Support for the Unity engine on the New Nintendo 3DS has only attracted a small number of quality downloads, a pity but inevitable due to how late the engine arrived fully on the portable. When used well, though, it delivers some highly enjoyable gameplay and relatively flashy visuals - Futuridium EP Deluxe achieves these goals.
MixedBag, to its immense credit, provides cross-buy across the New 3DS and Wii U versions of this game - there's nothing quite so fancy as cross-platform saves, probably because of the limitations of the devices and eShop, but it's a terrific offer. We'll get this in early - it's worth downloading both if you have the hardware.
We praised this game's Wii U iteration, and it's worth checking out that review too; we're talking about exactly the same game across both systems. In a blend of the Star Wars trench run and on-rails Star Fox gameplay, you dash through small areas blasting away blue orbs, with the ability to boost and - more importantly - do an immediate 180-degree turn with the Y button. Early levels help you settle into the high-tempo groove, but later on dodging missiles and obstacles requires some rapid direction changes and manoeuvres, and the all-important Energy bar becomes more difficult to manage.
It's a setup that lends itself well to intense bursts of gameplay, and in the case of the New 3DS version unlocking single levels makes it a good way to pass a few minutes on the bus. As before, though, getting through the campaign requires you to clear blocks of ten levels, which gets seriously tough; even in the easier of the two core difficulty settings. As we stated in our Wii U review the lines between true difficulty and cheap design occasionally blurs, but most of the time the former wins out. Frustration is inevitable, but those up for a challenge should be satisfied, and even the top players can enjoy chasing extra medals and achievements.
A key difference from the Wii U iteration, of course, is the visual fidelity, but it's not an argument skewed entirely in favour of the HD version. On Wii U the game looks fantastic, with a crisp resolution combining well with bright, clear visuals; distortion effects while low on Energy shine, in particular. The New 3DS can't match that, either in terms of resolution of the detail, but it does deliver a lovely 3D effect. An effect sadly overlooked and forgotten a lot nowadays, the autostereoscopic 3D here is well worth turning on, as it accentuates the ship's perspective and sense of speed. Considering how small some details and orbs are, too, we found the 3D added sharpness to the presentation and also made the game easier to play.
For the most part performance holds up, too. Futuridium EP Deluxe often rocks along smoothly on New 3DS, though occasionally the framerate will stutter if there's a lot going on; it's rare, but frame drops combined with the difficulty and deliberately sluggish turns of the ship can be troublesome. For the majority of the time, however, performance is impressive.
Finally, this is a game to play with headphones. The soundtrack is still fantastic, with a mix of pumping electronica, mellower vibes and some variations in between. Not enough games seek the talents of a broad range of musicians, so this title deserves immense credit for its score.
The cross-buy option makes Futuridium EP Deluxe an easy choice for Wii U and New 3DS owners. If you only have the portable, however, then it's still well worth a purchase - it's one of only a small number of downloads on the updated hardware that truly shows what it can do in unison with Unity. It's fun, flashy and just occasionally frustrating, and also a welcome part of the New 3DS library.