Phew, it has been awhile, hasn’t it? I’ve been busy trying to graduate and whatnot, by being diligent and taking summer classes while juggling a job at the same time. These are also reasons why I couldn’t go to LA for E3 like others from T3. However, that’s not to say I haven’t been diligently preparing for my next articles while throwing knives at a dartboard with pictures of the people who did get to go to E3! There has been quite the activity in the digital realm of gaming, enough to talk about in not 1, but 2 articles! Exciting, I know. I’ll start off with the event that technically happened first, although the divide wasn’t really that large between the 2 events. But, I’m anal about this sort of thing, so deal with it.
Let’s talk about the shiny new 3DS eShop and Virtual Console!
Nintendo recently released version 2 of the 3DS firmware, and with it the virtual Nintendo eShop which contains DSiWare titles , Virtual Console titles , 3D Classics, trailers, and screenshots. Now, all of this should have been there at launch. Fact. I’m not denying this. But now that it’s out, I can tell you how integral it is to the 3DS experience. Considering that it launched the day E3 started (sort of; they promised it would be out that day, but it was technically launched 1:00 am the next day… bastards), and seeing as Nintendo showed quite a bit off at their press conference about the 3DS, they thought it would be a good idea to release most of their 3DS trailers onto the eShop in full 3D.
This is actually a fantastic idea, since it shows off how the games look and feel in 3D more than watching the trailer on YouTube in boring 2D. They released a ton of trailers, including Ocarina of Time, Star Fox, and Super Mario. They are all awesome, and I can’t wait for each game’s release.
So, Nintendo was smart in that regard, but what about their digital releases? Well, most of the DSiWare available on the DSi is available for purchase on 3DS now, and if you kept your DSi, most of the games will transfer over no problem. The only notable exception I found is Earthworm Jim, but there are other ways of playing that. The rest is all there, including the excellent Cave Story and Shantae: Risky’s Revenge.
The first 3D Classic, Excitebike, is being offered for free until July 7th, and it actually renews my faith in the 3D effect of the 3DS, providing a very unique view of the old NES game. It’s pretty neat. Instead of just having the sprite pop out of the background, the view shifts from less of an aerial view, showing more of the stadium and sky behind it. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll understand if you see it.
Lastly, there is the Virtual Console. I’ve purchased 2 games from that end of the store, Super Mario Land and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. It’s better to play the games in their native resolutions, and doing so is actually pretty neat, as the game is bordered by the system the game was native to. For example, if I play Super Mario Land, it’s framed in the old grey brick Game Boy while playing Link’s Awakening DX will bring up the purple Game Boy Color. You can also turn on the 3D to get the sensation of looking into the physical Game Boys, with the image of the game ever so slightly separating from the console border, sinking inwards.
If you’re playing an original Game Boy game, you can even switch the color palette to the ever so retro green and black originally used by the machine’s dot matrix screen. It’s as if you’re playing the brick itself, except if you try to brain someone with your game it will be much more likely to break! Another nifty feature is you can save and load from a single Restore Point, essentially a convenient Save State feature seen in most emulators. The system will also naturally keep you right where you were when you closed out of the application before, just like in the Wii Virtual Console.
So, that’s the current state of the eShop’s contents. As for the shop itself, it’s really just an upgraded version of the DSi’s online shop application. There are some nifty search functions, and several pre-arranged categories like the Staff Pick of the Week and Mario which are interesting to check out, and obviously there for the eternally lazy or the easily pleased. The shop does not use a Points system like older Nintendo systems or Microsoft, but instead you just fill the virtual wallet with an actual denomination of money.
This process is pretty simple. It doesn’t save your credit card information, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, as the touchscreen makes it a remarkably simple process. However, since points are no longer being used, taxes will ensure that your balance will never be an even amount once you start making purchases, but only those who are obsessive-compulsive will care. Speaking of OCD tendencies, the only thing I wish they included in the interface was a simple Alphabetical listing. But, we can certainly make do.
The eShop is a very good addition to the console, admittedly something that should have been available at launch. Having access to DSiWare is a huge plus, adding a huge library of games to the device. Virtual Console is great, just as it was on the Wii. And being able to watch trailers in 3D is an absolutely fantastic feature. This is all a great start to the service, but let’s hope Nintendo follows through just as well throughout its lifespan. Or it’ll just crush our hopes and dreams.