The 3DS is quite a system, and has found its way into the hands of more than 50 million players all over the world. However, there are a few features on the console that families often overlook, one of which is Download Play.
Of course, expert and avid Nintendo players know all about Download Play, but as a consequence it often falls from the conversation. Introducing a family to this feature, particularly on games they already own, has won me the odd free drink at the pub the last few years.
While there are a long list of games offering Download Play on the 3DS, the two I've found most useful to introduce the concept to families are Mario Kart 7 and The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. Mario Kart makes the point about competitive play for up to 8 players with one cart, while Zelda offers more focused collaborative play for just 3 players.
For a family there are a couple of specific benefits in my experience. Foremost is the obvious cost saving of only requiring to purchase a single copy of the game. In my family, this has meant that my children have chosen to collect different Download Play games between them to maximise their play choices.
There's also the novelty factor of getting the game setup with just on cart. Although it's a feature provided by design, it feels like a hack getting it working. My youngest takes great delight in having memorised not only how to set it up but pretty much the full list of Download Play games.
Mario Kart 7 is a good example, as it offers broad functionality to those who have downloaded the game to play but at the same time has to limit the options. While players can compete on any course, the downloaders are stuck racing with Shyguy and have no Kart customisations.
It handles a mixed economy of players well, with any of the 8 being able to use the game if they have it or opt for download as need be. In Zelda Tri-Force Heroes you have to choose between either Local or Download play, which is slightly more limiting.
Here though, the gameplay offers something quite different to a family group of players. While I'm used to being able to wade in and "help" the kids when they are stuck (I end up taking over a bit, if I'm honest), here I have to collaborate with them to progress.
Luigi's Mansion 2 is another popular game for us in the Download Play area. Here though, like other 3DS games, the download experience is focused on a multiplayer mode. This can sound like a compromise, but in the case of Luigi's Mansion it takes that compelling ghost-hunting mechanic and fits it perfectly for up to four players.
Other popular Download play games for us include Tetris Axis, Mario Tennis Open, Street Fighter IV and Kirby: Triple Deluxe. I'm sure you can suggest some others, and point out particular limitations for families in the comments. This is all before we even touch on the DS games with Download Play features.
The other feature of the 3DS that families often overlook is the eShop. Particularly those that have tried the DSWare feature on the DSi, there is the assumption that this is just a convenient distraction rather than a major way to find and buy games.
For families the eShop has grown into one of the best introductions to the world of 3DS gaming. Reading star ratings and reviews is a great way for them to find hot new games. Demos and videos of games also take the mystery out of purchasing.
Of particular use are the store subsections. The Indie section is a great way to introduce new gamers to the joys of Shovel Knight, Xeodrifter or Mutant Mudds. Then of course the Virtual Console section brings together retro games parents may remember from their childhood.
What I want to know are your suggestions for Download Play games for families or great value games from the eShop. Let's make this Parent Trap post the place to go for the best details on these games, along with any shortcomings to watch out for.
This is an under used feature for me. I have used it plenty, but I buy most digital games for me 3ds, while the kids have the carts. I plan on keeping mine longterm, but the kids will be sold and upgraded someday for nx most likely. I think the best feature of 3ds is that it is a portable gaming console. Not s Watertown console expierence, but with games like Zelda, xenoblade, Mario , smash, mh4, etc... My 3ds has become my personal main gaming console while my PS3/wii u, and pc are my back ups. And I always have it with me. iPhone in one pocket, 3ds in the other.
Nice article! Mario tennis open and Mario Party island tour are both great fun on download play
Nice article. Mario tennis open and Mario Party island tour ate 2 of my download favourites
A definitive list of Download Play titles would be wonderful to have, in my 3DS collection there might be titles I'm unaware of having this perk.
Super Street Fighter IV's download play is an insult. Absolutely useless. From whatever little I remember of it (and I never bothered playing it again), you can only play as Ryu in a single arena. They might as well have not bothered at all since they've done such a crap job with it. I can reluctantly understand offering less customisation options for Download Play but this is simply ridiculous, and if anything, would put me off from recommending others to buy the game.
Unfortunately, too few 3DS games have implemented Download Play, which was actually a huge selling point for a lot of games during the lifespan of the Nintendo DS. Mario Kart 7's Download Play is leaps and bounds ahead of Mario Kart DS, but it would have been nice if other players could choose their own character/car parts. I imagine that going a little extra further to make this possible would not have been difficult, as it reeks of Nintendo artificially withholding content so that same households will buy multiple copies of the same game (in which case, Mario Kart 8 would be a much more economical option).
Luigi's Mansion 2 is fantastic with local multiplayer, but unfortunately, I've experienced quite a lot of dropouts when playing with my cousin. We were close to the final stage and the connection just died. There were also many cases of dropouts much earlier on as well. It got to a point where we had both just given up on trying to conquer the tower due to such bugs.
I wish Nintendo would release a new version of Clubhouse Games. I don't care if it's simply a port of the DS game that takes advantage of the 3DS' larger resolution. I'd be all over it. Great fun solo and in groups.
@RupeeClock Same here. I had no clue that Luigi's Mansion supported it until reading this just now.
Download play is fantastic, but extremely under utilised on the 3DS. There are about what, 15 games that use it?
I've got about 60 retail 3DS games and 100 or so digital.
The good examples:
Mario Kart 7
Mario Party Island Tour
Luigi's Mansion 2
Tetris (axis is the American name?)
Snow Moto racing 3D
Aqua Moto racing 3D (these two eShop games are nearly identical and not great)
Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed
Street Fighter 4
That's about it I think? lol, I'm sure I'm missing some, please let me know.
And... just because you and your family don't use the eShop, doesn't mean others don't.
@sillygostly Agreed on all fronts. SSF4 was a freakin joke.
Another great download play game I use a lot wirh froends is battleode in Star Fox 64 3D and VC title River City Ransom.
Have 3 3DS XL's and just bought my 3rd copy of Mario Kart 7, because download play is just not good enough.
Too bad Smash 3DS doesn't use this feature. But Smash Wii U exists so no biggie i guess, just bothered me back when only Smash 3DS was out and i wanted to play with a friend.
@sillygostly I tried Super Street Fighter IV 3D's Download Play feature with a friend only once. Let's just say I got him a used copy of the game that Christmas.
A 3DS Clubhouse Games would be fantastic. Imagine playing chess, bowling, other games via StreetPass.
Download Play is the only reason my son will likely get Triforce Heroes, otherwise I wouldn't bother. It's one of the first things I check for when buying games. The first thing I always check for is # of save slots so I know if we need 1 copy of a game or 2. Thanks to 3 save slots in Zelda: ALBW my other son can get Triforce Heros, otherwise I'd have to buy 2 cpies of ALBW.
Download Play is good, but multiple save slots are better. I know whenever a main Pokemon game comes out we have to buy 2 copies, they've always have only had 1 save slot, I don't even bother checking anymore. Though all of the dual release means we technically have only had to buy 1 of each, my kids just decide which 1 they want. Which is why Id rather buy XZ and YZ than 2 copies of just Z.
Download Play is a key feature for me, as I can't afford three time a multiplayer game for my two daughters and me !
"Family Feature" implies the whole family is interested, I hardly call examples like "Mario Kart 7" and "The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes" things most families as a whole are interested in. We still live in a world where it's quite rare for parents of kids to also be gamers (and I don't count people who mainly play Candy Crush as "gamers").
In fact, these days, I see far more kids with their face buried in smartphones and tablets playing smartphone games, simple because a smartphone and tablet is something their parents also use, and understand, over something like a 3DS.
The only time I've ever used Download Play in recent memory was with NES VC games like Super Mario Bros or Ice Climbers
I love the old ginger tom in the background casting looks of aspersion at the world for disturbing his right to peaceful sleep.
Almost wish more games had Download Play, the only reason I even picked up Triforce Heroes was due to Download Play, had it since launch and not touched that game solo or played online, get some Download Play going about once a week and leave it again.
I need to pick up more Download Play titles...
I've always been disappointed that more games don't offer download play. I play MK with my kids all the time. It's just a really fun experience going head to head on our 3DSes. Smash Bros would be great, too, but I'm damned if I'm going to buy three copies of it just so we can play against eachother.
A function that is not even available in like 10 A+ titles. No, it is not. Download-play is a good idea poorly executed in most games, if they're ever compatible in first place.
@DarkKirby There may not yet be millions of "gamer families", but I guarantee that there are some. I've passed my handhelds down to my kids when I bought new ones for myself, and we spend a lot of time bonding with the Gamecube, Wii and DS/3DS. I got my eldest daughter hooked on Harvest Moon, and my little one is a Smash Bros fiend. We're also into tabletop gaming together with titles like Flash Point, Mice and Mystics, and Pokemon TCG. If you're into gaming, you're probably going to pass that on to your kids, just like parents pass on their love of football, Star Wars or hiking.
Just recently tried Luigi's Mansion download play with my girlfriend. Was quite a fun if slightly stressful run as we ran about trying to suck up ghost to beat the time limit and all that. Definitely a feature more multiplayer games on the 3DS would benefit from.
Oddly enough I scoff when I hear a multiplayer title does not have Download Play as a feature unless it's a game your friends are likely to also have such as Sm4sh 3DS and MK7. That being said, I have maybe 2 or 3 friends who actually own a 3DS, and we almost never play together on our 3DS systems.
However, the download play for Mario Party DS and MKDS gets tons of use since I have a few friends who still have an old DS lying around and we like to throw down while waiting for a movie to start at the cinema or while scoffing down fast food. If I had more friends who loved their 3DS as much as I do mine, Download Play would be very important as I don't expect my friends to share my taste in obscure multiplayer games.
I also am from the era of local couch multiplayer on a single console and hate the idea of buying multiple copies of a game to play with your friends.
Funny timing with this article, as just a few weeks ago I randomly went through my DS and 3DS collections and made note of which games support download play. Well, only makes sense to post them here! The numbers in the brackets indicate the range of players that can participate with the glory of single-card download. And keep in mind that this list only includes games I actually own.
Brain Age 2 (2-16)
Elite Beat Agents (2-4)
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2)
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2-4)
Mario Kart DS (2-8)
Metroid Prime: Hunters (2-4)
Metroid Prime: Pinball (2-8)
Namco Museum DS (2-4)
New Super Mario Bros. (2 for sidescroller, 2-4 for minigames)
Sonic Rush (2)
Super Mario 64 DS (2-4)
Star Fox Command (2-6)
Tetris DS (2-10)
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (3)
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (2-4)
Star Fox 64 3D (2-4)
Steel Diver (2)
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition (2)
3DS VC GAMES
Balloon Fight (2)
Ice Climber (2)
It's not a 3DS game but a ds game but bomberman is great for family
It's rarely used by companies because they want to make you buy multiple games. Street Fighter 4 is an example of such corporate stinginess. I mean, you weren't asked to buy multiple copies of the games on PS3, 360 and PC just so you could play it when you have some friends around!
This really is one of the best features of the 3DS. We use this very often among my friends, and it works so smoothly, up and running after a few minutes. In comparison, getting together to play PC games takes at least 2 hours to get started (if your lucky) and very rarely works well.
I only wish more 3DS games will use this feature!
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