Patch on the Run

Hello all, this is Adam Taylor filling in for Tim Ashdown this week. Here to deliver the latest Patch Notes update. This time we’re taking a look at portable patches with the 3DS.

 

Traditionally consoles and patches haven’t meshed well. They never quite saw eye to eye. A large part of that was because you simply couldn’t patch a cartridge. Well, maybe if you were some sort of tech-wiz and had a deft hand with a soldering iron and could make your own chips. But the majority of us were just with the fact that our game was glitchy and we made due. Or we decided it was just broken and went looking for the next title to jump into. Either way we had to just accept the games as they were.

The next gen console managed to find a workaround however. With the wonders of the interweb game companies realized that they could just have us download patches on to our consoles. Joy! My copy of Mercenaries 2 could finally get that patch to add in cheat codes to help me overcome my sucking at the game. Of course they also realized that they could easily sucker us into buying DLC for every game that’s out there. But that’s another matter.

Nintendo has a patch out on Apr 25 that will update the firmware of the 3DS. Sure, it might not sound that impressive, as they’ve released firmware patches in the past. But this one is a little different however, as in it will be the coding to allow them to patch 3DS games. The first one on the list is Mario Kart 7. Apparently there are some “shortcut exploits” which people have been using to unfair advantage. Who knew? Well apparently a lot of people, which is probably why it’s getting the axe. You won’t be able to play online without getting the patch so you’ll probably see a decline in the use of the Wuhu Mountain course. Oops, did I give away where the glitch was?

The forced update for those who wish to play online is a good way to ensure that the patch gets out there. Those who prefer their solo play can choose whether to patch or to just sit there beating the AI into the dirt. This sort of thing has happened with other games as well. Dark Souls had a massive glitch in it that allowed players to basically make themselves gods rather early in the game with little real effort. This was fine as long as they played offline. They could abuse the system as much as they wanted, as it wasn’t really affecting other players, until they went online. And when they did connect to the servers the patch got slapped in and the cheat was fixed. Though the sneaky ones made sure they got the most out of the glitch before going online that first time. Don’t underestimate the lengths players will go to for an advantage.

For many this is good news. Being able to get patches for their 3DS titles means that various bugs and glitches that can ruin an otherwise wonderful gaming experience will be dealt with. While most of the games I’ve personally played on the portables tended to be quite stable, you do notice the odd little thing here and there. Maybe some wonky sprites in a spot or an ability not working as it should, usually nothing game killing but it would be nice to have that extra little bit of QA applied. And for competitive games this allows companies to put out balancing patches, which is always good to see.

But then there’s the dark side to all of it. I’m sure that as people hear that companies can now patch their 3DS games the concerns about just what else will be implemented came up. Will you start seeing one dollar downloads for Mario Kart 7 to add new colours to the cars? Will the dreaded “Day One DLC” rear its ugly head on the portables? Will the next Zelda game on 3DS come out “complete” but allow you to spend five bucks to get the day one DLC to add in the boomerang that they simply couldn’t get done on time to be on the cartridge? Even though traditionally most Day One DLC content is already on the game disc and the DLC is really just an activation code giving you access to it.

It’s a slippery slope. It’s great that Nintendo is giving us a way to get our games patched up. But where will the line be drawn? Will the eShop start filling up with DLC bundles for our games as well? Only time will tell just where this will all lead. With the possible pitfalls aside this is a good move on Nintendo’s part and a way for them to provide better quality to their customers.