3DS Virtual Console Quick Impressions: Super Mario Land/Link’s Awakening


Despite the expensive asking prices, I was willing to give both Super Mario Land and Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX a go. It seems that the 3DS Virtual Console treats Game Boy and Game Boy Color games differently and the latter will keep asking for a bigger premium price. Unfortunately, as I reported on twitter, the e-shop is not compatible with countries in the Middle East…which ironically counteracts the 3DS system having an official launch in the region. This is the first Nintendo system to ever have a full-fledged launch here, yet it’s sad that Nintendo continues to neglect global digital access. As usual, you must switch to North America and provide a local US address in order to check your e-shop. I recommend Middle Eastern gamers who own a local 3DS to have your region set to North America because our system is based on NA with the exception of the 220v charger instead of 110v.

First thing’s first; on default. When playing these VC games, the screen fills the full 4:3 view on the 3DS’s 16:9 with no artifacts whatsoever. No stretching to widescreen as that’s very unpractical. In fact, I do feel that the resolution, motions, and colors of these VC games look so much better compared to the originals. Perhaps the mixture of good emulation and a nice 3DS screen help reduce old artifacts to a bare minimum. I was especially taken aback by how good Link’s Awakening looks. I experienced only one instant of slowdown on my play-through of Super Mario Land in an enemy-filled section of the China level.

With Game Boy games like Super Mario Land, you have the option to switch between your color formats. You can either play in black ‘n white or switch to the classic sepia colors by holding L + R then pressing Y. Kinda prefer the clarity of the black and white.

You can also boot your downloads in a smaller screen equipped with a classic 3D-enabled Game Boy face-plate and an even better resolution. This is similar to booting your DS games in their native resolutions through the 3DS: just hold start & select as you boot the VC downloads. Note that the 3D effect does not turn your VC games to true 3D experiences. It simply pushes all the gameplay screen forward along with the face-plate. While that looks pretty snazzy at first, I found myself dying often in Super Mario Land because I’m spending too much time orienting myself with the 3D or squinting to keep up with the action on a smaller screen.

Finally, you have the ability to save-state at any point in the game (using the nifty touch screen) including Link Awakening’s own save files. Be careful not to overwrite your save state if you’re primarily depending on the in-game save files, because you will overwrite your save file in the process as well.

8 thoughts on “3DS Virtual Console Quick Impressions: Super Mario Land/Link’s Awakening”

  1. Ahmed, how much are these games? Can you give us a quick rundown on the prices and compare them with the VC on the Wii. I haven’t turned my Wii on in two years so it’d be a nice little guide for people like me :)

    As for the 3D effect, I think I’d turn that off for all my DS and VC games. I like 3D games when they’ve been specifically created with 3D in mind. Know what I mean?

    1. The standard Game Boy games are priced 2.99$, but but Super Mario Land charged one dollar extra on that base price because it’s a first-party title.

      Since there’s only one Game Boy Color game for download thus far, I don’t know the standard price here. But Link’s Awakening costs a whooping 5.99$, one dollar more than a standard VC NES title (5$). I’m assuming that they employed the same tactic of Super Mario Land and charged a dollar extra because it’s a special GBC game from Nintendo. Either way, 5$ or 6$ is way too expensive for GBC games relative to NES titles. Link’s Awakening is worth 6$ because it’s an exception, but not a lot of GBC games fall into that caliber of quality.

      As for the 3D, totally understood. I haven’t tried LA with that 3D rim effect, but it should perform better than SML since it’s a slower-paced action-game. For your situation though, there’s Excitebike NES remastered with true 3D currently free of charge for the 3DS. Not much to write about, actually. It’s basic Excitebike stretched to a full 16:9 with 3D effects and a create-a-level feature which doesn’t enable online sharing. Free is a nice asking price for that.

  2. Thanks Ahmed :) You’re right about the Game Boy prices. That’s a lot of money. I don’t mind the $2 for vintage GB classics, but even $5 for GBC games is pushing it. GBC was a GB just with color. It wasn’t vastly superior or anything. It’s not like we’re talking GBA or anything. I hope Nintendo gets more onboard with this though because there were many GB classics that are almost impossible to find today that I’d love to replay. Even first party games like Mario Land 2 or the original Wario Land would be great to go through again.

    I’m really contemplating picking up a 3DS right now, even though the Vita put a damper on it what with the $249 asking price. Once Zelda hits though, well…lol you know me lol.

    1. I would pick up all those Wario Land games in an instant. Had such a good time with all of them, particularly Wario Land and Wario Land 2.

      As for the 3DS, I think I’ll speak for you when I say that we’re both Nintendo consumers so you might as well pick one up as Ocarina of Time’s release gets close. Originally, we both thought that the 3DS’s price range was pretty good so Vita’s announcement shouldn’t put a damper to your interests. My advice is to pick up nyko’s charge base which costs 30$. It extends the battery life and makes a good grip on your 3DS while playing.

  3. Sounds good to me. There’s no doubt I’ll be picking up a 3DS for Ocarina of Time if only to see it remastered. If there are no other games out I’ll play through the Master Quest as well. It’ll just be nice to get back in touch with an old friend :) It’s funny how we say “pick one up closer to OoT’s release” but the game hits in 9 days lol. It ships on the 19th so that means I’d need to go buy the machine this coming week. ;)

    In completely unrelated news, are you going to give us one of your crazy reviews? I’m sort of disappointed we don’t have more 3DS content up since there are a few staff members that own the machine.

  4. I plan to download Link’s Awakening DX, though I agree that the asking price is a little steep. I was hoping for $3 or $4 at most, but I suppose that the race to the bottom is not the game that companies always want to play. I’m most definitely going to buy all of the Mega Man GB games, IV and V were especially awesome for the system. I sincerely hope that GBA games come to the service, I would definitely get them, though I hope they are $5 or $6. I kind of expect $8-$10. The actual interface is great, and feels very intuitive. The store is clearly better than Nintendo’s past efforts.

    Excitebike 3D is actually really cool, in my opinion. It’s hard playing such an old game in a remastered state, it looks surprisingly good with the 3D effect. Very nice, and a cool free download. I’m also happy with the Pokedex download, and I’m looking forward to the free Four Swords download later this year.

    As for 3DS content, I’m working on SSFIV3D as one of my next reviews, I just wanted to get through Portal 2 and LA Noire reviews first. I can bang that one out next though, as well as FFIV Complete.

  5. Well guys I just ordered my 3DS and pre-ordered Ocarina of Time. I’ll be sure to get Excitebike 3D and download Link’s Awakening and Super Mario Land. I hope the Oracle Zelda games eventually see release as well. That would be fantastic because it would allow us to easily own all the Zelda games except for Wind Waker. I think you can still buy that one for relatively low so that means the whole series would be available for everyone to experience.

    Hey any news if Wii U will be Gamecube compatible as well? Think maybe they could make the game available via digital download? That would be bad ass!

  6. From a post I read from Gamefly Mark Franklin confirmed that the Wii U will not play GameCube games nor will it upscale Wii games.

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