The 3DS eShop is missing something. Not games, as it's actually receiving a rather healthy supply of adequate exclusives, classics, and digital copies of retail games. No, it needs a little something special. Just as Christopher Walken needed more cowbell, the 3DS eShop is in dire need of more variety. Specifically, Game Boy Advance imports. I know, we haven't even seen actual GBA games appear on the eShop yet, outside of the ten Ambassador games divvied out to people who bought the system before the now legendary price drop. Still, I whole heartedly maintain that when the GBA games launch on the 3DS eShop, Nintendo had better make sure there are some imports among them.
The best part is, Nintendo doesn't even have to go around getting special permission. I hate to break it to all you North Americans, but we were greatly neglected by Nintendo during the Game Boy Advance years. There were many first-party games that were utterly fantastic, yet fated to a Japan-exclusive existence. But, if Nintendo follows my command, it could redeem itself. Really, the possible games that could be added to a 3DS eShop import section speak for themselves.
For starters, it'd mean we'd get legal version of all three Mother games. Oh, I'm sorry. Some of you may only know of the series due to Earthbound, which was Mother 2 in Japan. There were three of these fantastically clever and poppy RPGs, and we in the States only got one of them on the SNES. If a 3DS eShop import section existed, I think the GBA games Mother 1+2, a compilation of the NES and SNES installments, and Mother 3 would be a natural fit. Granted, there would be a bit of a language barrier, but all three games are so iconic and beloved that it's easy to find help and guides for them online.
Speaking of iconic series, did you ever wonder what Roy had to do with Fire Emblem? That's because the GBA installment, Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi, was never released outside of Japan. Instead, we received Fire Emblem, a prequel that was released a year later in Japan. At the time, I was positive we'd get Fūin no Tsurugi too, and that Nintendo was just setting us up for it by releasing the prequel first, but it never happened. Putting it on the eShop would be a good way to earn some brownie points and forgiveness. Granted, it also has a language barrier, but all Fire Emblem games have the same overall premise. Take your troops, beat down the bad guys, and profit.
Still, all these language-heavy games may be a bit overbearing. Nintendo would have to lighten up the hypothetical 3DS eShop import section with some less cumbersome games. Which brings us to the Densetsu no Stafy series. That should sound vaguely familiar, as the sole DS installment was released outside Japan as The Legendary Starfy. However, there were four entries released prior to it on the GBA in Japan. While there is some text and some minor story elements that will be missed should entries 1-4 be released without alteration as a download, the series as a whole is so charming and easy to grasp that anyone who picks up this adorable platformer can enjoy it.
Stafy isn't the only import GBA series that could successfully make a splash on the 3DS eShop if brought over unaltered. There's the whole bit Generations series to continue. Again, this is a series that Nintendo touched upon, releasing variations of these GBA games on the DS and Wii as Art Style games. The original versions of these seven games, however, remained locked in Japan. Each is a fairly simple puzzle or action game where words aren't necessary. The goal in each installment is fairly evident, and once you know what you have to do, playing comes naturally. Now, Nintendo could probably skip the Dialhex, Dotstream, Orbital, and Digidrive releases, since those games made it stateside as Rotohex, light trax, Orbient and, well, Digidrive for either the DSi or Wii. However, the lack of SoundVoyager in our lives, a game you only play by listening to the sounds coming from it, is criminal. And if SoundVoyager did make it over into an import section, then Nintendo may as well release Boundish and Coloris as well to complete the collection.
With music being a universal language, a 3DS import section would also make Rhythm Tengoku a perfect addition to the library. This is the very first Rhythm Heaven game, released in Japan way back in 2006 on the GBA. Like the follow-ups Rhythm Heaven and Rhythm Heaven Fever, it tasks players with completing assorted challenges by pressing a button in time with the music. As long as you can tap a button in time with a song, following a pattern, you can play Rhythm Tengoku. I bet it would be the ideal timesink for a lot of 3DS owners.
Finally, there's one last game Nintendo could call upon should it decide to grace our 3DS units with GBA imports: Kururin Paradise. If you live in Europe you may know the name. Kuru Kuru Kururin, the first Game Boy installment in the series, was released there. Kururin Paradise is more of the same and happens to be an action-puzzle game where players must move a spinning stick through mazes. Your goal is to make it through labyrinths as quickly as possible without touching walls. If you hit a corner too many times, you have to restart. It sounds simple enough, but gets fiendishly difficult and would provide quite a proper challenge to 3DS owners without keeping people away with walls of text.
Clearly, Nintendo has quite a bit of work to do. It's been keeping quite a few great handheld imports away from us, and releasing these unseen treasures via the 3DS eShop is the perfect way to start making amends. If anything, it should try a GBA import section by just releasing Mother 3, Rhythm Tengoku, and Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi to see how people react. I'm sure the response would be positive, and if not, well, at least the three GBA imports I want most would be available!
Date: January 29, 2013