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Feature - Exploring the Nintendo eShop

posted 9 Jun 2011, 13:43 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 9 Jun 2011, 19:35 ]
Boy was it ever difficult to connect to the eShop late Monday night. After a long delay that met with even more delay time leading up to its release, it was great to finally see an online service appear on the Nintendo 3DS. Many feel this should have been incldued from the get-go, and while I don’t necessarily feel as strongly as some do about the matter, I definitely feel that the eShop plays a big role in providing additional content and continuing the trend of player satisfaction. 

It’s exciting just thinking about the sorts of titles ambitious developers will release for this platform in the coming months ahead, especially now that the size limits have seen considerable improvement over the DSiWare service. For now, though, let’s take a few moments to delve into the eShop’s structure and get a better idea of the sorts of improvements Nintendo has been tooting.

The first thing to notice is the way they’re striving for a slightly more personal touch when it comes to interactivity. Kind of like the DSi Sound application and the Wii’s Photo Channel where we were introduced to two animal “hosts” (a parrot and a black cat, respectively), the eShop is home to an animated shopping bag with nothing but smiles for prospective shoppers. To be sure, it’s a simple character by virtue but there’s just something slightly more welcoming about having an animated sprite accompany you on your shopping experience.

Until further notice, when you boot up the eShop, 3D Classics: Excitebike is the first game that’s advertised. To see the other exclusive games that are available at launch including Super Mario Land, you’ll have to first scroll past a couple for accessing more games. It’s a little weird to see games like Pokedex 3D mixed in amongst the other folders on the Main Menu instead of having them all clumped together.

On first glance, the organization is certainly a tep-sup from the DSi Shop, with categories like ‘Staff Pick of the Week’, ‘DSiWare Favourites’ and ‘Essential Games’ offering key points of interest. There’s also a section just for Mario games, one for two-player games and a couple genre-specific areas. Seeing sections designated for puzzle, card and strategy games says a lot about the sorts of titles that were in high demand over the course of the DSiWare service. Nintendo is definitely aware of who their target audience is and what their purchasing patterns have been like since DSiWare’s inception.

Along the far left of the Main Menu, you’ll find a menu for considering sales data or viewing the latest releases. A series of options have also been placed in this area, and these include things like adding funds to your account and rating titles a la the Nintendo Channel. These can also be accessed at any time by tapping the Menu icon in the top-left corner of the Touch Screen, which is handy.

Looking beyond what’s on display and actually delving into the individual components of the eShop, I found myself having a different reaction to some of the early decisions Nintendo made here. Take for example, the ‘DSiWare Favourites’ section. As pleasing as it was to see niche game Big Bass Arcade make an appearance in this area, I can’t understand what possessed Nintendo to promote titles like Remote Racers, Hospital Havoc or Academy: Tic-Tac-Toe. I can already think of 5 games that are much more deserving of being crowned a ‘Favourite’. 

Then, as I moved to the ‘Essential Games’, I could see a similar pattern of certain titles being promoted that, in my opinion, did not deserve “front page status”. Dragon Quest Wars? Yes! Arcade Hoops Basketball? Need for Speed: Nitro-X? No way. Talk about sending mixed messages of what truly is “essential” to a gamer’s library.

After observing that even some of the genre-specific categories had questionable picks, I soon realized this was pretty much a universal thing. Two Scrabble games make it into the Strategy Games’ area, and yet there’s no sign of Starship Defense or even Libera Wing? That makes no sense. I have no idea what their process is of determining what titles get promoted here, but I can tell you I was sorely disappointed to see real must-have games like X-Scape not appearing whatsoever.

On top of all that, I can’t believe there’s no actual DSiWare browsing space in the shop! There’s a huge catalogue of games that many aren’t even aware of and Nintendo chooses to only highlight some of these in their ‘Favourites’ area? I’m not pleased at all. The only way a person can find out about games like
is by entering them into the Search bar. But therein lies one of the big problems I’ve always complained about with the DSi Shop -- ineffective marketing strategies.

Numerous people are completely unaware of what actually exists on the DSiWare service because the less-important stuff shines through on the sales charts. By now, I expected Nintendo would act on this, but instead they seem to be simply turning a partially blind eye to it.

As I conclude this piece, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m dissatisfied with the new eShop. But put simply, Nintendo has made ineffective and very upsetting choices that must be rectified moving forward. Otherwise, we’re just going to see a repeat of the last few years where deserving third-party titles will continue to be brushed aside to make room for hyped games like Cave Story and big sellers like Extreme Hangman.