreetPass Princeton Event #4

Not every meeting can be as planned, especially during Hurricane season! August's StreetPass Princeton's fourth event happened to be one such event, even though it turned out to be a fun time regardless of the situation.

StreetPass Princeton is a group of Central-New Jersey gamers who share their delight in the Nintendo 3DS and its games, including the usage of StreetPass, a proximity-based data-swap feature unique to the new Nintendo handheld. For the last few months, StreetPass Princeton has held events dedicated to the 3DS community: an early get-together at Panera Bread, a Dead or Alive Dimensions tournament at the local Gamestop, and most recently a Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D event at a small park in Princeton.

August was not the best month for 3DS owners, particularly with minimal releases to fill the gap. Without any new product to push, a retro event was planned at an apartment in Princeton but was shifted to Panera Bread as the date grew nearer. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene prevented such an event from happening, so an online gathering on Google+ was created quickly as a substitute event.

The Google+ chat event was very much like most chatrooms, where people were able to use a text chat or camera and mic setup for more vocal and visual communication. While it could have focused on the older DS online titles, most of the conversations remained either 3DS-focused or drifted off into humorous obscurity.

The most recent retail release at the event was Devil Survivor: Overclocked from Atlus, although discussion on it was brief. Without much multiplayer to experience, all that could be expressed was how good it was, even if it is a port of the DS game. Meanwhile, Dead or Alive: Dimensions matches were fought over the Internet, and Friend Codes were swapped through the text chat in order to help spread StreetPass Princeton's community. The group even had someone from New York involved!

A screen of the chatroom, complete with Devil Survivor boxart!

Over the course of the event, a couple of the members downloaded and started playing through a new GameBoy Virtual Console game: Gargoyle's Quest. From my time playing it, I can say it is not the ordinary (or easy) platformer one might expect! Finally, before the event ended, I asked for impressions on Nintendo Video. Most were not positive; some had removed the application entirely by now. The general consensus was that the new R&B video was poor and the College Humor videos demonstrated the best use of the service, thus far.

Looks like someone is going to Comic-Con!

Hopefully hurricanes will stay away from the next events from StreetPass Princeton. On September 17th, SPP will be back at the Quakerbridge Mall Gamestop to hold a Star Fox 64 3D tournament (complete with a Dead or Alive: Dimensions bonus challenge for the brave). Taking preparations one step further, StreetPass Princeton is already setting up its October event; on October 22nd, a cosplay Halloween party is expected, including a fun run through Just Dance 3. At least one of the heads will also be attending this year's New York Comic-Con, although it will not be an official event for StreetPass Princeton. Still, bring around your 3DS, and who knows who you'll StreetPass?

Those interested for more information on StreetPass Princeton can check out its Facebook page, its Google+ Page, or its new Forums!