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.