Super Monkey Ball 3D
In its appearance as a playable title at Nintendo's 3DS event, Super Monkey Ball succeeds in highlighting both the strengths and limitations of the new console.
In one sense, it's an obvious choice to show off what's possible with the built-in gyroscope. Although with roughly seven billion iPhone and iPod titles doing similar things, it's not exactly a revolutionary feature these days.
What is revolutionary with 3DS, of course, is the 3D display. Which is all fine and dandy here if you control it the old-fashioned way with the analogue nub. But try using motion-control and 3D together and it quickly collapses into an unplayable shambles.
That's because, when viewing 3D on a display such as the one this console uses, there's a very limited range within which the effect is maintained. Which is fine for normal play, but basically rubbish when you're moving it around with the gyro as, without the aid of an elaborate DIY pulley mechanism, it's actually quite hard to move your arms all over the place while keeping the screen in your line of sight.
Beyond that, it looks to be standard Monkey Ball fare, with various game modes, multiplayer (not available in the demo) and a variety of puzzle-stages to tackle.
It may not be the perfect marriage of concept and hardware, but Monkey Ball remains a gaming stalwart, best experienced in small doses. And, however fancy the tech, that's often all you really need in a handheld game.
Dead or Alive: Dimensions
If EA sacks Andy Gray as FIFA commentator, Tecmo has a stable of titles well suited to his keen eye and evolving commentary skills. In what must be the least surprising support from a third party, the heaving-bosomed heroines of Team Ninja's fighting franchise have transitioned into full 3D.
So, yes, thanks to the magic of Nintendo, DD becomes 3DD. But does the 3D fighting translate with similar fluency? That's not something that can be answered after a short playtest, but initial impressions are of a solid if unspectacular bruiser.
Standard button input and the analogue nub are used for regular control, with special moves and combo lists featured on the bottom-screen. It's more cluttered and dynamic than Capcom's Street Fighter solution, but does allow complex sequences to be performed with a single touch – though that's unlikely to prove satisfying for any length of time.
Story and Arcade mode were unlocked in the demo and, generally impressive visuals aside, I was surprised by how much of a hit the frame-rate appears to take with the 3D effect fully applied. Certainly, it looks a far sharper, smoother affair without it. Is this a side effect of unfinished code, or a wider hardware concern?
With Super Street Fighter IV wowing in its demo, Tecmo faces a heavyweight opponent in the fight for gamers' attention at launch. DOA has always had the body; let's hope this version has the brains, too.