While Sony is pushing forward with an aggressive digital download strategy with the PlayStation Vita at launch, Nintendo has been building up its library on the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS over the last year. On the eShop, 3DS owners can download Virtual Console and DSiWare games from previous iterations of portable Nintendo hardware. However, gamers can also find original titles built specifically for the 3DS in mind:
Built by the same developer that worked on franchises like Advance Wars and WarioWare, this inventive three-dimensional puzzle game is easily one of the best 3DS titles on the Nintendo eShop. Using stereoscopic visuals, the player controls a little character named Mallo that pushes and pulls platforms out of a wall in order to climb to the top. The game does an excellent job of walking the player through the initial steps in the early levels and the challenge progressively increases throughout Pushmo’s stages.
While the story behind little Mallo is silly, classic Nintendo fun, the puzzles are the real showcase. Just as addictive as Picross on the original Nintendo DS, solving each puzzle is extremely satisfying and encourages the player to continue. There’s even a custom puzzle creator for the more inventive players and puzzles can be shared with other players via QR codes. It’s also an excellent deal at $6.99 for the amount of time you will spend working through all 250 puzzles. Pushmo requires 144 blocks of space (18 MB) on a 3DS memory card.
Not to be confused with the lackluster Samurai Sword Destiny eShop title, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is an absolutely beautiful, action sword fighter with plenty of RPG elements tossed in to boot. Complete with a full narrative told in an animated slideshow, a young boy named Sakura Samurai is tasked with battling countless enemies in order to free Princess Cherry Blossom from a dark, powerful force. Spread out over thirty different locations within the game, Sakura Samurai faces off against ninjas, archers and other sword-wielding enemies.
The game is heavily reliant in timed movements in order to dodge incoming attacks and counter with a devastating blow of attacks. As the player progresses through each stage, Sakura Samurai can visit local villages to save the game, purchase upgrades or simply stock up on helpful items. After battling through all boss castles and completing the game for the first time, a harder mode of play is unlocked to encourage another play-through in addition to time-attack and survival modes. Great for fans of action games, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is priced at $6.99 and requires 457 blocks of memory (58 MB).
Released this week on the Nintendo eShop, Dillon’s Rolling Western is a hybrid of an action title and a Tower Defense game. The player is put in control of a Wild West ranger named Dillon that also happens to be an armadillo. During the day, Dillon rolls around the old west collecting resources for the local town. Back in the village, Dillon is tasked with building up the local livestock (Scrogs), increasing the defensive ability of the fortifications and mounting guns on the towers spread throughout the village. As the day shifts into night, the town is attacked by rock-like creatures called Grock in typical Tower Defense style. While the Grocks are being weakened by offensive weapons on towers, Dillon can also directly damage groups of enemies during attack instances.
Once the attack is completely repelled for the night, Dillon heads to the saloon to upgrade equipment, train on various attack moves and accept quests that will add more cash for village upgrades in the future. This cycle repeats over three full days and the player is awarded a star rating which unlocks more towns as stars are collected. Overall, it’s a fun twist on the Tower Defense genre, but players will need to focus on resource management just as much as the action. With approximately 15 to 20 hours of gameplay, Dillon’s Rolling Western is priced at $9.99 and requires 377 blocks of memory (48 MB).
Paying homage to the 8-bit days of the past, Mutant Mudds is a clever platformer that combines 2D gameplay with a 3D effect made for the 3DS. The player takes control of a pipsqueak kid that’s faced with battling mutant mud monsters with a water cannon in order to save the planet. The 3D element within the game allows the player to leap from the background to the foreground and vica versa. The simplicity of the art style also makes the 3D feature easier on the eyes.
Game length is an issue for Mutant Mudds as the twenty main stages don’t require a significant amount of time to complete. However, diehard platformer fans will spend time searching for all 100 diamonds within each level in order to acquire weapon and jetpack upgrades. These upgrades help the player unlock 20 additional levels hidden within the game, a difficult feat without spending plenty of time carefully working through each level. Recommended for classic platformer fans, Mutant Mudds is priced at $8.99 and requires a scant 134 blocks of memory (17 MB).
One of the largest downloads on the Nintendo eShop at 1617 blocks (214 MB), Mighty Switch Force is a combination of a puzzle game and an action platformer. Spread over sixteen stages, the player takes control of Officer Patricia Wagon during her mission to recapture the five Hooligan Sisters. The developer makes use of the 3DS capabilities by allowing the player to switch blocks between the background and the foreground of the level design. These visual layers often require a good sense of timing to successfully navigate portions of each stage.
The detailed art and advanced visual effects likely contribute to the large file size of the game compared to other eShop releases. While the 16 levels can be completed in just a few hours, the developer attempts to encourage players to replay the game in order to beat a specific time. It does requires a great amount of practice to complete each stage in the target completion time and can be frustrating for novice players. However, this title is the cheapest game on our list at $5.99; a fair price for the amount of gameplay within Mighty Switch Force.