The best DSiWare games that deserve a place on your Nintendo 3DS

by Daniel WorthingtonJune 6, 2011

Never sampled the delicious treats that are DSiWare? Yeah, we thought so.

The Nintendo DSiWare service has been a complete farce, the way Nintendo handled it from day dot has been one mis-step after the next. Which is a real shame because hidden away in that thing called the ’DSi Shopping Channel’ are some real gems. However like the WiiWare service, finding out what’s good and what’s not is next to impossible.

That’s where this article comes in. With the eShop launching next week and Nintendo making the bulk of the DSiWare library available on the 3DS you’ll again be hard pressed to figure out what’s good and what’s not.

To quote a great man, DSiWare is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. I think that’s how it went.

Note: We’ve included games here that are mainly exclusive to DSiWare, unique and different to anything out there. We’ve avoided ports and games available on other consoles as much as possible.

A Little Bit of… Puzzle League (Was 500 Points) – Nintendo never offered Planet Puzzle League on the Australian market so this was the next best thing. Like it says, it’s a little bit of Planet Puzzle League. You get most of the game that was in the retail version except for the online multiplayer mode. So if you didn’t import it, you can still pick up this gem. Though you really should track down Zoo Keeper, that game is the bomb. 

Why it should be on your Nintendo 3DS: There are approximately a billion puzzlers on DSiWare, this is one of the good ones. 

Art Style: BOXLIFE (Was 500 Points) – Another Art Style game, but don’t be fooled – they’re simple and clean but great fun. Use the touch screen to cut up paper to create boxes. Yeah, it sounds as interesting as a box factory, but look at that episode of the Simpsons, that was hilarious! 

Why it should be on your 3DS: Great game, great Art Style. See what I did there?

Dark Void Zero (Was 500 Points) – Now we know this one is on Steam and the App Store but it was a DSiWare exclusive for a while. The fact is that Dark Void Zero is a better game than Dark Void, the game it was meant to be a parody of. Its classic NES style and hard as nails gameplay not only mean it looks like a NES game, but it also plays like one. 

Why it should be on your 3DS: You could lie to your friends and say you’ve hacked your 3DS to have a NES game on it. No really. 

Maestro! Green Groove (Was 500 Points) – Haven’t heard of this one before? Neither did anyone at retail – which is a shame because Maestro certainly has his groove. This platformer has you jumping and sliding along and making some music with your fancy footwork. This DSiWare version only has one ’area’ from the retail game but all the modes. 

Why it should be on your 3DS: A cute and colourful title to rock along with, it hits all the right notes. Until you stuff it up of course.

Pop Plus: Solo (Was 500 Points) – Yes we know it’s available on WiiWare and the App Store but we’re going to include it for three reasons. Firstly, it’s a great game and one of the first good games to hit DSiWare in the sea of crap. Secondly it’s Australian made, so Aussie Aussie Aussie and all that. Lastly Nnooo took the risk and released it in Australia when so many other DSiWare developers ignore our fair land. Seriously they didn’t have to but they did. We would include Nnooo’s myNotebook in this article too, but Nintendo went and added their own into the 3DS. Wonder where they got that idea. 

Why it should be on your 3DS: Great and simple concept with a dash of addictiveness. 

Starship Patrol (Was 500 Points) – While Q-Games this generation are probably best known for their PixelJunk Playstation Network games, they’ve also done three titles for Nintendo’s DSiWare service, all of which feature on this list. Starship Patrol is a tower defence game, it’s set in space but the the unique art style certainly doesn’t show it. A clean and simple game but also great fun. 

Why it should be on your 3DS: It’ll make you want a 3D version even more. Seriously Q-Games, get on it! 

Art Style: PiCTOBiTS (Was 500 Points) – One of the earlier titles on DSiWare but that certainly doesn’t make it any less of a game. This 8-Bit flavoured puzzler has you assembling megabits with bits in order to unlock a 8-bit character from the NES era. As you play and progress on the puzzles the chip-tine music in the game becomes more complete. 

Why it should be in your 3DS: It’s worth playing for the soundtrack alone.

3D Space Tank aka X-Scape (Was 800 Points) – A sequel to the near unknown Gameboy game, X. It was only released in Japan, so we’ll forgive you for not hearing about it. However what you should hear about is this game, coming from Q Games this is another hidden gem in the mix of all the puzzlers on DSiWare. Q Games have done another great job here using an art style that looks part Virtual Boy and part original SNES Star Fox. Funny that, Dylan Cuthbert the man behind Q Games worked on the original Star Fox and it shows here.

Why it should be on you 3DS: Packed with content and a blast to play, the art style may be jarring at first but it looks great on screen. 

Reflect Missile (Was 500 Points) – Yeah we know, another Q Games title. Seriously though, like most things on DSiWare these games don’t get enough love and Reflect Missile is another that deserves even more. Reflect Missile is Bust a Move meets Arkanoid meets Geometry Wars. Yeah it’s another puzzler but there’s over 200 stages hidden in the game – and you’ll have to work for them if you want your 500 points worth. 

Why it should be on your 3DS: A great pick up and play puzzler that does exactly what the name of the game says. 

Sujin Taisen Number Battles (Was 500 Points) – So take 5 parts Mah-jong, mix in 5 parts Dominos, sprinkle in some Chess and add a dash of puzzle game and you’re almost 50 percent of the way to describing what Sujin Number Battles is. This amazing little strategy game showed up early on for DSiWare and kind of got overlooked. It’s really one of the best original strategy games I’ve played in years and will have you absolutely hooked.

Why it should be on your Nintendo 3DS: So you can try and describe it better then we have. Plus the more people that own it, the more chance there is to play a game online and that’s always a good thing.

Mighty Flip Champs! (Was 800 Points) – Flip Champs is an interesting little puzzle platformer from Wayfoward. In it, you control Alta as she makes her ways through a series of levels trying to locate her lost friends. To make your way through each level you must flip through a series of screens that are all mirror images of each other but with a few slight key differences. It all starts fairly easy but soon you’ll find some real brain twisting levels that will require a fair amount of thought to get through. Also it’s arguably one of the best games out on the Australian DSiWare store, so yeah it’s good, damn good.

Why it should be on your Nintendo 3DS: Because if more people buy Wayforward games down here, then they may see it fit to release more games down here. It’s so unfortunate we missed out on Shantae and I don’t want to see that happen again.

AlphaBounce (Was 500 Points) – You see a lot of genres incorporating RPG elements these days but one game I never thought I’d see that happen with is a Breakout clone. Much like any other Breakout clone, you have a paddle, a ball and a bunch of blocks to break above. Add to that a huge map to explore with literally hundreds of thousands of levels, attributes to upgrade, abilities to unlock. As you play through the game you unlock new levels, new abilities and so on. There’s just so much to do in the game, it’ll take you weeks if not months to see everything.

Why it should be on your Nintendo 3DS: 500 points (or whatever the price equivalent will be on the 3DS) for god knows how many hours of gameplay. If any game defines value for money, this is it. Easy to play but so addictive, you’ll be playing this one for hours.

Soul of Darkness (Was 500 Points) – They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, then the fine folks over at Gameloft must really love Castlevania. Soul of Darkness combines the look and feel of the modern Castlevania games with the play style of the classics. A linear affair for the most part, it looks amazing and is a lot of fun to play.

Why it should be on your Nintendo 3DS: It’s a fun and well made classic Castlevania clone, if you’re into that sort of thing, you’d have to love that.

Zenonia (Was 800 Points) – Zenonia is an outstanding action RPG from Gamevil. Yes, it is a port of an iPhone game and yes you could get for much cheaper on the iPhone but honestly, why would you? It plays so much better with traditional controls than the pure touch interface the iOS platforms offer. With around 40 hours of gameplay here, there is lots to do. The combat is simple and fun, it looks amazing and it’s something you’re really going to get your moneys worth out of.

Why it should be on your Nintendo 3DS: 40 odd hours of great classic action RPG gameplay, how can you say no?

Dragon Quest Wars (Was 500 Points) – From the same developer who also bought us the Advance Wars and Fire Emblem games, Dragon Quest Wars is (as you would expect) a very good game. Putting you in control of some of the iconic monsters from the Dragon Quest series, you battle it out in a similar style to a Chess game, using each of your monsters strengths to your advantage. While not much can be said for the single player mode as it’s little lacking, it also features online play which as always just increases the re-playability and fun you can get from a game such as this.

Why it should be on your Nintendo 3DS: A Turn Based Strategy game based on Dragon Quest from the makers of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars, do I really need to sell you on why this premise is awesome?

Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again (Was 800 Points) – You know a lot of people think that DSiWare is full of nothing more then quick short games with not a lot of meat to them, this game proves them wrong. It’s a follow up to the 2006 DS game, Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. Now while you may think that this being a downloadable game and the original being retail this would be the lesser version. I’ve got two words for you, HECK NO! What you’ve got with Minis March Again is a packed little gem of a game. Much like the original you have to guide a bunch of Mini Marios from one part of a stage to another like the PC classic Lemmings. Along the way, Donkey Kong will try to impede your progress and place several obstacles in your way in his attempt to stop you. And if the one hundred levels in the game aren’t enough to satisfy your hunger, then you can always make your own or go online and download some that other people have made. There is just so much to do in this game, you’d be mad not to check it out.

Why it should be on your Nintendo 3DS: One hundred levels of Mini Mario fun, the ability to download extra levels and make your own, it’s not so much a question of should this be on your 3DS but of when you will download it to your 3DS.

Woah, Woah, Woah! Hang on a second Vooks!

Where the hell are Shantae and Cave Story?! They are arguably the two best games on the service. Why wouldn’t you include these! You idiots! 

Well we’d love to, except the developers of those two games have decided against releasing those games in Australia. However, it’s not without good reason as the classification costs for these games far outweighs the potential market. Could it get better with the 3DS and possible 3DSWare in the future? Probably not. Even less people own a 3DS than people that own DSi’s, though this may change in the future.

We’d love to recommend them to you but you know, we can’t. But if you’re from Europe or America, buy both Shantae: Risky’s Revenge and Cave Story on DSiWare. It’ll help out two independent developers who despite their obvious and blind hatred for our country (joking guys), have made some cracking Nintendo games as of late.



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About The Author
Daniel Worthington
A diehard Nintendo fan since I got my first Game Boy back on Christmas 1992 and haven't looked back since. Got SNES with Super Mario Allstars for Christmas 1993. Favorite games of all time include such amazing titles as Secret of Mana, Kirby Canvas Curse, Chrono Trigger, Zelda Majoras Mask and of course Super Mario Galaxy. I'm a huge retro game fan and own way too many random Game Boy carts to count or name. I host the Vookcast around here and like to chip in with the occasional downloadable title review whenever I can find the time.

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