This week in the Nintendo eShop: Harvest Moon celebrates two decades of fictitious farming, forma.8 fills the Metroidvania shaped hole in my heart, and mad cat Kokopolo claws his way out of DSiWare obscurity.

For shovelry! In celebration of the upcoming launch of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove and Specter of Torment next week on the Nintendo Switch, the Wii U and 3DS versions are getting a deep dug discount! Get 33% off the blue burrower’s adventure from now until March 2nd. We here at Nintendo Wire simply can’t get enough of it, finding it stunningly timeless — the best of old and new together in a complete (yet still growing) display of gaming ingenuity, artistic delight and iconic character.

On second thought, put down those shovels and ready those pointer fingers: Phoenix Wright is having yet another franchise sale on 3DS systems. Spirit of Justice, Ace Attorney Trilogy and Dual Destinies are all up to 60% off from now through March 1st. Those are some really great prices on some fantastic games, so be sure to grab ‘em while they’re hot!

WII U DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

forma.8 (MixedBag Srl, $14.99) – forma.8 is the atmospheric Metroidvania adventure I never knew I needed. A wonderful merging of both PixelJunk Shooter and classic Metroid gameplay, players pilot a tiny, spherical pod separated from its robotic companions and stranded on a strange alien planet. Most intriguing is the emphasis placed on exploration and isolation, best depicted through a complete lack of hand-holding and clever use of its abstract, silhouetted art style reminiscent of Badlands or Limbo. The unsettling ambience of this beautiful, yet dangerous world is only further heightened by a story told solely through environmental clues, not to mention its limited use of sound – the majority of which are delegated to the clanking of your enemies’ distant echoes. Despite a minor issue with sluggish movement speeds, forma.8 looks set to break new ground for fans of the genre. Here’s hoping Nintendo learns a thing or two from the developers over at MixedBag when plotting a course for Samus’ next adventure.

Vaccine (RNC, $9.99) – Vaccine is a Resident Evil inspired return to the classic survival horror roots of the ‘90s, right down to the tanky controls and blocky PS1 era graphics. While some will surely find its polygonal aesthetic unappealing, there’s something oddly charming and nostalgic about revisiting the experimental blip in time where 3D gaming was still getting its bearings. Narratively speaking, players navigate procedurally generated mansions populated with mysterious mutated creatures in search of a vaccine for their virus riddled friend. Adding to the tension is an omnipresent timer serving a stark reminder of just how much longer you have until your buddy becomes just another nightmare fueled creature to put down. From what I can tell, the game nails the unsettling tone and hauntingly atmospheric music of its inspirational source material, and the leveling system adds a nice layer of depth and nuance to the whole experience. There’s even an optional CRT filter to really sell the nostalgia angle. Did I mention it’s made by the same team that brought you the fantastic ‘90s 3D collectathon platformer FreezeME? Give it a shot (heh) if you’ve recently been bitten by the horror bug.

Ghost Blade HD (2Dream, $9.99 | available 2/28) – Originally released on the Sega Dreamcast in 2015 (yup, that is not a typo, believe it or not), Ghost Blade HD finally warp drives to modern consoles! Ghost Blade HD is a fast and frantic bullet-hell shoot ’em up with satisfying and addictive score-based gameplay — a throwback to ‘90s shmup arcade games. Fully redesigned with a modern graphic style and special effects, Ghost Blade HD quite literally looks to be the definitive version, as many critics originally complained about the audio and graphical limitations of the final product on Sega’s swan song system. Here’s hoping they also fixed the frame rate stuttering issues as well. Look no further if you’re in the market for a solid vertical scrolling shooter to occupy hours of your time.

Placards (JH Specialty, Inc., $1.99) – A game for puzzle lovers, Placards is perhaps one of the more unique offerings in the genre I’ve come across in a while. Requiring you to think both visually and strategically, players rearrange pixels on the screen by rotating or swapping them to solve Placard puzzles. From simple shapes, to space ships, to a fire breathing dragon, there are over 150 puzzles to keep you occupied for days. It’s basically a much more relaxing version of Picross. Personally I adore the pen and paper aesthetic and ambient background music, making it just as easy on the senses as it is on your wallet. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys stretching their temporal muscles or lazy Sunday mornings solving crossword puzzles.

Maze Break (nuGAME, $7.00) – Alright nuGAME, we get it. You love Breakout games. You can stop re-releasing the same game every week now. I’m on to your wily ways. Work your way through “mazes of increasing difficulty?” How is that any different than the premise of 360 Breakout, Breakout Defense, Double Breakout, Pinball Breakout, or any other combination of words you’re thinking of mashing together? Please leave the poor Wii U alone in its twilight year. What has it ever done to you to deserve such pain and anguish?

WII U VIRTUAL CONSOLE

Harvest Moon 64 (Natsume, $9.99) – Save yourself a fortune finding a physical cart on eBay this week and download the critically lauded Harvest Moon 64 on Virtual Console! Originally released in North America on the Nintendo 64 back in 1999, players once again work their buns off to restore and maintain their very own farm, this time inherited from their dearly departed grandfather. Planting, growing and harvesting crops is essential to maintaining a prosperous livelihood, as well as caring for livestock and starting a family. Despite some glitchy visuals and a fairly repetitive soundtrack far below the 64-bit system’s capabilities, this strangely compelling and imaginative RPG-lite farming simulator is destined to drain countless hours from your tedious urban lifestyles. Personally I can’t think of a better way to round out the Wii U’s library of retro classics before we all inevitably get the Switch next week.

WII U SPECIAL OFFERS AND DEALS

Shovel Knight ($9.99 | 33% off) until 3/2
Trine Enchanted Edition ($7.49 | 50% off) until 3/2
Trine 2: Director’s Cut ($9.99 | 50% off) until 3/2
Soul Axiom ($5.99 | 60% off) until 3/17
Master Reboot ($4.49 | 70% off) until 3/23
Fit Music ($12.90 | 35% off) until 3/30
Citadale ($2.50 | 50% off) until 3/9
Ohayou! Beginner’s Japanese ($3.99 | 20% off) until 3/9
Mortar Melon ($2.99 | 50% off) until 3/9
Dungeon Hearts DX ($4.99 | 50% off) until 3/30
Rorrim ($2.50 | 50% off) until 3/9
Stone Shire ($4.99 | 37% off) until 3/2

Check Nintendo’s website for the full list of deals available.

3DS RETAIL

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (Marvelous USA / XSEED Games, $39.99 | available 2/28) – Clearly Harvest Moon is alive and well in the eShop this week as Trio of Towns, the latest installment in the epic farm simulating series, is nigh upon us! The twist here focuses on the ability to visit three towns, each with their own distinct culture and lifestyles, in addition to the usual farmland owned by the player. Other than that, you’ll be growing crops, raising puppers, and courting significant others in typical rural fashion. You can even connect with other passionate farmers locally or online, chatting and trading useful items as you see fit. Just from my personal observations, the art style is noticeably brighter and much more colorful than the first Story of Seasons, and the stylistic diversity of the three towns helps breathe new life in the oftentimes stagnant evolution the series is known for.

3DS DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

Go! Go! Kokopolo 3D: Space Recipe for Disaster (Circle Entertainment, $5.99) – More than just an instantly gratifying tongue twister when said out loud, Kokopolo 3D is a uniquely defined “chase ‘em up” that marries tough difficulty and twitch reflex gameplay with a fantastical sense of style and humor. As hyperactive wildcat, Kokopolo, players clear stages of enemies in coin-op arcade style with a creative spin. Think Bubble Bobble meets Bomberman, with elements of Snake, Flicky and Pac-Man Championship Edition (most notably the endless trail of ghosts) thrown in for good measure. Its predecessor is often considered one of DSiWare’s few hidden gems worth playing thanks to its unique blend of quick-thinking strategy and platforming sensibilities. Rather than simply porting the original to 3DS, what you get here is an endearingly quirky story told over 80 brand new stages of arcade mayhem through the paws and claws of multiple playable characters, each with their own unique routes and stages. With the DSiWare original being pulled from the eShop back in 2014, give this 3DS successor a try if Kokopolo’s madcap antics sounds like your cup of tea, or rather saucer of milk.

3DS SPECIAL OFFERS AND DEALS

Shovel Knight ($9.99 | 33% off) until 3/2
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice ($17.99 | 40% off) until 3/1
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy ($14.99 | 50% off) until 3/1
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies ($11.99 | 60% off) until 3/1
Hyperlight EX ($0.99 | 80% off) until 3/9
Conveni Dream ($3.99 | 20% off) until 3/16
Castle Conqueror EX ($1.99 | 50% off) until 3/9
Swords & Soldiers 3D ($3.99 | 50% off) until 3/9
Demon King Box ($1.99 | 50% off) until 3/9
Kingdom’s Item Shop ($3.99 | 20% off) until 3/16
Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas ($3.99 | 20% off) until 3/16
Adventure Labyrinth Story ($3.99 | 20% off) until 3/16
Adventure Bar Story ($4.79 | 20% off) until 3/16
Mercenaries Saga 2 ($3.99 | 20% off) until 3/16
Art of Balance TOUCH! ($5.24 | 25% off) until 3/9
The Keep ($7.99 | 38%) until 3/16
Cube Creator 3D ($6.99 | 12% off) until 3/2
Soccer Up 3D ($1.97 | 34% off) until 3/2
Strike Force Foxx ($3.99 | 20% off) until 3/2

Check Nintendo’s website for the full list of deals available.

HARDWARE

New Nintendo 3DS XL: Pikachu Yellow Edition ($199.99 | available 2/24)

What games will you be downloading this week? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

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Written by Matthew Weidner

When it comes to playing and writing about video games, Matthew aspires to be the very best, like no one ever was. Writing for Nintendo Wire and the thought of one day finally achieving a perfect, no death Super Meat Boy run fills him with determination.

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