Netflix software for 3DS is adequate; plus Shinobido 2 and Bloodrayne: Betrayal screens

The latest high-tech device to get the now-ubiquitous Netflix movie viewer is Nintendo’s 3DS.

I’ve spent some time playing around with it, and I’ve found it to be adequate — capable of playing decent-quality video without much in the way of loading time.

Yet it’s not as full-featured a viewer as is found on other devices.

It has a menu setup akin to what you’ll find these days if you look at the Netflix site on a computer or PlayStation 3. Movies available for streaming, represented by movie “posters,” are subdivided into easily navigated categories split up into new releases and by genre, such as anime, action, romance, etc.

Or you can hit the “y” button and search manually for a movie by title. However, unlike other devices, the 3DS will display only streamable movies. It won’t show the full depth of the Netflix library or recommend available movies similar to the one you searched for.

And, unfortunately, they apparently tried to unnecessarily incorporate some 3-D technology into the setup of the whole thing, with certain menus “popping” off the screen. For instance, if you’re familiar with Netflix, you already know that when you rewind or fast-forward a streamed movie, little panels showing movie scenes are displayed to help you figure out when you’re in the right place to start watching again. On the 3DS, those panels are given a 3-D effect, floating above the screen, but it degrades the overall picture quality.

Supposedly, users will eventually have access to a select group of 3-D movies on the device, Nintendo of America says. I'll admit that's a nice idea, one I'll judge when it's reality.

The Netflix browser for 3DS is free for download from the Nintendo eShop, and it doesn’t take up much space on the device’s SD card. So if you’ve got the service and the device, you might as well go ahead and download it.

However, if you’ve got an alternative viewer — an iPhone or iPad, a netbook, etc. — you’ll get better quality video watching Netflix on those, so I have a feeling the 3DS won’t exactly be a mainstream device for this application.

Re-enter the ninja

I am a big fan of the original “Tenchu: Stealth Assassins” for the PlayStation, so I’m always hopeful when I see that ACQUIRE, the team that worked on the franchise, is continuing to create games in the ninja stealth genre. You see, I always pray that they’ll understand what made that first game great — and refocus their attention in that direction.

For clarity’s sake, the formula I’m looking for is a game that rewards patient, precise, accurate game-play. A ninja should be able to infiltrate an enemy camp, kill their target or accomplish their goal and leave with nobody the wiser. But the later “Tenchu” games put the emphasis on stealthily killing everything in sight, which is not the same thing.

ACQUIRE gets another chance to do things right with “Shinobido 2: Tales of the Ninja,” a game in development for the PlayStation Vita. It’s actually the first Vita game I got my hands on at the most recent E3 in Los Angeles. At the time, I thought it looked good, but I was too thrown at that time by the handheld’s rear touch-pad to get a real feel for the game.

The original “Shinobido” games were released in 2005, and starred a ninja named Goh. He’s out this time around.

Instead, players will control a ninja named Zen, “who was formerly betrayed by his companions and lost his home. He has been raised in the Asuka ninja clan of the fictional region Utakata.”

He’ll have the requisite ninja skills, such as hiding in shadows and hanging from ledges, and tools such as throwing stars at his disposal.

But you know, that’s extremely standard and not that exciting to me. The thing I’m more interested in is the promise of the “harakiri” system, which creates branching storylines throughout the game and allows players to experience multiple endings, depending on actions taken through the course of the adventure. And that equals lasting game-play value.

Unfortunately, no information has been released yet as to the game’s price or release date.

There will be blood

This final item will be short and sweet: new “Bloodrayne: Betrayal” screens.

What’s that? The original 3-D “Bloodrayne” games weren’t all that great?

You’re right, but this side-scrolling hack-and-slash platformer appears to be a high-octane horse of a different color. The action is fast-paced, violent and challenging. And the artwork is really, really gorgeous, especially in motion.

I can’t wait to play. “Bloodrayne: Betrayal” is scheduled for release as a downloadable title on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network at the end of August.

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