3DS eShop Reminds Us That Game Boy's Back Catalog is...Odd

by Carlos Macias, posted on 24 June 2011 / 2,921 Views

Exploding turtles. Freakish elves jumping around. Underwater side-scrolling shooting levels. Nobody ever told me that Super Mario Land on the original Game Boy system was this, well...weird. It may have been the lack of adequate horsepower Nintendo put in its brick-sized Game Boy when it released in the late '80s, but I'm still surprised by some of the design choices developers took with the series. I would have never associated jumping on a Koopa to result in a magnificent explosion like it does in SML.

As soon as I updated my 3DS and got on the eShop a few weeks back, I was ready to dig into the Game Boy's back catalog -- one which I unfortunately missed out on in my younger years. Oh, I had a phat Game Boy growing up, but considering I was a child of limited, limited means coupled with a general predisposition for crap, licensed titles when I could afford a game or two, I missed out on some of the best titles.

And Super Mario Land fits the bill perfectly. It may be weird, but it's still a great Mario game. Across its four worlds, this 1989 Game Boy game reminds us that there was a time when Nintendo was down to mess with tried-and-true formulas -- and that Doki Doki Panic (dubbed Super Mario Bros. 2 in the US) had its precedent. Among other interesting changes to the Super Mario Bros. formula was the switch in bosses from Bowser to spritely up-and-comer Tatanga and your ability to shoot superballs; fireballs that bounce off the walls and even collect coins for you!

A few years later, Nintendo released Donkey Kong -- another game recently released on the 3DS eShop -- and it, too, served up some interesting takes on the franchise's mechanics. The game, Donkey Kong '94 as it is commonly referred to by gaming purists, starts off innocently enough with four classic Donkey Kong levels, giving the player the sense that it's just a quick rehash of what's come before. Not so. In a move that the Player One Podcast so aptly dubbed the "retro rouse" this week, Nintendo packed a real game into Donkey Kong !

It may start off humbly, but Donkey Kong quickly shows that its a smart, puzzle-platformer made up of 100 levels to play and solve. Some of the "puzzle levels" are single screen, while some expand to multiple areas. The traditional power-ups, like the hammer weapon, fill in for new Mario moves (this is where he first learns how to do backflips, later made popular in Super Mario 64) and an interesting gameplay mechanic where the player places blocks, spring boards, or bridges anywhere he chooses on the screen to get to previously unreachable sections.

Right out of the gate, it seems like Nintendo is giving gamers exactly what they want out a virtual console on the 3DS: great classics, variable pricing, and, at least for me, a chance to experience oddball titles like the ones mentioned that I missed out on the first time around.

Albeit, the same could have been said about the Virtual Console at first, but the selection quality and regular releases quickly fell off. Here's hoping that the 3DS eShop can pick up the pieces and succeed where big brother failed before. I mean, they still have the excellent Metal Gear Solid on GBC to bank on going forward.

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Luthor (on 24 June 2011)

Super Mario land is a weird enough game that it deserves at least a try.

Hisiru (on 26 June 2011)

Here Nintendo, that's how you can start your VC library for the 3DS: -Final Fantasy Legends 1, 2, 3 and 4 -Final fantasy adventure -Legend of the river king 1 and 2 -Pokemon yellow, red, blue and gold -Metal walker -Kirby's dream land 1 and 2 -Azure dreams -Pokemon trading card game -Grandia - parallel trips -Dragon warrior 1 and 2 -Lufia -Quest RPG - brian's journey -Zelda - oracle of ages/oracle of seasons -Mario tennis -Harvest moon 1, 2 e 3 -Flipull -Super mario deluxe -Metroid 2 - return of samus -Game & watch 1, 2 e 3 -Super Mario Land 2 -Super Mario Land 3

Siko1989 (on 25 June 2011)

we have Double Dragon on our E Shop lol

Teratus (on 24 June 2011)

Really hoping for some E-shop pokemon games :D

ShadowboyT (on 24 June 2011)

I hope that Nintendo puts Pokemon Red/Blue on the eShop at some point. All the link cable stuff could just be done though wireless communication I guess. Either that or Kirby's Dream Land :)

ShadowboyT (on 24 June 2011)

Apologies for the double post everyone! :)

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ShadowboyT (on 24 June 2011)

I hope that Nintendo puts Pokemon Red/Blue on the eShop at some point. All the link cable stuff could just be done though wireless communication I guess. Either that or Kirby's Dream Land :)

spurgeonryan (on 24 June 2011)

Maybe some Perfect Dark with the ability to finally add your face to the person. Or is that only possible with a Nintendo 64 as well? Virtual Boy, Game Gear, NEo Geo, Wonderswan (although the guy might not want to sign over the rights after nintendo fired him for the virtual boy!), and what about other systems? Unless the Wii ups its output for VC games a week we could still miss out on a bunch of 64, genesis, snes, nes titles. Spend the extra buck on licenses nintendo to get people to want to buy your systems. Robocop vs. Terminator? Then we have the systems that time forgot, The 64DD, 32X, Sega CD, Saturn, Phillips CDi (they partnered for a while so lets get some of those games even if they are horrible), I don't know if Dreamcast would play on the 3DS but it certainly will on the wii? 3DO, Atari Jaguar/ linx, game gear color, every other color handheld, the sky is the limit for our little 3DS to be everything everyone wants. What does the gameboy franchise have...something like 10 thousand games associated with its name!!!!!!! I agree to a point with Hephaestos, black and white gameboy games especially, but still maybe 2 bucks a piece would be better.

Hephaestos (on 24 June 2011)

I love GB games... but man in a world where pocket gaming pits 30€ full fledged games to 99ç iphone games, where does 8bit monochrome games fit? definitely not at 3-4€....