I have been waiting for the 3DS to get a game like Dream Trigger 3D. While I'm becoming a serious fan of 3D thanks to witnessing its effect in games like Super Monkey Ball 3D, nintendogs + cats, and Pilotwings Resort, the games themselves have really just been games we've already played before, just rendered in 3D—not a bad thing, but neither do they do much to make me really feel like the 3DS is being taken advantage of.

Against this backdrop, D3's Dream Trigger caught my interest for two key reasons. First, it's a game that is designed from the ground up to be played on the 3DS, building its dual screens right into the game design—and it sounds like a great challenge for those of us who really appreciated games that did the same for the venerable DS. Second, unlike other games that just render existing designs into 3D and call it a day, Dream Trigger's dreamscapes and gameplay designs are built for the 3DS' 3D display from the ground up, creating what sounds like it'll tickle both the eyeballs with beauty and the brain with visual information to play with.

D3 sent over a short-but-sweet soundtrack sampler for the game's electronic classical re-arrangements a few weeks ago; after giving it several listens, I took the opportunity to ask some questions about the title from their senior producer handling Dream Trigger, Brian Etheridge.

In a launch window laden with ports, remakes, and sequels, Dream Trigger 3D stands out by bringing something new to the table. What made you think now was the time for this game?
Brian Etheridge, Senior Producer, D3Publisher of America Inc.:Well, one thing we learned from the first released shots of games on the 3DS is that a lot of companies were just going to attempt to make a game with Wii-level graphics on a handheld and implement 3D much in the same way a lot of movies do. That is to say that they would take a game that was normally 2D, make it 3D, and then add a couple of moments where things fly towards the screen.

That's not to say that is at all a bad approach, but we thought that we would take it in a different direction. We wanted to make the game in 3D from the ground up and make every level of the game look like it was meant only to exist in 3D. The entire game flies towards you, and playing in 3D actually makes all of the gameplay items stand out more and, in a sense, makes the game easier to play.

We also knew that people would want a game to show off the 3DS' 3D capabilities to their friends. We wanted Dream Trigger 3D to be that game.

This really looks like a game that's built for 3D. Could you elaborate on how Dream Trigger takes advantage of it?
Etheridge:3D is, first and foremost, a visual enhancement; something that can serve to make a game look better and more lifelike. It gives realistic depth to something that would normally be completely flat.

We really wanted to play with that depth and make it an integral part of gameplay. Playing Dream Trigger in 2D works, but you are going to miss out on all of the different layers in the level designs and all of the depth that gets created as objects and enemies fly to and from you. Playing in 3D, you get a different type of immersion as you fly through a forest made of lightning bolts or take a dive down to the ocean floor. In short, every level we built was meant to look stunning in 3D.

What would you say was the inspiration for this game?
Etheridge:That is a bit of a tough one. We wanted to do a shooter because no one else was doing one—at least from what we had seen in the announcements. We had been working with Art from the start, before we knew exactly what the game would be; they liked the idea of doing a shooter because they had a great experience working on Every Extend Extra. Also, with Art's work on the Gunpey series, we knew they could be vital in helping us to create a wild art style for the game.

The game was less something inspired by titles x and y, and was more of a case of something coming together after a bunch of people sat down in a room and said, "What do you think would be cool and fun?" So, in that sense, I'm proud to say that we did not draw too heavily on existing titles and focused more on creating something that we just thought would be fun and original.

Those, in my mind, are the best kinds of games.

Explain, if you would, how the game plays. (I think I have a fair idea; this is primarily for the benefit of the legions of people who have watched the trailers, seen the screenshots, and still go "WTF?")
Etheridge:Haha... yes, we still get the occasional F-bomb when trying to explain the game to people who aren't too game savvy.

In short, I will say that the best way to explain it is that you have to shoot everything, but before you can shoot them, you have to find them. That's it. Enemies always appear on the bottom screen. To make them appear on the top screen, you have to hit them with sonar.

I think where the disconnect comes from is that, unlike other titles, in Dream Trigger 3D your avatar is also your aiming reticule. You have to shoot with your avatar, and protect them. That makes it a bit different from what people expect.

Most people that have played the game in a demo pick up the concept in the first couple of minutes, even without the tutorial. It's a lot like playing a card game like Magic or something similar; until you just jump in and give it a shot, it's a bit tough to grasp the concept and all of the rules.