Nintendo 3DS: Launch Title Lowdown • Page 5

Mario! Zelda! Monkeys! Cars! Etc.

Asphalt 3D

If Ridge Racer 3D represents the return of an old friend, Asphalt 3D is the obnoxious new kid on the block - loud, brassy and liable to tell you to screw your precision cornering and stick a banana in your tailpipe.

This is handheld racing for the very young or exceptionally drunk. You career down neon-lit city streets at top speed, throwing caution and the laws of physics to the wind. It's easy to maintain pole position and almost impossible to crash. At one point I deliberately drove head-on into the path of an oncoming train. Not a scratch.

There are plenty of silly power-ups to be found floating around in the middle of the tracks. It's not too hard to turbo boost your way round entire circuits, without giving a second thought to what drifting is or how you do it. Perfect for home entertainment software buyers for Asda.

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For more racing-related fun, try searching for "Stewart Lee Top Gear" on YouTube. Unless you're a Top Gear fan.

And perfect if you just want a quick blast of racing carnage while you're waiting for a bus, perhaps. But the question is whether Asphalt 3D will offer a serious challenge or any long-term value. At this stage, it doesn't seem to have the sophistication of a game like Ridge Racer in terms of the driving mechanics and rules of the road. Here's hoping a closer look will reveal hidden depths, or something.

Combat of Giants

On paper this game sounds amazing. The concept is high: travel back to prehistoric times and make a T-rex fight a triceratops. Yes, it's Tokyo Jungle with dinosaurs!

Except in reality, as becomes evident after just a few minutes of play, it's Pokemon with dinosaurs. Which is of course good news for small boys and Ross out of Friends. But you might be disappointed if it's brutal, bloody primeval combat you're after, a la Dino Crisis.

(In which case, you're remembering DC wrong anyway; take off your rose-tinted glasses and remind yourself of the endless key collecting and swivelling on the spot.)

In Combat of Giants, you run round a prehistoric landscape looking for dinosaurs to add to your collection. You can customise your dinos, giving them different-coloured skins or markings, such as a fetching star pattern. Not very David Attenborough, then.

The thing is, though, the T-rex is always going to win, isn't it?

But there is an educational tone to the game, according to the enthusiastic man from Ubisoft doing the demos. "You get to learn about the dinosaurs as you play," he said.

"And kill them?" I said, keen to move on to the fighting mechanic.

"Er, yes." You do get to make the dinosaurs battle - no self-respecting small boy would dignify such a game with more than 30 seconds of attention otherwise.

Unfortunately, the fights I took part in at the 3DS showcase were pretty lacklustre. They seemed to involve hammering the shoulder button to attack, with random probability of scoring a hit, and trying to use the A-button to dodge, with even less chance of succeeding. In short, COG felt worryingly like Pokemon with dinosaurs, as developed by the team behind Fighters Uncaged.

Still. There are lots of things to collect and unlock. It's got dinosaurs and you can make them go different colours. The enemies you have to fight includes that eternal nemesis of small boys everywhere, a head of broccoli.

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