So far, Input/Outout Feedback has focused on the Input part of the title. This week I decided to look at output for a change. Specifically, stereoscopic 3D.
The 3DS price drop has opened up 3D gaming even to those on a tight budget. While some have been playing in 3D on their PS3s and their expensive TVs with expensive glasses or using nvidia’s built in 3D functionality with a pair of red/cyan glasses for quite some time, getting your hands on 3D hardware has never been priced so low.
“Since 1996, when Mario appeared in 3D in Super Mario 64, it’s always been hard for players to judge how to jump and hit a block floating in 3D space, Miyamoto said to me, ‘Finally the day has come when we can solve this.’ -Saturo Iwata
But does it actually make games better? Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo fame suggests that the 3D effect will help greatly with platforming in a 3D space. The depth effect certainly does make sense in this example but when it’s applied to other games such as Street Fighter on the 3DS it really adds nothing but a slight visual flair. It feels like a silly novelty feature in a game where it isn’t helping you play better.
With Console Gaming moving into 3D, this same problem is starting to occur. This obviously isn’t helped by the fact that console games are designed to be played primarily 2D, so any game that relies on 3D would probably not be that successful because it’s targeting a very small audience. Therefore it’s unlikely we will see any truly great 3D focused console game for quite some time. That’s not to say there won’t be great games that support 3D. I’m sure most developers making games for the PS3 are being encouraged to spend time sorting out their 3D displays to add a little pop to their title.
I am still not sure about the whole 3D thing. I have a 3DS. When I’m playing it, I tend to have the 3D effect turned on unless I’m tired or headachy (or trying to use the motion control features). I’m not sure why though. I love seeing Navi’s glittery trail flying out of the screen at me; this was one of the things that really struck me about the Ocarina of Time remake so it’s arguable that it did enrich my experience. I noticed it and was impressed by it enough to make a point of it. It hasn’t really made the core game any better though.
I mentioned Street Fighter IV earlier. When I owned this title for my 3DS I usually had the 3D off. The visual flair was nice but really just made it harder to play the game, not even mentioning the nasty over the shoulder 3D mode that was shoved in. The 3D effect in this game was nice for showing off the 3DS to friends or family but not for playing for any serious amount of time. I would say that in Street Fighter’s case 3D didn’t really enhance anything. In fact, I sold the game because I really had no motivation to play it. I wouldn’t fault the 3D for this; I’m really just not a huge fan of Street Fighter (although if Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom shows up on the 3DS I’m very up for that).
Pilotwings Resort was a slightly different story. While I found that this game’s 3D effect had a large amount of cross-talk, the game was actually slightly easier to play (not that it was a challenging game…). The 3D DID allow me to judge distances and fly through ring targets far more easily than with the 3D off, even despite the cross-talk throwing me off occasionally. I ended up selling this game to get Ocarina of Time on release. The 3D certainly enriched Pilotwings but it just had no longevity whatsoever.
So 3D in a good game is nice, but doesn’t significantly add to the experience. 3D in a primarily 2D fighter actually interfered with my enjoyment of the game and 3D in a flying game helped me be more accurate but didn’t hold my attention on it’s own.
I think 3D can enrich a gamer’s experience but it hasn’t quite been done right yet. Let’s just hope that Super Mario 3D World will give us something to look forward to.
Check out our last edition of Input/Output Feedback. It focused on how accessible the controller is.