Saturday, 14 February 2015

New Nintendo 3DS Hands-On Review: The Good, The Bad, The Indifferent...Is It really 'New' after all?

The latest edition to Nintendo's 3DS family was launched in the UK yesterday and Mini Gamers could not wait to get our hands on this impressive successor to the 3DS. However, are the New Nintendo 3DS and New 3DS XL consoles really as good as all the hype suggests? What exactly is so 'new' about them, and are they really worth the cash?


At first glance, the New 3DS looks pretty similar to the original 3DS console, but there are a surprising number of small aesthetic and functional changes, which we here at Mini Gamers HQ have decided to separate into three distinct categories called 'The Good' - all those changes that are a marked improvement on the old 3DS console, 'The Bad' - those things which are worse about the New 3DS than its predecessor, and 'The Indifferent', which are those additions or changes which don't really add or worsen anything from the previous model.




The Good:


  • The Volume Control: This has been moved from the bottom left-side of the console to the top left-side of the console, which is great for anyone who used to find that their fingers would sometimes accidentally push the volume slider on the original 3DS/3DS XL models when they were holding or moving the console.
  • The Sound: In addition to the change of position for the volume control slider, the speakers now seem louder and clearer than on the older 3DS models, and the volume can actually be set far lower than before in order to produce a good  level of sound.
  • Faster Operating System: Thanks to a faster and improved Operating System than the original 3DS, loading screens now load up much more quickly than before, and menu screens and download times have become a lot faster too.   
  • Larger screens and sharper 3D images: The 3D images on the New 3DS and New 3DS XL do seem a lot sharper and impressive than before. Furthermore, although this change will not be noticed by those gamers who have opted for the XL model of the New 3DS, (as both the new and the former and newer XL models have almost the same screen size,) there is a marked  difference in screen size between the original standard 3DS and the standard New 3DS, as the diagram below shows:


  • Face-Tracking and Stable 3D Software: As anyone who has previously owned a 3DS or a 3DS XL will know, trying to watch 3D images without glasses is difficult. On previous 3DS models, images would often become blurry when viewed at a slightly 'off-centre' angle or if the console was not held at a specific distance, which would often cause headaches, dizzy spells or tired eyes if viewed for an extended period. Not anymore! The New 3DS comes with some nifty 'Face-Tracking' software, which actually helps users to keep the 3D images at an optimised distance and angle at all times.The effect is called 'Stable 3D' by Nintendo and it definitely lives up to it's name. Blurry images and broken 3D effects are now a thing of the past!

  • Price: Actually, at £149.99 for the standard New 3DS model and £179.99 for the larger XL model, the New 3DS isn't actually too expensive considering its enhanced features, but Mini Gamers was slightly surprised at the 'Bundle' price for the Special Edition Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask console. This console is an XL-sized console with a special limited edition cover design, (as shown below,) which currently retails for £224.99 in the UK. It comes with a special pre-loaded version of the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask game. However, Mini Gamers discovered that we could buy the standard New 3DS XL console and a separate copy of the game for almost £14 cheaper than the advertised bundle price, which does seem a bit unfair, even with its limited edition status!


The Bad:

  • The Name: Yes, it is terrible. Adding the prefix 'New' to the start of a product may have indeed worked for Apple with their New iPad, but it doesn't really work in the case of Nintendo's latest console. Try typing in "new 3DS" or "New 3DS XL" into any search engine and you will instantly see advertisements for brand new original 3DS consoles, as well as the brand new New 3DS consoles, which actually look suspiciously similar to each other at first glance. So how has Nintendo made the difference between these consoles clear? Well, they haven't really, except to have 'Amiibo'-style sparks coming off of the word 'new' on the packaging. Not very helpful to a gamer who has never seen either 3DS consoles before.
  • Standard SD Card now replaced with a Micro SD card: Another potential downside to Nintendo's New 3DS console is that it can no longer take the standard SD cards, which is a pain when using the 'Data Transfer' function between an old 3DS and the New 3DS console. Previously, if one wanted to move saved data between 3DS systems, they would simply launch the 'Data Transfer' tool, wait for files to transfer from one system to another, and then swap the SD cards. Simple! However, the change to a Micro SD card means that this simple transfer is no longer possible. Nintendo have now offered 3 alternative ways to transfer saved data onto the New 3DS console, but one involves having to copy your saved data to a PC first, another involves the laborious task of re-downloading all of your games one-by-one from the online Nintendo eShop, or a 'wireless transfer' that can take several hours to complete. 
  • No Charger: As with the original 3DS, Nintendo have deemed the New 3DS charging adapter to be an 'optional' extra. This won't make a lot of difference to previous owners of the Nintendo DS, as its adapter will work with any 3DS or New 3DS system, but gamers who have never owned a Nintendo DS or 3DS system before, will now be forced to pay an extortionate £6.99 on top of the cost of the console for a charging adapter in order to charge the battery on their New 3DS system.
  • Battery: Despite hopes that a faster processor would help to improve the battery life of the New 3DS console, a side-by-side comparison with the original 3DS actually showed that the battery life was slightly shorter on the new system by just under an hour. 
  • Cartridge Slot and Power Button: The game cartridge slot is now situated at the bottom of the New 3DS. It looks odd and out of place there and it feels quite tricky to swap cartridges with it in this position. The power button's position on the New 3DS console has also been changed to the front edge of the console. Again, it is in an odd place and it doesn't feel as natural and easy to use as it did on the original 3DS.



The Indifferent:


  • C-Stick: The New 3DS now comes with an extra analog stick in the form of a small, round, grey C-Stick (shown above). This button is very useful in certain games like Super Smash Bros. 4, where certain attack moves are handled specifically by the C-stick, but in other games, such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, it becomes barely noticeable at times.

  •  Extra Shoulder Buttons:  As with the C-stick, the two small extra shoulder buttons on the back of the console, don't seem to do very much at present, as none of the software we tried with the console even required them. However, there is nothing to say that their function won't be important in future 3DS titles, of course.
  • Amiibo Support: One great feature of the New 3DS console is that it now enables 3DS users to interact with its NFC toy range, called Amiibo. However, whilst these toys are an interesting way to unlock special content in certain 3DS titles such as  Super Smash Bros. 4, or Mario Kart 8, there are very few 3DS titles currently available to support the use of Amiibo. If you already use them with your Wii U console however, the same toys will now be compatible with the New 3DS system, it's just that it would be nicer to see a wider range of compatible software than currently exists at present. However, this could again be developed in the future.




The Verdict: Is the New 3DS Worth Buying?

It could be argued that the New 3DS console is actually an improved version of the original 3DS with all the extra buttons and functions that fans have been asking for. If you have not tried a 3DS console, then the New 3DS is definitely a great purchase with lots to offer its gamers.

If you are the proud owner of an original 3DS or 3DS XL console, then the New 3DS does offer many enhanced features as mentioned above, but with very few 3DS software titles currently optimised for the special New 3DS functions such as: Amiibo compatibility, or the C-stick and extra shoulder button controls, it may be worth waiting a little longer before you trade in your old 3DS. Overall Mini Gamers rating: 8/10.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

New 3DS US Midnight Launches At GameStop and GAME in the UK...


There are only six more days to go before Nintendo's latest console, the New Nintendo 3DS and its XL counterpart go on sale in the UK, and many of us have been frantically pre-ordering the console with either our favourite Monster Hunter 4, or The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask 3D bundles. 

However, for 3DS fans in the USA, there has been an extra chance to get your hands on a new console, with popular video game retailer, GameStop, holding many midnight launches in stores across America. Gamers will be able to buy the console from precisely 12:01 am on the 13th of February 2015 and will also be able to take their pick of the aforementioned bundles as well! 

If you don't fancy waiting in line, US gamers can also order the New 3DS/New 3DS XL from the Best Buy website, (http://www.bestbuy.com) but the retailer has warned that it has had to cancel some pre-orders of The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask bundle because it has proven so popular and is now out of stock.

Video game retailer, GAME has also promised some UK midnight launches in around a third of its stores. GAME is also the only UK retailer to stock the limited edition Monster Hunter 4: Special Edition New 3DS XL, which features an exclusive design.  

Furthermore, GAME has also have added an incentive for those 3DS owners who might be reluctant to trade in their old 3DS for the New 3DS/3DS XL console because of the "Data Transfer" function which requires both the old and new machines to port saved data across from one console to the other. 

According to GAME, anyone who now buys a New 3DS/New 3DS XL console and keeps the receipt, will be able to trade-in their old 3DS console  at the higher trade-in price, which is usually offered for only seven days after the launch of a new console!

The participating GAME stores will be opening just before midnight on Friday the 13th of February 2015 in the following areas:

High Wycombe
Glasgow
Preston
Leicester
Ipswich
Harlow
Lincoln
Milton Keynes
Stockport
Carlisle
Manchester (Trafford Centre)
Barnstaple
Bristol (Cribbs Causeway)
Burnley
Belfast (Abbey)
Halifax
Newbury
Sutton
Enfield
Staines
Newtownards
Mansfield (Outlet)
Glasgow the Fort
Manchester (The Fort)
Talbot Green
Leicester the Shires
Doncaster
Manchester (Denton)
Plymouth (Drake Circus)
Preston Deepdale
Cambridge
Leeds Headrow Centre
Stratford upon Avon
Bournemouth Castle Point
Bury the Rock
Wakefield
Chichester
Crawley
Lisburn
Swindon
Bath Southgate
Sheffield Fargate
Manchester (Arndale)
East Kilbride
Luton
Stevenage forum
Kingston
Uxbridge
Newcastle
Poole
Norwich
Belfast
Middlesbrough
Chester
Portsmouth
Wigan
Bolton
Nottingham (Victoria)
Mansfield
Londonderry
Douglas
Livingston
Bedford
Basingstoke
Dumfries
Hereford
Aldershot
Aberystwyth
Bullring
Craigavon
Accrington
Brentwood
Nottingham
Ipswich
Birkenhead
Lincoln
Chesterfield
Lancaster
Bradford DS
Glasgow
Slough
Bristol Broadmead
Rotherham
Chorley
Hanley
Lewisham
Carlisle
Newcastle under Lyme
Pontypridd
Stirling
Blackpool
Crewe
Bracknell
Liverpool Lord Street
Oldham
Welwyn Garden City
Morecambe
Falkirk
Canterbury
Isle of Wight
High Wycombe
Glasgow
Preston
Leicester





Monday, 2 February 2015

Sony Online Entertainment To Become DayBreak Studios...



 Massively Multiplayer Online publishing giant, Sony Online Entertainment, has today been sold to the private investment company, Columbus Nova, for an undisclosed sum. The company has since announced that it will be changing its name from SOE to Daybreak Studios, and will now primarily focus on producing video games for multi-platforms, including Nintendo, Xbox and some mobile platforms as well.


A spokesperson for Daybreak Studios has said: "We expect to have even more resources available to us as a result of this acquisition, it also means new exciting developments for our existing IP and games as we can now fully embrace the multi-platform world we are living in." [sourced from: http://www.pcgamer.com/sony-online-entertainment-sold-becomes-daybreak-game-company/}

It is yet unclear what type of products gamers can expect to see from Daybreak Studios, but it is definitely an interesting and refreshing change for a company who have been so devoted to a particular platform. Watch this space! 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Sony To Discontinue YouTube and Music Unlimited On Its PlayStation Devices, Including PS Vita...



Sony has today announced changes to some of its PlayStation applications. Amongst those applications affected are Sony's music-streaming app, Music Unlimited, which is due to be discontinued on the 29th of March 2015, and the popular video-streaming app, YouTube, which is set to be discontinued in April 2015.



The news has come as somewhat of a disappointment to fans of these two applications, but never fear: Sony has announced that it will be replacing its Music Unlimited service with a brand new music-streaming service called PlayStation Music, which will be powered by the extremely popular music-streaming service, Spotify.



Fans of the PlayStation YouTube app will also be pleased to hear that they will still be able to access the mobile web version of YouTube from their console's Internet browser, so they can enjoy all the videos that they used to get from the application itself.




Sony has also announced that they will be discontinuing the Near and Maps applications on the PS Vita console soon. This is expected to occur some time in March 2015 via a System Update. It is not yet known whether these applications will be replaced with new versions of similar applications or not but it is clear that some serious changes are afoot...Watch this space!


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

New Nintendo 3DS Console Gets Official North American and UK Release Dates!


The wait is finally over for Nintendo fans in the UK after a special Nintendo Direct broadcast at 2pm today has revealed some more information about the upcoming New 3DS, including the all-important European release dates!

Mini Gamers can now reveal that the console, which has already been released in places such as Japan and Australia will now debut in the UK and North America on the 13th of February 2015. Furthermore, both the New 3DS and its XL counterpart will debut in the UK on the same date, so there will be no need to upgrade to the larger model (which is equal in size to the current 3DS XL) at a later date. North America will only have the XL model of New 3DS.

Furthermore, there is good news  for Nintendo 3DS users who wish to use their existing 3DS games on the new system, which was initially considered incompatible with existing 3DS software as it has a different, more advanced processor.

Nevertheless, Nintendo yesterday revealed that some existing 3DS titles, including the ever-popular Super Smash Bros. 4, WILL receive a firmware update on the 13th of February that will make them compatible with the New 3DS system. However, Nintendo will still be bringing out some exclusive titles such as Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, (which is set to debut in April 2015,) which will work exclusively with the New 3DS systems only.

As well as being larger and having more processing power than the previous 3DS models, the New 3DS comes equipped with a new C-stick, for enhanced control, as well as a special 'Amiibo' button, which will allow users to sync their New 3DS with Nintendo's unique range of NFC figurines for the first time ever! Nintendo  also announced its second wave of Super Smash Bros. 4 'Amiibo' toys during the broadcast.

We here at Mini Gamers HQ are very excited by the news. Those of you who are desperate to own the New 3DS for yourselves will not have very long to wait at all! If you missed the broadcast yesterday, watch it below now:




Friday, 9 January 2015

Ubisoft's 'Child Of Light' Comes Top Of The Polls At The PlayStation Blog Awards 2014...



The results of the Annual Playstation Blog Game of the Year Awards 2014 were published last night. Almost 400,000 Sony console gamers have cast their votes for their favourite PS4, PS3 and PS Vita games online since voting first began on the 18th of December 2014,

Although results in the PS Vita category were incredibly close, it was Ubisoft who finally picked up the Platinum Award for their game, Child of Light, narrowly beating games such as Freedom Wars and The Binding Of Issac: Rebirth for this honour.

For those of you who haven't had the chance to experience the Child of Light game for yourselves, the trailer below gives you a small taster of this beautiful title:


Problems viewing this trailer? CLICK HERE


For those of you who wish to know which games made the top spot in the other categories, a full list of all the winning titles and runners-up can be obtained by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Nintendo Today, Ebay tomorrow: How 'Loyal' Fans Sell Exclusive New 3DS Consoles At Way Over The Original Price!



In a continuation from our 1st of January post about an exclusive early UK release for Nintendo's New 3DS console, reports are now emerging that some of the special limited-edition New 3DS consoles that have been offered to selected Club Nintendo members are today being sold on the auction site EBAY for almost four times their recommended retail price.

According to an article on Eurogamer earlier today, over fifty New 3DS consoles have now been listed for sale, with the 'Buy It Now' prices reaching as much as £400 in most cases, which is a massive markup on the bundle's original £179.99 price tag. Furthermore, many of these consoles have yet to be shipped to their intended original owners by Nintendo.




Whilst Nintendo's exclusive invitation was a very clever idea, the New 3DS consoles were supposed to be sent to loyal Nintendo fans only, but today it seems as though loyalty counts for nothing when there is a quick profit to be made. Nevertheless, with the New 3DS reaching its official release dates in Japan and Australia, it is likely to be only a matter of time before these models end up for sale on the UK site as well.

For non Club Nintendo members in the UK, the choice is clear: either fork out for a massively overpriced limited edition version of the New 3DS console, or wait for confirmation of a release date for the official one. 

Nevertheless, with no official release date confirmed in the UK, fans of the handheld console are in for a long wait and Mini Gamers cannot help but wonder how many of them will succumb to the idea of an early look at what promises to be a great addition to the existing 3DS range, even if it means paying a lot extra for the privilege...


Saturday, 3 January 2015

New 3DS UK Price Range Confirmed, but January 12th Release Date Only For Club Nintendo Members So far, it seems...


Happy New Year! Well, with the start of 2015, comes some interesting information regarding the New 3DS handheld console. Nintendo has revealed that the average price range for the latest addition to their 3DS range will be around £155.99 in the UK later this year.

The price was revealed in an email sent to select Club Nintendo members inviting them to get their hands on a New Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Edition Bundle, a special edition bundle featuring a white New Nintendo 3DS along with exclusive Ambassador Edition cover plates, Super Smash Bros. cover plates and a charging cradle.

The exclusive offer will open on the 6th January 2015, but only those members with an email invitation can purchase the handheld device early. The Ambassador Edition Bundle will cost £179.99 in the UK, with Nintendo pricing the value of the console at £155.99, and the cover plates and cradle at £7.67 each.




Surprisingly, Nintendo has confirmed that Club Nintendo members who which to take advantage of the exclusive invitation could in fact receive the new console as early as next week, but for the rest of the Nintendo fans in the UK, no official release date has yet been given.

The early release of such a console by Nintendo is a very smart move as it is likely to swell the numbers who wish to pre-order the device for themselves, as well as encouraging more fans to sign up for Club Nintendo membership in order to capitalise on any future console deals.



HAVE YOUR SAY...

What do you think of the limited-edition Ambassador New 3DS bundle?

Will you be taking advantage of the offer? 

If you have any comments about this article and you wish to share your opinions with other readers, then please feel free to leave us a comment and let us know.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

What Did We Learn From The Playstation Experience?



So, the first PlayStation Experience has just taken place in Las Vegas, but what did we learn about upcoming PlayStation video games for 2015 from the two-day event? Well, amongst the barrage of trailers for some upcoming PS4 titles, including the ever-popular Uncharted 4, Tearaway: Unfolded or No Man's Sky, there were some quite interesting offerings for PS Vita owners too. The following five games are just a taster of the brilliant PS Vita titles that are scheduled for release some time throughout 2015:

Super Time Force Ultra - This game is a fun leap through time and space. Using a 'world select' format, players can jump in and out of six unique periods of time, each complete with its own game modes, playable characters and bonus collectibles. The game also comes with a special 'Time Out' function that allows players to stop or even rewind time in order to go back through a level that has already been played.

Severed - In Severed, players take control of a one-armed heroine who uses a living sword to fight her enemies. It is a strange and yet innovative concept.  Using touch based mechanics, players are able to employ an array of offensive and defensive techniques against a variety of enemies. Defeating 'Boss' characters provides the main character with 'Totems', which she can wear like armour. Each Totem will also provide the character with a new ability. The game is expected to be released in Spring 2015.

Darkest Dungeon - This game adds one important factor into the classic RPG genre: Stress. In the game, players control a band of unlikely adventurers. Everything that these characters see, hear or experience in the game will have either have a positive or negative effect on the group's stress levels. Every negative stress moniker will lead to a succession of stress-driven behaviours from the characters, such as abusiveness, hopelessness, irrationality, selfishness or masochism, which will affect their decisions and performances in the game. Family heirlooms that are collected in the game via various successful quests can be used to furnish the characters' base, where they can indulge in some stress-reducing activities such as flagellation, drinking, gambling and even praying. Darkest Dungeon will be available in 2015.


 Resident Evil: Revelations 2 - Yes, the Resident Evil story is set to bring its own familiar brand Zombie-action to the PS Vita in February 2015. This trailer has so far been released of the game, which is sure to whet the appetite of many Resident Evil fans:


Having trouble viewing this trailer? CLICK HERE


Broken Age - The 'point-and-click' adventure game series is being developed by games studio, Double Fine, which is founded by American videogame producer, Tim Schafer, who is best known for his games, Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle, which are also expected to be remastered for the PS Vita in early 2015.



So there you have it - some top-quality games that will be making their way to the PlayStation Store throughout the coming year, but what do our fellow gamers out there think of the announcements? If you have any thoughts about these games or any other articles on the Mini Gamers blog, feel free to leave us a comment and let us know. We love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas: Christmas Wonderland 4 Preview [3DS]



Yes, it is that time of year again! Christmas is swiftly approaching, and the fourth edition of our favourite festive game has just appeared for download in the Nintendo 3DS eShop. For those of you who are not familiar with the Christmas Wonderland series on the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS, it is a series of Hidden Object games, all with a Christmassy theme.

In Christmas Wonderland 4, we again join Bill and Mary as they attend the Christmas parade, whilst Mrs. Claus, Santa and the elves try and get all the toys ready in time for the big day!

The game is very easy to play, but hard to master. Players must try to spot all of the items on the Christmas list at the top of the screen. Points are accumulated by finding the listed items as quickly as possible. This sounds easy, but there are many items to find and each one is intricately hidden in a beautiful festive scene. There is a handy Hint function for anyone who feels a bit lost, but players must wait for the hint meter to refill before it can be used again.




As well as the hidden object lists, players will have to solve a number of puzzle mini games in order to progress to the next level. These include tasks such as arranging a set of Santa heads in the correct order or helping Mrs. Claus to finish decorating the Christmas cake.

The game has some beautiful graphics, including some in 3D, but it has to be said that the 3D function of the game is extremely limited as most of the graphics are displayed solely on the bottom screen, which is a tad frustrating.

Nevertheless, if you are looking for a fun festive game to play in the run up to Christmas, then this title is just perfect for you.  Furthermore, at only £4.49, it is a bargain to download from the Nintendo eShop and will keep most casual gamers interested for quite a long time. Overall Mini Gamers rating: 7/10.