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A closer look at 10 of the 20 free games current 3DS owners will receive

This may have escaped your notice in the initial news, but when Nintendo revealed it was giving away downloads of select Game Boy Advance games to current 3DS owners, it marked the first time GBA games were officially available for any Virtual Console. Though Nintendo only showed half of the titles coming to internet-enabled 3DS owners, what we’ve seen so far has us excited.

GBA Games

Yoshi%26rsquo;s Island: Super Mario Advance 3

The whimsical, crayon-colored, adventure known as Yoshi’s Island is one of our favorite games of all time. A late release on SNES, this dino-extravaganza was the last big budget 2D game that Miyamoto’s Mario team made before moving onto Super Mario 64, so they created a journey for the ages. Admittedly, the GBA version isn’t a perfect emulation of the classic, but it has some added on levels and other content that almost makes up for that.

WarioWare, Inc: Mega Microgame$

A wacky title that basically invented a genre, the first WarioWare made playing games for five seconds at a time endless fun. Filled with in-jokes, Nintendo history, and good old-fashioned scatological humor, this game’s awesomeness is the reason WarioWare quickly became Nintendo’s premiere franchise for showcasing new hardware. The original might not have all gimmicks of later releases, but it holds up just fine.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

The first portable Mario Kart title, Super Circuit was nostalgia driven even when it first launched, as it includes recreations of every course from the original Super Mario Kart. On top of that, there were brand new courses, gameplay improvements that were introduced in Mario Kart 64, and all your favorite racers returning for more competition. The graphics haven’t aged too well, but it’ll work as a fine primer for Mario Kart 7.

Mario vs Donkey Kong

When viewed as the spiritual successor to the stupendous Donkey Kong for Game Boy (opens in new tab), Mario vs Donkey Kong falls a little flat. While it imitated the gameplay well enough, the level design was lacking, and the original title’s secret depth was nowhere to be found. The game really found its groove during the Mini-Mario stages, where players directed the Lemmings-like wind-up toys through increasingly difficult timed-puzzle stages, so it’s no surprise the sequels focused on that aspect. It’s a quirky diversion, but not totally worthy of its legacy.

Metroid Fusion

We’ll let Metroid expert Brett Elston explain this one: “Chronologically the last game in the series, it gave Metroid a little more personality than what we’re used to, adding a secondary character – Samus’s computer, Adam – and a more coherent story that sees Samus set loose in a space-research station filled with evolving, creature-mimicking X-parasites... It was a more conventional turn for the series, but it was fun, and it helped make Fusion one of the greatest revivals of a classic series the GBA ever saw.” So yeah, pretty cool.


There you have it, just half the games you’ll be able to download for 3DS if you login to the Nintendo eShop with your 3DS before 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on August 11. The NES titles will be available for download starting September 1 to those lucky early buyers, while others will only be able to download them later for a price. The GBA games are promised to be available by the end of 2011, and apparently will only be downloadable to the eligible early adopters, as “Nintendo currently has no plans to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3DS in the future,” according to the press release. With five unannounced games to fill out both the GBA and NES rosters, what titles do you hope Nintendo adds to the list? Personally Advance Wars and Punch-Out are at the top of the list.

Jul 28, 2011

Henry Gilbert
Henry Gilbert

Henry Gilbert is a former GamesRadar+ Editor, having spent seven years at the site helping to navigate our readers through the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Henry is now following another passion of his besides video games, working as the producer and podcast cohost of the popular Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts.