3DS: The Pick Of The Virtual Console
We've already taken a look at the pick of the bunch for the 3DS in terms of retail releases and e-shop delights. There's one area that's often forgotten about though: the virtual console offerings. Admittedly, Nintendo do an all too good job of forgetting about it also, somehow resisting the urge to stick so many great Gameboy Advance classics on there. While those who have owned a 3DS from the beginning are able to enjoy the Ambassador games, the rest of us have yet to benefit from that. Still, while the quantity isn't quite there, the quality of titles available through virtual console is still very high. We highlight the best of the bunch.
Donkey Kong - £3.60
A real old school delight, this isn't the Donkey Kong of Donkey Kong Country, this is the original game. Players control Mario as he jumps upwards, avoiding platforms and the barrels thrown by Donkey Kong, all in a bid to reach the princess. This is the Gameboy version of the game meaning there's 97 levels in all and plenty of fun to be had. Unlike the arcade conversion, there are more puzzles to be solved and a few superior jumping moves than before. It's a potent mix for success.
Gargoyle's Quest - £3.60
Far too easily ignored, Gargoyle's Quest was quite the delight on the Gameboy way back when. Combining RPG elements with plenty of action, Gargoyle's Quest is a great platformer mixed in with the need to explore towns, talk to people, and solve various quests. It's possible to level up your health bar as well as other skills, providing some insight to a potential pioneer of the action RPG world.
Harvest Moon - £4.99
Farming really shouldn't be as much fun as it is here. Originally for the Gameboy Color, this release is an oddly beguiling mix of farming sim and RPG. It's a slow building game with a lot of the early days involving clearing land in order to sow seeds, but it's oddly satisfying to see things develop. Fairies and gnomes help out too, adding a more mystical twist to an otherwise conventional management game. It won't excite adrenaline seekers but those looking for something more calming will enjoy what's here.
Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya - £3.99
The Shining Force series was once considered the darling of the RPG genre. While that time has faded somewhat, it doesn't tarnish the titles already out there. The Sword of Hajya was originally available on the Game Gear and while a direct continuation of the original Game Gear title, Shining Force Gaiden, it can still be enjoyed by newcomers. Focused solely on combat, it's a title that suits the mobile nature of the 3DS well, making it easy to achieve something in a brief space of time. It's pretty challenging too so don't expect an easy ride.
Super Mario Land 2 - £3.60
It'd be tempting to recommend the original Super Mario Land, but that initial entry is all too swiftly concluded. It's the sequel, 6 Golden Coins, that really captivates. Hardly ageing, it's fun to see what elements are now common place in Mario titles, with a world map paving the way to progress. Mario can now turn into a cute rabbit, flying through the air, as well as benefiting from his trusty Power Flower. There's plenty of reason to replay the game too, thanks to secret exits and bonus levels.
Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land - £3.60
Sometimes playing the bad guy is more fun, and that's clearly seen in Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land. The first game to allow players to control Wario, it's a title squarely focused on acquiring coins and treasures. Wario is bulkier and slower than Mario but benefits from being able to wear different hats to gain new skills. Replayability is huge here too with the world map changing as the game progresses, leading to new secrets and treasures. In many ways, it's the best Mario Gameboy game out there, even if it doesn't feature the loveable plumber.
Tetris - £3.60
A true classic, Tetris hasn't aged a day really. For the two people left who haven't played it, players must line up blocks in order to create solid lines on the screen. Things gradually speed up and get trickier, but the same format applies. There are no power ups or anything overly distracting, Tetris is all about its purity. Expect that music to stick in your head for years to come, and your dreams to turn to thoughts of Tetris. It's sublime and still hasn't been beaten.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - £5.40
The first of two Zelda offerings here, Link's Awakening is wondrous. Waking up on an island with no clue as to what happened before, Link finds himself in need of waking up the mysterious Wind Fish to figure out just what's going on. It's a different style compared to other Zelda games and it works well here, remaining familiar yet offering new things too. There are still plenty of dungeons to tackle, new items to master, and side quests to enjoy, but it's a mostly lighter affair. With a good 20 or more hours of content, it's a bargain too.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons - £5.39
The same games, yet not, Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons is a different take on the Zelda story. Jumping between two timelines, players must switch between the past and present to solve puzzles in order to change the landscape. It's somewhat complicated to explain with things developing to quite a crescendo of intrigue, but it offers one of the stronger stories in the series with some great character development. Never fear, there are new items to enjoy too such as the seed shooter, and a ring system allowing Link's powers to be improved.
Wario Land 3 - £4.50
Not quite as pure as the original Wario Land, Wario Land 3 is still a fantastic title, offering a more varied path to success. Exploration is key here with all levels opened straight away, and allowing players to figure things out for themselves. Chests, keys, and secret doors dictate everything here, with different openings unlocking after completing different objectives. New abilities also come in handy and are therefore steadily unlocked. Throw in a day and night system and Wario Land 3 feels less like a platformer and more like a puzzle game. That's a good thing though.