It doesn’t take long to learn that the 3DS XL can improve the 3D effects of your games. That’s awesome. The caveat is that games with mediocre 3D, say New Super Mario Bros. 2, don’t see much of a shift. Games with great 3D? Ooh boy. They’re new again.
While I don’t have a complete library of games to try out, two out of my medium sized collection have begun to see themselves renewed in their rotation, and both are launch games. First is Ridge Racer, an already fine update to Namco’s arcade series, and now with the added depth that turns it into a visual monster.
Whatever is lost to the low resolution is gained in awe-inspiring sights. Taking mountain curves where the track recedes into the distance creates a dramatic dose of depth. It feels miles away instead of being right in front of the player. Unlike a lot of titles that merely make the screen feel “below” the exterior of the hardware, Ridge Racer has definitive layers. Buildings pass by in a natural progression, and cars in your view leap out of the screen while their front ends take their place on a more centered plane. That effect was menial on the original 3DS.
Next? Pilotwings Resort. Despite a chilly reception (and downward pricing spiral), Wuhu Island is truly a paradise of 3D effects. Selecting free ride lets the player casually browse the sights, and finding yourself at high altitude looking down is actually disorienting. Choosing the plane means streaks of exhaust leap to the edges of the screen, further increasing the marvelous sensation of height. Pilotwings marks the first (and only) time since launch that the 3D slider found itself turned down a few notches. In a sense, this one offers too much, but it’s all the more versatile for it.
Other titles are pure spectacle, if not as brilliant in terms of 3D. Kid Icarus pushes so many colors and grand stages, it’s perfect as a showcase title. Resident Evil Revelations is a winner for the impressive texture work, and Nano Assault’s microscopic world feels, well, like a mini-world residing right on your screen. Mario Kart’s brief excursions with flight are mighty sharp too. Still, out of everything on the shelf, Ridge Racer and Pilotwings are probably permanent residents, if only to remind how great the 3D can be whenever something mediocre crosses this screen.