Game Opinion Summaries: Digital-Only Nintendo 3DS Games, Part I: Introduction, # & A

Table of Contents

Introduction
The Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS
List of Summaries in the Series
The Summaries: #-A: Games Beginning with Numbers and A
My Favorite and Least Favorite Games In This Update

Introduction

This is the first part of what will be an ongoing series. In this first part I will have the full list of titles that will be covered, talk a bit about the system, discuss my goals with this article, and cover the first part of the list, games with names that start with a number or the letter A. I have 210 digital games for the Nintendo 3DS, so there are a lot of games to cover.   Additionally, I have 19 — yes, only 19 — digital DSiWare games that I also have on my 3DS, since you can also buy DSiWare games on the 3DS eshop.  They may have released before most of these games, but I will cover those separately.  I’ll get to those later, this list is for 3DS games.

This list was inspired by the upcoming shutdown of the 3DS and Wii U eshops, phasing in over the next year. I am trying to write SHORT opinion summaries this time, more like my early summaries than my recent ones, I have other things I want to do on this site this year other than just this. We’ll see how that goes… Heh.

Please note, these games are almost all digital-only releases on the 3DS. I buy 3DS games that have a physical release on cartridge, and I am not going to review those now. So, don’t expect coverage of most of the better-known 3DS games; I’m mostly talking about more obscure low-budget stuff in this list, since I have very few digital 3DS games with a physical release. Some cart games are must-buy games now if they have DLC, probably most notably the Fire Emblem games, but for anything else, only buy them now if you really want to play them; those carts aren’t going anywhere and will still be around after the store is shut down. These games will not, unless you mod your system. Which, after the shutdown happens, would be a reasonable thing to do.

Please note, some of these games probably have been delisted, that happens all the time. I’m covering everything I own either way.

Additionally, remember that every 3DS eshop game has a digital manual. Not all of the manuals are very helpful, but they should at least list the controls. This is very helpful and it’s quite annoying that with the Switch Nintendo dropped the manual requirement; not all games bother to tell you all of their controls in the game, and paper manuals aren’t a thing anymore. The 3DS had a better solution that this industry should have stuck with.

A final note: I put this list, as usual for my lists, in alphabetical order… except that I put series in order, and all together, regardless of each games’ name. This rarely changes things but occasionally does, as you will almost immediately see in the list.

The Nintendo 3DS and New 3DS

 

The 3DS released in 2011. As with the Nintendo DS before it, the 3DS is a clamshell-style console with two screens inside. The upper one is a 16:9 widescreen screen with impressive glasses-free stereoscopic 3d technology, while the lower screen is more 4:3 and is a touchscreen. The system has ABXY buttons and shoulder buttons, along with Start, Select, and a home menu button. The DS’s rarely-useful little microphone also returns, and this system has a tilt sensor as well for motion controls. The later, enhanced New 3DS system adds a second analog stick, via a horrible, hard to use, tiny little right analog nub, and a second pair of shoulder buttons. Fortunately, few games outside of Monster Hunter and such make heavy use of that second analog stick. A few things do make use of the New 3DS’s added controls though.

The system can save games to Micro SD card storage. Be warned though, regardless of the size of your SD card you can only install a maximum of 300 3DS games to a single micro SD card.  Games you own on physical cart do not count towards this total, but all digital games and demos do.  Thanks to installing 210 games plus a lot of demos, I hit this limit recently and had to delete a bunch of demos in order to buy any more 3DS games despite having a lot of free space on my 64GB micro SD card.  I really don’t like having to do that, it’s poor design.  This is an incredibly obnoxious limitation! I think you can get around it if you homebrew-mod your console, but not otherwise. DSiWare has an even stricter game limit of only a couple of dozen games accessible on the system’s internal memory, but at least with those the 3DS allows you to store DSiWare games on your micro SD card, and play them if you copy them back to the system. With digital 3DS games you get no such options and have to use multiple micro SD cards for more than 300 titles. It’s pretty lame. Other than that I absolutely love this system.

The 3DS ended up being Nintendo’s final line of dedicated handhelds, before they switched over to a hybrid model with the Switch. I really love the 3DS, but did not buy one when it was new. In fact, I’ve never owned an original 3DS. Instead, I waited until after its enhanced successor model, the New 3DS, was released, and bought a New 3DS XL in 2016. It’s still the only 3DS I own, so all titles here are reviews of the games as played on a New 3DS. Some games have better performance on a New 3DS than the original system since it has additional hardware power. I don’t know how big the difference is myself, though, of course; again, I’ve never had an original 3DS.

Regardless, I really love my (New) 3DS, and still play it almost every day. I particularly like this system for games that benefit from stylus-based touch controls, because I greatly dislike capacitive touch, either with a finger or a capacitive stylus, for videogames; reactive touchscreens with a plastic stylus are far, far better for gaming. You get dramatically better precision, accuracy impossible with a capacitive screen. This is why, say, the Switch Picross games are so uninteresting to me; why would I want to play those, with their button or inaccurate capacitive screen controls, when I can play the amazing 3DS Picross games?  I wouldn’t, so I don’t.  I stick to the 3DS games.

With that said, while I use my 3DS almost every day, most of that time is spent playing various puzzle games for a few minutes here and there.   This list, of course, covers far more than that.  So far, I have finished the summaries for games that start with #s or A, and those summaries are below in this update.  I have also gotten the summaries for B and C pretty far along, that update will be done next month for sure.  I haven’t started the ones after that yet though.  Hopefully I will keep this moving.

Games Covered

 

2 Fast 4 Gnomz
Geki Yaba Runner Deluxe
36 Fragments of Midnight
3D After Burner II [Arcade]
3D Ecco the Dolphin [Genesis]
3D Fantasy Zone [Arcade]
3D Gunstar Heroes [Genesis]
3D MahJongg
3D Retro Dungeon Puzzle Challenge
3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Genesis]
3D Space Harrier [Arcade]
3D Streets of Rage [Genesis]
3D Streets of Rage 2 [Genesis]
3D Super Hang-On [Arcade]
80’s OVERDRIVE
Adventure Bar Story
Adventure Labyrinth Story
AeternoBlade
AiRace Speed
AiRace Xeno
Alchemic Dungeons
Ambition of the Slimes
Angry Bunnies
Art of Balance TOUCH!
Azure Striker: Gunvolt
Azure Striker: Gunvolt 2
Balloon Pop Remix
Bit Boy!! Arcade
Bit Dungeon Plus
Blaster Master Zero
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon
BoxBoxBoy!
BoxBoy!
Brave Dungeon
Brave Tank Hero
Bubble Pop World
Bye-Bye Boxboy!
Candy, Please!
Castle Conqueror EX
Castle Conqueror: Defender
Cazzarion
Chicken Wiggle
Collide-a-Ball
Color Zen
Conveni Dream
Crashmo
Crimson Shroud
CRYGHT
Cube Tactics
Dangerous Road
Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe
Defend Your Crypt
Demon King Box
Digger Dan DX
Dillon’s Rolling Western
Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger
Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure
Drancia Saga
Drone Fight
EDGE
escapeVektor
European Conqueror 3D
Excave
Excave II
Excave III
Fairune
Fairune 2
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (DLC version)
Fun! Fun! Minigolf Touch
Gal Galaxy Pain
Glory of Generals
Go! Go! Kokopolo 3D
Gotcha Racing
Gourmet Dream
Gunman Clive
Gunman Clive 2
Gurumin 3D
Harold’s Walk
Hazumi
Hyperlight EX
Ikachan
Infinite Golf
Iron Combat: War in the Air
Jett Rocket II
Jewel Match 3
Jewel Quest 6: The Sapphire Dragon
Jewel Quest IV: Heritage
Kami
Karous: The Beast of Re-Eden
Keep, The
Kid Tripp
Kingdom’s Item Shop
Kirby Fighters Deluxe
Kirby’s Blowout Blast
League of Heroes
Legend of Dark Witch 2, The
Legend of Dark Witch III: Wisdom and Lunacy, The
Legend of Dark Witch, The
Legend of Kusakari, The
Liberation Maiden
Lifespeed
Link-A-Pix Color
Lionel City Builder 3D: Rise of the Rails
Love Hero
Luxor
Mario and Donkey Kong; Minis on the Move
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
Mega Man IV (Game Boy Virtual Console)
Mercenaries Saga 2
Mercenaries Saga 3
Mia’s Picnic
Mighty Gunvolt
Mighty Gunvolt Burst
Mighty Switch Force
Mighty Switch Force 2
Mini Golf Resort
Mini Sports Collection
Mom Hid My Game!
Mutant Mudds Deluxe
Mutant Mudds Super Challenge
My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda – Twilight Princess
Nano Assault EX
Ninja Battle Heroes
Noah’s Cradle
Of Mice and Sand
Ohno Odyssey
Parascientific Escape: Crossing at the Farthest Horizon
Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas
Parascientific Escape: Gear Detective
Pazuru
Phasmophobia: Hall of Specters 3D
Phil’s Epic FIll-a-Pix Adventure
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
Pic-a-Pix Color
Picross 3D Round 2
Picross e
Picross e2
Picross e3
Picross e4
Picross e5
PICROSS e6
Picross e7
Picross e8
Ping Pong Trick Shot
Ping Pong Trick Shot 2
Pirate Pop Plus
Pocket Card Jockey
Psycho Pigs
Puzzle Labyrinth
PUZZLEBOX setup
Queen TV-Game 2, The
Quell: Memento
Quell: Reflect
Quest of Dungeons
Quiet, Please!
Retro City Rampage: DX
Robot Rescue 3D
Runbow Pocket
Runny Egg
RV-7 My Drone
Samurai Defender
Samurai Sword Destiny
Sanrio characters Picross
SEGA 3D Classics Series — OutRun
Senran Kagura Burst
Severed
Shantae [GBC Virtual Console]
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
Shift DX
Siesta Fiesta
Silver Falls – 3 Down Stars
Silver Falls – Undertakers
Slime Slayer
Snow Moto Racing 3D
Space Defender – Battle Infinity
SpeedX 3D: Hyper Edition
Sssnakes
Stack ’em High
SteamWorld Dig
SteamWorld Dig 2
SteamWorld Heist
Steel Empire [Genesis remake]
Strike Force Foxx
SubaraCity
Summer Carnival ’92 RECCA [NES Virtual Console]
Super Destronaut 3D
Super Strike Beach Volleyball
Sweet Memories: Blackjack
Sword of Hope II, The (Game Boy Virtual Console)
Tappingo
Thorium Wars: Attack of the Skyfighter
Touch Battle Tank – Tag Combat
Toy Defense
Tumble Pop
Turkey, Please!
Turtle Tale
VectorRacing
Wakedas
Witch & Hero
Witch & Hero II
Witch & Hero III
Worcle Words
WordHerd
World Conqueror 3D
Zen Pinball 3D
Zombie Incident
Zombie Panic in Wonderland DX


The Summaries, # & A:

2 Fast 4 Gnomz – published by QubicGames in 2012. This game is an endless runner 2d platformer. You play as a gnome, and automatically run forward, very fast. The A button jumps, up on the dpad uses a parachute to slow your descent while in the air, and down on the pad does a charge move to break obstacles. That may sound simple enough, but it’s not, at all, as this game is HARD. Your little gnome character moves so fast that it’s almost impossible to see what’s coming at you until you die at that obstacle, maybe several times. This makes the game very heavily memorization-centric, which gets quite frustrating in a hurry. The game has decent 2d sprite graphics and level designs are fine enough, and once you have a level fully memorized going through it without messing up can be satisfying, but I don’t know if it is really worth the hassle. The game rates you with mobile game style three star ratings in two categories per level, in how many times you died — die few times to get a higher rating here — and in how many of the pickups, which are loose socks, you got. Why socks? I have no idea. The game’s trying to be funny, but it didn’t really work for me, it’s more just weird. And frustrating, thanks to the insane speed of your movement. Only get this if you’re into this kind of thing. Also released on Wii WiiWare, though obviously you can’t buy that version anymore. No big loss, endless runners aren’t that great anyway.

Geki Yaba Runner Deluxe – published by QubicGames in 2016. This game is the sequel to 2 Fast 4 Gnomz. For some reason they went with the Japanese title of the franchise here, GekiYaba Runner. I don’t know why. This game is basically an evolution of its predecessor. It has all new levels, but the exact same story and graphics as the first one. And I mean the EXACT same, it looks identical and the intro cutscene is completely unchanged. The level layouts aren’t identical, though, and most importantly, the crazy speed has been toned down — you move maybe half as fast in this game as you do in the first one. That makes this game much, much easier to play and progress through, you can actually avoid things as they come at you. The game also ditches the star ratings for a meter which fills up depending on how many of a level’s socks you collected. If you get enough to reach two marks on the meter, you get a silver or gold medal. The game doesn’t keep track of your deaths in levels either, though you’ll not be dying nearly as much this time so that’s fine. This game is okay but a bit boring. Overall the two games are probably about even in quality, as one’s too hard and the other a bit bland. Either way, my main takeaway is that I strongly prefer platformers where you can control your movement over endless runners. This kind of game doesn’t hold my interest for long. Also on Vita and Switch.

36 Fragments of Midnight – by Petite Games, 2017. This very small indie platformer won’t take you long to beat at all. The other two ‘Midnight’ games were kind of neat, but this one is much less interesting. Essentially, this game is a one-level platformer with very simple graphics, gameplay, and controls. The game randomly generates the level so it’s different each time, but it doesn’t change the game much. Once you get all 36 objects in the stage you win, game over. There’s maybe a half hour of gameplay here at most, and I saw no reason to go back just because the stage will be slightly differently laid out each time. It’s okay but probably isn’t worth getting. Also released on PC, Mac, and Linux (Steam), Playstation Vita, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch. The ports don’t seem to change the game much from this release, so don’t buy it on those systems either.

3D After Burner II [Arcade] – ported by M2 and published by Sega in 2015. Sega made quite a few 3D ports of classic arcade and Sega Genesis games to the 3DS, all ported by then always good retro conversion team M2. All of these games are great ports of the games in question with the same, standardized menu system. You get one savestate and there are some audio options, along with some options specific to each game. In this case, there is a level select in the menu system and you unlock the ability to start from any level you have reached, which is great.

After Burner is a super scaler rail shooter from the ’80s. You’re in a fighter jet, shooting down waves of enemy planes with your machine gun and auto-targeting missiles. One button shoots your gun, the other fires missiles once the auto-lockon indicator appears. You also can go faster or slower with the shoulder buttons. This very fast-paced game is one of the games that best shows off the 3d hardware of the 3DS, everything comes at you in a much more realistic way than on any hardware that doesn’t have stereoscopic 3d! It looks awesome. Unfortunately, After Burner is a very hard game and that is no different here. This game is extremely fast and on any format, I find it very hard to actually feel like I’m in control. Instead, it feels like I just fly forward until some random missile or such hits me and I blow up. I’m sure there are some people actually good enough to be able to tell when you’re about to be hit, but I am rarely that person. After Burner is a rush and a thrill ride, but it’s one that constantly ends in your burning wreckage littering the ground from unfair, random deaths. Thank goodness for that level select I guess. That’s After Burner, though. This is a fantastic version of a frustrating game. Port of an arcade game. There are conversions of this game on many platforms but no other releases of this version.

3D Ecco the Dolphin [Genesis] – ported by M2 and published by Sega in 2013. Ecco the Dolphin has to be one of the weirdest games ever to get a major push by a major, successful console manufacturer. This Genesis classic is well known because Sega pushed it hard despite its totally bizzare … everything, pretty much. You are a dolphin here, in a sidescrolling world. But as anyone who has played the game knows, this game is no fun little dolphin game; instead it is a brutally hard deathtrap of a game with a crazy plot. Lots of people have started this game, but few have finished it… and I must admit, I am not one of those few. Ecco’s a really cool game, and exploring the levels, using your dolphin abilities — a charge, speed-up, and echolocation ping the manual calls “singing” — to figure out your way past puzzles and enemies without running out of health or drowning, since dolphins need air to stay alive. But hte game gets so difficult so quickly that you need to be very committed to finish this title. I will someday. As for the port, it’s pretty flawless as usual for M2’s 3DS titles. This is the Genesis version of the game and not the Sega CD version, though, which means you have the pretty good chiptune soundtrack and not the exceptional CD one. Ah well. The 3d effect is fine but as with most sidescrollers is a fairly minor thing. Still, this is probably worth getting. Genesis port. Versions of this are on many platforms, but there are no other releases of this version.

3D Fantasy Zone [Arcade] – ported by M2 and published by Sega in 2015. Fantasy Zone is one of Sega’s early scrolling shooters. This game is a very bright and colorful sidescrolling shmup with a cute them and brutal difficulty originally released in arcades and on the Master System. The main differentiating feature is that unlike most games in the genre, you can fly either left or right through a looping stage, Defender-style. The game is much simpler than Defender, though; you aren’t defending anything, just shooting down bases. Endless waves of enemies attack you while you try to destroy these hovering bases. Once you destroy all of the bases you move on to the level’s boss. The bosses are challenging and shoot lots of bullets at you, good luck dodging them all. There are also a bunch of powerups you can buy in a shop, which you can spend money you get from killing the enemies on. I really, really dislike that almost all powerups are temporary and only last seconds, though, it makes the upgrade process feel mostly pointless. This is a good version of Fantasy Zone, and the 3d adds a little here, though not a lot. The issue is that I’ve just never been a huge fan of Fantasy Zone; it’s fine, but somehow I’ve always found this game bland and not fun enough to want to try to get good at. I’ve never gotten more than a couple of levels into any version of this game. It’s fine and an objectively above average game, but between the high difficulty, particularly of the bosses, and the extremely obnoxious timers on almost all weapon powerups, I’d rather just play something I like more. Port of an arcade game. There are conversions of this game on many platforms but no other releases of this version.

3D Gunstar Heroes [Genesis] – ported by M2 and published by Sega in 2015. Gunstar Heroes is one of its era’s most popular run & gun shooters. This release is that game, but with decent ‘the sprites stand out from the background’ stereoscopic 3d effects and the usual set of features all of this series of games have. Fans of the game might want to pick this up. I like Gunstar Heroes so I got this and enjoy it, but I don’t LOVE Gunstar Heroes as some do; I like its GBA sequel more, and Contra Hard Corps as well. This is a game I wanted to love but only like. Still, this game’s got a lot of content and is pretty impressive so some version of it is worth playing for sure. And if you want it with stereoscopic 3d, this is your only option. Genesis port. Versions of this are on many platforms, but there are no other releases of this version.

3D MahJongg – by Joindots in 2012. This is yet another low-budget 3DS game. It’s fun, but is it a Mahjong game? No, this isn’t real mahjong; as with most American-released “mahjong” games in recent years, it is a mahjong solitaire game, or a Shanghai clone as the concept was known in games back in the ’90s. That’s a little disappointing, but I like solitaire mahjong so that’s fine. The tiles are in a patterned layout on the screen, and you need to figure out how to match all of them. Matched pairs of identical tiles disappear, but you can only select and match tiles with a left or right side exposed, not tiles between other tiles. It’s harder than it may sound, running out of moves is easy. This version of Shanghai has a whole lot of tile layouts to match the tiles on, a campaign mode where you play all the puzzles one at a time as well as a single puzzle mode where you can play any layout you have unlocked, and several different tilesets and backgrounds to add a little variety. You play with the stylus on the lower screen, in 2d, with a static view of the play area. The upper screen shows the tiles in 3d, and you can rotate that view with the circle pad. Given that you mostly play on the lower screen, the upper one is just a gimmick. Still, with lots of content, if you like this tile-matching game, and I do, 3D Mahjongg is good fun and worth getting. And no, I don’t know why they added a second ‘g’ to the title.

3D Retro Dungeon Puzzle Challenge – released by Skunk Software in 2018. This first-person action/puzzle game could have had promise, if an actual complete game was made of it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. So instead we got this little indie game, which is basically a series of first-person dungeon rooms. Each one has a different thing to do. Unfortunately there aren’t many of them and each is pretty short and very easy. After you’ve finished the ten or so of them, which won’t take long at all, you go to the final level, which… is really hard and frustrating. The rest of the game is maybe an hour of easy fun, but this level is very unforgiving and poorly designed. You basically need to avoid being hit at all but that isn’t very likely. Ugh. Overall, it’s moderately amusing, but don’t buy this. It has barely any content and is very highly unbalanced.

3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Genesis] – ported by M2 and published by Sega in 2015. One of the best platformers of its generation, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is very similar to its predecessor but with more of a focus on speed; most of the slow parts of Sonic 1 are gone. I’ve covered the game before in my Genesis Game Opinion Summaries list, though. What’s different about this version? Well, you can save your progress with the savestates, but otherwise, not much other than the stereoscopic 3d. The 3d does look nice, particuarly in the bonus stages, but I probably do like playing this game on a TV more than a handheld, overall. Also, Knuckles in Sonic 2 isn’t here; this is a Sonic and Tails-only affair, unfortunately. That’s too bad, I love the Knuckles lockon mode. Also playing any of the two player content, either co-op with Tails or multiplayer, will be much harder than it is on the Genesis due to the limitations of handheld hardware, if the game even has multiplayer. Other than that this is fantastic and well worth getting for the unique visual look of the 3d. Genesis port. Versions of this are on many platforms, but there are no other releases of this version.

3D Space Harrier [Arcade] – ported by M2 and published by Sega in 2013. Space Harrier is another port of a super scaler arcade game. This mid ’80s classic is one of the all-time great rail shooters and is a personal favorite of mine, this game is probably my favorite Sega rail shooter ever. It’s either Space Harrier or Panzer Dragoon, anyway. And with stereoscopic 3d, level select which unlocks levels as you reach them, and perfectly smooth gameplay, this port is one of the best ways ever to play the game! So yeah, pick this one up for sure. Blasting your way through the Fantasy Zone, shooting at the various crazy creatures, and avoiding the obstacles, is incredibly fun. The game is just about as hard as After Burner, but feels dramatically more fair — your pace is a little slower here, and the things coming at you are much more visible. This is an honest challenge, not a cheap one, and it is very rewarding to get better at as you play it more. This is a must have. Port of an arcade game. There are conversions of this game on many platforms but no other releases of this version.

3D Streets of Rage [Genesis] – ported by M2 and published by Sega in 2015. This Genesis classic is an all-time great beat ’em up. I covered it in my Genesis Game Opinion Summaries list years ago. This port is fantastic and as with all of the Genesis Sega 3D Classics games, even has Genesis 1 or Genesis 2 style audio options, which is pretty awesome. There are a lot of ways to play this game, but even though sidescrolling games in stereoscopic 3d aren’t nearly as amazing as into-the-screen games are, it’s still pretty neat and well worth playing. This game is probably my least favorite of the Streets of Rage trilogy on Genesis, but it’s still one of the better beat ’em ups of its generation. I love the complex, twisting level layouts of this trilogy, the great graphical design, and the fantastic music. Awesome stuff. This isn’t an absolute must have since the 3d is the only real differentiating feature here, but still, get it if you like the genre at all. Genesis port. Versions of this are on many platforms, but there are no other releases of this version.

3D Streets of Rage 2 [Genesis] – ported by M2 and published by Sega in 2015. Streets of Rage 2 is the best beat ’em up ever made, and this is that game, but with stereoscopic 3d. I covered this game in my Genesis list also. Streets of Rage 2 has improved gameplay, levels, graphics over the first game. I love the way that levels in this game, like Golden Axe, aren’t just a left-to-right straight paths, but have more interesting layouts. It’s an exceptional classic. Of course two player co-op won’t be as easy as on a console, but oh well. What more needs be said? Get it. Genesis port. Versions of this are on many platforms, but there are no other releases of this version.

3D Super Hang-On [Arcade] – ported by M2 and published by Sega in 2013. Super Hang-On is another of Sega’s classic super scaler games. This one is a motorcycle racing game. It’s you against the clock, you need to try to finish before running out of time. This is a somewhat special one though, because most of the time Sega re-releases the Genesis version of this game. While it has a significant amount of added content, as with most of Sega’s early scaler-style games on the system, unfortunately that version also has an absolutely terrible, eye-hurtingly bad framerate. This release, however, is based on the arcade game, not the Genesis game. So instead of eye pain, you get totally smooth 60fps stereoscopic 3d bike racing excitement! This game is extremely difficult and unforgiving, but it’s incredibly fun. This is probably the one of these games I’d played the least before getting these 3DS ports, due to how bad the Genesis version is. On 3DS however, this game is almost certainly my most played of the 3DS Sega Ages titles I’ve covered here. It’s fantastic and even if most runs end with running out of time — you’ll need to be just about perfect to finish any of the race circuits here — it’s so much fun that you’ll want to keep trying anyway. The 3d looks fantastic as well. Buy this for sure. Port of an arcade game. There are conversions of this game on many platforms but no other releases of this version.

80’s OVERDRIVE – by Insane Code, 2017. This game is a really nice looking, but very average and somewhat boring playing, scaler-style racing game. This indie game has great visuals with nice scaling sprites, but again, that gameplay? This title feels slow and dull. You might want to play this if you look at it in pictures, but once you actually do you’ll rapidly lose interest and want to play something else… such as the vastly superior Sega 3D Classics titles I just covered. I think this game really goes to show how, in recent years, it’s easier to make good graphics and sound than it is to make great gameplay. Because this game only has one of those two things. If you like a game that might bore you to sleep, maybe check this one out.

This game has some things going for it, including a lot of content with plenty of races, a somewhat lengthy campaign mode with cars to unlock and upgrade, races against opponents and not just the clock, a money system that’s mostly implemented well with cash rewards for victories and plenty of cars and upgrades and race fees to spend it on, a strong pseudo-’80s theme, great sprite art, a very good electronic music soundtrack, and more. However, it’s just not very fun to play and has a lot of design problems. On the one hand, most of the time the game is very easy and dull. Drive forward, turn as the road does, you’ll be fine 99% of the time. The controls are as average as can be. Races are point-to-point and are too long, overstaying their welcome by minutes. The game puts a lot of information on screen, but in story mode the one thing that’s missing is a timer showing how long a race is. That doesn’t hide how long these races are, though. And it gets worse; sure, the game is mostly easy, but when you hit that 1% of a course that is trickier and crash, that’s it; you cannot recover from a mistake in this game, you’ll need to pause and restart the whole race. This is a very ’80s arcade game thing to do, it’s absolutely how Super Hang-On and Outrun work, but at least those games are fun to play, even if they are tremendously frustrating as you lose over and over. This game has the frustration but without the fun. Instead, it’s ‘ugh, I crashed right near the end of the race AGAIN? I don’t want to redo like five tedious and zero-challenge minutes of boring driving AGAIN just to get to the tricky part…’ and that’s not good design. Of course your AI opponents suffer no such limitations, only you can crash.

And perhaps even worse, you will need to grind in this game. Buying upgrades and cars and such is REQUIRED for progress, you will not be able to win races without a steady rate of upgrade purchases. But you may not get enough money from just the new races, so you’ll need to go back and race the easier races to build up cash as well. And again, one mistake and you need to pause and redo the race. The good news is that restarting a race is free and can be done as many times as you want, but that’s a small consolation when the game is so grindey and dull most of the time. The sense of speed isn’t even exciting in this game until you have a lot of upgrades, and even then it never reaches Super Hang-On or Outrun’s level. You won’t need to brake almost ever except at those random hard turns that’ll kill your runs, either. But wait, I didn’t mention the time trial mode! This is your classic Outrun-style race against the clock, not other cars. That could be alright, though the slow and boring gameplay would still be an issue… except nope. You literally will not be able to finish a time trial stage or two until you have a LOT of car upgrades from story mode. You’ll run out of time. This is not a real arcade mode, it’s an unusable bonus mode that’s literally impossible unless you’ve pretty much finished story mode. How lame. Overall, probably don’t bother with this one. It’s okay but there are way too many issues to make it really worth playing, and it’s just not all that fun or rewarding. Also on PC (Steam) and Switch.

Adventure Bar Story – developed by RideOnJapan,Inc and published by Circle in 2015 (port of a 2012 phone game). This game is a very generic JRPG crossed with some elements of a cooking game, with sprite art graphics. This is a port of a mobile game and you can tell. You play as a woman who owns a bar, and go on adventures to defeat monsters to collect ingredients to use for food to sell at the bar. That may sound good and some people like this game, but I was quite underwhelmed. As you collect ingredients and recipes you’ll be able to combine them in a menu, either using recipes or guessing at them yourself, to make food. However, you get a LOT of recipes at the start and a bunch of random ingredients, but very few ingredients that actually combine into usable recipes. This gets annoying quickly as you collect lots of useless stuff while all you can make is cucumber sandwiches or something like that. Additionally, this game is VERY grindey. You aren’t constantly making progress to new areas here; instead, you’re going through the same few areas over and over, fighting a thousand of the same few enemy types in the same places again and again. That’s not game design I like, give me new places to go. And the battle system is extremely generic, too, this is a basic turn-based JRPG with random batles. I’m sure there is an audience for this game but I am definitely not it, I find this game boring and not fun. Not recommended. The game was also released on iOS, Android, and only in Japan on the PSP but I don’t know if those versions are still available.

Adventure Labyrinth Story – developed by RideOnJapan,Inc and published by Circle in 2016 (port of a 2013 phone game). This sequel to Adventure Bar Story changes things up significantly, but still is mediocre. You play a different character this time; you are a female warrior in this game, an aquaitance of the character from the first game, exploring a randomly-designed dungeon. So yeah, it’s a rogue-lite, though not one of the better ones. The core gameplay is standard for the genre, with your usual Rogue-like dungeons made up of square rooms and connecting paths. This is a turn-based game, so enemies only move after you do. Every time you attack, the game plays a little attack animation in a pop-up window showing what happened. These animations slow down an already slow-paced game significantly. Unfortunately you can’t turn them off, I wish you could. I like this game more than the first one, but it still isn’t all that fun, it’s just way too slow and basic. There are no unique gameplay features here. In the game you explore rooms, fight enemies, collect items you lose upon death, either clear the dungeon in question or eventually lose and return to the base, and have occasional story scenes with some of the characters from both games. Or don’t. This game isn’t awful or anything, but there isn’t any particular reason TO play it either. There are much better games in this genre on this platform. Also released on iOS, Android, and Playstation Vita several years before the 3DS release.

AeternoBlade – Released by Corecell Technology in 2014. This game is a 2.5d action-platformer game. You play as a female knight in a somewhat anime-inspired metroidvania-ish action game with a time-control mechanic and decent though flawed gameplay. The game has good graphical design and makes great use of the stereoscopic 3d, but it somehow just doesn’t hold my interest and never has. I think that the controls are one reason why. First, despite the polygonal graphics, control is digital, not proportional. A proportional control option might have been good. Now, your character is primarily a swordfighter. Once she starts an attack animation in this game, you are locked into it. You can extend the combo by hitting the attack button more, but can’t, for example, quickly turn around mid-attack to hit an enemy behind you; you’ll need to wait for the attack animation to finish first and make sure to not extend it. It’s kind of annoying. Hitting airborne or underground enemies is similarly irritating, you’ll watch yourself attack nothing a lot until you finally luck into lining up your attack. You slowly get more attack combo options as you kill things and spend the points you get on stats and attack combo moves, but still you’ll mostly just mash attack and watch the overlong animations. I know some people like this kind of action, but I never have.

As for the game structure, at its core this is a linear game, you are progressing through areas and going through a decent, if cliche, revenge-your-destroyed-town story. Areas are a mixture of basic platforming and combat, with some simple puzzles. Areas often have multiple branches, and you will get new items you can equip as you go, so there are Metroidvania elements in the game. Unfortunately, the map is NOT on screen at all times, you must pause to view the map. The lower screen instead has various other mostly much less useful stuff on it. That’s bad. My biggest issue here though is, I think, with the combat; it’s just dull, I don’t enjoy playing this much. The graphical design and music are good, and this game has always theoretically looked interesting, but every time I try to actually play it I want to stop almost immediately. It tries to be good, but is a janky game with issues. It’s probably average but not any better than that. The game was first released on 3DS, but is also on Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC (Steam). The visuals fit the 3DS better than the rest of those systems, so if you really want to play this game this is probably the best way, particularly if you like stereoscopic 3d. The game has a sequel, but the 3DS version of that one was cancelled. It looks like the sequel got even lower reviews than this first one, and reviewers didn’t like this game very much.

AiRace Speed – Released by QubicGames in 2013. AiRace was a series of four auto-flying tube racing games on the DSi and 3DS. This genre of very simple flight racing games first appeared in the ’00s, probably on cellphones, and eventually moved over to consoles as well. This is the third game in the series, and the first on 3DS. This is a quite nice looking game with some cool futuristic tunnel environments to fly through. There are a total of 22 races here, with most being three-lap races, and a few several other types. The game is not amazing, but is pretty good value for the very low price. The controls are simple — you fly with the circle pad, rotate your craft left or right with the shoulder buttons, and go a little faster or slower with two face buttons. The challenge is to not hit anything, and it will be tricky as the tunnels are full of obstacles and twists and turns. It controls well and the gameplay is a good mix of fun and frustration, as you learn each track and do better each time. There are three stars to get on each track, mobile game style, depending on how fast you finish. The game can be hard and I’d certainly understand giving up once the game starts requiring you to get silver stars or better on races; that’d require a lot of practice. And the core gameplay is very simple, you just auto-fly forward and dodge stuff. But even so, this game is decent enough to certainly be worth getting. It is only $3.50.

AiRace Xeno – Released by QubicGames in 2014. This game is the last title in the AiRace series. It’s basically the same as the previous one, but with new courses and a slightly creepier-alien-look theme to some of the visuals. I like the look of this game, it’s pretty cool. However, the game is a dollar cheaper than Speed for a reason, it’s got less content — there are only 13 races here, a big downgrade from the 22 of the last one. They try to make up for this by making the game get hard much more quickly. By only a handful of tracks in you will be required to get multiple stars on earlier courses. Good luck with that one, that’ll take quite some memorization. This game is perhaps too frustrating, but it is still a decently good game I enjoy and probably would recommend. I like a more complex game better, but this auto-driving (or in this case flying) genre’s a decent amusement here and there. Sure it’s frustrating at times, but the game plays well, there are some neat environments here, and the 3d effect is great.

Alchemic Dungeons – by Flyhigh Works and published by Circle in 2017. This game is a simple-looking 2d roguelike. This game started out as a mobile game before being ported to console, but turned out much better than most such conversions. The graphics here may be plain, but I have found this game frustratingly compelling and keep coming back to it time and time again. This is a turn-based overhead roguelike RPG which is broken up into dungeons and with simple sprite-art graphics. You play as one of four characters, each with different stats. The main differentiating feature is that there is a crafting system. You collect a lot of parts as you go, and can combine them in your inventory into other items. However, there is no guesswork here — all formulas are shown to you in the menu. I love this about the game, I don’t like having to guess when crafting things. Each dungeon is longer than the last, and you unlock more item-combination formulas in each new dungeon you reach. You also can attach some items to your equipment to add status effects to the items. These attachments are permanent for the rest of the run, so you need to choose wisely.

This game is frustrating, though. The game can be unfair when you get ambushed by an impossible situation, and as it is a roguelike when you die you have to start over. If you close the program immediately after dying you will go back one turn, but that is not always enough to save you. I wish you had more ways to upgrade your attack power, but you don’t; all you can do is very limited upgrades to your weapon type and add the fire item to your weapon. Adding fire to your weapon is the biggest upgrade you can do to your attack, since it gives you a second hit on every attack, but in the later dungeons you need more than that as you get to deeper floors, but there isn’t really anything more you can do other than use temporary boost items. This is a pretty good game, but the gradually more and more difficult combat gets frustrating later on in a dungeon. I haven’t beaten all of the dungeons in this game yet despite many attempts, with some luck you can have a really good run going until randomly something awful happens and that’s it. I know that’s the genre, but I’d like more power enhancement options in this game perhaps. And yes, this is a game you can finish, I have finished some of the dungeons. Unfortunately the game doesn’t tell you how many floors each dungeon is, that would be good information to know. Still, with a simple and fun to use item combination system and simple but addictive gameplay, Alchemic Dungeons is a good game well worth a try. This is a nice roguelike dungeon crawler to play for a short session here and there, when you don’t want to deal with one of the more seriously complex titles in this genre but do want something good. Recommended. There is now also an enhanced Switch and PC DX version of this game, but I have only played this release, but it apparently adds four more character classes to the four from this game among probably other things. This original version is also on iOS, or at least it was at one point.

Ambition of the Slimes – Developed by altairworks and published by Circle in 2016. As with some Circle titles this started out as a mobile game, but it’s a good one. This game is an isometric turn-based strategy game with very chunky-pixel sprite art. It looks decent but that’s all, you can tell it’s a low-budget game. The gimmick here is that you play as a bunch of slimes, trying to get revenge on the human adventurers who like killing them so much. This may seem hopeless, but a slime gets an amazing power at the beginning of the game: the ability to take over a human by going in their mouth. Your goal in each mission is to take over or kill all humans. It’s an amusing concept and the game is fun to play. As with most games in this genre it does get hard, though. Each slime can only take over one human per mission and cannot leave once in that person, so you can only take over as many people as you have slimes, and you can only take a few slimes into each mission, there is a limit. You usually start out badly outnumbered, and even once you take over some of the humans you’ve got your work cut out for you to take them all down without losing. The first few levels are easy enough, but it gets tough quickly. The slimes and humans both come in a bunch of different class types, each with different attacks and abilities, so there’s plenty of strategic variety here. I should say, this isn’t Fire Emblem — slimes who died in a mission come back after you win and get experience for it. Given how hard this game is you’ll be very glad for that.

This may be a low-budget game, but with a unique concept and good execution, Ambition of the Slimes is a pretty good game. Be prepared for a high challenge, though! This game gets hard early on and I’m nowhere near the end so I can only imagine how much harder it’ll get as you proceed. You do need melee range to take people over, while many of them have ranged attacks, and slimes are weak and have little health and no ability to damage humans who attack them, so after a while just managing to take over the people you want to will be tough. The story is kind of messed up since you play as monsters killing humans, but hey, humans in fantasy games spend a lot of time killing slimes, so why not let them get some revenge. I don’t know what happens to the humans who have been taken over after you win a level, the game doesn’t say, but I assume they are killed; they are entered into the ‘humans defeated’ list along with ones you killed in a level. This is a simple but good game well worth playing and the 3DS version is good. Also released on iOS, Android, Playstation Vita, PC (Steam), and Nintendo Switch.

Angry Bunnies – Released by Cypronia in 2013. From the name, you might be able to guess at what this game is. Yes, it’s an Angry Birds clone… not that Angry Birds was the first game like this either, it wasn’t, but anyway. As in that popular title, you need to shoot cute characters, in this case rabbits, at a defensive structure made of board and wall pieces and such, trying to crush all of the defenders inside. This game looks decent and controls fine. You control with the touchscreen, aiming by pulling a line farther or closer from your cannon. This game does nothing that its precessors in the genre didn’t, but at least the most important part, the physics, are implemented well and there are a lot of puzzles to break your way through. I like this concept and the 3DS is perfect for a game with stylus controls like this, so this game’s well worth a play. The developers later made Wii U and Switch Angry Bunnies games. I assume they are ports of this title, though I’d far rather play it on 3DS or Wii U than Switch due to the Switch’s capacitive touchscreen being far less precise for gaming.

Art of Balance TOUCH! – Released by Shin’en in 2012. This is a pretty good logic puzzle game with good 3d visuals and touch-based controls. You need to try to balance a bunch of blocks of various shapes in a stack without the pile falling over. The game has a good physics engine that makes balancing the blocks tricky. It’s a challenging and quite fun game. The stereoscopic 3d is quite well done as well, Shin’en as usual are great at graphics tech. This is a simple but very good puzzle game which I recommend for sure, though it will get frustrating! It may start out easy enough, but keep going and you’ll see just how hard things get. It’s the kind of challenge that keeps you coming back, though. Play this one.

Azure Striker: Gunvolt – Released by Inti Creates in 2014. Azure Striker Gunvolt was the first game in a now somewhat long-running series of anime-styled action-platformers somewhat loosely inspired by the Mega Man X games. This game is okay, but don’t get too excited; the graphics are pretty nice, but I don’t find the gameplay anywhere near as great to play as it is to look at. Some people really like these games but while I found this game okay, that’s about all. This is a slightly above average game maybe worth a look, I guess. I just wish the gameplay and level designs were as good as the flashy visuals. The somewhat bland main character guy doesn’t help either. You play as Gunvolt, an anime guy in a power-armor suit who’s doing … something involving opposing an evil organization. The plot is totally incomprehensible unless you really spend time trying to understand it, and it’s not well written either. I like plenty of anime, but this anime plot never interested me enough to get me to try to make sense out of it, it seems kind of bad. I last played this game several years ago and remembered almost nothing about what happened when I tried it again to write this.  Oh right, it’s something about trying to protect a girl.  Of course.

As for the gameplay, on the default difficulty Gunvolt is a tedious adventure indeed. But to begin, this is a sprite-art platform-action game in the Mega Man X vein, except without that series’ great gameplay. You cannot crouch and control is entirely digital, but you can wall-jump. You get many items to equip, and which ones you equip in the pause menu will change your shot type and other abilities including what kind of extra jumps you get, and more. You also get abilities from bosses in that classic Megaman style. Gunvolt has two basic attacks, a gun and a laser field thing. The gun does very weak damage and locks on to a target, while the laser field does more damage but mostly only attacks at a short range. You can hit enemies farther away if you lock on with the gun then use your field attack, and this is key to making fights not take forever because your gun is very weak. The laser field has limited power, but recharges quickly when not in use.  It’s a decent concept in theory I guess, but in execution I don’t find this design very fun.   First, on the default difficulty your health is very high, so you are at very low chance of dying. And if you do die you get resurrected with full health and infinite field power! You need to die a SECOND time to actually die. Dying twice is possible in the harder boss fights, but not otherwise. So, regular enemies are just a nuisance and the stages are somewhat inconsequential. The challenge and fun of a Megaman level is not at ALL present here. The boss fights are better, but this core lock-on-and-hold-attack system just isn’t anywhere near as interesting as something which requires more dynamic action such as, oh, Mega Man or Mega Man X. I believe there is a hard mode to make the game require much more active play, but with no quick dodge move I don’t know how fun that would be.

On the whole Gunvolt isn’t a BAD game, but it isn’t a good one either; trying to be objective, this game is average to a bit above average. I just don’t like playing it much at all.  It’s an okay but often boring game far worse than the great classics it was inspired by. I’m not interested or engaged enough to say I’d recommend it to much of anyone. Some people clearly like this series because for some reason there are four, and soon to be five, of these games now, but I’m not one. I didn’t finish this game and don’t know if I ever will. Also on Switch, Playstation 4, and PC (Steam). Some of these later ports have added features this original 3DS version doesn’t have.

Azure Striker: Gunvolt 2 – Released by Inti Creates in 2016. This game is very similar to the first one, but slightly improved. The story is every bit as convoluted and nonsensically badly written as before, except there are two playable characters now, the guy from the first game or a new guy. How about a girl character, like Megaman ZX had? Lolno, they’re only here to cheer on the guys and be plot devices. Ugh, that really annoys me about these games. Those games finally put female character in Megaman, but this sort-of-followup series went right back to having male-only playable casts. Too bad, it makes me less interested in playing them. Anyway, the two characters each have different abilities and routes. But after getting several hours into the first game and being quite underwhelmed, while I did buy Gunvolt 2 when it went on sale at some point I never got around to actually trying it until I had to for this list.

Playing some of it now, it’s similar to the first game but maybe with even MORE tediously long conversations about the game’s sexist and tediously over-complex story and two characters to play as now.  Seriously, they just won’t stop popping up text boxes!  Why did they think people would want so many long conversations in what is supposed to be an action game?  You can turn off the story, but still, the gameplay’s not much better. Gunvolt still is like the first game, so you use the gun to lock on then use your lightning attack to blast them from anywhere. So yeah he’s still not that rewarding to play as, I don’t like that core concept all that much. The other character, Copen, plays more traditionally — he does most of his damage with his gun, and has a different ability to go along with it. I may like this better than Gunvolt, but not enough so to actually make me want to play this game. I’d say the graphics and design are similar to the first one but maybe slightly better. Gameplay is similar in difficulty to the first one, so most of it is so easy that it’s barely even worth thinking about, apart from some bossfights. I have not gotten far in this game but really don’t want to have to keep playing it, these games are so boring… these games look nice on 3DS with quality sprite art and effects, but that’s about all they have going for them.  Also on Switch, Playstation 4, and PC (Steam). Some of these later ports have added features this original 3DS version doesn’t have.

 

My Favorite and Least Favorite Games In This Update

 

My favorite games this update would be some of the Sega 3D Classics titles.  Since it’s a game I haven’t played all that much before, and it is significantly enhanced by being in 3d, the game in this update I’ve played the most is probably 3D Super Hang-On.  3D Outrun and 3D Space Harrier are also must-haves.  Otherwise, obviously Sonic 2 and Streets of Rage 2 are amazing.  Of the games that aren’t retro ports, Alchemic Dungeons is my favorite here, followed by Ambition of the Slimes and Art of Balance Touch.

As for my least favorite games this update… wow, it’s hard to pick!  There are some pretty bad ones here.  If I was going by just pure personal bias, I’d say the Azure Striker Gunvolt games… those are the games here that I least want to actually play, I think.  However, they are far from the worst games I covered.  As much as I don’t like playing those games, they certainly are much better than 3D Retro Dungeon Puzzle Challenge in every possible way.  That’s probably the worst this time.  AeternoBlade, Adventure Bar Story, and 80’s Overdrive are not very good either.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
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