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Urban Champion Is the Last Straw
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 20, 2011   |   Episode 179 (Show Archive)  

   

This cover art is better than the actual game!
It seemed so simple at the time: Release a new handheld game system with 3D functionality, sell millions of units and continue to dominate the market. But Nintendo's plan hasn't worked out the way they first envisioned it. With slow adoption, cancelled games and only a few must-own titles on the horizon, the Nintendo 3DS appears to be off course. But don't worry, because Nintendo just announced 3D Classics: Urban Champion.

Usually this would be the point in the article where I tell you I'm just joking and I move on with some sort of half-reasoned diatribe. After all, it would be ludicrous for Nintendo to spend even a dime recreating one of their worst 8-bit games of all time, a one-on-one fighter that nobody has any nostalgia for. But this isn't me being funny, it's a real game that will hit the Nintendo 3DS sometime in the next year.

It's been said that you shouldn't fold laundry while the house is burning. In this case, Nintendo shouldn't be spending any time or money turning 25 year old games

This is what Punch-Out!! 3D looks (when I close my eyes and dream)!
into brand new "state-of-the-art" 3D spectacles. This is a fool's errand that will surely blow-up in their face, unfairly staining the reputations of classic franchises in the process.

When Nintendo first introduced the idea of retrofitting classic 8-bit games to take advantage of the widescreen 3D display, I was all for it. Even if it's nothing more than a gimmick, the prospect of playing Punch-Out!! in 3D certainly had my heart racing. But like anything too good to be true, I have quickly lost interest in this failed experiment. These days the "3D Classics" initiative is a joke, only instead of being funny it may be the thing that takes the Nintendo 3DS down.


There's nothing exciting about Excitebike!
It all started with 3D Classics: Excitebike. While I may not consider this early racer to be a must-own classic, I know a lot of people who have a soft spot for this 8-bitter. To help introduce this unique line of retrofitted NES games, Nintendo chose to offer Excitebike free of charge for the first month. What could possibly go wrong?

It's a shame Excitebike isn't nearly as compelling as the title suggests. This early generation NES game features very few tracks, only a couple modes of play and middling multiplayer support. It's the kind of free game you play once or twice and then forget about. But these days Nintendo is no longer offering Excitebike

For $5.99 you can buy some of the best PlayStation games on PSN, including Vagrant Story!
for free, instead charging a whopping $5.99 for a game that hasn't held up well over the last quarter century.

Excitebike should give 3DS owners pause. Six dollars for a game as shallow as this is troubling, especially if Nintendo plans on retrofitting more time intensive games like The Legend of Zelda or Metroid. The time it takes to recreate these genuine classics may push the price even higher, perhaps closer to $10.


The Nintendo 3DS needs more games like Mega Man Legends 3, not Urban Champion 3D!
Recent comments from Nintendo's own Takao Nakano further confirm these concerns. In a recent interview, the director in charge of the 3D Classics series complained that bringing traditional 2D into the third-dimension is tougher than originally thought. Not only do they have to take into consideration the original art, but also how projectiles shoot and where enemies are located. This difficulty has slowed the releases to a halt and will inevitably cost Nintendo more money.

This is Nintendo not seeing the forest for the trees. What the 3DS needs right now has nothing to do with Urban Champion or any other 8-bit NES game. What this system needs is games ... and fast! In the past week we've seen Capcom cancel Mega Man Legends

If you choose a "3D Classics" remake over Link's Awakening, then you are a fool!
3, Ubisoft scrap Assassin's Creed and Sega delay Crush 3D. And those are just the most recent examples of a list that also includes Saints Row: Drive-By, My Garden, BloodRayne: The Shroud and even DJ Hero. The writing is on the wall: The Nintendo 3DS needs games.

Instead of focusing on new properties, Nintendo is too busy releasing expensive ports of 8-bit games. Enough is enough; this is not that right time for that sort of foolishness. The 3DS Virtual Console already has better

I would love to see Super Metroid retrofitted for 3D ... I just don't want to pay $15 for it!
games at a fraction of the price, leaving no room for these unnecessary 3D updates. Given the choice between The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX and Excitebike (both six dollars), there isn't a person alive that would knowingly choose the racing game.

The problem is that Nintendo has nowhere to take the 3D Classics. The best case scenario would involve the company graduation from 8-bit to the Super NES. Super Mario World's lush visuals lend themselves well to 3D, making it a perfect candidate. But given how difficult it is to make something as simple as Xevious, I fear for the production time involved in remaking this SNES launch title. Worse yet, there's no way that game would retail for less than $15, putting it way out of the price range needed to keep people interested in this 3D initiative.

This should be a wake-up call for Nintendo and all their fans. This is the video game equivalent of hitting rock bottom, an embarrassing spot for the leader of the handheld marketplace. But let's learn from this. Instead of wasting the money and time trying to make something nobody wants, put that effort towards new games. Maybe now would be a great time to try out a new IP. Even if your new mascot is a foul-mouthed puddle of dog piss, I guarantee it's going to be better than 3D Classics: Urban Champion.
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