Explore the Nintendo eShop The Badger Herald

Throughout the week, we’ll be looking at the digital game stores for different consoles, including an overview of their functions, key features, and a selection of exclusive downloadable games to discover on each system (excluding games also available on PC). We’ve already looked at the PSN and the XBLA, so today we’re going to look at the store of the third console manufacturer: the Nintendo eshop!

Overview

The eshop is kind of a mess, especially when it comes to graphic design. The Wii U is better off thanks to a larger screen for displaying content via the gamepad, but on the 3DS everything feels cluttered. Throughout the time spent browsing the store, I couldn’t escape the feeling of being zoomed in, seeing only a small portion of a vast store, which is usually true. Typically, items are only displayed in a single line that scrolls horizontally across the page. It’s slow and time-consuming to sift through, which can be annoying.

Like all the different online stores, there is a discoverability problem, except it’s much worse here. Most downloadable games not published by Nintendo, including many of the non-Virtual Console games we’ll cover in this article, won’t show up if you look in the “Best Sellers” section. Thankfully, Nintendo has started to mitigate these kinds of issues, first by opening a dedicated “Indie” section on the main page. Unfortunately, such options, like games, are set to horizontal scrolling on the front page, which in my experience browsing the store was more of a deterrent than anything else. It made me want to browse sections less than click on the first option I saw, usually “New Releases” or “Best Sellers”.

Key Feature: Virtual Console

Most systems these days can play older games. The original “Sonic the Hedgehog” is available on pretty much every platform you can think of at this point. The difference between these platforms and Virtual Console is that only VC lets you play games from the ridiculously large and deep backlog of Nintendo games. Virtual Console emulates all sorts of old systems, from those produced by Nintendo such as NES, SNES, and Game Boy, to those made by now-defunct competitors like Genesis and Sega’s Dreamcast.

There are two issues with Virtual Console at this point, however: games aren’t being released fast enough, and prices can seem steep for older games. Nintendo typically releases a game for each of its Virtual Console systems on Wii U and 3DS. That might sound like a lot, but considering the number of games that could actually be available from seven Nintendo systems alone, the library still seems rather shallow. Second, in a world where mobile games are in a $1 race, paying $10 for a SNES game can also feel like overpaying.

VC games to discover

“Earthbound” (Wii U); “Super Metroid” (Wii U, Wii); “Advanced Wars” (Wii U); “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” (Wii U)/”Link’s Awakening DX” (3DS); “Kid Icarus” (3DS, Wii U)

eShop games to discover

“Dark Void Zero” (DSi/3DS, iOS, PC)

“Dark Void Zero” started out as a joke, a parody of Capcom’s soon to be released “Dark Void” game. Instead, it was put into production and advertised as an old NES game found in Capcom’s “vault”. The best joke? This 2D platform shooter with a jetpack actually turned out to be better than the game it was made for. Also, Jimmy Fallon is in the game as “Captain Jimmy Fallon”, and that’s just awesome.

“Friday Monster Attack!” A Tokyo Tale” (3DS)

“Friday Monster Attack!” might surprise you with the simplicity and serenity with which it grabs your attention. You don’t do much in the game. A big part of the game is talking to other characters, exploring the town, and picking up items. But it’s charming, wonderfully young, and can offer a nice break from the overambitious titles that come out every day.

“Dillon’s Rolling Western” (3DS)

In a way, “Dillon’s Rolling Western” can be considered a flagship franchise of the 3DS eshop. This (literally) new twist on the tower defense genre adds a boatload of charm, character, and a world outside of the village that you must protect from rock monsters. It remains one of the best original titles on the eShop.

“VVVVVV” (3DS, PC, Mac)

Left, right, reverse gravity. So, you know, basic platform controls. The 8-bit minimalist graphics are lovely on their own, and the puzzles involved in the world of gravity make for a hugely enjoyable experience that fits right in on a handheld rig.

“Cave Story” (3DS, DSi, Wii, PC, Mac, Linux)

So you have a choice when you decide to choose “Cave Story”. You can get the original as a downloadable title for $10 or you can ship in for the 3-D remake with an extra level for three or four times that amount. That being said, the intentionally retro original is a modern classic in its own right, with a mix of platforming, shooting, and leveling weapons.

Pushmo (3DS)

If you were missing your free time black hole, try “Pushmo”. This lovely little puzzle game has you playing as a sumo cat moving blocks around Pushmo park to rescue the kids who got trapped in all the blocks. It’s as adorable as it sounds and captivating on its own. It even offers a feature where you can create your own puzzle and try to smash whoever you want.

“Toki Tori 2+” (Wii U, PC, Mac)

Oddly enough, a sequel to a GameBoy Color game, “Toki Tori 2+” is a puzzle game with a whole bunch of platforming elements.

“Little Inferno” (Wii U, PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android)

In “Little Inferno”, you have to burn everything you can to keep warm, using the money that comes out (for no particular reason) to buy more items that you can also burn. It’s funny? It is not necessarily necessary. “Little Inferno” is a satire of many games that send you time-consuming and pointless tasks with little or no real reward. Its unique gameplay and satirical commentary are worth a look for those of us who’ve experienced that feeling in a game before.

“Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party” (3DS)

One of the best board games on the eshop doesn’t even need to use the TV and is one of the only games on Wii U to date that takes full advantage of the system’s key feature: the controller rather than gathering everyone around a screen and having the whole game happen on it, “Bumpie’s Party” takes the classic Spin the Bottle board game and uses wiimotes, the gamepad, and an assortment mini-games to provide an easy and inexpensive way to entertain at your next meeting.

“NES Remix 1&2” (Wii U)

“NES Remix” is one of the best ways to introduce yourself to classic NES titles. From “Mario” and “Zelda” to “Metroid” and “Kid Icarus”, “Remix” takes all the classic Nintendo titles and cuts them into little mini-games and challenges. The lines between game franchises are blurred. “Remix 2” also comes with “Super Luigi Bros.” where you play the original “Super Mario Bros.” knocked down and with Luigi and his awkwardly jumping higher.

Other games to consider

“Fluidity: Spin Cycle”, “Gunman Clive”, “Nano Assault Neo”, “SteamWorld Dig”, “Wii Sports Club”, “Dr. Luigi”, and “Mighty Switch Force!”

Timothy C. Mayo