With the Nintendo Switch on the horizon, many people will tell you that the console needs a strong launch library out of the gate if it wants to succeed. They’re right, of course, but I also think there’s a segment that could have a great effect on whether the Switch sinks or swims: retro games. Nintendo’s Virtual Console has been around since the Wii, and the Switch will almost certainly have a Virtual Console of its own. While perfecting the Virtual Console may not be as important as a deep and varied games catalog, it still needs to be a key area of focus if the Switch wants to succeed.
It should be clear by now that the Virtual Console adds a lot of value for many customers. New additions are discussed all over the internet, whether they’re make headlines on gaming websites or hitting the front page on various Nintendo subreddits. If the Switch’s Virtual Console has even a few good releases from day one, it can absolutely fill whatever gaps may exist in the console’s launch lineup.
In order for that to happen, Nintendo has to get a little more serious with the Switch’s Virtual Console. Most importantly, that means the Switch needs a Virtual Console for the GameCube. This would be a first for any Nintendo console thus far, and it would be welcomed with open arms by the Nintendo faithful.
We’ve already heard rumors about a GameCube Virtual Console for the Switch, but now Nintendo needs to make good on it. Having some GameCube classics like Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee, or Metroid Prime available on the Virtual Console on day one (or as soon as possible after launch) could do a lot to tempt those who are on the fence into becoming early adopters – a group that Nintendo desperately needs to show up en masse at launch.
Nintendo also has to brush up emulation as well. While some titles are emulated well on the Wii U – SNES games comes to mind – others like N64 and NES games have a problem with contrast and filters. N64 games in particular look very dark as compared their original or even Wii-emulated counterparts, and beyond that, there are issues with dreaded input lag in some games.
Browse through discussions on the internet and you’ll see some people arguing that these problems make certain Wii U ports unplayable while others will say it isn’t a big deal. Regardless of which side of the argument you agree with, it’s safe to say that some of these ports aren’t ideal.
The good news here is that Virtual Console development for the Switch is said to be headed by Nintendo European Research and Development, or NERD for short. NERD is the group behind the NES Classic Edition, which offers some stellar emulation. With NERD at the helm, it’s possible that emulation on the Switch will be quite a bit better than that of the Wii U.
Furthermore, Nintendo needs to stop being shy about its big Virtual Console releases. Mario Kart 64 is widely considered to be one of the best N64 games ever made, so why did it just arrive on the Wii U Virtual Console yesterday? The Wii U is just a few months away from being forgotten – I understand that Nintendo may not be ready to abandon it just yet, but Mario Kart 64 should have been available on the Wii U’s Virtual Console back in 2012.
Instead of trickle-releasing big Virtual Console games on the Switch, Nintendo needs to make more of an all-out assault. Nintendo should look to make the Switch’s Virtual Console as comprehensive as possible, almost overwhelming players with the number of options they have. The sooner it can do that, the sooner the Switch will feel like it’s worth the asking price.
Obviously, the Switch is also going to need an excellent library of retail games if Nintendo wants it to succeed, but a good Virtual Console can be a big component of that success too. The Switch presents players with a hard to resist opportunity in that they can take their all-time favorites with them anywhere. I own many more Virtual Console games on my 3DS than I do on my Wii U for that same reason, and if Nintendo makes the Switch’s Virtual Console worth my time, I will absolutely spend money there.
Nintendo has a distinct advantage over its competitors in that it has an absurd number of games that are considered timeless. Those timeless games can do a lot to round out the console’s launch offerings and make it an attractive buy for gamers, but for that to happen, Nintendo needs to take the Virtual Console more seriously than it ever has before. Hopefully January 12’s live stream brings plenty of details about the Virtual Console with it.