The Virtual Console was at one time hailed as a place where you’d be able to download hundreds of classic titles from Nintendo and other companies. Since the launch of the service we’ve gotten games for the NES, SNES, N64, Sega Genesis, Master System, Commodore 64, Neo Geo, Turbo-Grafix 16 and even arcade games. We were also able to choose from between two and four titles on a normal week. They may not have all been stellar releases, but there was at least something you might be interested in on a given week. There have been titles that people consider instant downloads, titles that might have been considered hidden gems and even import titles that we’ve never gotten in North America until now.
Lately though, the system has been lacking to find much, if anything to download. Since April 5th, 2010 we’ve seen 5 titles released on the system in eight weeks. They’ve been mostly solid releases, but that’s a far cry from the same period 3 years earlier. During the eight week period from April 2nd, 2007 to May 21st, 2007 there were 24 games released on the service. Even back then when the service was still young they were releasing blocks of solid titles every week and people had lots of things to choose from.
There has been talk of some people, especially older, more nostalgic gamers, that the Wii was going to be a God send for them. There was the possibility of titles that you can’t find anymore being released on the system, easy access to a number of titles, the ability to play them all without having to set up a dozen different consoles. It was hoped to be the perfect place to store old games and preserve them for the future and to introduce these games to younger gamers who weren’t even a twinkle in the eye of their parents. Early on that really felt to be the case, especially when import games never before available in North America were showing up on the system. Now you’re lucky to find one title a month that you’ll like. May has been absent of any releases, except for Kirby Super Star.
So what’s going on with the system? Is the list of games now becoming smaller and smaller that will be easy to release on the system? Are licensing issues becoming a problem due to the ever changing nature of game companies? It’s hard to say. Some games, like Disney’s Duck Tales, even the early SNES Marvel games, may never show up on the service because of the number of different companies involved with those franchises in the past. Some franchises, like Mega Man, where the licensing is cut and dry saw very regular release schedules early on, but have since floundered, despite there being a large number of games still available to release.
Just look at some of the titles that haven’t been released on the system by Nintendo themselves and you know the library isn’t finished yet; games like Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario All-Stars, Earthbound. Capcom still has 2 NES Mega Man games and the entire Mega Man X series that can be released. The N64 hasn’t seen nearly as many releases as it should have at this point and the Virtual Console Arcade is almost non-existent. Where are games like Legendary Wings or Ikari Warriors? Capcom and Konami both have huge libraries of arcade games that could be released and they’re not available for download. For that matter why doesn’t Nintendo release the arcade versions of their old games? They may already be on the system in some form, but why not give people the option of having these games?
I’ve talked about the games I want to see come to the service before. What games do you guys want to see hit the Virtual Console? What do you think is going on and why haven’t the releases been very steady? Has Nintendo decided that the service doesn’t get enough downloads and they’re slowly phasing it out? Has WiiWare become big enough that they want to focus on that? I really hope that’s not the case. I like being able to find these classic games in their original forms. There’s something about being able to simply turn on my Wii and find the games that I grew up with. My kids have enjoyed seeing the games that I played when I was their age. They don’t think of them as bad games that look terrible. They take them for what they are; older games that can still be enjoyed by any generation. If nothing else the Virtual Console has been a wonderful place to pass on the history of gaming to a new generation. Let’s not let that disappear.