Thursday, July 19, 2012

Deep thoughts (or not) on a quintet of recent 3DS demos

The brass at Nintendo may have been a bit slow to add demos to the 3DS eShop, but they've done their best to pick up the pace over the last few weeks.

Being the sucker that I am for free stuff (even when that free stuff constitutes just a small portion of a game and can only be played a limited number of times), I downloaded a number of said demos recently and gave them the old college try. My thoughts on each of these bite-sized experiences are below.

Heroes of Ruin--I'm sure this admission will cause some of you to get the vapors, but it can't be helped: I knew next to nothing about this Square Enix-published title before acquiring this demo. As such, you could say my expectations were about as low as you can get. Did that help me enjoy this bit o' Heroes of Ruin more than I may have otherwise? I'm can't say, unfortunately. What I can say is that the game looks nice enough--or at least nicer than I thought it would. Also, I like that you can customize your characters to a fairly high degree. That said, I didn't find the gameplay all that captivating and I doubt I'll be adding this title to my overly long 3DS wish list.

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance--Full disclosure: Before I played through this demo, I'd never before played a Kingdom Hearts game. I've always thought this series looked nice, but the seeimingly one-dimensional gameplay just didn't appeal to me. Still, I thought I should try this demo, as it would give me a chance to see if these games are more or less superficial (for lack of a better word) than I've long imagined them to be. The verdict, after spending a good bit of time with its demo: Dream Drop Distance actually seems to be a deeper experience than I expected it be. Running around Traverse Town was a thrill, as was battling the title's rather whimsically designed baddies. I'd be lying if I said I was now planning on buying this entry in the Kingdom Hearts series, but I may pick up the original release sometime soon and progress from there should I dig it.

Order Up!!--I've expressed my love of the Wii version of this game (called Order Up!--please note that it has just one exclamation point while the 3DS release has two), so it shouldn't be surprising to hear that I've been chomping at the bit to play this particular demo. How does this "enhanced port" compare to the original? I'd say pretty well, based on the demo. Controlling the action via the touch screen rather than with a Wii remote is off-putting at first, but it becomes quite a bit more appealing over time. That said, I have a feeling at this point that the demo hurt rather than helped this game's chances of being bought by yours truly, as it prompted me to realize that I'm pretty content with the Wii version. Folks who passed on the Wii version and have no interest in tracking it down, though, should give this a try, in my opinion.

Rayman Origins--So many people have gushed over the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii versions of this game since they were released in late 2011 that I was more curious about this demo than any of the others mentioned in post. (Well, except for maybe the one below.) Now that I've played a smidge of this portable iteration of Rayman Origins, I can see why everyone was so gush-y. Not only is the game absolutely gorgeous, but it's a joy to play, too. My only qualm with this demo is that it's difficult to enjoy and appreciate the aforementioned graphics on such a small screen. As such, should I decide to add Rayman Origins to my collection--and believe me when I say I'm seriously considering it--I'll likely buy either the Wii or the Xbox 360 version so I can experience its wonders on my flatscreen TV.

Rhythm Thief and the Emperor's Treasure--This Sega-made rhythm game has been on my radar since it  was revealed around this time last year. Given that, and given my oft-avowed love of the genre, to say I was eager to give it a go would be an understatement of gigantic proportions. Amazingly, this demo not only lived up to my lofty expectations but surpassed them. My favorite of the three mini-games made available here is the first one, "Showtime," which calls to mind another of Sega's music-focused titles, Space Channel 5, although the other two are also a blast. All of them are admirably dynamic and cover the gamut when it comes to gameplay styles (the first has you slide the stylus in various directions, the second has you hit tap the touch screen and the third has you use the 3DS' d-pad and face buttons).

All things considered, the Rhythm Thief and the Emperor's Treasure demo impressed me the most. Not only that, but it actually pushed me to pick up a copy of the game (which I'm hoping will arrive on my doorstep shortly). I'm also thinking of buying Order Up!!, although I probably won't do so for a few months (if at all). Surprisingly, I'd be more likely to grab it if were available at retail as well as on the eShop. (What can I say? I like owning physical copies of games.)

Anyway, I'm guessing some of you have tried these demos, too. If so, what did you think about them? And did any of them get you to buy the full version of the game?


Viewtiful_Justin said...

A friend of mine says they bought and are LOVING Heroes of Ruin. I was thinking I'd get it based on that recommendation, alone, but now you've thrown my world into chaos! :-P

I bought Rayman Origins on the PS3, and I played the first world and some of the second, but I never went back to it. I think maybe the fact that it's sort of rhythmic threw me off...but I'll go back someday. I liked what I played, but it just seemed sort I didn't quite "get" it. I dunno...weird.

And if the Steam Summer Sale hadn't absolutely drained my wallet (seriously, I've spent about $70 so far and it goes on until the 22nd, but I've gotten some great games for SO CHEAP!), I'd have bought Rhythm Thief already. The demo is charming and fun, stylish and cute, and just cool. That's all I want in a game!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Well, Justin, get on your 3DS and download the demo! That's the only way to be sure if you'd like Heroes of Ruin or not, right?

BTW, not sure if this will help or not, but a number of people have told me they like the game, too, so I'm sure your friend isn't alone.

I didn't think the demo was bad in any way, BTW, it just didn't interest me enough to want to buy it. Which is OK, since I have way too many games to buy these days anyway.

As for Rayman Origins ... did you buy that one off of a recommendation, too? I've definitely heard wonderful things about it. I have to say, and I'm sure this will be a rather unpopular opinion to share, but although I like the overall look of this game, I really find Rayman himself -- his design -- to be completely off-putting. The same is true of many of the game's other characters, too. I'm sure I'd get over it if I ever played it, but who knows?

Which games have you bought via Steam so far? I really should check that out someday, BTW. Of course, I need another source of games like I need a whole in the head.

I'm very much looking forward to getting my grubby hands on Rhythm Thief, BTW. Should be here any day now! Like you, I loooooooved the demo. Couldn't believe how much I liked it, actually. And when I saw Amazon selling it for just $29.99, I couldn't help but pick it up.

I have heard that the full game is quite different from the demo, BTW, so it'll be interesting to see if that's true or not -- and if it is, will I still love the game?

Obviously all of the rhythm stuff is in the full game, but I think there's also quite a bit of a story to it. The person who told me about the full game said that it's literally like a Layton game mixed with a rhythm game. Not at all sure what to think of that!

Viewtiful_Justin said...

It sounds like the perfect game, then.

Steam Sale? Well...I got Civ 5, Trine 1 & 2, Torchlight, Worms Reloaded, Dear Esther, Plants vs. Zombies, Hoard, Half Life 1 & 2, PB Winterbottom, Lara Croft and the Guardians of Light, Star Wars: KOTOR, Dungeon Siege 3, Dungeons of Dredmor, Just Cause 2 (PC Version so I can get mods for it and screw around some more), and I might get a few others...but that's a TON of games for just shy of $70.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Wow, you've been going nuts!

What do you think of PB Winterbottom and Dungeons of Dredmor, if you've played them yet? I've heard good things about both, and I know at least the former is available via XBLA...

diaglyph said...

I have Heroes of Ruin, I guess I won't be playing with ya or having voice chat :( oh well! haha
It's not a bad game. It's not perfect though. It is a diablo/torchlight clone. Story is fairly basic but it works fairly well. Go around, kill everything in sight :) Lots of loot to collect (neat feature you can sell anything at any time by pressing down in dpad when looking at the loot, or Y in the inventory screen - makes it easier to quickly sell junk on the go!)
Though I wish there was better customisation - I don't like that the characters have a set sex and race, would've been nice to set it up as any look for any class, or at least give more options within each race, like allow a male elf for alchitect.
I was playing with a friend who has played some dungeon game on Vita, and said Heroes of Ruin was better than that Vita game. I don't know what game that is though as I have no interest in the Vita.
Anyways, its fun to have your friends being able to jump into your game and to voice chat with them :) But I do not recommend worldwide multiplayer! As other players are assholes and ninja loot everything from under you.

I've tried Rhythm Thief and that was a fun game :) I may get that one day, perhaps when its on sale here.

Kingdom Hearts - I tried first game when it came out, and I didn't like the real time combat system, so I never bothered with the rest. The game looks really really nice on the 3DS though! And I really like the cameo of Neku in the demo :) Its tempting me to get the game just for that LOL But I don't know, I don't have a great relationship with real time combat games LOL so in the end, not sure if I'll get this game.

Rayman demo - this game irritated me LOL There is that level where you quickly have to run through the level? I found it impossible to play as I found it difficult to jump on the platforms. For some reason I found it difficult to judge the size of the platform, also the movement of Rayman was just weird, he didn't feel like he moved as fast as say Mario. I won't be getting this game. Looks nice, but I don't think it plays well on the 3DS, I don't think they've ported it well to the 3DS.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: Well, maybe Justin will get Heroes of Ruin and then the two of you can play each other :)

As for Kingdom Hearts: Yeah, I'm not a big fan of real-time combat games either. Honestly, I'd much prefer these games to be turn-based RPGs. That said, I liked the demo more than I thought I would. I still won't be buying the full game, but that's OK. Like I told Justin earlier: I have too many games on my 'to buy' list anyway.

I didn't have any real problems while playing Rayman, by the way, but I can see where some would. My main issue with the demo was that the 3DS screen just seems too small for such a game. Also, like you said, Rayman the character doesn't handle as easily or smoothly as, say, Mario, and as such the game can feel a bit sloppy.

diaglyph said...

Forgot to add: the whole combat system in Kingdom Hearts still confuses me LOL Especially with its off the wall bouncing and spinning around objects - that only serves to confuse!

Bryan Ochalla said...

I actually liked that part of it, Igor! Sure, I wasn't great at it at first, but I got pretty good after playing for a bit, and I imagine folks who play the full game would get even better over time. Sure keeps the game from just being hack, hack, hack, at the very least.

Retr0gamer said...

If you are going to go back and play all the Kingdom Hearts games then you need to be prepared because from the second game onwards the series has quite literally the worst storyline ever written by mankind, no hyperbole!

Unknown said...

I'd love to write a longer comment but I'm getting ready to head to bed... I just thought I'd mention that my Heroes or Ruin review went up the other day, and I reckon I'm quite fair in my judgement ;) You can read it here to see what I thought:

Overall, it's fun, but I'm not a big Diablo fan so its gameplay didn't appeal to me all that much. I'd really only recommend picking it up to people who were at a loss for things to play online on their 3DS.

I'm actually playing through Kingdom Hearts 3D for review right now so feel free to fire any questions my way. The gameplay in the earlier titles is definitely a lot more simple than this one, though, that's for sure!

I actually haven't gotten around to trying the Rhythm Thief demo but I already know I want it. It looks amazing!

Viewtiful_Justin said...

PB Winterbottom has a great sense of does Dredmor. The gameplay in Winterbottom is mind boggling at times, but I'd say it's worth checking out, for sure. If you played Braid, you might like it. If you haven' might still like it.

Dredmor, for what I've played, is pretty fun. It's standard roguelike gameplay, but you can WAY customize your character's skills, which is really cool. I haven't done much with it, but it seems like the kind of dungeon crawler that I could fall in love with for its writing and sense of humor alone.

I think you'd like it, even if the character sprites are a little ugly.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Retr0gamer: Well, I haven't *completely* gotten behind the idea of playing through the Kingdom Hearts series yet. If I do, though, I'll definitely keep your comment in mind!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Anne: Ah, I'll definitely read your Heroes of Ruin review -- thanks for sharing the link!

As for Kingdom Heart 3D: Well, how are you liking it so far? You're a fan of the series overall, aren't you? And you've played some or all of the past games? How does this one stack up so far, in your opinion?

Like I said in my commentary about the demo, I was surprised by how much I liked its gameplay. It was a bit like being on a roller coaster at times -- in both a good and bad way :)

Finally, do try to download the Rhythm Thief demo soon, if you can. It's great! I played through the first mini-game at least 15 times in the first few days after downloading the demo -- although I'd decided by about the second time that I'd buy the full game.

Can't wait for the darn thing to arrive!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for the info on those two games, Justin! Surprisingly, I haven't played Braid yet. Not sure why. Someday, I promise. Maybe I'll try to go through that one before Winterbottom.

As for Dredmor, if I'm remembering correctly, there was a thread about the game over on NeoGAF shortly after the game came out, and I was a bit obsessed with it for a while. I know that's weird -- to be obsessed with a NeoGAF thread about a game you've yet to play -- but it's true. Anyway, I really liked the sound of it -- and, really, the look, too. I can see why you'd say it's a bit ugly, but I actually liked its style :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I figured you'd probably love the style. It's unique and looks a little bit...Sega-y to me. Bigger sprites...a little messy...

I might have to check that thread out. I was playing it today and getting my ass handed to me. It's ROUGH.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, yes, it kind of looks like a Genesis game, doesn't it? Which is funny, because back in the day I wasn't the biggest fan of that look. Today, though, I quite like it.

If I can find that NeoGAF thread, by the way, I'll post a link to it here, OK?