The 3DS eShop and Internet Browser available now, fleshes out the 3DS online offering. Early titles include Zelda Link's Awakening on the GBC Virtual Console, as well as Excitebike in the Classic games section.
The Virtual console, Wii-ware and DSi-ware may have started slowly, but to anyone paying attention these have become the outlets for some of the system's best games. I've played more Starship Patrol, Pinball Pulse and Pop Island (all on DSi-ware) than any other game in the last year or so.
The 3DS looks like it will be the time when Nintendo not only make good on promises about providing games electronically, but also makes it easier to find, favourite and download them. This is the challenge in front of the eShop on the 3DS.
With some serious rethinking it seems that Nintendo are finally brining their A game online. Having seen the 360 adopt Mii style avatars, they are returning the favour with some rather Xbox Live style community features on the 3DS.
The eShop consists of five areas, DS-ware, Virtual Console, 3DS Classics and a fresh 3DS Ecosystem.
The May downloadable update for the 3DS promises to provide an option to transfer DSi-ware purchases made on the DSi or DSi XL across to your 3DS. This combines with the launch of the eShop itself that will also enable you to buy DSi-ware titles directly on the 3DS.
Fig 1. DSi-ware Transfer to 3DS
This is the part of the eShop that provides retro games on Gameboy, Gameboy Colour (ed: not Gameboy Advance yet sadly) and TurboGraphx-16. Like the Virtual Console on the Wii, this means you can buy your favourite old games and play them in upscaled mode on the 3DS.
Fig 2. Mario Land GB on 3DS
These are classic DS games that have not only been upscaled to display on the 3DS but also re-coded to provide the 3D layers of the handheld's top screen. These games are different from titles that have been remade specifically for the 3DS, like Zelda Ocarina of Time, because those games also have reworked graphics and control schemes that take advantage of the new 3DS features (gyroscopes, cameras and accelerometers).
Currently unconfirmed, these games would be the equivalent of DSi-ware and Wii-ware titles on the DS. Smaller, downloadable experiences designed exclusively for the 3DS hardware seem to be a likely development in the years to come.
This part of the eShop enables you to browse short videos and demo games and then rate them. This makes finding games in the eShop much easier. You can browse titles by platform as before. Additionally though you can view games for a particular franchise - regardless of format. I like this feature because it lets you see all the Mario games in one place, regardless if they are DSi-ware, full games or Virtual Console titles. You can also view a currently popular list of games that are selling well that day.
Fig 3. Search, Demo, Rate and Favourite eShop Wares
Once you have selected a particular game you are now able to view a video of gameplay, read other player's comments, view more details and in some cases download a short demo of the game. You can even maintain a list of favourite games within the shop software. It's a million miles from the two blurry screenshots and brief description on offer in the DSi-ware channel on the DSi.
This combines with the 3DS's new system wide friend code to create a much more compelling gaming community. Once friended, you can not only see which of your friends are online, but also what they are doing.
Here you can purchase subscriptions or pay per view videos to watch. This will include curated 3D content of the comedy short and music video genre. It will also include a Netflix function in the US and Eurosport in the UK.