First Impressions: 3DS Virtual Console

Time travel meets blur-o-vision

Virtually nothing is known about how the 3DS will handle its new eShop apart from that it will eventually offer a Virtual Console for Game Boy and Game Boy Color software, and in New York City and Amsterdam this past Wednesday Nintendo Life was able to test out a couple of games confirmed for Shop shelves: Super Mario Land on the ol' monochrome Brick Boy as well as the Color DX version of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.

All of the action played out on the top screen with the light indicator for 3D use darkened, meaning the stereoscopic features of the handheld were disabled. Nintendo has noted before that certain classic games may be remastered to take advantage of the 3D effect, which seemed to confirm our suspicions that if they are to do this then such software will likely come with a premium price point. Down below was displayed a simple button layout.

Painfully apparent from the start was just how blurry the games looked on the 3DS's larger screen. There was no option during the demo to switch the image from stretched to the games' original resolution like you can on the Game Boy Advance, which will be troublesome for purists if this is how the service eventually rolls out. Given Nintendo's history of backwards compatibility for its handhelds, our money is on a ratio-adjusting feature to eventually be implemented because, frankly, it would be incredibly stupid not to do so.

Apart from that, the games played as you'd expect them to: we noticed no other emulation issues in our short time with each, so Mario Land played just as bizarrely as ever and Link swung his sword in the usual dazzling manner.

Players are given the choice of using either the D-Pad or Circle Pad interchangeably, which is welcome since the D-Pad is situated so low as to be slightly uncomfortable during prolonged use. Of course, then you're faced with the issue of playing digitally controlled games using analog input, which always tends to be a little slippery. However, neither of the demo sections (the first stage of Mario Land and the first dungeon of Link's Awakening) were particularly demanding as far as nimble fingers goes, so it wasn't much of a problem in these cases.

We were unable to test whether the save-on-exit game suspension feature will be intact in the service's leap from Wii to 3DS, nor were we able to find out about any eventual pricing plans.

All in all the demos on offer came across mostly as proofs of concept that the 3DS in fact will have Virtual Console capabilities and not a showcase of its abilities to do so. With so many key features and options missing from the demo units, we really hope that this isn't indicative of the final execution for the service on 3DS. But with so much unknown about the Virtual Console, or really anything related to the eShop, it's tough to pass judgment either way: if these missing features are incorporated properly and the games priced competitively then this could be a real winner for the new handheld, but if these demonstrations are indicative of the service's final offerings and pricing is out of whack then the portable Virtual Console will be a beacon of missed potential.