After writing this article, several commenter brought to my attention that the downloads for your free goodies are "actually not that hard, you hapless old man" (embellished for effect). Having downloaded Super Mario Bros., I can attest to the ease with which one can acquire said goodies.
The five quick steps go as follows, courtesy of commenter "M.B.":
1) Go into eShop
2) Click the upper-left "Menu" touch screen button and select "Settings/Others" (alternatively, you can scroll all the way to the left and click the same thing)
3) Click "Your Downloads"
4) Scroll down the screen, going past your previous download history, until you see the NES titles.
5) Click the Redownload button for each game to download.
The original article shall remain as an act of penance for my deception/inability to adjust to the modern age (with "your 3DS arcade boxes and YouTubes and Hula-Hoops).
With Nintendo's extra-dimensional (okay, not so extra) rectangle of future-tech crying "I'm not dead yet!" after its price drop - crawling back into the world of the living like some kind of mechanical Lazarus - the company is on the brink of putting its "Ambassador" program into effect.
Meant to pacify those who bought the 3DS before the price drop, and adding a bonus for opportunistic jackals (like yours truly) who purchased the system in that window between the "early" price drop and the cutoff point for Ambassador eligibility, the era of free games will soon be upon us. To get everyone up to speed: Qualifying 3DS owners will get 10 free NES games starting September 1st; 10 Game Boy Advance titles will be available later this year.
Unfortunately, according to Joystiq, the process isn't quite as streamlined as one would hope.
Nintendo posted a how-to on its support page, and ... a lot of people are going to need it. In order to get your free games, you'll have to open up the eShop (cool so far), then ... go into the "Settings/Other" menu there, scroll to "Account Activity," and then click to "redownload" each game, even though you're actually downloading them for the first time.
It seems like a bit of a hassle, especially compared to Sony's user-friendly "Welcome Back" program, in which one needed to simply sign on to the Playstation Store and download the qualifying titles. In addition, Nintendo is offering an "Ambassador Certificate," which comes in the form of a video, which enables users to "receive updates regarding the Ambassador Program, such as when new titles are available to download." No word on when this will be available; my 3DS hasn't yet acquired this fabled "Ambassador Certificate," and Nintendo's website has provided little more than cursory information.
Regardless, I'm rather keen on this whole Ambassador business. For seasoned gamers, hopefully it will serve as a rather pleasant trip down memory lane. For those who shared my Dickensian (in a middle class sort of way) upbringing, having neither Nintendo nor GBA to serve as a virtual babysitter during those formative years, it's a chance to catch up on the classic games we missed.