One of the weakest aspects of the DSi for me is the Shop channel. At first this was something of a moot point as there weren’t very many games available, but as the numbers and quality of the titles on offer grew it became a real bug bear.
So it was with some excitement I discovered the new eStore on the 3DS is to replace the DSi channel completely. What’s more this is part of a fresh new operating system for the new console that should address a range of issues with the shored up DSi offering — which was a combination of new elements bolted onto the existing back end.
The 3DS heralds a new operating system for the DS. This is first of all an opportunity for Nintendo to get the underlying architecture right. Case in point is the provision of a wider range of Wi-Fi security options, rather than just WEP as on the original DS (and later WPA on DSi).
As well as new technology behind the scenes there is also a raft of new channels that aim to streamline the purchasing experience as well as extend the 3DS experience beyond just gaming.
To this end the new Operating System offers a set of new channels. Some of these, like the Mii Plaza, will be at launch while others like the eStore, Virtual Console (for old Gameboy games) and Internet Browser channels will be added soon after.
The eStore represents some serious rethinking on Nintendo’s part. The 3DS is ditching the half hearted (in user interface terms at least) DSi-ware channel in favour of an all encompassing eStore. This not only delivers small downloadable games but also offers an alternative to buying games on cartridge. It also includes retro Virtual Console Gameboy games that are played via the Virtual Console channel. If you still need convincing that common sense and clear thinking have won the day, Nintendo are also leaving behind their points purchasing system in favour of using real money.
Finding games in the eStore is much easier too. You can browse titles by platform as before. Additionally though you can view games for a particular franchise – regardless of format. I like this feature because it lets you see all the Mario games in one place, regardless if they are DSi-ware, full games or virtual console titles. You can also view a currently popular list of games that are selling well that day.
Once you have selected a particular game you are now able to view a video of gameplay, read other player’s comments, view more details and in some cases download a short demo of the game. You can even maintain a list of favourite games within the shop software. It’s a million miles from the two blurry screenshots and brief description on offer in the DSi-ware channel on the DSi.
What has been less fleshed out though is how you will be able to transfer purchases from your DSi to your 3DS. Nintendo have promised there will be a route to do this, but how, where and when have yet to be nailed down.
The 3DS eStore, along with the other OS features give the 3DS a more coherent feel than previous versions. Not only are there now more functions available as standard on the device, but it now supports multitasking. You can pause games by pressing the Home button, perform other tasks such as taking pictures and exchanging data and then resume your game where you left off.
The 3DS will be available from Amazon for $249.99 beginning on 27th March.