A modest Virtual Console wishlist

Update: Obviously, Nintendo has announced the Virtual Console will not be available at launch. However, this wishlist still applies for when they eventually do.

We’re about ten days out from the Nintendo Switch launch and there’s been no announcement regarding its Virtual Console. Nintendo has dodged questions on the topic of the inclusion of GameCube games and have yet to even state if the service will be available at launch. At the very least, here are a few (incredibly realistic) problems that have plagued previous Virtual Consoles that Nintendo should address with the Switch’s:

  • Offer a thorough line-up of consoles I had assumed that the Wii U Virtual Console would have the same core consoles as its predecessor, but that turned out to not be the case. The TurboGrafx-16 never received support until late last year and the Genesis, inexplicably, never appeared. At the very least, the Switch’s VC should carry games from the NES, SNES, TG-16, Genesis, N64, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance, along with Game Boy and Game Boy Color which appear on the 3DS VC. And though they don’t have the deepest libraries, it was nice having Master System and Game Gear support, albeit briefly, on the Wii and 3DS respectively.
  • Offer heavily discounted games for early adopters To celebrate the Famicom’s 30th anniversary, the Wii U VC cut prices on the following seven games to $0.30: Balloon Fight, F-Zero, Punch-Out!!, Kirby’s Adventure, Super Metroid, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong. Offering a similar program would help build excitement and goodwill, especially if Nintendo expects users to repurchase VC titles from the 3DS, Wii U, or Wii.
  • Tie purchases to a central account I can’t believe I’m even typing this because it’s something that should have been addressed with the 3DS back in 2011, but if Nintendo doesn’t consolidate downloadable purchases to a singular account used across different hardware on their fourth try…
  • Fix the ugly overlay The Wii U VC is a dim, blurry mess. The NES Classic Edition looks razor sharp and offers a few display options including a CRT filter. Hopefully, the Switch VC will be more like the latter.
  • Don’t lock game prices by console It’s silly that both Ice Climbers and The Legend of Zelda are priced at $4.99. Lowering the prices on shorter and simpler games would promote users to purchase more (Balloon Fight or Excitebike would be a no brainer at $1.49 each, but difficult to justify for $4.99. Plus, this would promote more local multiplayer and the social aspect that Nintendo seems to envision for the Switch with their marketing. Users would be far more likely to drop a dollar or two to spontaneously download Double Dribble or Blades of Steel to play at a party than if it were $5-6.) Conversely, allowing the option to charge more for premium titles may promote more third-parties (ahem, Square) to release more games.

Because of their silence, I’m nervous that Nintendo will fail to deliver on many of these aspects, and the Switch Virtual Console will be as disappointing as the Wii U’s. Still, I have hope, especially in light of the announcement that their online subscription model will include one free game to play a month. As mentioned by others, having one free game to play for a month (before having the option to buy) forces the online community to focus on and actually play a single game all at the same time. This, in turn, will foster more interest in retro games and the Virtual Console in general. Hopefully, Nintendo will take a more forward thinking approach to the Switch’s Virtual Console overall, and avoid the drip feed of the same old shitty NES games like Urban Champion and Yoshi each week with the occasional Mario and Zelda game sprinkled in.

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