The end of summer lull – when there is plenty of news, but very few game releases, has just arrived and very recently a person who shall remain nameless, lost every one of my family’s games for the DS and 3DS. Then Nintendo digitally dumped 10 free games right onto my 3DS. September could not have gotten off to a better start!
However, while we have known that Ambassador was on the way for about three months, there has been very little information as to how it all works. Any news has been very quietly announced, Nintendo generally overshadowing Ambassador with other announcements; like the 3DS price drop.
Well, fear not. The answers to all your questions and queries about the Ambassador Programme are about to be answered. Here you will find out everything you need to know about Ambassador. All the information from: if you are eligible to access Ambassador, to how to get your hands on the free games, to reviews of the games you can download.
So here it is. Sit back, relax and prepare to open up your 3DS, as GAMElitist presents:
Clockwork Diskdrive’s Complete Guide to the Ambassador Programme
Why, why, why?
I guess the best place to start is the beginning.
Last March Nintendo launched their 3DS console at the RRP of £250 in the UK and $249 in the US. While the new console did sell in its millions, in comparison to its predecessor (the DS) sales were abysmally low. As confidence in the 3DS waned, so did the value Nintendo’s shares.
Something had to be done, and fast.
Five months after the launch of their brand new console, in an unprecedented move, Nintendo slashed the price. Sales soared, business boomed and the faithful few who paid full price grew resentful.
At least, they would have, had not Nintendo announced the Ambassador Programme.
Nintendo made the following pledge:
“We know that because it is a short time since we launched Nintendo 3DS, this [the price drop] will be disappointing for the loyal fans who supported Nintendo 3DS from the beginning. All of you are Nintendo’s most important customers, our ambassadors, and so we would like to express our gratitude to you by offering 20 free downloadable games from Nintendo eShop as part of our Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Programme.”
In order to receive this wonderful message from Nintendo you had to qualify for the Ambassador Programme by buying a Nintendo 3DS before the price drop on August 12th. You then had to go on to the eShop on your 3DS before the afore mentioned price drop and that was it. You were registered and now an official 3DS ambassador.
If you bought a 3DS before August 12th and didn’t register, then Nintendo have prepared a back up plan for you. If you live in the US you can go here to register your 3DS in order to become an Ambassador. Sadly there is no way for European residents to register yet, but Nintendo are working on it, and when it is possible to register they will announce it here.
So assuming you are eligible and have registered (hurray for you), then it is time to get hold of your free games.
This is not the most streamlined of processes.
With Nintendo never originally planning to have the Ambassador Programme (naively believing that their over priced console would sell well) they did not build into the 3DS a way to make tonnes of software available only to certain customers for free. So the various back alleys and shady side routes that ambassadors have to follow in order to gain their freebies, are a little confused – to say the least.
First open the Nintendo eShop on your 3DS. Now click on the menu button in the top left corner of the touch screen. Scroll down and select “Settings/ Other”. Now click on the button labelled “Titles You’ve Downloaded”. Scrolling down the list now in front of you, you should find that several new games have appeared that you have never downloaded before. These are the Ambassador games. Simply select “Redownload” for the first game you want to download. Obviously this game will then download. Once completely downloaded select “Continue Shopping”, before going back through to “Titles You’ve Downloaded” and selecting the next game. Repeat until you have all of the games available.
Returning to your home menu now, there should be ten new, er, old, erm, well, ten NES games waiting for you. Some you may be very familiar with, others you might not know so well; you may never even have played a couple of these games before.
So, to help you sort the classic remakes from the inferior ports, the maturing antiques from aging wrecks and the Marios from the Luigis, the following micro-reviews should be regarded as a rough guide.
By far the best game available is Super Mario Bros. Beside the fact that it is the game that defined the 2D platforming genre, it has by far the most varied of levels, both in terms of the artwork and the game play. While Mario is a little more difficult to control than in recent games and there no way to go backwards in a level once you’ve moved forwards (you just bounce off the side of the screen) it is still as fun as ever to play. More than that, the fact that it is a direct port means all the secrets and surprises that the current generation of gamers have missed out on, are there to be discovered all over again. To the Minus World!
Next in the rankings has to be Metroid. This game took all the lessons learnt from Super Mario, screwed them up into a Samus shaped bundle of pixels and pushed up the tension a couple of thousand points. While the environments rarely vary in colour and tone, you are left to explore a vast space pirate base with dangers and puzzles lurking around every corner. The power ups which open new areas and environments to you, help to keep things fresh and the many monsters you encounter ensure you have to master new tactics frequently. Additionally, for anyone who has never played the Metroid series, it is a great introduction to a classic franchise, it being both the earliest game in the storyline and the first Metroid game to be developed.
The Legend of Zelda is also one of the all time greats. Put simply, what Nintendo have given us here, is the basis behind every RPG, EVER. The story line is deep, for a NES game anyway, and the world you are given to explore is vast. The puzzles are cleverly constructed as well, so, providing you haven’t played this game before, there are hours of game play waiting ahead of you. It feels good to complete this game.
For some reason I also felt strangely attracted to Donkey Kong Jr. It follows on after the original Donkey Kong (which you may have heard of). Mario, presumably after rescuing Princess Peach, felt it was time for a bit of vigilante justice and so has locked Donkey Kong in cage. It is now down to you, as Donkey Kong’s son, to rescue his dad. I like beating Mario. It’s fun to have Nintendo’s mascot as the bad guy for a change. The game really switches it up from the original as well, introducing vines for Donkey Kong Jr. to swing from and climb up to take Mario down.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is the point where the Zelda franchise decided to slap the games industry in the face once more. Not content with inventing a new genre with the first game, the Adventure of Link is made unique by the fact that whenever a cave, battle or town is entered, the game flips from top down puzzle game to 2D side-scroller, that increases the pace of the game nicely. There are many environments to explore, a great story line and decent music. A good all round revolutionary game (for 1987).
It is at this point that Nintendo’s supply of good games that they could give out for free, seems to dry up.
Mario & Yoshi seems to be just a reinvention of Tetris. It is fast paced and colourful, but the music is repetitive and the game just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Mario & Yoshi is great for about five minutes, until you get bored. It can’t stand up against many of the other free NES titles, never mind many other modern video games vying for your attention.
The next game is what is says on the tin. Balloon Fight is a 2D flying game, where you fight to stay floating by clinging onto a couple of helium filled balloons. When all the enemies balloons are popped you win. And that is it. There is nothing more to this game. Level after level after level of popping balloons. Sure, it’s free so download it, but there is nothing to get excited over here. Also it’s entire sound track is an annoying high pitched, singled toned squeak. It is like someone dragging their nails down a blackboard again and again and again and again. Argh.
Ice Climber is a great game. Or at least it should be. There are over thirty mountains to climb, and even a two player mode. The music is cool. Literally, it sounds chilling and is quite well mastered for an eight bit tune. However, the game falls down, so to speak, because the original manual for Ice Climber never made it to the 3DS. Hence there is no way to know how to play the game without prior experience. Also, a tutorial wouldn’t go a miss.
In Wrecking Crew, Mario is tasked with destroying various buildings while robots chase after him. Not the most conventional of premises. Sadly it it falls a bit flat, like many Mario spin off games. Mario is best at jumping on Goombas’ heads and eating magical mushrooms and hasn’t taken too well to knocking down blocks of flats – what kind of plumber is he any way? There is next to no variation in this game, unlike Super Mario Bros, which has much greater paced and doesn’t rely on a giant sledgehammer, which really slows Mario down. Wrecking Crew failed to entertain for very long at all.
By far the weakest offering to come with Ambassador on 3DS is this: NES Open Tournament Golf. Sure there’s a variety of clubs to chose from, but that is about it for this game. Hit the right key at the right time and you hit the ball along the course. Ta da. An entire game based off a single key hit. If I wanted to play a free one button game I’d have played Super Press Space To Win, at least it’s funny.
Hang On a Second
Wait a minute. Nintendo promised its Ambassadors twenty free games. The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that there are only ten games listed so far.
Well, that is because Nintendo haven’t quite finished porting the other ten games they promised.
These won’t be ancient NES games either, they will be Gameboy Advanced games.
This is where the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Programme Certificate comes in. While downloading those lovely free games, you many have noticed an eleventh application free to download. Once downloaded the Certificate monitors whether or not Nintendo have made the next game free to download, or if any updates to current games are available. When it finds one, the little blue light on the 3DS flashes. All you have to is select the Certificate on the main menu of the 3DS and the game should start to download.
Nintendo has promised that the rest of the games should arrive Friday 16th December 2011. The titles include:
- Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit
- Metroid Fusion
- WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong
- F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
- Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
- Kirby & the Amazing Mirror
- Wario Land 4
They too will all be released at once, and unlike the NES games, they are Ambassador exclusives, Nintendo claiming to have no plans to release them on the eShop at any point in the future.
The Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Programme as fully explained as it ever has, or should be.
Now go, download, and play.
Nintendo loves you!
Or, at least, they can’t afford to lose you now their stocks have finally started to rise in value again.
For the list of GBA games, check out this post.