6 Ways To Improve Nintendo’s eShop for 3DS

On February of this year, I became an owner of a Nintendo 3DS. My initial reason for buying one was because my DS Lite was having all sorts of problems and I was in dire need of playing Dragon Quest IX with something other than a D-Pad. Since then, I’ve managed to pick up 6 retail games, 7 3DS downloadable titles, and 11 Virtual Console games. Needless to say, I’m quite content with the handheld and still have plenty of other games to look forward to purchasing both physically and digitally. However, that isn’t to say all is well. As I have more games digitally, I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the eShop and have found there are a few flaws that really need some fixing up. Here’s a few things I feel Nintendo could improve on them.

Add Super Game Boy Colors and Borders

One thing I automatically noticed right off the bat with certain Game Boy games on the eShop was that they had zero Super Game Boy support. The Super Game Boy was an add-on for the Super Nintendo that came in the form of a cartridge and would allow you to play Game Boy games directly through the SNES. Aside from having a bigger screen to play Game Boy games on, you had the ability to cycle through different color palettes and borders to fill up the rest of the screen. While it didn’t completely colorize the games, it offered something other than black and green (or black and white in the case of the Game Boy Pocket’s screen). Some Game Boy games, however, offered specific colors and special borders for their games. In some cases, the SNES hardware even helped improve things (such as Donkey Kong, where Pauline’s shouts for help were actually voiced and not a short sound).

Unfortunately, all pre-Game Boy Color games offer only a monochrome color palette and no Super Game Boy border. While you can add a border of a Game Boy to the screen while running the game in its native resolution, it’s still an absolute mystery as to why Nintendo doesn’t offer Super Game Boy support for said games. Even Kirby’s Dreamland 2 in Kirby’s Dream Collection on the Wii only offers a monochrome palette, though it does offer a custom border to it.

Fix the Prices

Another glaring issue I’ve come across was how oddly priced everything was. For starters, everything in the 3DS eShop ends with a cent value of 99 cents. This is a very big no-no as Nintendo only offers methods of adding funds in dollar values that have no cents. Whether it be a card or using a debit/credit card, you can’t add any money that ends in 99 cents. This means that if you purchase a $20 3DS digital funds card, you will find yourself with spare change that’s effectively useless and an incredible pain to attempt evening out. You will practically never be left with $0 in funds.

This is where the other issue in all this comes from – the Wii’s eShop offers everything at simply a dollar value. No cents added on. Why did the 3DS eShop add this? Not only this, but the Wii’s Virtual Console has set prices on games based on the platform they’re on (with exceptions being if they’re a licensed or import title, making them 100 Wii Points extra). Super Mario Bros. is available on both the Wii and 3DS Virtual Console. For the Wii, it costs 500 Wii Points (the equivalent of $5), whereas it’s $4.99 on the 3DS. That missing cent creates a mess of one’s fund balance. This same problem occurs with DSiWare, which can be transferred between a DSi to a 3DS. Dragon Quest Wars, for example, is 500 DSi Points (again, the equivalent of $5) when purchased via a DSi. In order to purchase it on the 3DS, you must pay $4.99.

Now the other problem with the lack of set prices compared to the Wii’s Virtual Console is how games will be priced wildly different among each other, despite being for the same platform. For the Wii, NES games will cost 500 Wii Points, SNES 800, N64 1,000 and so on. However, it seems games are just randomly priced based on how likely they are to be seen as must-own titles. Here’s an example – the Game Gear games Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, Shinobi and Dragon Crystal cost $4.99, $3.99 and $2.99 respectively. They’re all the very same platform. The same holds true with Game Boy games, such as Kid Icarus: Of Myth and Monsters being $3.99 and Mole Mania being $2.99. Everything needs to have the cents removed and the games need to be a more organized price, all resembling closer to the Wii and DSi shops.

Add Game Boy Advance Library

So here’s a good question: Why hasn’t Nintendo started adding Game Boy Advance games to the Virtual Console library? The 3DS Ambassador program gave early 3DS owners several free NES and GBA games for free to make up for the 3DS’ price drop. Some NES titles went on sale. None of the GBA games have and Nintendo’s gone on to say they have no plans to add them. Again: Why? The biggest advantage the DS Lite had over the DSi and 3DS was that it not only had the ability to play Game Boy Advance games on top of its own library of games. With the 3DS, we’ve now begun to get back the ability to play Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. So if Ambassador’s got a hold of some GBA games, why not make more available for people to actually buy? The GBA is regarded as Nintendo’s best handheld next to the DS because of its library. As some would say: “What’s the matter, Nintendo? Don’t you want money?”

More Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16 Support

Back in March of this year, Nintendo announced that select Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16 titles would be released as part the 3DS’ Virtual Console. Since then, we’ve only seen a total of 3 Game Gear games (5 in PAL regions and 8 in Japan), where as TurboGrafx-16 games have remained a no-show. As it stands, the Virtual Console on the 3DS is in dire need of more games for different platforms and at a quicker release. Nintendo had a good start with the 8-Bit Summer promotion, but seemed to go back to releasing Virtual Console titles at a snail’s pace. It would seem to make more sense to adopt a format that would see the release of two or three games spread out between the platforms the 3DS’ Virtual Console offers. While Game Gear doesn’t offer as wide a variety of games as the Game Boy platforms did, it still had a few good games that deserve to be brought in. The same with the TurboGrafx-16, as it’s been nearing 7 months since the announcement and not one TG16 game has been released.

A More User-Friendly UI

Make no mistake, the UI for the eShop is alright, but it’s quite frankly a mess. Every week, the selections change around, meaning some options will either be pushed around or removed. A good example would be how on one week, there was a Demos option to select from the featured tabs. The next week saw the release of Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy‘s demo. However, there was a problem; the tab for Demos wasn’t being featured. This meant you had to go about using the search option to do this. This is problematic, as this not only prevents people from checking a certain section of releases, it also keeps users from seeing what else may be available. The same issue happened with Virtual Console titles until they slapped a smaller icon for it below the featured tabs. Having access to Virtual Console games, Demos, DSiWare, 3D game downloads and retail games should always be an available option and not a luck of the draw.

Less Low Quality, More Higher Quality Games

One problem WiiWare (and arguably a lot of third party retail Wii titles) suffered from are the staggeringly high number of shovelware titles thrown up. The 3DS (and DSi) eShop is, unfortunately, no different. The 3DS eShop has some really good 3DS Downloads and DSiWare that are worth checking out. Unfortunately, they’re small in number compare to how many games that feel like cheap ports of smart phone games (namely of the iOS variety), Flash games or even straight up copy-cats of successful games of said platform. The eShop could really use some more quality titles like Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Sakura Samurai, Dillon’s Rolling Adventure, Mutant Mudds and Pushmo.

Heck, if they want, publishers should go the route of localizing DS games that were never released outside of Japan. I’m looking at you, Capcom and Namco-Bandai, and your games, Ace Attorney Investigations 2 and Tales of Innocence. It’s understandable that some developers don’t have the cash or manpower to go all out on their games. However, when games like Cave Story have only one person working on a game in their spare time and manage to produce something of high quality, that’s when that excuse starts to look rather weak.

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5 comments on “6 Ways To Improve Nintendo’s eShop for 3DS

  1. You can actually pay in exact amounts now, it’s just not completely obvious at first. Don’t bother adding funds; just go straight to purchase the game. When it asks you to add funds, there’s a “Needed Funds” button that will let you add exactly as much as you need, and not a penny more. Of course, that only helps if you’re paying with a credit card instead of a prepaid Nintendo FunnyMoney card..

    My balance is zero, and it’s going to stay that way.

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