Late last December, I made a prediction about how this would be the “Year of the 3DS.” I said that this would be the year that gamers in the West would start getting games that we really wanted to play. And to emphasize my point, I predicted that five highly-rated games that were available in Japan would be localized AND released this year.
Well, since that article (and in one case, just before) we’ve had numerous announcements of localization, new products, and releases of anticipated games. And after being delayed for reason I will not get into, we’re here at the one-third mark of the year. So, it’s time to check out how that prediction is going so far.
First, let’s start with the five that I predicted:
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers. Announced on December 19th by Atlus, the game released on April 16th with a special art book and music sampler (similar to what Etrian Odyssey IV got in February).
- Rune Factory 4. Announced in January by XSEED Games, this was one of five games announced for North American release by the little-company-that-can. Hopeful for a summer release but, as we know with XSEED, the game will come when it is ready (and it will be awesome).
- Denpa Men 2. It’s coming to the West. It will be called The Denpa Men 2: Beyond the Waves. It’s supposedly scheduled for release this May, so be on the look-out for that.
- Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. Teased, teased, and teased some more before FINALLY being announced for localization in a joint venture by Nintendo and Square Enix. Unfortunately, this is a miss in my mind because it will release for North America in 2014. I could count the European release as a win (scheduled for this year) but I was hoping it would be in North America this year. I’ll let you guys be the judge on that.
- Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney. All quiet on the western front with no word of a localization. Unfortunately, it will probably stay like that for a while with the localization of Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (coming in 2014 for North America; 2013 in Europe). It’s still possible that we get this game but – given Capcom’s possible troubles, Level-5 localizing the Guild02 games (and maybe Fantasy Life), and Nintendo apparently using the Xenoblade plan for localization – we won’t see it this year.
But I would be remiss to just cover these games when we’ve had a number of other games announced for localization this year. These games are Project X Zone, Shin Megami Tensei IV, and the Guild02 games. Project X Zone is scheduled for June 25th and Shin Megami Tensei IV comes out July 16th. The Guild02 games have no scheduled release date just yet.
And then there are the Nintendo titles that will come as well. Announced for this year are Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger (which is actually out right now), Mario and Donkey: Minis on the Move, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, a slew of competitive Mario games, Pokemon X/Y, and, just announced two weeks ago, a new Legend of Zelda game. Also coming this year is Animal Crossing: New Leaf, scheduled for a North American release June 9th.
But, just like with anything else, potential can only go so far before you have to see performance. So, for the games that are out now, how do they perform? Well, the average so far is 3.75 out of 5 (equivalent to 75 out of 100) for the 10 games we’ve written reviews for this year. Two games have received perfect scores (Fire Emblem: Awakening and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon) while only one has gone below 3 stars (Coaster Creator 3D). However, this doesn’t include major time sinkers like Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan and Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (reviews of both games are coming and should see good scores).
It’s also worth comparing releases for last year. This year, you could make an argument for 10 solid retail games being released – most being console exclusive – without a bad game in the bunch. You could not make that argument last year, with Resident Evil: Revelations and Kid Icarus: Uprising having to hold up the retail line-up for the weak (Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games), the mixed (Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir), and the remakes (Tales of the Abyss and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater).
On the digital side, last year had four very solid releases by this time with Mutant Mudds, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword, Dillon’s Rolling Western, and Ketzal’s Corridors (also known in Europe as SpeedThru: Potzol’s Puzzle). This year, it started with a bang with Unchained Blades and Gunman Clive, followed closely by the good-but-short Ikachan – and that was just in January. Overall, you could make a solid case to buy up to 10 new games on the eShop released in the same time frame. So, all total, that’s at least 20 games we know for sure that are worth playing.
And in case you’re comparing, the Vita has about 9 very solid games coming out during the same time. But somewhere around half are remakes of earlier games. As for other consoles, the PS3 and Xbox 360 have multiplatform games that look so much better on PC with only God of War: Ascension and Gears of War: Judgment pretty much being the only exclusives. And then there’s the Wii U, which tripped out of the gate after its launch. However, it does have some notable games in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, LEGO City Undercover, and Toki Tori 2 (although that will be on Steam later).
I would continue but I don’t have solid numbers for sales right now. But from what I can see, this is the year to own a 3DS. And if you can’t get one of those retail games in stores, you can find them in the eShop. Seriously, you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
So, what’s up next for the 3DS this year? Well, nothing has been announced officially but how about Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai, Cult County, and Mutant Mudds 2 for starters with Fantasy Life at retail during the holidays? I’m sure we’ll see soon enough.