People didn’t expect much from the 3DS eShop. Nintendo’s track record had worked against the company. The Wii Shop Channel and DSi Shop were largely disappointing with infrequent updates and too few games people would actually want to play. Titles trickled out on both services. People didn’t wait in anticipation for an update every Thursday, as PS3 and Vita owners do every Tuesday for the PlayStation Store. All that, combined with the fact that it took three months for the 3DS eShop to appear after the system’s launch, made for a rough start.
Yet, the 3DS eShop hasn’t disappointed. True, it isn’t as robust as the PlayStation Store, but over the last two years it has become an actual destination worth visiting. Nintendo download updates aren’t something to pass over. The 3DS has built an impressive library of eShop exclusives that make the future look bright and perhaps even make other handheld owners jealous.
A big part of that success is Nintendo’s push to get quality, first party games on the 3DS eShop. It is now home to Pushmo, it’s sequel Crashmo, Tokyo Crash Mobs, Fluidity: Spin Cycle, The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave, Dillon’s Rolling Western, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword and Ketzel’s Corridors, among others. At their worst, these games are good. At their best, we have instant classics like Pushmo, Crashmo and The Denpa Men.
It seems that success will only continue. HarmoKnight, from Pokemon developers GameFreak, Mario & Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move and Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger all loom on the horizon. Of those, HarmoKnight could be the most promising, but we’ll know for sure in a few weeks after its debut. Besides, E3 2013 is looming and if previous years are any indication, it will usher in a new round of 3DS eShop exclusive announcements.
Making the 3DS eShop prosperous hasn’t been just about getting new games. Nintendo has even been working hard to get downloads of classic games on the system as well. The result is a robust Virtual Console library with over 80 titles available the last time I checked. Most importantly, it hasn’t just been limited to Game Boy, Game Boy Color and NES games, as the service was opened up to include Game Gear classics too. The only things missing are SNES, Game Boy Advance and perhaps even Genesis games, but again, Nintendo could just be waiting for the perfect time to make that happen.
Of course, it isn’t just Nintendo’s efforts that is making the 3DS eShop relevant. XSEED had a very notable release in the eShop exclusive Unchained Blades. Nicalis has been a strong supporter, with indie classics like VVVVVV, NightSky, Cave Story, and most recently Ikachan. I’m sure Level-5′s release of the three Guild01 games Liberation Maiden, Crimson Shroud and Aeroporter didn’t hurt either. Other devoted publishers, like Agetec and Circle Entertainment, only help the situation.
Another bonus is the recent push to have games available both in stores and the 3DS eShop. While simultaneous releases still seem mostly reserved for first party games, many third party games are showing up in the shop shortly after their physical release, sometimes even on the same day. 3DS owners now have a choice, which is never a bad thing.
The 3DS eShop had a rough start, but almost two years later, it’s finally come into its own. It may still be difficult to navigate and not receive as many updates as say, the PlayStation Store or Xbox Live Arcade, but it’s safe to say 3DS owners now not only have a reason to visit the shop, but perhaps even a wishlist filled with games as well. Now, let’s just hope Nintendo can do the same thing for the Wii U.