Version tested 3DS
Wouldn't it be nice if I could just talk about how great the eStore games are, how competitively priced they are, and how Nintendo has learned important lessons from the past? But sadly, I'd be leading you astray.
Firstly there's the issue of price. We've all gotten used to a degree of parity in the download world, whether we're talking about games on Android Marketplace, Steam, PSN, Xbox Live Arcade or the App Store. If a game is $5.99 in the US, we generally expect to pay £3.99. But for whatever reason, Nintendo would rather we pay £5.40, as in the case of Link's Awakening.
If that wasn't bad enough, Nintendo won't even allow you to use any old points cards you've got in reserve. The new eStore cards aren't going on sale until later this month. To actually buy anything at all involves putting in your credit card details and coughing up a minimum of £10, even if you only want to buy one title.
And the European eStore itself is, to put it politely, a work in progress. Although it's simply designed, making it relatively quick and easy to navigate, it lacks many of the search options of the US store.
The range of content on offer is fleshed out with a curious 'DSiWare Highlight' selection that lacks many - if not most - of the very best titles. To find the rest, you have to do a search and filter by DSiWare. Not exactly the most elegant system in the world. Those that are for sale are priced well out of the realms of impulse purchasing. Meanwhile, transferring previous DSiWare purchases from your old DSi has to rank as one of the most tedious and drawn-out processes in living memory.
The fact Nintendo has launched with some of the best Game Boy titles off the bat is encouraging, but we could definitely do without the dregs of the catalogue being foisted upon us at hilariously disproportionate prices.
The 3DS has come under a fair bit of criticism of late, and the last thing Nintendo needs is to give its detractors even more ammunition. But given the company's apparent unwillingness to evolve the DSiWare shop, you shouldn't hold your breath.
The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX
Confession time: I'm one of those terribly snarky unbelievers who thinks Zelda wasn't really worth bothering with until Link To The Past. Burn the witch! But even if you violently disagree and wish to replace my eyes with hot toffee apples, you can't deny Link's Awakening is among the finest games ever to grace the humble Game Boy.
Of all the games unleashed to the public in the eStore this week, Link's Awakening is probably the only one you'd be willing to pay money for. Presumably Nintendo realises this, and has elected to double the price just to make sure you're really committed to the cause.
But enough about boring pricing shenanigans. Rejoice in the fact that we're getting the 'remastered' Game Boy Color 'DX' version, rather than the 1993 original.
Its hallowed status as the 'quintessential isometric Zelda game' isn't just blethering hyperbole. Whatever your preconceptions of Game Boy titles may be, this is the game to challenge them. It's epic without being tiresome. The quests are challenging without being frustrating. If you're a particular fan of the Link To The Past formula, this is mana from heaven.
You know the drill. Explore that dungeon. Kill those baddies. Get that new ability. Go back to all those areas you couldn't previously access. Get a new quest. And so on.
The refined simplicity and near-perfect design of it all means the game hasn't dated a jot, and its wry humour still comes through almost two decades down the line.
With games like this in the canon it's possible to forgive Nintendo for some of its complacency - but only a little.