News Article

Talking Point: DS Games Deserve Digital Distribution on 3DS

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Too good to ignore

Not long ago, we brought you a feature on Bargain Bin DS Games, detailing some excellent games available for relatively little money. The response to the article highlighted how many little-known or under-appreciated gems the DS library has, as it seems to have been a platform that encouraged a lot of creativity from developers. The only downside — if you consider it a negative — is that a lot of excellent titles had limited runs or didn’t achieve wider success with gamers.

Perhaps a way for DS games to enjoy a second wind will be as digital downloads on 3DS. Nintendo’s latest handheld already has backwards compatibility, so why not go a step further and bring the best and the brightest, as well as the unappreciated, to the eShop?

It’ll be easy to do

From a practical perspective, we see no obvious reasons why DS titles couldn’t be available as downloads. In terms of file size (disregarding the compressed file sizes on illegal ROM sites) the maximum DS game size is around the 500MB mark, but most are far smaller. It’s not hard to see why, either, as the technology in the DS family of consoles was barely cutting edge in 2004, and storage has become more substantial and significantly cheaper since then. Although acquiring a number of full DS games through the eShop would probably necessitate multiple SD cards for your 3DS, these are relatively cheap to buy.

With that in mind, the prospect of hosting and distributing digital versions of the DS library shouldn’t be too difficult for Nintendo. The platform already hosts some fairly sizeable 3DS download titles and demos; let’s not forget that, starting with New Super Mario Bros. 2, full 3DS retail titles will also be available. For even more context on the fact that file sizes wouldn’t necessarily be an issue let’s also consider that, according to Nintendo Gamer, Super Mario 3D Land is only 0.31GB in size, less than one-sixth of the 2GB SD card packed in with 3DS systems. Some 3DS games are larger, such as Resident Evil Revelations at 3.17GB, but that's an exception among a majority of titles less than 1GB in size. Those who received ten Game Boy Advance games for free as part of the Ambassador scheme may have also noticed that the biggest of these was Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones at just 280 blocks of memory. Even going somewhere between these two extremes leaves an impression that a catalogue of digital DS games wouldn’t break the bank in multiple SD card purchases.

Why do it?

So why should Nintendo makes its most recent generation of handheld games available on 3DS when it’s still working through Game Boy, Game Boy Color and SEGA Game Gear titles on the Virtual Console? Simple: it gives owners another reason to appreciate their system — or want to buy one. Let's be clear though that Nintendo has already served us well by ensuring that 3DS is backwards compatible with DS game cards, a move the company also made with GBA compatibility in the original DS and DS Lite.

It’s an area where 3DS holds an advantage over PlayStation Vita, which can’t play the PSP's UMD media. On the flip-side, however, Sony’s system has a substantial catalogue of PSP games available for download. Much like the debate about digital downloads in general, there will always be gamers who prefer physical media, but the key word is choice. Vita owners may not have the choice of playing their old PSP discs, which is a problem in itself, but those who are inclined can buy these titles for download. For 3DS owners, of course, the reverse is true.

That’s exactly why Nintendo should consider bringing DS games to the eShop as downloads: it gives us the best of both worlds. For those that like to browse second-hand stores or online stores for DS titles, that’s an option. For others who simply want to try a DS game that they’ve heard all about and would rather it was only a few stylus taps away, digital downloads are the answer. 3DS evolved from DS in a very literal way, so giving us another way to experience hidden gems of the predecessor’s catalogue is perfectly apt.

If Nintendo is going to embrace digital platforms, while ensuring that new gamers experience the incredible legacy of DS, then we think it’s time for its library to go digital.

What do you think? Would a DS section in the eShop be worthwhile and inspire you to try more games, or do you want the system's library to stay on game cards for this generation of handhelds? Let us know in the comments below.

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User Comments (86)



Chris720 said:

It would be good for the rarer games... but with backwards compatibility I really see no point in a digital version. Maybe with the next handheld console we'll have DS games as digital titles...

But as of right now, you can find most games for 5-10 pound... how much could they possibly get via download?



Reala said:

Would love this to happen but if they go the full retail price route like they seem to want to do with 3DS then I'll skip it.



SpaceKappa said:

Great article, Tom!

I think it'd be a neat feature, although I wouldn't take advantage of it. I hate how DS games look on the 3DS, all smeared and smudged on the larger, higher resolution screen. Sure, I can hold start and select to run them at the proper aspect ratio so they look sharp as a tack, but then I've got all that wasted real estate. I still have my DSi (as I never get rid of systems) so regular DS games will always be played on their native system.

However! I'm a picky guy, and not everyone has a weird brain like me. I think that if they did add DS titles to the Virtual Console it'd be very, very successful. A lot of people either skipped the DS or had a lost/broken one that was never replaced, and this would be a good way for them to catch up on a massive library.



Knux said:

I would love for this to happen. Some DS games are actually hard to find and expensive in retail, so putting them on the eShop might actually make buying some of them cheaper.



Tsuchinoko said:

I'd rather just buy them used online. Just like other people have been saying, lets wait for GBA games before anything else. There's so many that I want...



Burning_Spear said:

I think it's a good idea, but not for me. I'd prefer a game card that could be used on my XL during home play.



WhiteLayer said:

I don't see the point in putting DS games in the EShop when they're all still relatively easy and cheap to get in other places. But GBA games on the other hand...!



SkywardLink98 said:

Though the DS Legend of Zelda's are hard to find new and I'd buy THOSE of the eShop EASY (as long as the microphone-thing is fixed I heard it's impossible to use the mic in Spirit Tracks)...



Kinioka said:

I don't think Nintendo would be nice about pricing Ds games and most of them are cheap at the moment. Of course some are hard to find, but the majority belongs to a niche genre.
We just stopped playing them last year...



ThomasBW84 said:

@Bass_X0 Great minds and all that...

I missed that thread, I must admit, and the idea for this article occurred to me when playing Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, a game I'd been tracking down for a while. If it had been available for download, I would have picked it up right away. GBA points are absolutely valid, I guess my main point is that it makes sense to expand the backwards compatibility to digital for DS, especially with Nintendo taking downloads more seriously.

Will this happen? I think it's quite unlikely, but you never know. Times change, and Nintendo seems to be revising its online plans pretty regularly right now to try and get the most out of it. Remember they said MK7 wouldn't be patched? Well, it happened



Ernest_The_Crab said:

This sounds somewhat reasonable. I say somewhat because of an issue that showed up when I was playing Pictobits on the 3DS. There seemed to be a slight issue with selecting and placing blocks. It might have something to do with the stylus size or perhaps the difference in touch screen resolution. Or maybe I'm wrong here and it's just a problem with Pictobits' own detection.

This makes me think that any DS game that actually required considerable accuracy with the touch screen "COULD" have issues when brought over as a DS Downloadable game for the 3DS. The majority of games would probably work though.



Morpheel said:

I'd totally buy some DS games again just to have them with me at all times :3
Though, pricing is a concern.



Onett said:


Ugh... So true! Everything looks like it has a blur filter on it. It was pretty bad on the DSXL too but I can't say I wouldn't take advantage of it either.



ejamer said:

Pricing is a concern, and I still prefer retail (ie: physical) releases to digital content locked to my system... but digital distribution for games that are no longer in print would be very tempting. Surely small publishers like Atlus would benefit here, even if Nintendo's own games would end up being the big sellers.



Dreadjaws said:

I'm all in for this idea. There are so many DS games that are a pain to find, specially in my country, since I have to order them from overseas. This would make sure I'd just go to my job and tell them to directly send my paycheck to Nintendo.



Geonjaha said:

Two main reasons why it's a no for me;
1) The games would cost the same as retail as Nintendo have previously stated - doesnt need explaining, and also makes even less sense since by now the DS games are likely to be cheaper by retail.
2) The resolution is terrible. I have a DSi, and I probably wouldn't buy a DS game on a 3DS even if it did cost slightly less.



Undead_terror said:

well like demonic said about the rarer games,and a acception of the game & watch collections,and possibly some ports



Nanoline said:


Don't forget though that you can turn off that resolution by holding the Select button when you turn the DS game on, which puts the screen size back to it's original setting as it would appear on the DS itself.



C-Olimar said:

Nintendo need to realise: if there's space for 3DS software, there's space for N64, Gamecube, Dreamcast, DS, GBA and others. OK, I suppose Gamecube would be difficult to emulate. And how many analogue sticks does the Dreamcast controller have? Anyway, both of these consoles would work on Wii U - if we have the space to download Wii U games, how can space be an issue for Gamecube and Dreamcast games? I want to download Skies of Arcadia, any version!



McHaggis said:


I think it would be easier to bring DS games as digital downloads than it was for the GBA Ambassador games, which use software emulation. DS mode is already built into the hardware with almost perfect compatibility. Unlike GBA emulation that requires extended testing, DS games could be released to the eShop in droves with all the confidence that it will just work (assuming system software adjustments were made with an update).

Many old DS games are no longer available new, which means Nintendo and the developers get 0 money from them. I'd like to see Nintendo playing it smart and offering to publish Classic DS games on the eShop at a price point that is competitive to used items. This should be enough for developers to jump at the chance to start making money from old games again.

Of course, I'd like to see more GBA games for sale, but the current pricing structure of games on the 3DS eShop worries me that I'd be much better off buying pre-owned GBA games.



Platypus said:

DS don't cost that much anymore. I can find a bunch of good games on Amazon for $10-15. But it would still be nice to have them on 3DS.



HaNks said:

great idea, but can nintendo come to terms with digital price trend for older titles. old GB games on the VC are for the most part overpriced. i'd pay a fiver and probably not much more for a DS download on demand.



Samholy said:

totally agree, but they need to follow prices of the current used market. i can find all of these very cheap. if they come at 30-40$, i dont see the point of getting these games. Heck, i even found a game package for 20 dollars with 6 games in it. some real good like mario 63, new mario bros, a zelda)

i usually can find ds games around 5 to 20 dollars,some are even new at these price ranges.



ecco6t9 said:

I would pay a bit more for a downloadable game if it looked better on the DS screens and allowed me to have Streepass active for the 3DS.



mamp said:

Never got to finish Super Princess Peach, I wouldn't mind buying that one.



Squashie said:

An absolutely brilliant idea! I would completely love it!

Someone needs to make a petition and send it to Nintendo!



Bass_X0 said:

@NTELLIGENTMAN Nobody is asking you to. But if there's a particular game that somebody can't find at all at retail, like with Virtual Console games already, then there is the digital option.



Kirk said:

If Nintendo is smart it will put all it's previous generations of handheld games on the 3DS via digital download, as well as putting all it's previous generations of home console games on WiiU via digital download too.

There's absolutely no good reason not to. It's just common sense and good business.

Not doing that is pretty much idiotic.



Hokori said:

Alow a physical to digital solution I have too many DS games if they were to go digital I wouldn't want to rebut/replay them



Kyloctopus said:

I agree with @KaiserGX. I've played alot of DS games, there is probably nothing to offer to me in the catalogue (With the exeption of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Picross 3D, and Planet Puzzle League)



Wheels2050 said:

I think this would be a good idea - as you say, more choice is always good.

This would particularly benefit people looking to play games that had low print runs (I'm looking at you, Atlus) where the games can be extremely expensive. However, that would require Nintendo to negotiate distribution with 3rd party companies, and that may or may not work out.



CanisWolfred said:


1) You're dreaming if you think they'll charge $10.
2) Where can I find a DS game that isn't Barbie's Dream House that costs less than $5? Heck, where can I find a good one for less than $10?



Funem said:

Why wait for GBA games first ? I would like some DS ones to be released, I am not to bothered about the GBA ones. Release both GBA and DS at the same time, maximize the choice and you will draw people to the eshop. Make them wait and you could lose potential interest. The only thing is not to charge full price as Nintendo seems to want to do.



iroxursox said:

well i mean some ds games were placed on the dsiware shop and the size limit is 10 mb which is tiny comparard to some 3ds games they will probably bring to the eshop




Its a nice idea but as some have indicated you can find DS classics on the net second hand for very cheap now. Would Nintendo really charge that cheap a price as a digital DL? Also, space issues?



IsawYoshi said:

I would love it. But I think they should get done with the gb, gbc and gba first.



tanookisuit said:

It's a nice idea but also a dangerous slippery slope. The more stuff goes towards digital distro for full blown games the more new people entering the market will be accepting of it. As time passes it will be easier and easier to drop solid copies, and when that day comes the video game market will allow itself to uniquely place itself in dangerous anti-consumer territory. You'll buy a game for retail price, but only really buy a rental you have literally NO rights to, so when down the line they drop support and/or your system eats it or goes stolen/missing your hundreds or thousands in purchases will be gone too.

I can't support a model where I don't have a right to what I buy other than micro transactions and cheap pick up stuff ($1-10 things from iOS items to console/hh market games.) I still play NES games on my Sharp NES TV, think I can say if I get a Super Mario download game I can fire it up 25 years later? Nope, not under this model, probably not even 5-10years later once they move on.



Henmii said:

Sure, but it won't happen just yet! The DS is still living!!

There are still games coming out for the DS. Even Nintendo does this; The next Pokemon game is coming to the DS! Also: The majority of the developers still make DSiware, while I think they should move on to 3DSware!

Believe it or not but while gba was never Nintendo's third pillar, the DS is!!



zenarium said:

Ds games ir a good idea but don't expect low prices...

I would like to play some mario games I don't have... bring it on!!



Hokori said:

I would love to buy super princess peach, and many rare ds games I don't have, I'm so glad I found MvDK 2MotM



Raptor78 said:

DS games are quite cheap and easy to pick up... BUT, I do think DS digital distribution would be a great idea but I would probably stick to whats consider the "classics" and not include any DS remakes of earlier games that would narrow it down. Like Zelda Spirit Tracks would be a perfect example of DS eShop download. I would, truth be told, prefer GBA eShop games first but DS games would be easier to emulate... oh, and if Nintendo would be able to fix the old games that cannot use the 3DS / DSi new internet settings that would be worth the download itself.



samuelduh said:

It would be really fun to just demo a ds game from the E-Shop but people are forgetting, most nintendo games are still on ds and dsi so I don't see the point in this for another two-three years.



sdcazares1980 said:

Considering that they will make 3DS systems that will no longer play DS cartridge games, just like the Wii discontinued the GC-compatability systems, this is a no-brainer. Besides, consoles are also making the current-gen system games downloadable as well.



RevolverLink said:

The idea of Nintendo making DS games available digitally gives me some (slim) hope of someday seeing games that never made it to North American shores, such as Last Window, Ace Attorney Investigations 2 and Game Center CX 2, released in an official capacity.



MrPanic said:

Kinda unnecessary since they are selling those game still fine as retail games. GBA games on the other hand, give them to me now.



NintyMan said:

This would be a good idea as some of those games are suprirsingly hard to find these days and that there are a couple like Super Princess Peach and Kirby Squeak Squad that I still haven't played. Thankfully, I own WarioWare Touched and Tetris DS, so those are two rare games I have.

Of course, GBA games should logically be included first and the DS still has some legs, but downloadable DS games would earn Nintendo more cash and it would satisfy collectors and those that missed out as well.



rjejr said:

"So why should Nintendo makes its most recent generation of handheld games available on 3DS when it’s still working through Game Boy, Game Boy Color and SEGA Game Gear titles on the Virtual Console?"

Why should they, when the 3DS PLAYS DS cartridges?
Add me to the GBA chorus.



Tasuki said:

Truthfully I'd rather see GBA games come to the 3DS digitally. If I want DS games I can just get the cartridges since the 3DS can play DS cartridges.



Linkuini said:

Easy to do? Hardly. Even for digital downloads, there's still probably a bunch of licensing issues to go through before they can put a game up for sale, especially for that "under-appreciated" category you mentioned. Couple that with the glacial release schedule we've seen in Nintendo's download services so far, and it's a fat chance we'd ever get another chance to try stuff like, say, Draglade, to name a fairly obscure one.

Even if they did decide to offer DS games for download, we'd probably get a few good first-party titles and then watch the service sputter out. Same old pattern.



Sgt_Garlic said:

it makes sense but it doesn't really matter to me because I'd rather just have the physical cartridge. But for convenience and for rare, expensive games it's a no-brainer.



Rekiotsu said:

Nintendo should definitely bring ds games for digital dawnload, because it would be good for gamers like me who never owned ds and who would like try out some hight quality ds titles. Since i would prefer digital form for old games.



grimbldoo said:

@Reala #2
I just checked Steam:
Elder Schrolls: Skyrim - $59.99
Call of Duty Black Ops2/MW3 - $59.99
You're right, not full retail price.



retro_player_22 said:

Either way is alright with me just as long as it had both digital distribution and physical play. If it's anything like a PSP Go or an iPhone then I'm ditching it.



Expa0 said:

Not interested at all, I already own pretty much all of the DS games I would ever want aside from select few titles which I still miss (999, Etrian Odyssey 2, My World My Way, and the stupid teenage RPG by square-enix KH team), but can get with relative ease whenever I feel like it.



TimboBaggins said:

GBA first. DS games are plausible, but unnecessary due to backwards compatibility. Hell, where are the GBC games? Or other handhelds like NeoGeo Pocket and the Wonderswan?



Luffymcduck said:

Nintendo really should start releasing Advance and DS games on the eShop. For a good price though. 8 euros for GBA games,they have to be cheaper than N64 ones on Wii u know. Since DS games are getting old now they shouldn´t make them cost too much.



Volmun said:

it'd be good if they did something like Metroid Prime Hunters HD / 3D or something sum of the popular DS games would be nice also i sort of hope they make a new Mario Kart Double Dash as that & still is my favorut MK game



kyuubikid213 said:

I was under the assumption that it was already happening. Elite Forces Unit 77 was a DS game, was it not? You can purchase that on the eShop.

Personally though, your picture makes me want Mario Kart DS as a downloadable title. I would like to have a good Mario Kart with me everywhere. I'm looking at you Super Circuit. Only the Super Circuit tracks though. Super Mario Kart tracks can stay.



Joco84 said:

Good idea, but I've got just too many 3DS games to play at the moment, not to mention all the Ambassador games!



Bass_X0 said:

I was thinking of an eShop version of Mario Kart. It would be identical to Mario Kart 7 (in gameplay and graphics) except that there are only 12 or 16 new courses, not seen in Mario Kart 7. It would be like DLC but you don't need the Mario Kart 7 cartridge to play it. However, if you do have the cartridge, every character and part you have unlocked will also unlocked on this eShop Mario Kart game. Coins you earn in the eShop game will be sent to the Mario Kart 7 cartridge if its inserted.



skywake said:

Nintendo don't make any money from the grey market and I doubt they are producing that many new cartridges especially of some of those old games. The way I see it it's pretty much pure profit if they did this. There's also the benefit of being able to get the obscure titles, some which go for a bundle, with little to no effort.




BlueBana said:

All Professor Layton DS games on my 3DS.. a dream that probably never come true.



Reenie said:

Yeah, I am for digitalising past releases; but only for games that are out of production. This goes for any of the previous games on all systems. Having said that, I would prefer if they ported all the games from consoles onto the 3ds-style cartridges instead of as a digital release.
I like the idea of having a physical game. Particularly as I fear the issue of file corruption or theft; as the games are stored on the system, there is no record of my purchase- this means that I would have to re-purchase all my digital games if my system is stolen or rendered unusable.



grumblegrumble said:

@spacekappa I agree! DS games look bad on the 3DS. They really need to work on that on the next version, install a chip or something that updates those graphics in older carts. Is that possible? Btw, I still play DS games all the time on my 3DS. Clearance racks at Target and such. lol I just got Bejeweled 3 and love it (for like $5) Anyways, I'm sure the next 3DS successor won't even play DS games, seems they are slowly phasing out the games that played on 2 systems before each new hardware upgrade.



Bass_X0 said:

I like the idea of having a physical game.

I lost my a DS cartridge. A Wii disc has become scratched and unplayable.

However the VC games I downloaded on my Wii back in 2006 still work fine. IF (not 'when') my Wii or 3DS break, then as long as I feel like I've played the games I have downloaded for long enough then it won't hurt so much. I will then look at the games as just a 'rental'. I will just download a few of my favorites again and carry on playing.



R-L-A-George said:

@grumblegrumble SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters looks great strangely. Oh yeah I suggest sites maybe like Toys R Us or Gamestop to get it. They probably know better to check the cart before allowing it to be a trade in?



Kitsune_Rei said:

I'd be totally for it, so long as they were budget-priced. I wouldn't pay full retail for them. It'd be especially great for smaller release games. I would also be tempted to pick up some favorites again, or pick up some I missed and forgot about.

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