When people discuss digital downloads...
...theyâ€™re usually talking about the XBOX Marketplace, the Playstation Store, Steam, iTunes, and the Android marketplace: Google Play. More often than not the eShop is completely ignored, and in a lot of cases isnâ€™t even known by gamers; that needs to change.
While it doesnâ€™t have the same range of titles that the other digital stores have, some of the games to release on it can be listed among the best games on the 3DS system and - in the case of Dillonâ€™s Rolling Western - would be right at home on a home console.
Dillonâ€™s Rolling Western (DRW) is a new IP by the team that brought Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland to the Nintendo DS, and brings with it a fresh spin on the tried and true tower defense genre. Every night, small western townships are terrorised by a walking rock race known as the Grocks, and they have one thing in mind: devouring the townâ€™s supply of Scruffle Hogs - affectionately known as Scrogs. Using Dillonâ€™s rolling abilities, itâ€™s up to you to head out onto the plains and set up defenses so that when night hits, the Grocks are stopped once and for all.
The fresh take that DRW deals up comes in the form of Dillon being able to attack groups of Grocks himself while rolling about building and repairing defenses. The game starts easily enough in the township of Cinchville but the training wheels are completely removed by the time you arrive at the third village, and a bunch of extra game mechanics flood in. Itâ€™s at this moment where frustration can set in, but with a bit of perseverance, and possibly redoing the first few stages to get back some confidence, things fall into place again.
Strangely, the entire game reeks of Zelda influence. The UI and sounds found here are very reminiscent of the DS Zelda series, and even the way Dillon rolls ends up taking on a Goron-esque look. Itâ€™d come as no surprise if this game started out as a Zelda-themed game -- as it is published by Nintendo -- but became a totally different IP mid project. Either way, the $18.75 price-tag makes it similarly priced to some XBLA titles, and it easily outshines a lot of titles found in that store. But Dillonâ€™s Rolling Western isnâ€™t the only must-have title to be found on the eShop; not by a long shot.
Zen Pinball 3D is everything that fans of the Pinball FX series have come to love, except itâ€™s now portable and 3D. The 3D itself is incredibly well done and makes it feel like like you are looking into some form of diorama; an awesome pinball diorama. Touting four tables and an online leaderboard, thereâ€™s enough here to keep you coming back for more and, to be honest, if youâ€™re a completionist whoâ€™s looking to explore every aspect of each table, youâ€™ll likely lose hour upon hour on a single table before realising you have no idea what the other tables even look like. Considering a couple of downloadable tables on the XBLA version of Pinball FX will set you back a cool 480ms points (~$10), having Zen Pinball 3Dâ€™s 4 tables at your disposal wherever you go for $9.40 is a steal.
Other notable titles on the eShop come in the form of Mighty Switch Force! (MSF) and Pullblox. MSF is a fast-paced puzzle platformer that taunts you with a par time; a time you wonâ€™t hit on your first playthrough. While the puzzles themselves arenâ€™t overly challenging, itâ€™s perfecting them that will help the frustration grow within you. Presentation isnâ€™t where this game shines, with very simplistic menu systems and story left to a minimum, but the art style and animation of the characters will keep you attracted to the task at hand.
Pullblox is almost the polar opposite of MSF, with no timer holding you back and thought provoking puzzle after puzzle. While the game mechanics are simple enough - push or pull a set of blocks to make your way up a wall of blocks - things start getting hectic when new skills are introduced. Youâ€™ll often find yourself working your way back from the end goal just to figure out whether or not you want to step on or avoid a switch right in front of you.
While there are a finite set of pre-made levels to play through, the editor allows you and your friends to create / send levels to each other via QR codes. It has the look and style of a Nintendo game, and could easily have launched as a full retail title.
While the eShop doesnâ€™t have the prices you might expect to find in the mobile market, it feels like it does have the quality that the mobile market seems to be short on. Not every title in the eShop is worth the asking price, but the games that are will keep you entertained for quite some time.
The eShop looks to be constantly evolving, with it already looking better than it did when it launched around 18 months ago. Weâ€™ve had sales, free titles, and constant additions to the store and, with New Super Mario Bros 2 announced as the first retail game to be also downloadable in the eShop, it looks like itâ€™ll continue to evolve.