You can thank Pushmo for this article. (Pullblox in some regions.) Pushmo is arguably the best downloadable title on a Nintendo system period. And because Nintendo has finally reached new heights with its 3DS eshop it’s time to look back in appreciation at the best downloadable titles across all Nintendo platforms. Yes, that means Wii, DS, and 3DS. Nintendo downloads have 3 forms: Original titles, Virtual Console titles, and 3D Classics (only on the 3DS.) Other companies have long been offering DLC and demos and it seems Nintendo will soon be featuring some of these on the 3DS eshop as well. But, before we get to the list, let’s take a look at relatively unknown past in Nintendo’s history. It was a time when Nintendo pioneered the very concept of DLC. But it was an idea that way way before its time and didn\’t go very far. Still, Nintendo took some original steps towards embracing the internet much before its philosophy changed so radically. Who knows? Maybe their initial disappointments with the internet in the 20th century is what caused them to be so lukewarm towards it in the 21st century!
Nintendo’s Initial Foray Into DLC Territory
The Famicom Modem was the first modem ever supported by Nintendo (unlike the Teleplay Modem which even allowed online play) and it heralded the beginning of a gamer’s ability to connect to a server which would allow for new content. On the server, gamers could access game cheats, jokes, the weather, and a small amount of DLC. But, it wasn\’t until the Satellaview that Nintendo tried their own hand at connecting gamers to a satellite modem. The Satellaview was developed and released by Nintendo only in Japan but it was in partnership with St. GIGA, a satellite TV network, who handled all the technical know-how and the actual satellite broadcasting that gamers could tune in to. Subscriptions peaked at one point 116,378 households. Over five years, gamers received many different games, often with the prefix BS (Broadcast Satellite.) BS Fire Emblem, BS F-Zero, F-Zero 2 Practice, BS Super Mario Collection, Super Bombliss, Kirby’s Toy Box, DLC for Chrono Trigger, and most importantly, BS Zelda no Denetsu.
Before looking at BS Zelda, first let’s get to know some Nintendo characters who aren\’t very known in the Western half of the world. The Satellaview came with built-in software that functioned as a menu and a hub, but centered around a game. The games is called BS-XÂ : The Story of The Town Whose Name Has Been Stolen and stars one of two avatars who explore a town which houses locations that grant access to different functions of the Satellaview. Besides for the modem functions, there is also a light RPG to be had and two supporting anthropomorphic-satellite mascots, Parabo and Satabo, to be met.
Â BS Zelda no Denetsu was a collaboration between Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka, a partnership which later would give us games such as Pikmin and Super Mario Galaxy 2. The game is considered to be a spin-off of the regular Zelda series because it features your BS-x avatar rather than Link. The game made use of the SNES 16-bit processor but was stylistically and gameplay-wise more similar to the original Legend of Zelda than A Link to the Past. Interesting enough, it is the only Zelda game ever to feature real voice-acting. The game received overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim and was super popular over the summer of its release in Japan. It would be rebroadcasted four more times for download, was continued with a few different episodes, and led to another three sequels that followed after it. It’s a shame that Nintendo has never made the BS Zelda series available to American audiences. Maybe with the 3DS eshop we can see that rectified.
Here are screenshots from the various games and episodes in the series:
Nintendo’s partnerships in the past haven\’t always been so successful (the Sony Playstation was created in retaliation by an enfuriated Sony CEO, Norio Ohga, after Nintendo broke the deal that would have seen Sony manufacture a CD-ROM add-on to the SNES.) Once again, a rift came between Nintendo and St. GIGA and Nintendo stopped supporting the Satellaview in 1999, after which St. GIGA tried to do it alone until sometime in 2000.
The next attempt Nintendo made at DLC was with the N64DD. Nintendo partnered with Recruit to make RANDnet, a modem for the N64 Disk Drive. Using the RANDnet, players could battle others online, observe other gamers\’ sessions, beta-test upcoming games, use online message boards, swap messages with game developers and producers, surf the internet, listen to music, create a custom avatar, download DLC, and swap user-created content for games that supported it. It almost sounds like Xbox Live on a Nintendo system! The most popular game to come out for the system were the four games in the Mario Artist series. Paint Studio was the spiritual successor to Mario Paint, Polygon Studio allowed players to create 3D polygonal models and images, Talent Studio was for animating your models, and the Communication Kit was where gamers took their creations and showed them off to other gamers. Once again, I think this would be a great series to add to the 3DS eshop and it would allow users to cleverly use their cameras, touch screens, and 3D.
Â But, you didn\’t expect to be lectured on Nintendo’s history, did you? So, let’s get to those lists of current downloadable titles available on the DS, Wii, and 3DS. Of course, my selections won\’t be limited to Nintendo-developed software. I\’m just choosing my favorites or games that I think are worthwhile to check out.
The Best WiiWare Original Games
I appreciated the games on this list because they were crafted with the same loving care as that of a retail game, sometime more. OK, sometimes they were shorter or had less replay value, but they were full of charm and were very fun, nonetheless.
World of Goo
Lostwinds Winter of the Melodias
Tales of Monkey Island (five episodes)
Swords and Soldiers
Bit.Trip series (six games)
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1
Art Style series (five games)
Mega Man 9
Mega Man 10
Fast: Racing League
The Best WiiWare Virtual Console Games
Here I chose games that, to me, are experiences no one should miss out on. Some of them are hard to come by without resorting to illegal means and others are under-appreciated. But, all in all, if there are any games on this list that you have yet to try,Â I urge you to give them a playthrough. If not out of necessity, do it for posterity- for the legacy of these retro games.
Final Fantasy 6
Super Mario RPG
Super Mario Bros 3
Super Mario World
Mega Man 2
Mega Man 3
Mega Man 4
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Ogre Battle 64
Sin & Punishment: Successor to the Earth
Phantasy Star IV
Shining Force 2
Secret of Mana
Super Castlevania IV
Ys Book 1 and 2
Super Punch Out
The Best DsiWare Original Games
Now, these DSiWare games are probably a lot less meaty than all the other games on this list. I would consider them more comparable to Ipod games, short little romps that are great for a bathroom break or a quick diversion. Remarkably impressive is how much developers manage to squeeze into the miniscule amount of memory which they are allotted.
Art Style series (7 games)
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge
Wario Ware: Snapped
Aura Aura Climber
Mario VS DK
Dark Void Zero
Mighty Flip Champs
Mighty Milky Way
The Best 3DSware Virtual Console Games
Of course, the 3DSware VC differs from its WiiWare counterpart in that it focuses more on past Gameboy classics. Still, there are some real gems that shouldn\’t go passed up.
Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Super Mario Land
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Metroid II: Return of Samus
Kirby’s Dream Land
The Best 3D Classics
The 3DS has a wonderful system for updating legacy Nintendo games with new 3D graphics. While some of those, like Urban Legacy and TwinBee, aren\’t particularly good choices for a revival, others are quite solid. Also, remember to look out for the upcoming 3D remake of the original Kid Icarus.
The Best 3DSware Original Titles
And finally, we get to the very short list of 3DSware, that we hope Nintendo and other developers will make sure to populate in the future. And yet, the two games on this list show great potential for what’s to come.
Let’s Golf 3D
Our Most Anticipated Upcoming Downloadable Titles
A lot of really exciting new 3DSware coming. And, surprise, surprise, even some new Nintendo IPs. If they\’re anything like Pushmo, we\’re in for a treat.
Flipnote Studio 3D
Dillon’s Rolling Western
Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword
Mighty Switch Force
Metroid Fusion (VC)
Yoshi’s Island (VC)
Kid Icarus (3D Classics)