Contributors: Henry Gilbert, Chris Antista, Carolyn Gudmundson, Brett Elston
With the full reveal of the 3DS earlier today (details on everything you need to know here), we were especially excited to hear that the 3DS will feature its own version of Wii's online shop, with its own Virtual Console section for original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.
Nintendo hasn't announced pricing yet for 3DS's Virtual Console, but considering NES games are only five bucks (500 points) on Wii's Virtual Console, we have to imagine that Game Boy and Game Boy Color games won't run more than four dollars. Compared to a lot of the drivel available for $4 on the iPhone and whatnot, that seems like a pretty good deal for such nostalgia-inducing treats as Mario Land and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening – the only two games thus far announced for the service. Here are the rest of the titles we hope to see soon after the 3DS launches.
Technically this one wasn’t a Final Fantasy at all. Before being rebranded internationally, Adventure was part of the Seiken Densetsu or Secret of Mana series, which explains why its style is more Legend of Zelda than Final Fantasy. Still, the top-down adventure was a little more complex than the NES original, with more of a focus on stats and leveling up than Link was.
Above: A sampling of FF Adventure's aural delights
With some pretty high-end GB graphics and a soundtrack from Square’s top composer Nobuo Uematsu, Adventure was ahead of its time. Even getting republished around when Final Fantasy VII was huge, it still never got the exposure it deserved, something the 3DS VC can change.
Talk about bad timing. Developer Wayforward puts a ton of work into making a GBC-exclusive platformer, gets a top company like Capcom to publish it, and when it finally comes out so few play it because the Game Boy Advance had already been out for a year at that point. Shantae was widely ignored, as by then the GBC was a trash heap dominated by Mary-Kate and Ashley.
Those that did find Shantae were all the better for it. The game was an amazing, old-school platformer that followed the adventures of a saucy half-genie as she battled a bunch of jerky pirates. Perhaps the best looking game the GBC ever had, it deserves a second chance on 3DS VC. And it makes more sense than ever since the game's long awaited sequel, Shantae: Risky's Revenge, hit DSiWare last year.
Obviously the games won’t look that advanced (ZING) these days, but if you’re an Advance Wars fan, doesn’t it irk you that three Wars games exist that you never played? Nintendo already has an import section for the Wii’s VC, and these game would make a real splash if the 3DS ever got a similar subdivision.
Above: The intro to the first Game Boy Wars
While Kirby's Dream Land 2 is vastly superior to its predecessor, it's worth playing the original Dream Land if only because it's Kirby's debut and it's interesting to see him before he became the Kirby we know today – in the original he could inhale and swallow or spit enemies, but he couldn't absorb their powers like in subsequent games. '
Above: Kirby's genesis. Factoid: Kirby's sprite started as a placeholder while the developers at HAL decided what he should look like, but his blobby form was so cute it stuck
Once you're done with that (and let's hope a save function is added to the VC release), you can move on to Dream Land 2, which benefits from all the improvements made in Kirby's Adventure for NES, which was released between the first two Dream Land games. Kirby has been adorable from the start, but back in the Dream Land days he was also quite tough. The majority of Dream Land 2 might not be that difficult compared to other platformers of yore, but wait until you get to the final boss, Dark Matter.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that this game brought lovable asshole Wario into all our lives. Instead of Princess saving, Mario’s out to get back his castle which was stolen by the chunky ne’er-do-well. It wasn’t the easiest game ever, but Mario Land 2 is still one of the best platformers in portable gaming history.
Normally when Nintendo rereleases an aging classic, it upgrades levels, lightly tweaks gameplay, and overhauls the graphics into something more befitting of a newer platform. Super Mario Bros Deluxe said “Nuts to all that shit!” and essentially recreated the original SMB using the most sacred of all sprites!
Above: Notice anything different? If not, then you should probably stop reading our site
Of course it added stuff, too: “The Lost Levels” are integrated, as is an overworld map, multiplayer challenge modes, unlockable art, and - BOOYA! - Game Boy Printer support! Mega Man 9 gets a lot of credit for being one of the first games to offer the ultimate old school fan service, but the 3DS’s Virtual Console has a unique opportunity to prove to the world it was actually done first by SMBD. (Oh my, that’s an unfortunate abbreviation – DO NOT Google, kids!)