Title: Nintendo Badge Arcade
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
NA Availability: Digital
EU Availability: Digital
Block Usage: 580
There were a lot of huge highlights in the Nintendo Direct from this week. I am personally thrilled to see Cloud Strife in Super Smash Bros and the original Pokemon games headed to Virtual Console. Truth be told, I still have my cartridges for Pokemon: Red and Yellow, and they still work wonderfully. Having them on the 3DS via VC, though, will be wonderful. But, enough about the hype. This isn’t a “Trent reacts to Nintendo Direct” article. It’s a review.
One of the things they talked about during the Direct was the recently-released application/game called Badge Arcade. This is actually an interesting system. The thought of playing around to customize my home screen sounded like a whole lot of fun. So, I decided to dive in and see it for myself. Here’s my official review of Nintendo Badge Arcade!
Due to this not having a story, this section shall remain blank.
Nintendo Badge Arcade is an arcade game based around Crane Game mechanics. You have all played Crane Games in stores and restaurants, right? That’s the basic concept behind the gameplay of this, though there’s a little more to it than just the crane game. I’ll get to that later.
When you boot up the game, you’ll have a little menu of sorts to cycle through. There is Practice Catcher, Collection, Badge Catchers, Miiverse Gallery, Theme Shop, and Help Desk. It is worth noting that Practice Catcher and Badge Catcher are where you actually play the game. The rest are extra options added to the game past that.
So, let’s talk about the side options first. Collection allows you to look at all of the badges and sets you’ve collected across playing the game. Miiverse Gallery allows you to take snapshots of the game and badges and upload them to Miiverse. Theme Shop is where special deals are given that award you with 3DS themes, and Help Desk is where all of the game’s tutorials are.
Let’s talk about the tutorials. You have this helpful and funny rabbit telling you how to do everything. He stops you and tells you how to do pretty much everything. As nice as it is to have someone explaining things to you, there’s such a thing as too much explaining. Once you get past the gist of it, he pops up at random times to explain every tiny feature of the game and there’s no way to skip his dialogue. By the end of my first hour with the game, I was trying to reach into my 3DS and strangle him for popping up to give me obvious and meaningless tutorials.
Now, gameplay! When you’re in the game, you’re operating a crane machine and there are badges in the game area that you’re trying to grab and collect. You can scroll through whichever set you wish and can go for whatever stickers you want. The game has a huge variety. On my first day with it, I saw badges for various Mario, Animal Crossing, and Zelda games, along with Splatoon. With the sets changing on a daily basis, there’s also a ton of other games you can get badges from.
When you use one of your plays, you basically just hold down the A button until the crane’s claw is over the sticker you want. As soon as you let go, it tried to pick it up. If you successfully grab it, it’s yours. You can also have a bit of strategy to knock badges over the edge, netting you those as well. Each try takes one of your plays, so it’s important to always position the way you think is best.
The badges you win can be used to customize your 3DS Home Menu. There is a feature in the game that will take you to your home menu with a special HUD at the top of the screen, giving you access to your badges. You can place badges in any empty slot in your grid, but there are also badges that replace 3DS System Application badges, like Settings and Camera. If you have badges set on your Home Menu, you can even tap them to access this without having Badge Arcade open.
Now let’s talk about playing and paying. The tutorial rabbit gives you 5 free plays and takes you through a tutorial that uses up all of those plays. After that, he asks you for real money for more plays. That’s where the micro-transactions come in. While you are able to pay real money for plays, and it’s only one dollar for 5 plays, there is another way to play the game. The way I play, because I plan on spending little to no real money on free-to-play games.
The Practice Catcher is how you do this. You can Practice once a day and if you collect what are called “Bonus” badges, you are awarded free plays that you can use without having to pay real money. So, if you don’t want to chuck out real money, you can play it once a day and use the practice catcher for free plays.
Here’s the downside of this. The game’s Theme Shop has exclusive 3DS themes that you can get. But, only if you buy a certain number of plays during special offers. This is very specific. Even if you have the amount of plays built up in free plays, it doesn’t count towards this. In other words, even if you play casually and go for free plays, you cannot get any of these themes unless you pay real money to the game.
The nice thing about the game is that there’s a near limitless amount of variety to it. Every day, the sets of badges changes. Today, you might have Mario and Zelda sets, while tomorrow, you may have Pokemon and Kirby sets. If you’re looking for anything specific, all you have to do is check in each day to see if it’s in that day’s sets.
Controls are quite simple to consider. Before you ask, none of the New Nintendo 3DS buttons are used in this game. Most everything else is used, but there are no options for the new buttons. Not that there’s a need for it. It’s just a menu and a crane game.
You can navigate the hub and menu with the D-Pad or the Circle Pad. You can swap menus and sets in machines with the L and R buttons as well. A is used to activate the crane or confirm an option in a menu and the B button is used to cancel an option. X can be used to view your collection and Y can be used to go to the home menu to place badges around your grid. There are also some touch features for all of this as well.
All in all, it’s pretty easy to get a grasp on. Even if you forget later, there are button prompts all over the screens for most of these features in case you forget.
Visually, the game looks fine. I’d say it’s on par with the likes of Pokemon Rumble World during the menu, which is the only place you’ll see 3D models. All of the badges look exactly like they did in the games they’re based on. The Mario badge from the first Super Mario Bros looks like just as pixel-heavy as he always was.
Load Times are definitely something to consider as far as annoyances are concerned. There are two areas where the loading gets long. The first is when you first start the game. At the title screen, you hit A to start the game and it takes a good 30+ seconds to prepare you for the game and this can feel like a really long wait. The other time is when you’re loading the eShop for purchases, which I see that as a good thing. More time for you to talk yourself out of spending money.
Nintendo Badge Arcade is a great idea for a free-to-play game. You play this nice casual game and you can win icons you can flair up your home screen with. It does come at the cost of a freemium system that doesn’t allow you to get content without paying real money, a tutorial buddy that gamers will want to reach in and strangle, and a title menu loading sequence that impatient gamers will have no time for. Still, it’s something you may want to keep around on your 3DS, just in case that one character you want pops up one day.