Surprisingly, Nintendo seemed to have uploaded their free Nintendo Entertainment System games for their 3DS ‘Ambassadors’ a day earlier than they had announced. Typically I’m sitting around in the afternoon to evening waiting for something new to show up on the Virtual Console. I think Nintendo is still trying to figure out this newfangled “internet” business the kids are raving about today.
The NES games are Nintendo’s thanks to folks who purchased their Nintendo 3DS device at the original $249 price tag before it was officially lowered to $169 last month due more than likely to unmet sales expectations. 10 Game Boy Advance games were also included in this reward package. Five have been confirmed.
The following GBA games have been confirmed as of this entry:
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit (2001)
- Metroid: Fusion (2002)
- Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island (1995, 2002)*
- Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ (2003)
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong (2004)
*Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island is a Game Boy Advance port of the 1995 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island originally on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990, 2003) has been rumored to be part of the package.
Leave it to Nintendo to refrain from keeping it simple, however. Their interface for browsing has typically been notoriously convoluted. Unless there was another way some of us completely missed, this is how you access your free NES games:
- Access the Nintendo eShop from the 3DS menu.
- Tap ‘Menu’
- Find and tap ‘Settings / Other’
- Find and tap ‘Your Downloads’
- Find one of the NES games such as Super Mario Bros. and tap ‘Redownload’
- Once the download finishes, repeat Step 2…
I’m not even kidding. When it asks if you’d like to continue, you are taken back to the first eShop menu, and it becomes a lather and repeat process for all six steps. I use a very good internet connection at home, but folks who aren’t so lucky may be sitting tight for a bit.
Nintendo released the following games, and I will be talking about some of them today:
- Donkey Kong, Jr. (1982)
- Balloon Fight (1984)
- Ice Climbers (1985)
- Wrecking Crew (1985)
- Super Mario Bros. (1985)
- Metroid (1986)
- The Legend of Zelda (1986)
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987)
- NES Open Tournament Golf (1991)
- Yoshi (1992)
Possibly the most successful spin-off of all time. /kanyewest
Super Mario Bros.
A long lost gem by Nintendo, never to be ever revisited–who am I kidding? You know what this is. Your grandmother knows who he is. Moses knew what Super Mario Bros. was and he split the Red Sea in two to find a copy. This was just the beginning of an empire, domination of a world whose subjects would lovingly get down on their knees and bow to a little man in red overalls. To be honest, I’m not one hundred percent on whether Super Mario Bros. was actually a launch game for the NES. Eventually Nintendo sold NES consoles that included the more common Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt two-in-one cartridge in addition to the gray Zapper gun accessory (I think). It is famously Mario’s first real grand adventure having legally changed his name from “Jumpman” and moving to bigger and better things from climbing ladders and avoiding barrels in Donkey Kong (1981). Super Mario Bros. is just about my age, and it’s still one of the most accessible games ever developed. The challenge is perfect. It’s still a fun way to kill a little time if you decide not to use any warp zone pipes. The concept and world design was crazy enough to keep running with it for decades. Its retro graphics have not aged well, but arguably everything else has. In a time now where people are playing quick games on their mobile phones and people embracing indie-developed homages like Super Meat Boy, the old has inverted into new. Playing this straight (that is to say, without any warping), I was able to get to 7-3 before I finally saw a Game Over screen. Remind me to try that Koopa turtle 1-Up trick next time.
Joust, Nintendo style.
Balloon Fight is the surprise hit of this collection for me and possibly my favorite in this collection. This is most likely because of my strange obsession with the 1982 Williams Electronics arcade game Joust. In Joust, you repeatedly tap a button to make your character’s giant ostrich fly around while trying to take out enemy characters on their ostriches before they have a chance to do the same to you. You are, well, jousting. I am not a great Joust player, but I love the idea and the design and the execution. Balloon Fight takes this idea and spins it into a friendlier “I’m a guy floating on a balloon and I need to take these birds out before they take me out over water instead of lava.” I think it’s even better embracing the game as an adult because of the hilarious concept and the hilarious idea of birds needing to float on balloons rather than just flying around. The fact that a man is taking birds out of the sky when they may have more of a right to be there than he does is something to ponder. Maybe they believe in fair competition, which explains why it’s one man versus about five or six birds per stage. Not to recycle the point, but much like Super Mario Bros. I found it to be a very fun pick-up-and-play kind of game and it’s the kind of thing you will find today in some mobile app stores. There is a two-player mode, but I’m not actually sure that’s supported on the 3DS. The third mode is “Balloon Trip,” which has the player trying to keep the balloon guy afloat dodging lightning bolts and popping other balloons. Thumbs up, I say.
The world's hungriest dragon.
To be perfectly honest, there isn’t much I feel I can say on Yoshi. It seemed like Nintendo wanted to get its fill of puzzle games in like Dr. Mario and Yoshi’s Cookie after the success of Tetris on Game Boy. In this game, you mix and match Mario’s recognizable rogue’s gallery and essentially score points connecting the same enemies together. Score good combos and keep the queues from spilling over and resulting in a Game Over. Occasionally, top and bottom halves of Yoshi’s eggs will drop, and if you manage to sandwich in many enemies in between the halves, you can score a lot of bonus points and hatch a Yoshi. This is an okay little time-waster, but there is something more appealing about Dr. Mario and Tetris. Yoshi feels rather limited.
Cruelty in a box.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
I should probably alert you to the fact that I didn’t exactly play this on the 3DS, but I recently did play it on the Wii Virtual Console from beginning to end. Zelda II has a bit of gained infamy over the years because it’s a bit of a departure from the design of The Legend of Zelda, which preceded it. The side-scrolling combat of Zelda II would never really see its way into any future two-dimensional entry of the series, nor would the idea of gaining experience points to strengthen health or magic or attacks. We would see the idea of visiting towns and talking to non-player characters who dispense more useless advice than useful in future games. Zelda II might be remembered for two things, if anything: “I am Error,” and its difficulty.
Like the first game, the player travels to several palaces to defeat the boss and find an important item for later use. Honestly, it feels like you as the player don’t have much to go on when not only unlocking new spells, but discovering locations and especially the locations of the palaces of Hyrule. In 2011, this would be a complaint, but I remember that in the ancient calendar year of 1988, a lot of secrets that weren’t hinted at were most likely only available through an issue of Nintendo Power. It’s probably how Nintendo got you to get a subscription! A lot of the game’s difficulty comes in the palaces, where you meet an entirely different set of enemies compared to the ones you run into in the game’s overworld map. In addition, many enemies are just as skilled with a blade as Link is, and you have to maneuver and time your hits to even get a hit in of maybe five just to get to a new area. The palaces become mazes and some areas are accessed in ways that are so not made clear. Unfortunately, if you lose all of your lives (yet another feature that would never be revisited in this series), you start all over from Zelda’s palace where she rests (until you wake her by acquiring the Triforce of Courage) and you have to make your way all the way back. This got especially infuriating at Death Mountain on your way to the final palace. Death Mountain is the stuff of nightmares, with its cruel enemies and their cruel patterns. It is also the game’s real test of courage not only for Link, but for us, who were willing to toil away all those hours gaining strength, to summon the courage needed to face that final palace, where heroes are forged. *ahem* Sorry, got carried away there. The point is, that place is a bitch!
Haunting your childhood dreams.
Zelda II is arguably the least appreciated game in the Legend of Zelda series, but it does have its charm and its difficulty is the stuff of legends. I always applauded Nintendo’s efforts to experiment with different ideas (and that does not include slapping Mario sprites on Doki Doki Panic! and calling it Super Mario Bros. 2) when they did. I was personally relieved when I finished the game finally, compared to my sadness when I finished Ocarina of Time 3D.
It may be a little off for me to jump right into talking about Zelda II without even discussing The Legend of Zelda, but I intend to get to it soon now that I have access to it again. I used to have the Gamecube Collector’s Disc edition from 2003, which had the NES games, Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask but I sold it off.
The next entry will, of course, cover more NES games in this package as I get to them.