Tiny Cartridge 3DS

Why the ‘8-Bit Summer’ gives me hope for the eShop

Nintendo’s 3DS eShop “8-Bit Summer” promotion will bring the following games to the North American eShop in July 2012:

  • July 5: The Legend of Zelda
  • July 12: Kirby’s Pinball Land and The Sword of Hope 2
  • July 19: Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters and Tumblepop
  • July 26: Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
  • Sometime…?: Sonic Blast, Sonic Labyrinth

I think this is really important … or at least I naively hope this is really important.

Think back to all the promotions on the Wii Virtual Console. There was the timed release of Metroid and Super Metroid to promote Metroid Prime 3 in 2007, there was a temporary Sega sale in 2009, and that’s… about it for the whole history of the service. Not that there’s been much of anything about the Wii Virtual Console over the last two years (do they even count?) but that’s two special promotions from 2006 to 2012.

There was never a Virtual Console release marathon like this one, there was never really much of an effort to bring attention to the Virtual Console. I’m having a hard time remembering a trailer like this for VC games, even.

And yet, one year into the 3DS eShop’s life, Nintendo does a Virtual Console-focused promotion. I want to believe that this portends more than the absolute minimum of effort and attention for the service. I’m not ready to believe that yet – I thought the same thing after that Sega sale – but it’s certainly not a bad sign.

Speaking of that Sega sale, that relates to another surprising aspect of Nintendo’s eShop treatment. Right now in North America, Super Mario Land is on sale. In Europe and Japan, multiple games are on sale, and more will be discounted next week. 

Sure, one dollar off one game (that you probably already have) doesn’t mean much on its own, but it’s a discount on a downloadable game on a Nintendo platform. Those are incredibly rare. What, a couple of DSiWare games were free at launch, and there was that Sega sale. This is a promotional discount on an already released game. If this happens one more time on the eShop, it’ll be more effort than Nintendo ever put into moving a Wii downloadable game.

Anyway, it’s very possible we could never see anything like this again. But just this once, old Game Boy games on 3DS got a promotion like XBLA’s Summer of Arcade, and that’s kind of miraculous. At this very second, I love the eShop.

Update: The Super Mario Land sale is actually the first game in a "Game of the Week" promotion! THIS IS AMAZING. It’s a baby step, but … a giant baby step.

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See also: More eShop news and media

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