It's almost here: on June 6th, Nintendo will finally release an update allowing 3DS owners to use the eShop to buy old Game Boy games as well as original titles in digital form... well, 3 of them anyway. Yes, the old classics will be sparse at the launch of Nintendo's eShop, but there is a silver lining: over 350 DSiware titles will be ready to be downloaded.
And Negative World is here to help you find the best of the best.
But first, if you haven't already, please check out part 1 of this feature. Also, be aware of one thing : because the native resolutions of the 3DS and the DS are different, some retail DS games look less than optimal when played on the 3DS, and it will be the same for DSiware titles. The picture quality varies from game to game, and we are unable to test these on a 3DS unit so be warned: any comments about the graphical quality of these titles refer to them being played on a DSi system, and are not indicative of how they will look on 3DS.
That said, these games are all high quality where it counts, the gameplay, and that will not change when played on a 3DS! So please, give these games a spin:
Developer: AlienAfterAll Publisher: NEKO Entertainment Cost: 800 Points
DodoGo! is a pretty amazing package. Originally intended to be a full retail release for the DS, the game ended up coming out as a downloadable for DSiWare. Hopefully this change hasn't limited the potential audience for the game, because it's amazing. It's the same kind of mechanic that Lemmings and Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! are based off of. You must guide a number of dodo eggs from one end of a stage to the safety of their nest at the other end of the stage. Using the stylus, you can manipulate the environment, tend to the eggs, and build new structures to ensure the safety of the young dodos. There are nearly 100 stages for you to conquer, so there is plenty for you to do here. Top it all off with cute, catchy music, top-notch presentation with bright, vivid colors and a cool art style, and smooth animation, this is a real showpiece for DSiWare. For 800 points, it's an absolute steal. Action/puzzle fans should definitely check it out.
And then, if you haven't had enough, you can get DodoGo! Challenge for 500 pts, and DodoGo! Robo for 200 points. You should not jump directly to them in the hopes of saving a few bucks, however, as they are definitely meant for DodoGo! veterans.
Shantae: Risky's Revenge, the long-awaited sequel to the rare Game Boy Color cult classic Adventure-Platformer Shantae, was obviously a real labor of love for WayForward. They've been looking to continue the series for years, and, luckily for us, DSiWare finally provided them with the opportunity.
They've made the most of it. Risky's Revenge is a fantastic throwback to the 2D golden era. It plays as well as you remember the best of those games playing, which is to say - much, much better. The titular (har!) genie's movement is zippy, the combat is fun, the controls are slick, the music (by chiptune superstar Jake "Virt" Kaufman) is exotic and catchy, and the graphics and animation are simply jaw-dropping. Shantae: Risky's Revenge is a joy to play, with a game design that harkens back to the Metroid series. However, this is a simplified take on the concept, with a smaller, denser layout, which is still packed with a healthy amount of secret areas for the intrepid explorer. And the rewards for careful exploration dovetail beautifully with the upgrade system. Perhaps the nicest surprise in Risky's Revenge is the witty, meta dialogue, which is genuinely clever and amusing.
Really, I can't say enough good things about this game. Aside from the slightly confusing overworld progression, everything here is just pure sweet cream butter. Shantae: Risky's Revenge is an absolute must-have, with more polish and charm than most retail games, and anyone looking for a fun old-school adventure will find it to be an absolute bargain at 1200 Nintendo Points. Highly recommended. Believe the hype.
Art Style: Boxlife
Developer: Skip Ltd. Publisher: Nintendo Cost: 500 Points
Art Style: Boxlife is yet another DSiWare contribution from the mad puzzle geniuses at Skip. Like most of their other games on the service, it brings some fresh new ideas to an often tired genre, while sprucing them up with a healthy dose of style and charm. Basically, Boxlife is a puzzle game about cutting and folding cardboard shapes into boxes. You play as a box worker in a box factory. Sounds boring, right? That's the joke! The game works as subversive commentary on life in general and game playing in specific. Perform menial tasks more efficiently, and your boxy character will rise to the 'next level' in the box-cutting world, thereby earning nicer clothes, a new title, and more superficial adornments for his virtual house. It's all quite clever and humorous.
As for the actual gameplay, most of it centers around time-based pattern recognition. R&D Mode will introduce you to the basic six-square shapes that can be folded into a box, tasking you to cut predefined shapes into boxes without wasting any squares. It starts quite simply, but ramps up in the later levels, where the puzzles can consist of several different shapes. The cutting and folding action is very elegantly handled on the system's touch-screen. Factory Mode allows you to use your box-cutting skillz in a more freeform, creative manner, with a slowly scrolling assembly line of cardboard that you must continually cut and fold, eliminating bombs by boxing them up (and, theoretically, sending them to customers) before they explode and earning combos by making several boxes in rapid succession.
If you're up for the challenge, though, Boxlife is a fresh, funny take on the puzzle genre that is well worth playing. (And the music is great, too.)
Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon
Developer: Fuse Games Publisher: Nintendo Cost: 500 Points
This original stand-alone table takes a physical simulation approach to pinball, rather than the unrealistic fantasy approach. Though packed with imaginary targets and lights and ramps (and even a 'video mode'), this is a table that could technically be built. It also makes the most of its original theme as original as the theme of Ancient Greece can be, anyway). The Ancients Beckon is positively dripping with old-school pinball charm, from the sharp graphics to the amazing voice work, which, in classic pinball fashion, sounds slightly compressed. If you don't crack a smile at Zeus' blustery admonitions, then you have no soul.
For the souled among you, however, Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon is one of the safest bets on DSiWare. The modes are limited to Normal Play and a Daily one-ball challenge, and there's only one table here, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more solid, inventive, and charming pinball table. My single gripe about the game concerns the use of the touch-screen for tilt, but that tiny blemish does little to mar the excellence of Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon, hopefully only the first in a long-running series.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, Pinball Pulse is one of the handful of non-transferable games/apps. But DSi(XL) owners should still give it a look!
Starship Defense (Starship Patrol in the UK/EU)
Developer: Q-Games Publisher: Nintendo Cost: 500 Points
Ask any fan of the PixelJunk series: Q-Games knows how to make good tower defense games. And predictably enough, Starship Defense is probably the best game of the genre on the system. It may not be as colorful as PixelJunk Monsters, but it is just as addictive. And just as challenging: you can try to get the best possible score as well as a "Perfect" mention by not letting one enemy escape alive, but in many cases, simply surviving the level will be challenging enough. It can get frustrating, especially since one mistake early in a mission may cost you the game, but you only realize this when a fire-breathing serpent kills you dead at the very last minute without you being able to stop it. One thing is certain, however: you will find it hard to resist hitting Retry immediately.
Developer: SRD Co. Publisher: Nintendo Cost: 200 Points
It is no exaggeration to say that this game single-handedly justifies the existence of the DSi's terribly low-resolution cameras. The idea (and the execution, to be honest) is a simple one: taking photos of your friends in different fighting stances, and then duke it out in-game. The results are as hilarious as what your friends can come up with. The game itself is shallow, to say the least, and perhaps the whole process of putting a friend into the game is a little too long: they'll have to bear with it and you will have to reassure them that it's all worthwhile. But in the end, the laughs you'll get will very much be worth the $2.
Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ
Developer: EnjoyUp Games Publisher: Gammick Entertainment Cost: 800 Points
At 800 points, LRRHZBBQ may seem like one of the DSiware services' more expensive games, but when you consider the fact that this was previously a retail release, it starts to look like a good deal.
As the titular LRRH armed with a machine gun, you traverse fantasy lands trying to rid your world of a zombie plague. You cross varied levels and new types of zombies are introduced until the very end to keep the game fresh. The complete absence of a scoring system will make shmup fans raise an eyebrow, but at least the three difficulty levels should still provide plenty of gameplay. There is an undeniable charm about the game, but don't be fooled by the fairy tales subject matter and the anime style, this is one gruesome adventure not meant for children. Seriously. The sight of Red Riding Hood's Granny spitting possessed dentures is sure to scar any young one for life.
Dark Void Zero
Developer: Other Ocean Interactive Publisher: Capcom Cost: 500 Points
Dark Void Zero is made out to be a long-lost NES game, finally available for us to play, via DSiWare. And it really does feel like one. While a little shorter than your average NES game, there is enough content here for the asking price. You play as a space marine trying to eradicate the enemy alien scum in various outer-world locations. The gameplay consists of a 2D shooter with gun powerups, and a jetpack powerup that is very fun to use. The level design is quite good, with large areas that require trekking to specific locations to find keycards to advance. The challenge is there even on normal difficulty, and there are collectibles to snag along the way. If you're looking for a solid throwback 2D action platformer, look no further than Dark Void Zero.
So there you have it. There are many, many more games on the DSiware service that are worth a look, but this should be enough to get you started. Come back if you run out, perhaps this will motivate us to write part three!
We mention "points" in this article, as currently gamers have to buy batches of points that they use to buy the games. The conversion system is simple in North America: $1 = 100 pts (that goes for the US as well as Canada). However, in the United Kingdom for instance, Ł14 = 2000 pts. Nintendo has announced that the 3DS's e-Store would drop the points system: you will still need to buy "batches" of dollars to be used on the store, but no more Nintendo points. We believe we can expect Nintendo to convert the prices in accordance with the current rates, so depending on where you are, convert accordingly.
Thanks go to Anand for the Pinball Pulse, Shantae and Boxlife entries, anon_mastermind for the Dark Zero entry, and GameDadGrant for the DodoGo! entry.
That's kind of a bummer. Lots of great games here, though!
I was flipping through the DSiWare menu yesterday, trying to figure out how to most effectively burn off my remaining DSi Points (they don't transfer, right?), and there were quite a few interesting candidates, including a few Nintendo-published titles that I totally missed, somehow.
Actually, portable versions are often better than their big brothers, since each version is usually handled by a different team. Licensed games, specifically, are almost always better on portables, because making a decent 2D game is a lot easier than making a decent 3D game.
I downloaded Pinball Pulse and Photo Dojo today both of which are great. Is that the voice of Brian Blessed in Pinball Pulse? I keep expecting him to shout Gordon's Alive!!!!! I now have 300 points to spare but don't know whether to add a further 1000 for Shantae or just download Aura Aura Climber, what do you guys think?
Now that the Pikmin have transferred my games (except for Pinball Pulse *sniff*), I've got to trade my i for an XL.
@VofEscaflowne I haven't played too many iPhone games, to be honest. I wrote a review for Aura-Aura Climber, but, long story short, I just find it to be a fun, beautifully designed game for two bones. It's kind of a perfect fit for DSiWare.
I'll probably be the only person not saying they love Aura-Aura Climber. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a good game and worth $2. But if you've seen it in action and don't think you'll enjoy it, I doubt playing it will change your mind.
I also recently bought Art Style: Base 10 and I really enjoy it. The whole math angle can be scary, but I've always like math. And once I understood how the chaining worked it kinda hit that same itch that Tetris Attack and Meteos hit for me where I'm setting stuff up, not just trying to survive.