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Nintendo can do so much better than a virtual console



Photo: Nintendo

Virtual Console is gone, but that does not mean that Switch is not the best place for classic games. It's just done differently than what Nintendo has tried in the past. And that's a good thing, because Virtual Console somehow sucked.

Well, with "Virtual Console somehow sucking" I do not mean "Nintendo's old games are bad," or even the game's Virtual Console was bad or something like that. If you are unfamiliar with my work, I love old games and think as many as possible should be printed on modern hardware. I just think Virtual Console, the feature, was an inefficient way to implement that idea, and that there is a better way. Virtual Console died so that retro gaming could live on Switch.

Virtual Console has long been the brand name under which Nintendo has released classic NES, SNES, Nintendo 64 and other games as downloadable titles for modern hardware, both by itself and by third-party software vendors. From the day Nintendo started selling Virtual Console games on Wii in 2006, to the last few months when the last Wii U and 3DS games appeared, I spent more than a thousand dollars on Virtual Console games , I have to admit that I would like my wallet if there was an upgrade path that would allow me to simply migrate those games to the switch. But having an upgrade path like this would mean leaving Virtual Console the way it is – that is, fundamentally broken.

Virtual Console laws were set as early as 2006, forever in the videogame era. I do not have access to the original carved stone tablet in Nintendo's office, but I imagine she reads something like this:

I. You can not use an emulator, except Nintendos.

II. Games for a single console must all have the same prices (unless we elevate them)

III. Nintendo is said to be the last referee on which consoles and games are allowed.

IIII. You should not sell games very often.

V. Games are released in drip feeds.

If you want to say goodbye to Virtual Console, saying goodbye to all that, good-good Riddance.

Flat pricing made no sense at that time and makes no sense. Kindly Reminiscent Classic Super Mario Bros. 3 is worth much more than the hopelessly outdated Urban Champion and they should not cost $ 5 each. Nintendo's general reluctance to discount his software meant that many games would never reach impulse buying levels, and that if a third party wanted to release one of their lesser-known games on Switch, it was pretty much stuck with a price likely was going to be too high to attract a mass audience.

Urban Champion ? Not for five dollars.
Screenshot: Nintendo (Moby Games)

And the emulators themselves, although usually excellent in replicating classic gameplay, were not exactly what you would call "fully functional" The Wii versions did not even have the basic functions like button-rapping or saving states (you could pause your running game, but not load and save as you like). The console console's Virtual Console had some feature upgrades, but in general offered a tiny fraction of the power of other commercial and non-commercial emulators.

In short, the only thing that was good About Virtual Console were the games themselves. Not the pricing, not the slow-as-molasses release plan and not the emulation wrapper. The switch can do better than the virtual console. Much better.

Kirby, as usual, is the answer

There's a reason why every Nintendos wants to switch to classic games. It's perfect for you. You can play them on TV, you can play them on the go. You can play with a single joy-con, you can play in handheld mode, you can play with a pro controller. You can even rotate your switch vertically to play games like Ikaruga and Punch-Out in their original orientation. Nintendo has said that "nostalgia" is a major driver of game purchases in Switch's online store.

While it's annoying that you can not play yet Super Mario World or Ocarina of Time or any of Nintendo's other classics on Switch, other publishers do not so much appeal to the feet. Just to name a few: The publisher Hamster has released switch versions of arcade games, including Nintendo's own arcade games like Vs. Super Mario Bros. Sega has announced a series of classics called Sega Ages . Capcom brings its Mega Man and Street Fighter collections to Switch. SNK has recently announced that it is also entering the action with a compilation of many of its classics. (Here I should point out that the last two are edited by friends of mine, including Frank Cifaldi, who was recently in an episode of Kotaku's Complete In Box .)

Gain Ground Be one of the first Sega Ages releases for Switch.
Screenshot: Sega

What to keep in mind here is that every publisher, rather than being tied to the Universal console, does things completely differently. Hamster comes closest to the old Virtual Console model, with games sold separately for premium prices in the eShop. SNK bundles a number of disconnected games and adds features like rewinding. Capcom produces smaller packages, separated by series. This not only means that publishers can try the methods they think are the best, but also that the resulting competition of ideas can show what works and what does not.

And then there is Nintendo, which offers an all-you – 8-bit NES games with 8-bit buffet, if you subscribe to Switch's online service for $ 20 a year. No, the offer is not as broad as some have hoped, but as far as the NES library is concerned, I would prefer that service to $ 5 each for the 20 games that come on the market in September numbers.

And more importantly, the existence of this service does not exclude that Nintendo sells these games, at least nothing more than the existence of Netflix negates the idea of ​​Blu-ray. Nintendo even has the perfect model of how to double-dip these games and make everyone happy: Kirby's Dream Collection released in 2012 for Wii. This collection brought together the first six Kirby album makers (from four different consoles) with bonus content and a deluxe package with a soundtrack CD and artbook for $ 40.

I see no reason why Nintendo should not embrace this on switch in addition to the Netflix-style library. (Well, aside from the fact that Nintendo often refuses to do the things it's supposed to do.) Even if I'm a Grand in the void of Virtual Console purchases, I'd be the first one in line Mario or Zelda collection that spanned the ages and showed bonus content. Or Metroid . Or (sighs) EarthBound .

Add that to the existing existing business of stand-alone retro mini-consoles, and Nintendo would cover all of its basics: Do you want to own games forever? Buy a collection. Do you want to deal with everything but have nothing? Subscribe to the service. Do not you want a switch? Buy the mini console.

What we do not need is that classic games on Switch are tied to the obsolete and inefficient virtual console concept. We should not understand "Virtual Console" as a synonym for "old Nintendo games on switch". There is a way that is better. Hopefully, Nintendo will continue to make sense. Because seriously, I already want to play Super Nintendo games on the switch.


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