I’ve lured you here under false pretences I’m afraid, there isn’t any new content. Well there is, and it’s a Pokedex. So if pokemon and the collecting there of is your thing, you’ll be happy. If not… enjoy your 3D Excitebike, because that’s all you’re getting. The shop is nicely designed though, and is quite flexible in implementation. At launch it has sections like ‘puzzle games’ and ‘4-player games’ which are infinitely variable, depending on what they want to highlight. This is a great idea, as I’ve been stuck a few times in a situation where I’d like another game to play with the people I’m hanging out with. Of course they would all need to buy a 3DS, and be willing to purchase the game as well, but that just means I need to make richer friends. Or hope they implement download play on eshop titles. It means there will likely be a ‘Mario Games’ section that encapsulates 90% of the Nintendo software, but there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s good stuff.
So the interface is decently done with the small screen, and the payment scheme is still annoyingly dependant on blocks of money being put into a wallet. That wouldn’t matter as much if we could be buying small 99 cent games, or those on sale, but it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen.
“We believe strongly in maintaining the value of games,” says David Wharton, director of eShop operations, “The race to the bottom is not in the best interest of the game business.” So, NOA doesn’t seem like it wants to compete with the iPhone and Android marketplaces, which I’m sure will be endlessly debated. Personally I don’t care, as long as I get good software across the platforms, at a reasonable price. That price will never be below $1.99 it seems for eShop games, but that’s not a lot of money to pay for a good game.
Looking a little more closely at the layout of the new eShop, it now has both screen shots and videos that will use both screens, up to about a half-dozen of each. Demos have apparently been discussed, but there hasn’t been any news of that feature being available. It seems like something they need to implement, as even at $2 I’m loathe to spend money on something before I’ve tried it out. Even reading reviews of a game on a site like this, I would much rather actually have the game in my hand. Having mandatory demos on Xbox Live has been great for that platform, and is a real strength. Nintendo needs to follow along on this if they want to truly be competitive in the online arena. One nice thing that they have added is the ability to transfer games from your DSi onto your 3DS. You can download a system transfer application on the DSi shop and use it to move the games over. They’ll be deleted from your DSi or DSi XL of course, but you can move from both onto a single 3DS, which is a nice touch.
Looking back at the games that are available, I was hoping for a bit more on the Game Boy games. You can change from a black and white colour scheme to the more authentic greyish and greenish dot matrix that we knew and loved. Given this I’ll assume that the upcoming games from TurboGrafx and Game Gear are going to be bog standard ROMs as well, but of course that remains to be seen. Nothing to get too excited about here, really.
Nintendo is selling the eShop as more of a service than a game, and is saying that it will be constantly updated with features. Here’s hoping that it really is, as the inability to use a code to download a game, the lack of demos and the frustrating wallet really shows that Nintendo is behind the market leaders. Releasing 3D videos from E3 and possibly some movie trailers is a good start, but we need more. The Wii market and the DSi store withered and died because of a lack of great games, hopefully this revamped eShop and the establishment of a new division dedicated to it shows that Nintendo is actually serious this time. Please?