It’s tough being a Nintendo fan in 2013. Wii U sales plummeted after 2012’s holiday season and major delays on many releases promised at launch have left the pickings looking rather malnourished. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata blamed the delay on Nintendo’s lack of foresight in the amount of resources needed to develop several of its games, which lead to development teams being pulled off their projects to ensure the launch of NintendoLand and New Super Mario Bros. U:
“The reason for the delayed release of our first-party titles,” said Iwata, “was the fact that completing the games released at the same time as the launch of Wii U required more development resources than expected, so some staff members from development teams working on other titles had to help complete them.”
As Wired put it, Nintendo did this “by its own design.” By just now getting into high-definition games development, Nintendo set itself back by over half a decade. Everyone else learned how to allocate resources for HD back in 2006.
This leaves 3.5 million Wii U owners without many new retail games to play, prompting Nintendo to recently launch the Wii U Virtual Console, featuring just eight games as of this writing:
- Balloon Fight (NES)
- Donkey Kong, Jr. (NES)
- Excitebike (NES)
- F-Zero (SNES)
- Ice Climber (NES)
- Kirby’s Adventure (NES)
- Punch-Out!! (NES)
- Super Mario World (SNES)
“1991′s Super Mario World Is the Best Wii U Game Yet,” said Wired writer Chris Kohler. Kohler advocates incorporating an “App Store-like development environment” where indie developers can create cheap Wii U content. He also backs Ryan Payton’s idea of creating a “Nintendo paradise” where every great game Nintendo ever released will be available and enjoyed on the Wii U GamePad.
IGN called Nintendo’s Virtual Console “the greatest idea in the history of gaming“:
“That’s a bold statement to make, but as a gamer who often dwells in the past, for me it’s a godsend. The idea that one device can store thousands of games from the various gaming platforms of the past is genius, however, it’s not a new concept either. Emulation has made this possible on pretty much any device out there, although that’s a territory that people must cross legal boundaries to trek into.”
But despite the tremendous amount of digital sales Nintendo saw the Virtual Console achieve over the course of the original Wii, it’s still been slow to bring fans what they want — a one-stop shop for everything Nintendo. It’s been 8 years since Nintendo first mentioned the possibility of downloading Earth-Bound for the Wii (back when it was the Nintendo Revolution).
EarthBound is just now getting a release on the Wii U Virtual Console. With retail development moving about as fast as a check-out lane filled with Extreme Coupon-ers, Nintendo needs to do something to please its fans.
Whatever it takes, Nintendo, please get your Virtual Console act together. We all want the Nintendo paradise we were promised before the Wii released. Do whatever it takes: make the Virtual Console a subscription-based service à la Netflix, compete with App Store prices, give indie developers a shot, port all the Nintendo games EVER.