Tag Archives: Nintendo

Final Fantasy Pullblox/Pushmo QR bookmarks – Final Fantasy X and XI

Earlier this year I did a series of bookmarks with Pullblox QR codes for the Final Fantasy games up to Final Fantasy IX. Then I abruptly stopped. There was a reason for that – I’d got into a routine of releasing them in platform-based batches and when it came to the PS2 there wasn’t a fan sprite for Shantotto and the cast of Final Fantasy XII needed to be adapted from the sprites for the DS sequel Revenant Wings, a fairly lengthy process. I kept putting these tasks off and never got round to doing them. Anyway, here are the bookmarks for Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XI. I adapted a fan sprite for the former and created a Final Fantasy VI-style sprite from scratch for the latter. A Final Fantasy XII bookmark will be on the way at some point. Final Fantasy XIII should actually be pretty easy since there are official Final Fantasy VI-style sprites that were created for an official Japanese website offering a story recap of the game. And since there’s no representative character for Final Fantasy XIV yet, that’ll be the whole series done. Enjoy the new puzzles and remember to click on the link to see the full-size versions as ‘View Image’ just shows you the thumbnail.

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Why the 3DS XL has no second Circle Pad

Today it was revealed that a new version of the Circle Pad Pro for the 3DS XL is in the works. This has caused some consternation, with the comments sections of many sites filled with people criticising Nintendo for their apparent stupidity and/or avarice. But I don’t agree with these criticisms – there are actually valid reasons for having a new Circle Pad Pro attachment instead of a built-in second Circle Pad.


One of the things that people never take into account when considering why Nintendo didn’t give the 3DS a second Circle Pad from the start is that there simply isn’t room for one. When you look at the innards of the 3DS, you can see that the gubbins for the Circle Pad cut down right into the bottom of the console.

Here’s an image of the main circuit board for the 3DS. You can see the large hole that has been cut out of it to fit the components for the Circle Pad.

Here’s another image, showing the back frame of the console.

Look at the bottom right. You can see that the Circle Pad affects the design of the console right the way through. Note that there is a large hole on the other side to fit the battery – there is no space on the other side of the console for a Circle Pad. The middle section of the console is filled with the game card slot and the electronic components that allow the 3DS to function. There is simply no room in the original 3DS console for another Circle Pad. It is full.

Now you might be saying, “Oh, but the 3DS XL is larger while using the same technology, perhaps there is extra space.” But that isn’t necessarily so. Many of the components will have grown with the console; we know the battery has more capacity and will perhaps be physically larger. It is easy to suggest that Nintendo add a second Circle Pad, but it is perhaps not physically possible.

Fracturing of the user base

A common argument against adding a second Circle Pad to the 3DS XL is that it will split the user base into two groups, people who have only an original 3DS, and people who have a 3DS plus a Circle Pad Pro or a 3DS XL, causing various problems. This is incorrect. Adding a second Circle Pad to the 3DS XL would split the user base into three. The Circle Pad Pro does not simply add a second Circle Pad to the 3DS, it adds a second set of shoulder buttons too, bringing the 3DS into line with the control configurations of home consoles. It would not be possible to add a second set of shoulder buttons to the 3DS XL, so adding merely a second Circle Pad would produce three possible control schemes for 3DS games: original 3DS, original 3DS with Circle Pad Pro and 3DS XL. This would be something akin to madness.

People forget the Circle Pad Pro includes these


The current set of games that support the Circle Pad Pro would not natively support an internal second Circle Pad in the 3DS XL. This is because these games are programmed to receive the input from the extra controls from the infra-red transceiver built into the Circle Pad Pro. These games would not be able to recognise an internal second Circle Pad even if it was present. Not only would all existing Circle Pad Pro-compatible games need to be patched to support an internal second Circle Pad, they would need to be amended to support a control scheme featuring a second Circle Pad but not the extra shoulder buttons of the Circle Pad Pro. This would be a bit of a faff to say the least.

In conclusion, there are valid practical reasons why the original 3DS does not include a second Circle Pad. This has led to there being valid practical reasons for not including a second Circle Pad in subsequent reiterations of the console. The original Circle Pad Pro wasn’t very aesthetically pleasing, and I hope its successor is more attractively designed. It is worth remembering, however, that it will not just add a second Circle Pad ‘that should have been there in the first place’. It will also add extra buttons to replicate the home console controller experience perfectly, and perhaps developers will design games that will make that experience worth the extra bulk and expense.

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Some Nintendo 3DS XL questions answered

The big news of the latest Nintendo Direct presentation was the announcement of the Nintendo 3DS XL. A new larger version of the Nintendo 3DS, similar to the DSi XL, is ready and waiting in Nintendo’s European warehouses, ready to be released next month. I had a few questions about the device, but it’s actually possible to try and answer many of them, even with the sparse information available. Here’s a short Q&A.

You’re supposed to carry around the 3DS so you can StreetPass. What will carrying around the 3DS XL in my trouser pocket be like?

The dimensions and weight of the 3DS are very similar to those of the previously released Nintendo DSi XL. You can actually a feel for what carrying the 3DS XL will be like just by placing the older device in your trouser pocket. The DSi XL is fairly comfortable to hold in the pocket, but it does leave a much more pronounced bulky oblong outline than the original 3DS. The outer edges of the 3DS XL are curved, and I suspect the purpose of this may be to avoid leaving this strong outline when placed in a pocket.

The 3DS XL doesn’t come with a charger in Europe because I’m already meant to have one. Does that mean it won’t come with the set of AR cards that were included with the original 3DS either?

The Japanese website says a set of AR cards are included, so if you want to sell or trade in your original 3DS you should be able to include the cards that came with it.

The original 3DS had a problem where the raised bezel of the touchscreen damaged the top screen. Will this happen with the 3DS XL?

The original 3DS had a raised bezel around the touchscreen and bumpers around the edges that were meant to prevent the bezel from coming into contact with the top screen. These bumpers were completely inadequate to prevent the bezel from resting on the top screen in earlier models, and even later models left so little space that residue could build up between the bezel and the screen – a small piece of lint on the touchscreen bezel even damaged the screen protector over my top screen recently. Unlike the original model, which had a plastic sheet covering the whole of the top panel, it appears the 3DS XL uses a proper glass screen. This should be more hardy. Instead of bumpers, the 3DS has two bumps protruding from the top panel. Looking at promotional images of a flat 3DS XL, it appears these bumps actually rest on the bezel itself, on either side of the buttons below the touchscreen. It seems it will be more difficult for the bezel to damage to top screen now, since the design seems to make it impossible for it to come into contact with the top screen.

When playing Kid Icarus: Uprising, I like to use the 3DS stand to make playing more comfortable. Will I be able to use it with the 3DS XL?

It’ll be very hard to give a definitive answer to this until the console actually comes out. The details of the design may make it more prone to sliding off the stand. As I said above, the dimensions of the 3DS XL are very similar to the DSi XL. When I placed my DSi XL on the stand, the stand seemed able to accommodate the increased depth satisfactorily – in fact there is some surplus depth when using the original 3DS. While the headphone slot has been moved on the 3DS XL, it appears to be placed so that it will not be covered by the ledge of the stand. I’d say it’s likely that it’ll be possible to use the 3DS stand with the new console.

Do you have any questions about the Nintendo 3DS XL? Leave a comment and I’ll either add it to the post or update it when the information becomes available.

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A note on power-ups in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart Wii wasn’t my favourite instalment in the series. I thought the graphics were a little bit slapdash, the proliferation of control schemes was a bit bewildering, and it seemed a shame that the recent Super Mario Galaxy had ended up having little influence on the design of the levels. But one very specific thing irritated me right the way through the experience. Mario Kart Wii introduced the POW Block as a power-up. The POW Block upsets all the characters in front of the user, causing them to lose whatever items they’re holding. But the series already has a power-up that causes most players to lose their items, the Thunderbolt. The combination of the two meant that you were forever losing your power-ups in Mario Kart Wii, and it made it pointless to hold on to them to use strategically.

A screenshot of Mario Kart Wii showing the POW Block about to activate


Thankfully the POW Block was removed in Mario Kart 7, along with number of other superfluous power-ups like the Fake Item Box. In their place, Mario Kart 7 introduces the Super Leaf. This gives your racer a tanooki tail, which you can use to bat aside weaponry and rival racers. It’s not the most dramatic introduction to the mix, but I like it. When you play a Mario Kart game in singleplayer, you’re usually in first place. But you end up with a limited range of power-ups that aren’t very interesting or useful. The Super Tail not only livens things up by adding an extra option in the mix, it’s also just plain useful to the racer in first place. It’s a defensive item rather than an aggressive one, and when you’re in first place your primary concern is defending your lead.

Mario Kart 7 is a better game than Mario Kart Wii. It feels tighter in terms of both graphics and design, and there are even a few tracks with a clear Galaxy influence. It’s hard to tell how Nintendo will try to refine the formula for the inevitable Wii U instalment but I’d recommend ditching the Blooper. I can tolerate it in Mario Kart 7 because it highlights the 3D effect, but I don’t like it. It seems contrived having AI opponents pretending to have impaired vision and I’d rather it was gone. But we’ll just have to wait and see how Nintendo approach the formidable task of topping their lucky seventh instalment of this ever-popular series.

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Even more Final Fantasy Pullblox/Pushmo QR code bookmarks

I’m back with more Final Fantasy Pullblox/Pushmo QR code bookmarks. This time I’ve created bookmarks for the Playstation Final Fantasy games: VII, VIII and IX. I’ve also created a second bookmark for the original Final Fantasy – I felt I’d been a bit lazy in not doing puzzles for the upgraded job classes, so I’ve done a bookmark with them on. You can find that over at the post for Final Fantasy I-III. I’m also going to add an index at the bottom of each puzzle post to aid navigation. Enjoy these new puzzles! Remember to click on the link to see the full-size version, ‘View Image’ just shows you the thumbnail.

You can also find half-size versions of these, and some miscellaneous puzzles, in my imgur gallery.

Pullblox/Pushmo puzzle index

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A note on the stereoscopic 3D effect in Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7

Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 marked the start of a new wave of 3DS software, and one thing that jumped out in reviews was that Nintendo had clearly changed the way the 3D effect worked in these games. I noticed this difference myself – despite normally using my 3DS with the 3D effect turned off, I always turned on the 3D effect to play these two games. I was reading the Iwata Asks article about Super Mario 3D Land when I noticed an interesting bit of information about how the stereoscopic 3D effect in these recent games differs from what went before.

Hayashida: A good action game makes you move your body. But it’s a problem if that distorts the visuals. Then Miyamoto-san said that Mario Kart 7 doesn’t get blurry. I took a look, and it really didn’t. I wondered why and came to understand it was because the player’s kart was placed in a location where there is no binocular parallax. While driving, the players are looking at their own kart, so it doesn’t look blurry. So what will people be looking at in Super Mario 3D Land?

Iwata: Mario, of course.

Hayashida: Exactly. It’s Mario. We call that place where there is no disparity between the left and right eyes the reference plane. We thought we would adjust the reference plane to Mario, so he would be less likely to blur. That gave birth to the Normal View.

So your eyes aren’t receiving two different sets of information relating to Mario or your kart, just one. Before the two recent Mario games came out, the biggest problem I had with the 3D effect was the way it was difficult to resolve the image of your avatar. For example in Pilotwings Resort, your eyes are sent significantly different images of your character, and I personally found this uncomfortable. My eyes couldn’t resolve these images, I either saw the ‘left’ version of my avatar, or the ‘right’ version, never a 3D image. My eyes probably have a way of sorting this kind of thing out in real life, but when presented with a relatively crude imitation of a 3D image, they just can’t cope.

A screenshot of Super Mario 3D Land showing coins moving into the screen

This moment in the first level, where coins hop out of the screen, was designed to highlight the 3D effect

I hope this approach to stereoscopic 3D becomes a standard for 3DS games in the future, because I just find it much more comfortable. That said, this kind of 3D isn’t to everyone’s tastes.

Hayashida: About 80 percent of people responded that the Normal View made it more comfortable. But about 10 or 20 percent said that it was better before. So we thought we would leave the previous view, and that became Extended Depth. You can change between the two views with the +Control Pad.

The Daily Mail’s idiot game reviewer isn’t a fan either: he criticised Mario Kart 7‘s ‘barely there’ 3D effect. But that said, I did occasionally find the Extended Depth view in Super Mario 3D Land quite useful – sometimes you’re willing to have a stronger 3D effect at the expense of comfort for a short period. So perhaps future 3DS games should provide a choice of 3D views, either changeable on the fly or from the ‘options’ menu. Stereoscopic 3D is, in some respects, a brave new world, with few established rules on how to use the feature. It’ll be interesting to see whether some established practices develop or whether the approach to 3D continues to differ widely.

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