Nintendo’s Legacy Content and the Death of the Virtual Console

Nintendo’s Legacy Content and the Death of the Virtual Console




Of the big three hardware manufacturers, Nintendo has the longest and richest history in terms of its retro content. The NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, and Wii provided some of the best games of their respective generations, and so did Nintendo’s highly successful handhelds. But now that we know that the Virtual Console is gone for good, how are we going to access this content? It seems like the company are ‘drip feeding’ us ‘arcade classics’ on the Switch e-shop. Is this really enough to make up for what was an amazing and easily accessible Virtual Console?

nes classic

Only NES Games?

The Nintendo online subscription service on Switch is not what many had hoped for and at best is bare bones compared to those offered by Sony and Microsoft. A collection of NES games is simply not good enough for a company that could be providing N64 and GameCube games. Although you can play some of these games online the fact they’re tied to your subscription is, in my opinion, a massive let down. Owning the game whether virtual or physical is part of being a gamer and a Netflix like subscription service just doesn’t work for video games. You lose a sense of progression and of course the ability to return to the game when the service ends.

So how are Nintendo going to offer the rest of their (and third party) legacy content? It seems the answer is with ‘classic collections’ such as the mega drive one recently released on Switch. There is also the Sega ages line which is bringing some Sega classics to the platform.


The Issue with Remakes?

I would love to have a full Zelda or Mario collection on Switch as I do on the 3ds (well, almost full collection) but Nintendo is reluctant to give us access to the majority of these games. It may be that many of these titles are being saved for being released as remakes or remasters. This then, of course, means the software can be sold at a higher price. Don’t get me wrong I love the 3ds Zelda remakes and would love HD versions, but maybe the option to buy the originals would be cool. Nintendo probably doesn’t want to cannibalize their own sales by doing this.

And then there are the retro consoles in the form of the NES and SNES Classic Editions. These are great little systems. They look cool and come with great games installed. Nintendo has done a better job with their mini consoles than either Sega or Sony could. If Nintendo wants to continue this tradition by releasing an N64 Classic Edition I’d be one of the first to buy one. On the other hand though, again, they don’t have the convenience of the Virtual Console.

The way that Nintendo has split their legacy content by releasing the software through different channels has its advantages but it probably comes down to business and how this way earns them more money. At the end of the day, it’s what they’re in the industry for. I just miss the golden age of the Wii Virtual Console.

About author

Daniel Leal

I love videogame culture and feel it’s a medium with loads of potential. I mainly play Nintendo games as well as a lot of retro stuff. Im currently studying for an MSc.

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