Round Table: The Ambassador NES Games

Why Nintendo, you are spoiling us

Thomas Whitehead: Moving on now! I would agree that the early releases mean that basic emulations are fair enough. It's been alluded to already, but how much does this style of basic emulation affect the gameplay, more authentically retro and challenging, perhaps?

Jacob Crites: If you're just talking about the ability to play it on the 3DS, I'd still say it's the best way to play it. Metroid, for example, really benefits from the ability to start where you left off. It's not as "authentic" as playing it on the NES, but it's certainly more convenient.

James Newton: They do feel very much like playing NES games on a 3DS: the controls take a bit of getting used to and I could do with a map, but with passwords and no restore points this is what our younger, perhaps brainier selves would have played and rattled through in no time.

Corbie Dillard: Good point.

Marcel van Duyn: Hey, the minus world still works in Super Mario Bros., so it's all fine with me.

Jacob Crites: Hey, but you know what doesn't? The 99 lives trick!

Marcel van Duyn: Yeah I heard about that not working, but I haven't tried it yet.

Thomas Whitehead: In terms of difficulty specifically, does the lack of restore points test your retro ninja gaming skills, as in when you die, you go back to the start? Zelda II, for example, is giving me a lot of problems.

James Newton: I haven't been able to get past World 1-2 in Mario without using the warp pipes yet. True story.

Thomas Whitehead: Oh, James, oh dear...

Ron DelVillano: Yeah, and that’s the best part about it. It’s a reminder that you used to have to invest time into the games that you were playing in order to get good at them!

Corbie Dillard: I like it that way, myself. I don't really care for these restore points and how they soften the overall difficulty of these VC games. Maybe it's just the old-schooler in me.

Christopher Ingram: I am a ‘retro ninja gamer,’ and I’ve got mad Ninja Gaiden skills to prove it too, but to answer the question, I actually like not having the restore points; it wouldn’t be right to be able to start anywhere but at the beginning of Zelda II.

Jacob Crites: Zelda II is in my opinion the only game that NEEDS them, because that game has always needed something to make the challenge more reasonable. I repeat: I simply cannot make it to the second dungeon.

Zach Kaplan: Honestly, I'm loving this. Playing with restore points is just a different, less challenging, less exciting experience when I can just re-start before (or during) a boss battle and never actually lose a life. The stakes are lower, and it's just not how it was intended to be played. I admit it works less well with a game like Metroid, but this has woken me up personally to how much I relied on restore points before and how much more fun I'm having now.

Also, Zelda II protip: don't blow up the dungeons until later on when it's harder to earn experience points, just get the candle/hammer/etc and get outta there.

Marcel van Duyn: I think restore points are nice for games like Metroid and Zelda, but the rest are all short enough for it to be negligible.

James Newton: I guess the question is: would we all be happier when the restore points are put in later this year?

Marcel van Duyn: It's nice to have, but for me personally not really something I need.

Zach Kaplan: Yeah, because it's the future and all, but I'm going to try to ween myself off relying on them too much.

Christopher Ingram: Only for Metroid!

Jacob Crites: Yes, to the 1000th degree of affirmation.

Corbie Dillard: Nope.

Ron DelVillano: Not at all, but I won’t complain… too loudly.

Thomas Whitehead: Before we move on to talk about the programme delivery and hopes for the GBA games. Can you all say which game you've played and enjoyed the most?

Marcel van Duyn: Wrecking Crew, it's one of the first games I ever played and I still love it

Jacob Crites: Metroid, Zelda and Mario (obviously), but I'm also having an absolute blast with Wrecking Crew, and something about Ice Climber keeps me coming back to it.

Ron DelVillano: I’ve always been a big fan of Ice Climber. I’d probably say I’ve spent the most time with that and The Legend of Zelda.

James Newton: Super Mario Bros. for me. That game will never get old and if it does I will stop playing games and do something else.

Zach Kaplan: I'm surprised to see myself enjoying the original Zelda so much, but I think it might be that. Zelda II and Super Mario Bros. are close seconds.

Corbie Dillard: Wrecking Crew and Zelda II would have to be the two I've played the most. Still two of my favourite NES games and it's so nice to be able to play them on the go now.

Christopher Ingram: Definitely Zelda II: The Adventures of Link; it’s the only 2D Zelda to date and incredibly challenging, which always keeps me coming back for more. If anyone doesn’t think that Nintendo can create fantastic hardcore games, Zelda II begs to differ!

Thomas Whitehead: Balloon Fight in my case, I can't get enough of the 'Balloon Trip' mode for some reason. Let’s talk about the delivery system: clumsy perhaps, did Nintendo communicate the process enough for non-gamers and technophobes?

Corbie Dillard: I wasn't too thrilled with the delivery system Nintendo used. It almost felt like they purposely hid them in the basement and sent us out to find them. I'd like to see the GBA games a bit easier to locate.

Marcel van Duyn: They should've sent out a message to all 3DS owners who qualified (at least, I don't think they did, I didn't get one) because it's hidden away pretty well.

Corbie Dillard: It just didn't feel very well thought-out overall.

Marcel van Duyn: Maybe they should've just had a section in the eShop's main menu with all 10 Ambassador games, viewable by Ambassadors only.

Corbie Dillard: I agree. That might have been a bit more clear-cut.

Ron DelVillano: It was a bit of a mess, but it didn’t end up taking nearly as much time as I thought it would. A simpler method would have been appreciated, but in the end I got my free games, so I’ve got nothing to moan about.

James Newton: To be honest Sony had a similar problem with its post-PSN hack games: if you interrupted the process, you had to go through a similar rigmarole to get them back. It was a right pain, but in the end, free games!

Jacob Crites: I suppose it was fine. If they're an Ambassador, they've got an Internet connection, which means they got a pretty detailed explanation from Nintendo on how to download them. Personally I thought it was a pretty convoluted way of doing things, but as James said, "hey! Free games!"

Christopher Ingram: It was definitely clumsy, but as others have said before me, it’s free games!

James Newton: And how about that Ambassador video? That thing blew my mind.

Corbie Dillard: I must have missed that one.

Marcel van Duyn: That thing's useful man, you can learn how to be notified of the GBA games being available in five different languages.

Jacob Crites: It blew my mind with how ridiculous and unhelpful it is.

Zach Kaplan: I agree with Corbie, it was just clumsy. It's like Nintendo hasn't learned a thing from its past mistakes. SpotPass, anyone? Oh, and the "Certificate" video is beyond ridiculous!

Thomas Whitehead: Moving on, having played the first half of your Ambassador reward, do you think the programme is a good deal; generous or stingy?

Marcel van Duyn: Very generous, most companies wouldn't even give you one free game for being an early adopter, 20 is almost a crime.

Ron DelVillano: I think it’s incredibly generous, and this is exactly the reason I’ve been a Nintendo fan all my life. They know how to treat their customers.

Christopher Ingram: It’s a good deal overall. They truly didn’t have to do anything at all, and seeing that they support their fans that supported them is always a good thing.

Corbie Dillard: I think it's a nice gesture on Nintendo's part to attempt to make those who went out and paid full price for the 3DS system feel better. In truth, they didn't really have to do anything, so I guess it's best to take what you can get sometimes.

James Newton: I think we're all mostly happy because we know that — all being well — the best is yet to come, in terms of GBA games and new retail releases on the way.

Jacob Crites: Incredibly generous. When my credit card info got stolen, I got two okay free games from Sony. When absolutely nothing happened, I get 20 free games from Nintendo. I'm a happy camper.

Corbie Dillard: Well put.

Zach Kaplan: Free games are nice, but if Nintendo is trying to offset the $80 extra from the 3DS's launch price, I think they have a long way to go with the GBA games. As for the Sony thing, I don't know if anyone's credit card info was stolen, and I'd much, much prefer a full PS3 game to this collection, more than half of which I'll rarely return to, if ever. Not to mention a free month of a PS Plus subscription. Nintendo didn't have to do this for us, but it could have done a lot more. Then again, I might take all that back when the GBA portion comes out.

Corbie Dillard: Hey, they could have given us all free add-on Circle Pad accessories!

Thomas Whitehead: I personally think it was a pretty good reward overall, plenty of companies would have done less, if anything. Finishing up with 'part two' of the programme, what are your fan-boy hopes and dreams for the GBA portion, in terms of delivery and remaining five games?

Marcel van Duyn: I'm really, really hoping Advance Wars is in there, for the rest I don't really mind as long as they're not completely stupid picks.

Ron DelVillano: I hope that the delivery is simpler (which it probably won’t be). As far as games go, I’d really like to see Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Mario Tennis: Power Tour, and Golden Sun games. Another personal favourite of mine is Altered Beast: Guardian of the Realms. I wouldn’t mind seeing that bad-boy on the list either!

Christopher Ingram: A better delivery would be nice, but not exactly necessary, as we all already know how to download them now when they arrive. Fan-boy dreams for upcoming GBA games: F-Zero: GP Legend, Donkey Kong Country, and Mario: Pinball Land to name a few, but I’d really like to see Nintendo pull out a shocker and bring Rhythm Tengoku and Densetsu no Stafy!

Zach Kaplan: When I had my GBA I mostly played ports, so I'd like to see some Minish Cap, etc. — original GBA experiences, not Mario Advance titles. Mario & Luigi would be a great choice, so is Advance Wars and Minish Cap. And Mother 3 would be very nice...

Corbie Dillard: Give me Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga and Golden Sun and I'll be happy.

Jacob Crites: Superstar Saga. That's really all a man needs in this world.

Corbie Dillard: How true.

Thomas Whitehead: So if Superstar Saga isn't there, you'll be marching on Nintendo HQ with pitchforks?

Corbie Dillard: Absolutely.

Jacob Crites: No, but I will rant to high-heaven on message boards that they'll never read!

James Newton: Depends — if Minish Cap comes instead, I could probably stomach it.

Thomas Whitehead: Thanks everyone, that wraps it up. Now, who’s up for some multiplayer in Star Fox 64 3D?

Our thanks to everyone for their time and insight, and for their (reasonably) good behaviour. Let us know what you think of the Ambassador Programme so far in the comments below!

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