Back to school with the Nintendo eShop

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back to school brain age concentration training…Wait, is this a back to school article? No! It can’t be, it’s too soon! July isn’t even over yet!

Alas, but it is true. Back to school starts earlier every year, and I have fallen victim to it. Which means you have to endure it as well. Be strong, dear readers. I promise, this will be worth your while. You’ll actually learn something about the 3DS, Wii U and even DSi eShops if you do.

Downloadable is the latest rage, don’tcha know. Nintendo’s eShops have proven themselves purveyors of untold goodness. Well, maybe not the Wii U eShop so much, but still. While most back to school shopping has you looking at pens, pants and pricy computers, this little segment is more lighthearted. We’re going to look at things you need for your 3DS, DSi and Wii U instead. Besides, if it involves games, it can’t be totally educational.

If you’re heading back to school, you want to start with some advantageous programs on your 3DS or DSi. That’s where Petit Computer and Rhythm Core Alpha 2. Petit Computer is a unique piece of DSiWare that lets users create and run BASIC programs on their 3DS or DSi. You can learn valuable computer programming skills and share your work with others, or just grab the app and download other peoples’ work for some free homebrew games and apps on your handheld. It’ll set you back $7.99.

As for Rhythm Core Alpha 2, it’s a music creation tool. It is an extraordinary music program that lets people create songs with music loops, pattern creation, solo creation and such. You can probably tell I’m out of my depth. It’s a really complex piece of software for a 3DS application and people who do know what they’re doing and buy it are capable of some really amazing things. Here, watch this video, showing a song made by Lucky Button Pusher in Rhythm Core Alpha.

As you can see from the video, he’s not only playing a song he pre-recorded and created in Rhythm Core Alpha. He also goes into Solo Mode to put in solos on the fly, by tapping the notes he wants on the touchpad with the stylus. For $9.99, you can start dropping similar beats.

Of course, if you want something that could actually improve your thinking and processing skills, you may want to go for Brain Age: Concentration Training instead. It isn’t technically educational. Instead, it’s a game that’s designed to help people improve their concentration skills via a series of eight “devilish” exercises. The goal is to get people more focused on what they’re doing. There are some other, supplemental brain training and educational exercises, but the overall goal of this $29.99 3DS game is to help people stay centered on whatever task they prioritize. I don’t know how effective it would be, but it couldn’t hurt to grab it with your other back to school items. Maybe even play it throughout August, so when classes really start in September, you’ll be prepared.

back to school ace mathicianBut back to school preparation isn’t all about programs that are useful or that will make you smarter. It’s also about getting something that will keep you busy during this last month of freedom. That’s when you need games like Ace Mathician and EarthBound. I know, one sounds like edutainment and the other has you flumoxed, but let me assure you that both are perfect eShop grabs for anyone who’ll be heading back to class soon.

Ace Mathician</i. is actually a neat little puzzle game. Players have to help Ace the koala reach fruit. The problem is, the platforms in each level are arranged in a way that makes it impossible. Enter the equations! Players can alter a mathmatical equation that appears on the touch screen, and doing so will change the position of the platforms on the top screen. People don't have to solve any math problems. All they have to do is alter the problem to change the world. Think of this $1.99 game as a way to decompress after a tough algebra class. While there are wrong answer in school, there is no wrong answer in Ace Mathician. Anything you do will change Ace’s world, though there are some equations that would be best to use to “win.”

As for EarthBound, well, think of it as a last hurrah. I’m sure many of the people reading this grew up with the SNES, and grabbing Earthbound on your Wii U would be a good way to make you feel young again, before you have to head back to school and start growing up and becoming an adult. And, if Earthbound is new to you, then think of it as a lesson in gaming. This classic RPG is quite influential, after all, and helped shape many games. Playing it is a way to learn what gaming was like in the good old days.

Don’t let all this back to school talk scare you, though. You’ve still got at least a month of freedom ahead of you. Relax, kick back, and enjoy these summer days.

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