The Virtual Console What Once Was
For several years now, the virtual console has been a Nintendo staple. It was initially launched in 2006 as part of their highly successful console, the Nintendo Wii. Looking back, this one was of the reasons I bought the console. It was, and still is, a great move on Nintendo’s part. When the Wii U came out, however, the idea of the virtual console took a different turn.
The rise and fall of the virtual console.
When the virtual console first released, every gamer was nothing short of ecstatic at the idea. There was a nostalgia factor, considering that many grew up playing those old video games. For new players, however, it was an opportunity to experience these classics for the first time.
Nintendo didn’t limit their virtual console to classics from their older systems, but included those of rival consoles as well. Among them was Nintendo’s greatest competitor, Sega. Eventually, the virtual console also emerged on the Nintendo 3DS, allowing them to reach new audiences and tap further into the portable marketplace.
With the arrival of the Wii U, players expected a more in-depth virtual console library, but the system brought more pressing problems, the biggest being that Nintendo started the whole program over from scratch. This created a problem in that many of the games available on the Wii virtual console were absent on the Wii U. To make matters worse, players who owned virtual console titles on the Wii were expected to purchase the Wii U release despite already owning a digital copy of the game.
While Nintendo can certainly be faulted for some of these things, they don’t quite deserve all the blame. For starters, third-party developers who agreed to license their titles on the Wii virtual console didn’t necessarily do so with the Wii U. Though Nintendo can negotiate for the continued release of these titles, the ultimate decision falls on the developers themselves.
Since Nintendo released games on the Wii U that were already on the Wii virtual console, it created a lot of repeat content, at the very least here in the United States. Though the Wii U is backwards compatible with Wii games and Wii virtual console titles, they remain on a separate channel from the primary Wii U channels. This raised a question as to why consumers would want to purchase a virtual console title on the Wii U when they could simply go to the Wii channel and play a game there? Granted, this denied players with many of the Wii U gaming features. They didn’t have access to the pro controller or the ability to play on the Wii U gamepad.
Recently, Nintendo began adding new titles to their Wii U virtual console. They’ve expanded their library to include Game Boy Advanced, Nintendo DS, and Wii titles to the roster. They also still maintain and add titles from the NES, SNES and N64 libraries as well. However one console remains noticeably absent, the Nintendo Gamecube. Why this is so remains a mystery.
With the NX on the horizon, there is a fair chance that Nintendo will be restarting their virtual library from scratch once again. With the idea of a cloud system, however, it’s possible that Nintendo has learned from the growing pains with the Wii U virtual console. If they are required to start over, however, Nintendo will need to take steps to ensure that the NX console is capable of reaching and exciting gamers. With such a rich catalog of titles at their disposal, they should have plenty of reasons for gamers to get excited by the virtual console once again.
Have thoughts, comments? Sound off below.