It has been an excruciating wait for early adopters, but the eShop is finally here, arriving on the eve of Nintendo’s E3 press conference. The service has long been touted as a significant step forward for the company in the realm of digital distribution, but without any substantial footage of it since 3DS was released, this claim has been largely met with skepticism. Now that we’ve had a good week to check it out, the staff weighs in on Nintendo’s latest attempt at a download service.
I absolutely love the eShop so far. However, I’ll start off with the one bad thing first, and that’s just the simple fact that a couple of other Virtual Console and 3D Classics could have been started off with, but this is the usual suspect with a newly launched download service.
Now, everything else is great. The interface makes just as much sense as the DSi’s shop, but is now full of life and much more intuitive. It’s VERY easy to find things with the search field and Ninty has a bunch of different categories for you to look through that really shortens up the lists to manageable limits. There is even a Staff Pick of the Week which is a very nice touch. All of the account and settings sections are easily accessible right on the main screen as well. I say, good job so far Nintendo.
As for the games I have already tried, the Pokédex 3D and Excitebike 3D are obvious as they were free, and let me tell you, Excitebike in 3D is awesome. I didn’t think there would be that big of a change, but sliding the 3D depth slider down to no 3D and then back up to full blast really shows that they had to take some time to upgrade it to 3D. The only other games I downloaded were Link’s Awakening DX (as I have never played the DX version) and Advanced Circuits as I wanted to see how DSiWare titles ran on 3DS.
Not having ever owned a DSi, I am very impressed with the way the eShop offers content. I like how they grouped old DSi software into its own category, how there is an E3 2011 page, and how the games are clearly marked and labeled, just as they would be on your 3DS menu. Let us not forget, not forget, how great it is that things are priced with real money instead of Billy Bucks.
I downloaded the free stuff, as mentioned above, and Super Mario Land, which I literally haven’t had since 1989, and Alleyway, which I have never actually played before. Neither is the most complicated game ever, but I can’t even tell you how easy it is to play them on a backlit screen without any green-ness or anything of that nature. The save state is also nice, but it was basically required. That being said, it’s cool how you can choose when to save, unlike in the Wii’s Virtual Console, where you may only do so when quitting.
It’s going to take some new original content to really see the worth of the eShop, but it’s doing okay so far. I, for one, can’t wait to see the MegaMan Legends 3 Prototype Version, even if we aren’t going to see the actual game itself.
Yep, eShop is a major improvement over the Wii and DSi Shop Channels. The interface pretty much mirrors the 3DS’s main menu and the way it is sectioned actually reminds me a bit of the Xbox Live Marketplace, which is a compliment. The selection of games available for sale so far is decent, especially given the free content, but I would have liked to see more original 3DS hardware such as a certain Mega Man trial/demo/thingy that got pushed back.
The fact that they waited for E3 to launch eShop ultimately made sense, because the timing probably made the wealth of E3 trailers all the more visible. I have downloaded most of the trailers and each one has made me even more excited for every single game. When Kid Icarus was announced last year I thought it looked great and would be even better in 3D, and now that I have finally gotten the chance to see it as Nintendo intended, I want it even more. Star Fox and Luigi’s Mansion also benefited from the 3D.
Finally, I have to talk about The Rolling Western. Nintendo barely mentioned this downloadable 3DS title, and from what little I have seen I am very intrigued. It appears to be a western action-adventure/tower defense/who-knows-what-else staring an armadillo who wears a cowboy hat and rolls into enemies. I may not know what it is, but I can’t wait for Nintendo to add it to eShop.
The eShop looks great. There isn’t much available right now, as expected, but there is still a good amount out there. I’m looking to buy either Super Mario Land or Link’s Awakening DX in due time. Thus far, I got the Brain Training Sudoku version (it’ll help me on many of waiting periods that I’m stuck in an office or something) and crosswords (ditto but it is very British so I’m not as well versed in that one) so that’s good. I also have played Excite Bike which looks really cool and the 3D change a lot of it.
The interface looks easy to navigate and I like how it’s all separate into 2 player, 4 player, and so on. It makes those of us who want something in the Puzzle Game category or the Strategy category or Virtual Console a lot easier to look through.
So basically, big thumbs up for the eShop!
While I’m pretty happy with the eShop, just reading through everyone’s responses has outlined a particular problem to me: differences in available products between regions. Sure I love what the eShop has to offer me in the UK but I have yet to see the materialization of any E3 2011 trailers or even things like Brain Training Sudoku at all. What do I have instead? Oh yeah, a movie trailer for the new Green Lantern film. Because it didn’t look quite abysmal enough in the cinema.
Outside of the pains of region-exclusive content, I am very happy with just how decent the eShop has turned out to be. As someone who has a 3DS but no 3DS-exclusive games yet (as tempting as the offer to play Super Street Fighter IV again was) the eShop offers up some genuine 3D experiences that give you a taste of what the visuals can do in both subtle and big ways. Sometimes when I was playing Excitebike 3D or Pokédex 3D, I would slide the 3D off and back on again just to see what the difference was and I’m pleased to see that it really adds something to the experience, even if I’m diabolical at the Excitebike game. Maybe it’s my lack of nostalgia or hardcore-perseverance but I really suck at riding a motorbike. I think it’s the distinct lack of instructions, I’m not a big fan of games that just drop you into the action and expect you to find your way. Still, the added visual depth works nice and I have high hopes for the 3D classics series; I just wish they had overhauled the audio as well. As halcyon as the 8-bit bleeps are, every time I crash my bike it just sounds like I’m shoving an audio cassette through a photocopier.
As for Pokédex 3D, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. After my initial disappointment that the app seemed thoroughly half-baked (the lack of distinct Pokémon calls, no background music or a simple way to actually acquire new Pokémon) it’s begun to prove its worth. The 3D rendered models of each Pokémon are crisp and detailed and the fact you have things like lists of learnable moves and learnable TMs built into your console is pretty handy. While it’s essentially Serebii.net on 3DS, Nintendo aren’t missing a trick here. The fact that 3DS can juggle different apps (essentially allowing you to leave a game running and go check the Pokédex before returning to your gameplay) makes this a key feature for when the spin-off from Pokémon Black and White finally lands. Add those 3D models in as well and Pokémon Grey will likely be the game that makes the 3DS in terms of sales.
So in conclusion, I am very impressed with the eShop. I just have one final request Nintendo — Game Boy Advance games. That is all.
The eShop has already proven to be a significant step in the right direction for Nintendo. The interface makes it far easier to navigate than the DSi or Wii Shops, and it simply feels more inviting than either of the company’s previous two attempts at digital distribution.
I have already downloaded quite a bit of content from the service: in addition to a handful of trailers from E3 (all of which can be viewed in stereoscopic 3D), I also obtained Pokédex 3D, Excitebike 3D, Super Mario Land, and a couple of DSiWare titles. I have always been woefully bad at Excitebike, but I am enjoying the 3D remake regardless, and Super Mario Land is fun despite its age (and unexpected brevity).
The Pokédex application was a pleasant surprise. Being a free download, I did not expect much in the way of content from it, but it is quite a bit more robust than I anticipated: not only does it display the level up and TM moves for each Pokémon, but it also displays which they can learn through breeding and to what egg group each monster belongs. What’s most impressive about the application are the Pokémon models themselves: each has been rendered lovingly with a level of detail heretofore unseen in any three-dimensional Pokémon title, and the animations for them are all wonderfully done. That you begin with only sixteen Pokémon in the database is not really an issue– you do, after all, receive three random ones a day via SpotPass, and, if you are fortunate enough, you can encounter more by exchanging data with a friend. Some may find this last feature annoying, but I’d like to think it was included so your 3DS emulates a real Pokédex, only acquiring data for a Pokémon after actually encountering it in the wild.
The availability of (almost) the entire DSiWare catalog is certainly a benefit for the service, especially this early in its life. I was initially disappointed there weren’t more games available for Virtual Console, but that prompted me to rummage through some of the other offerings. On a whim I purchased Bird & Beans (yes, again– I did not actually pay for my original copy, so I had no qualms about purchasing another one) and Art Style: precipice. I had never played an Art Style title before, but it looked intriguing enough for me to purchase essentially blindly. I am thankful for that: the game is one of the most addictive I have ever played, and I would recommend it without hesitation to anyone who is curious about it.
In all, the eShop is a marked improvement over Nintendo’s past efforts. I only hope the Virtual Console is not updated as torturously slowly as Wii’s was.
What do you think of the eShop? Share your opinions in the comments section!