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3DS launch games: The best of the rest

Justin McElroy

With limited time, 3DS systems and eyes capable of processing 3D, we couldn't deliver full reviews for the full 3DS launch lineup. However, we've got the next best thing, a ton of impressions on some of our favorite releases we couldn't get enough quality time with for a full critique.

Between the cheat sheet after the break and our bevy of full reviews, you should have all that you need to be a 3DSpecialist at your local electronics retailer. Happy hunting! ... And, umm, sorry about saying "3DSpecialist." It was a long weekend.

Rayman 3D: Yes, it's Rayman 2, which is an inarguably great platformer, and yes, it's in 3D. But after so many ports of this game (including a $4.99 iOS version that admittedly controlled worse) it's hard not to feel a little underwhelmed. Also, there's some missing narration from the Dreamcast version on which it's based, sure to irritate fans who've been on this journey before. It's still a standout in the 3DS lineup, but it's not particularly easy to recommend taken on its own merits.

Gallery: Rayman 3D (1/19/11) | 5 Photos

Asphalt 3D: With big crashes, turbo boosts and power ups, Asphalt 3D is certainly a more light-hearted alternative to the more buttoned down (but slightly more polished) Ridge Racer 3D. It's also helped immeasurably by the fact that racers just look and feel great on the system. The novelty of that effect will likely wear off in time, but it certainly hasn't happened yet.

Gallery: Asphalt 3D (3DS) | 8 Photos

Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars: In a more strategic direction for the franchise, you'll command a futuristic attack squad as they trade turns (and bullets) with the opposition. Though it's well-constructed and has a distinctive comic book-look, I honestly found this Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops-inspired affair a little dull. That said, if typical isometric action games get you overstimulated, this might be a good replacement.

Gallery: Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (3DS) | 5 Photos

Lego Star Wars III: If you've played the series, you know what to expect of this retelling of the Clone Wars saga: Cute characters, solid beat 'em up action and some light puzzles. It doesn't make really noticeable use of the system's 3D, so it's not a great showpiece. But if you're just looking to cut some adorable robots up with a laser sword, you're all set.

Gallery: Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars (3DS) | 4 Photos

Samurai Warriors: Chronicles: It's a decent hack 'n' slash in the Samurai/Dynasty Warriors tradition, and the 3D helps give the battlefield a cool sense of scale. But lengthy, unskippable, subtitled cutscenes and too much menu navigation keeps it from being a great portable choice. If you're familiar with the tropes of the genre, you might have an easier time of it, but it doesn't seem like a great place to jump on.

Gallery: Samurai Warriors 3D (3DS) | 6 Photos

Nintendogs + Cats: The second game in this series proves that it's going to be one of THOSE Nintendo franchises, like Animal Crossing or Pokemon, that changes just a little every time. But the addition of AR stuff is a worthwhile one, putting obedience tests (and all-important photo opportunities) out into the real world through your camera. If you liked Nintendogs or like extremely relaxing, brief, cute daily game interactions, you'll like it. Fair warning, though: the cats are an afterthought. And they're a little creepy looking. -- JC Fletcher

Gallery: Nintendogs + Cats (3DS) | 10 Photos

The Sims 3: The small DS screen makes things seem a bit claustrophobic and the 3D effect is practically non-existent, but the allure of catering to every whim of your personalized avatar is as compelling as it's always been. Hey, you wanna play a Sims game? Because this is one of those.

Gallery: The Sims 3 (3DS) | 6 Photos

Super Monkey Ball 3D: It might seem like a natural fit on 3DS -- after all, it's about rolling a ball by moving the entire level in 3D -- but Super Monkey Ball 3D, despite controlling well enough with the circle pad, is more or less unplayable in 3D using the system's tilt-based input. You see, the handheld's visual effect really only works when viewed straight on; any movement results in a screen full of double-images. Still, even in 2D, SMB3D is lacking in challenge for a game from a notoriously challenging series and comes up woefully short on content for a series known for its numerous minigames. -- Randy Nelson

Gallery: Super Monkey Ball 3D | 9 Photos

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