achtungexplosiv: (Default)
At the end of July, Nintendo decided to try and stimulate the slow-moving 3DS market by introducing a hefty price cut to bring the console out of the range of second-hand XBox 360s and PS3. This was accompanied by many executives taking voluntary salary cuts, and promises of a loyalty reward scheme for those customers who had already bought a 3DS at its initial retail price. (A news article can be found on

As of the 1st of September 2011, UK Nintendo 3DS owners that had previously registered with the eShop were entered into the Nintendo Ambassador scheme.

Ambassador Program Logo

If you had bought a 3DS before the big price cut, you're rewarded by being given free copies of various NES and GB/GBA game releases through the Virtual Console. Naturally as soon as I got wind of this scheme (it was sent as a streetpass notification to my 3DS some time in early august) I visited the eShop to sign up.

20 free games over the course of September and October as compensation? Yes please!

Over the weekend, I visited the eShop to claim the first half of my games: the NES Virtual Console releases. The 10 games released so far are as follows:
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  • Metroid
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Wrecking Crew
  • Ice Climbers
  • Mario and Yoshi
  • Donkey Kong JR.
  • NES Open Tournament Golf
  • Balloon Fight
I've had a quick test play with most of the titles so far. They're faithful reproductions of the orignal games without much in the way of added functionality (Circle pad is enabled and that's pretty much yer lot): clunky controls, beepy sounds and all.

On the one hand it means you do get the full classic retrogaming experience, and the games will suspend properly, but on the other it means that games without save files still don't have them. Metroid uses a password system for example, and whilst the 3DS does have an inbuilt notepad for scribbling down bits and pieces it gets clunky to do this. I'd have preferred it if they'd added a proper save system as well, personally.

The nitty gritty

The way it works is as follows: connecting to the eShop before the end of August meant that your 3DS had been flagged as an Ambassador machine and your account noted for Ambassadorship. As of September 1st, the flagged accounts connecting to the eShop will be able to view and download the Ambassador Certificate, that also allows Ambassador program streetpass notifications. The 10 NES games are registered as having already been 'bought' by that account and so you "re-download" them to the SD card that came with the console. The games aren't too heavy and so they download and install quickly, appearing as unwrapped gifts on the Home menu.

No word as yet on the release dates of the GB/GBA games half; even the titles in the release are not fully known yet. So far Nintendo has listed Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, Mario vs. Donkey Kong and WarioWare, Inc. They have been promised for release later in the year.

What's next?

Given that we've just had 10 new games landing, however, I don't think there's a huge rush to get the remaining 10. I'm certainly rusty enough at the NES games I did play (which wasn't many - I'm a SNES generation gamer) not to remember much and I envision plenty of hours of gaming ahead of me.

3DS and Ambassador titles
achtungexplosiv: (Default)
From the earliest days of the Nintendo Game Boy, I've been a fan of handheld gaming. Travelling around London is an endurance test for children and commuters alike and the entertainment offered much needed respite and interaction. Sneaking it into school in my bag and using the old linkup cable to duel others at breaktime used to be a favourite past-time of mine and to my credit I was only ever caught once.

My best friend pursuaded her parents to buy her a Sega Game Gear when they were released and after my initial jealousy was overtaken by curiosity, I was satisfied to find it's games were mostly lacklustre and battery life was horrible. An Atari Lynx was the pride and joy of one of the boys in my class but it was heavy and clunky, with over-hyped games to boot. I didn't budge from my position when the new wave of slimmer, coloured case Game Boys hit and even the Game Boy Colour didn't impress me enough to begin the long negotiations with my parents to acquire one. Besides which, by then I was a total SNES head and eagerly awaiting further news of the Super CD. I could live with the ol' classic handheld when out and about.

The Game Boy Advance was the first to budge me from my trench, translucent casing and all. Handheld SNES - win! By then, Nintendo was in full handheld refinement swing and was releasing a new model every other year; limited editions, different shapes, different colours, smaller, bigger, backlit, frontlit, folding and so on (most notable of which was the popular Game Boy Advance SP) finally culminating in the Game Boy Micro. A business model they've kept up to this day. My cynical side kept me using that old GBA unit for years until after Sony had entered the console market and Sega bowed out. By this time, the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP were here.

I really rather liked the DS with it's touchscreen and dual screen capability because I could instantly see all sorts of uses for it to provide a different gaming experience. The PSP continued along the upping power and graphics stakes whilst Nintendo took a step to the left. I was gifted with a blue DS chunky not long before the DS Lite was released and was happy about it because in my opinion, the DS lite looked like it was some plastic thing found at the bottom of a cereal box (or would be if they hadn't banned cereal box toys as being a health and saferty hazard) and couldn't play my GBA games.

That ol' blue brick served me well through the DS Lite, the DSi and the DSi XL years until finally the next step was taken and Nintendo announced the 3DS.

3-D handheld gaming sounded to me like a total gimmick. 3-D vid cards needed glasses and the prototype 3D TVs demanded you sit pretty still in order to see the effects. I was moderately intrigued but most of the hype passed me by. That is, until I got the chance to test one out shortly before christmas 2010: I was hooked. The displays were clear, the stylus was a lot less crappy than the original DS stylus and above all the 3D effects were very robust. My only major complaint was the introduction of region locking, in my opinion a real downer but not enough to put me off the handheld entirely.

I eagerly awaited it's official release in April and I remember that hot and sunny friday well as I took an extended lunchbreak to snap up the last Aqua unit in the square mile. If I'm out of the house, it comes with me; London being packed full of people, I'm almost guaranteed a Streetpass hit once I hit the tube. Think I'm up to 74 Miis I've met by Streetpass wireless, mostly on my commute. It's such a daft thing, but it's funny to see what people have come up with (the best one I've collected is a scarily accurate Admiral Ackbar), to trade puzzle pieces and to take part in the incredibly silly castle adventure. That sort of thing isn't normally my style but for some reason I've found it compelling...
The 3D camera is fun. Low resolution but some of the images I've got have captured the depth of a scene extremely well. The wireless setup is mostly easy to use if a bit short range, and the Opera-based web browser is quite alright though nothing to write home about.

Most of all, the 3D function itself works extremely well in my view; my eyes 'lock in' very easily to find the 3D and I can move the DS around without losing the 3D depth unless it's a sudden sharp jolt. It's certainly enough to deal with average bumping about on the bus, but not if it gets smacked by someone's elbow. I've used mine a ton so far and not had eyestrain issues, so I've no idea where the 'OMG MY EYES R BLEEDING!!1!' fuss came from.

The biggest downside is battery consumption. In sleep mode it's fine and will last ages even with the occasional infrared pulse for Streetpass. The annoyance is if it's suspended because a game is on pause, or it's connecting over wifi even if you're not actively using the wifi function. Other irritations include original DS games not suspending if you want to hop to the Home menu - you have to quit out, strong light glaring off the glassy screens and the aforementioned region locking. But aside from those, I less-than-three my 3DS easily as much as I did my original ol' Game Boy.

So, is that a 3DS?

As requested by Razz, a picture of a 3DS

I play on my commute, and over quiet lunchtimes in a shaded spot. I get asked now and then if the blue thing I'm playing with is a 3DS, usually followed up with a request to look at the 3D. On the release day as I was standing on the northbound Northern Line platform at Bank on my way home, I had no fewer than 3 people come over and ask me questions about it. I've succeeded in getting the 3D effect in action to work for everyone who's asked too. Yesterday, a young girl in a wheelchair squealed in delight when she saw me sitting on a bench playing with it, having instantly recognised what it was a mile off, and after I'd demonstrated it to her with Ghost Recon was begging her mother to buy her one. Heh, oops... It seems as if people are intrigued at what the 3D effect looks like, and often are surprised that they don't have to wear 3D glasses in order to see it. It amuses me at any rate.

And now I'm off home, hopefully collecting another Mii on the way...


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