A few days ago, Nintendo made three 3DS games easier to afford – slashing their price from about £34.99 / €40.00 to a more palatable £16.99 / €20.00. It ain’t no Steam Summer Sale, but these games are going to stay at this price forever, so there’s no rush – and therefore no need to bankrupt yourself in order to pick up as many bargains as possible in a short space of time.
These three games are attached to big Nintendo names – no dodgy shovelware here. You’ve got Super Mario Maker, Animal Crossing: Welcome Amiibo, and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.
As for as I’m aware, the new Nintendo Select releases are available in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe – so there’s no chance of a bargain for my American readers. Still, these mini reviews do serve as little write-ups for the original games, too. I’ll even let you know if it’s worth it at full retail price or not, as well as commenting about the cheaper price – just because I’m nice and I like to make things inclusive to all regions.
Without further ado, then, let’s get into it. Three quick reviews at a few paragraphs each. No messing about.
Quick note – if you’re in the UK, you can buy them by hitting the link at the bottom of each review. These are affiliate links, meaning that I will receive a small amount of money from each sale. If you feel like supporting me and you want one of these games – well, get shopping.
Super Mario Maker For Nintendo 3DS
Super Mario Maker, if you don’t already know, was released on the Wii U back in 2015, and it’s no secret that I absolutely adore it. It’s a robust level creation toolkit that allows you to both make and play. In short, it’s fantastic. This is a port of the game for a more successful machine – er, the Nintendo 3DS, as it says in the title and everything.
Unfortunately, I’ve always had mixed feelings about the 3DS port. On one hand, the single player campaign is all-new and excellent, and the whole level creation toolkit from the Wii U version has been ported over, too. On the other hand, there’s a huge and glaring omission that can make the game utterly worthless for some people – there’s no way to upload your levels online.
That’s right – you can spend hours and hours slaving away on a level, only to have very limited options when it comes to sharing it – which is kind of the whole point of the game. You can either share it via StreetPass – as in, maybe pass it along to some stranger who also has a 3DS and a copy of the game while you’re commuting or whatever – or you can do local sharing, which requires two copies of the game. Yup, your mate or family member will need a copy too.
If you don’t want to share levels and just play other peoples, though – then you’re set. You can you play the majority of user-created levels for the Wii U version – which frankly, is years worth of content. There’s yet another stipulation, though – you can’t search for a specific level, either via keyword or some kind of reference number – so you’re stuck playing levels which are randomly selected for you.
If that doesn’t suit you, then Nintendo have made an excellent single-player campaign themselves. Many of the levels here are, in my opinion, some of the finest levels that have come out of any Mario game in terms of raw creativity. There’s a hundred of them, so you’re looking at a good few hours working your way through those alone.
The single player levels also have optional challenges, which range from simple stuff, like collecting all the coins, to the completely game-changing, like completing the whole level without releasing right on the d-pad, essentially turning the level into one long sprint. If you’re a completionist, completing these challenges will easily push your playtime into the double digits – and that’s without dipping your toes into all of the levels available online.
If you’re after a game that’ll sate your level creation and sharing desires, this isn’t the one. You’d be better off picking up the Wii U version – or waiting for the inevitable Switch rerelease/sequel. However, if you’re after an excuse to play through a decent Mario campaign, or you just want to play other peoples levels, albeit randomly, then go for it. I’d struggle to recommend this to anyone at full price – but at £16.99 / €20.00, it’s worth it, especially if you’re a fan of 2D Mario.
You can buy it here on Amazon.
Animal Crossing: Welcome Amiibo
Animal Crossing: Welcome Amiibo is just about everything that you could want from an Animal Crossing game. There’s literally hundreds of hours of fishing, bug catching, and furniture collection here. That’s without mentioning new seasonal events, new characters, and the ability to play Mayor with the introduction of a town management system.
If you’re an Animal Crossing fan, that should be all you need to know. If you’re not, here’s a little bit more.
If you’re completely unfamiliar with the Animal Crossing series, they’re best described as community management games, with an emphasis on community. You’re a new (human) arrival to a idyllic rural village. The layout of the town, as well as the (animal) residents are completely randomised, meaning that everyone’s village is completely unique.
The series often gets compared to The Sims or Harvest Moon – but the game isn’t like either, honestly. Like both games, it’s open-ended, plotless and endless, and revolves around basic gameplay loops. Unlike The Sims, where the objective is to basically keep your Sims alive and happy, or Harvest Moon, where the game plan is having a profitable ranch – there’s no similar game-defining objective in Animal Crossing.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to do – because there’s the potential for there to be plenty on your plate here. The main pull is upgrading your house. It starts off as a simple tent, but it can be upgraded by paying Bells – the games currency – to a shady tanooki called Tom Nook. Bells can be obtained by selling fruit that you shake down from trees, or from fish and bugs that you can catch.
You don’t have to sell them though – the huge encyclopedia of fish and bugs that can be caught can donated to the museum ran by a sleepy owl called Blathers. Speaking of said museum – you can also dig up fossils and find art pieces to donate there too. Filling up the museum alone will take you tens of hours.
Going back to the house upgrading part, there’s also hundreds of items of furniture that you can collect and catalogue and place within said house. These can be bought – won in seasonal events – or simply given to you when you’ve done a favour for one of your animal pals who live in the town.
That’s right. As I said, it’s a community management game with an emphasis on community. So, naturally, you can befriend the animal residents in town too, which means that they’ll call you nicknames, speak to you more fondly and send you letters and presents and all that whatnot.
The game is played in real-time – as in, each day on the calendar is an actual day, and an hour is an actual hour – though it works on the handhelds built-in calendar and clock, so time will pass when you’re not playing, too. Depending on the day, there’s different events and the like happening, meaning that it’s worth turning on for an hour or so at least once a day just to check out what’s happening, catch a few fish or bugs, make some museum donations, and get some bells and work on the next payment for a house upgrade.
And that’s precisely what kind of game it is, at the end of the day – unlike The Sims or Harvest Moon, it’s not designed to be played in long, brain-numbing sessions. Like a real community, you’ll drive yourself insane if you hang around it all of the time. Pop in a few times a week for an hour or so, though, and you’ll find yourself hooked, if you’re anything like me.
For the price, I can wholeheartedly recommend this one. Even at full price, I’d encourage you to pick it up – especially if you’re a fan of slow burning games that don’t require a lot of your attention, but could, in theory, be played for hundreds of hours in small sessions over months. At the reduced Select price though, it’s a bargain. If you’re into faster paced games and the above sounds akin to nails on a chalkboard, or if you’re after a game that’s going to keep you occupied on a ten hour flight or something, you’d be better off spending your money elsewhere.
You can buy it here on Amazon.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Released back in 2010 on the Wii by Retro Studios of Metroid Prime fame, this was, at the time, the first new Donkey Kong Country game released in over a decade. This is a port of said simian-themed platformer for the 3DS. Don’t worry, though – this one doesn’t suffer from Super Mario Maker syndrome – it’s a full-featured port of the original game.
That means that you’re going to get eight worlds of solid platforming action – and by solid, I mean that it’s hard. Donkey Kong Country Returns does not mess around. It’s packed to the brim with tricky jumps, fiendish traps, and pesky enemies – not to mention plenty of barrel blasting, which you’ll instantly know is a total arse if you’ve ever touched the original Donkey Kong Country.
The game is fair in it’s difficulty, though. Despite suffering a myriad of deaths throughout the experience, I could never wholeheartedly blame my deaths on the game. Sure, the game puts you in the terribly tricky positions – but it was always my execution that let me down, rather than any randomness or trick jumps on the games part. In other words, it’s light on the bullshit and heavy on your skill level.
Not only does the game provide everything that the Wii version did – it also improves on the experience. On the content side of things, there’s a whole extra world of extra hard levels for you to play through – bringing the total number of worlds to nine. As well as that, all of the controls are now purely input based. This is a huge improvement on the Wii original, where some things were tied to motion controls, meaning that you had to waggle the Wiimote to attack. Fortunately, that unnessecary bupkis has been stripped entirely, leaving you with a much more responsive platformer.
If you’re not a fan of the aforementioned difficulty, then don’t worry, there’s a brand new option for you too – designed just for the 3DS, there’s a “New Mode”, which peppers additional items throughout the campaign, including extra health and additional power ups. These don’t make the game a cakewalk exactly, but they do make everything a touch more palatable.
My only complaint is that the game does tend to ape (ha) the original a tad too much. You’ll see a lot of familiar concepts and ideas here, like the aforementioned barrel blasting, or the many minecart levels. When Donkey Kong Country first launched on the Super Nintendo, these concepts were inventive and new – these days, they’re a touch old hat.
Don’t get me wrong – as a fan of the original, these throwbacks hit me right in my nostalgia center. On the flip side, though, as a fan of the original, I’d liked to have seen more of the creativity that caused me to fell in love with Donkey Kong Country, rather than relying on what felt like classic Donkey Kong fallbacks.
Despite that, I’d recommend Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D wholeheartedly to just about any platformer fan for full price – so obviously, I’m going to tell you to BUY IT NOW since it’s now available on a budget. There’s hours of content here. Out of the three new Select titles, this one is probably my favourite – it’s a competent, challenging, and, most of all, it’s one of the most enjoyable 2D platformers ever released on the 3DS.
And, guess what – you can buy it right here on Amazon.
That’s it, then – three games, all tidily reviewed in one place. If you want a summary, then – buy them, I guess. They’re all worth it at the new price. They’re all big hitters from famed Nintendo properties, so you should know what you’re getting yourself into, anyway.
Why the reviews, then? I don’t know. Words.
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Unlike more fortunate folk, I dumped about £35 of my own money on each of these when they originally released, so you can rest assured, the review above is unbiased.