Let this serve as a reminder: if you want to get in on the free games that come with a higher price tag on the Nintendo 3DS, you should get thee to a store toot sweet. Starting this Friday, the price drop goes into effect and you can grab the system for $169.99. If you buy one and log on to the eShop by 11:59 pm EST on Thursday, though, you'll be recognized as a 3DS Ambassador, which nets you 20 free downloadable games.
Some retailers have already started offering sales, in apparent attempts to beat others to the punch. Online retailer Amazon is offering the models for $209.99 (Blue) and $217 (Black); if you use that route, though, make sure it will ship in time to login to the eShop. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has reportedly jumped the gun entirely, offering the $170 price tag today at some locations. Call ahead to your local store to be on the safe side.
For Ambassadors, ten free NES games (with multiplayer) will arrive September 1. Those include Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, and The Legend of Zelda. The other five are still a mystery.
Ambassador-exclusive GBA offerings will follow sometime this year, including Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare Inc: Mega Microgame$, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. An apparent leak from Nintendo of America claims Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3 and Kirby & the Amazing Mirror will be included as well, but Nintendo has not confirmed those or the other GBA titles.
Nintendo made no bones about the Ambassador program being a goodwill gesture toward fans who may have bought the system for $250 and felt burned with a price drop after only 4 months on the market. But then, a price drop was wholly necessary; the 3DS hasn't performed to expectations, leading to a financial loss, along with a stock drop and executive pay cut.
For its part, Nintendo is being fairly open about the system's weaknesses. Iwata recently commented that the system's sluggish sales are due to a lack of "big hit software titles." While it came in the same breath of downplaying the threat of smartphones, at least that means Nintendo brass knows they need some games to boost the system's popularity.