I am failing to understand Nintendo’s “philosophy” regarding their Virtual Console. For the NES alone, they have hundreds of games to choose from, whether it’s their own Super Mario Bros. to Kid Icarus, and that’s not even taking into consideration the sheer number of games from third-party publishers. So many titles that spawned life on the NES are still around today: Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Castlevania, ranging in every genre from arcade classics, to platformers, sports games and RPGs. This is also not taking into consideration the plethora of games that have come from Super NES, Nintendo 64, the Genesis, and Turbografx-16.

For the third week in a row, with every possible title they could choose from, and based off the support other regions around the world have received from the VC, American gamers have gotten a rather “ho hum” line-up. It started with the “classic” week of Baseball and Urban Champion, a move that left me scratching my head in confusion, and wondering how they came to the decision that only these two titles, of anything else available, were to be released. After this week, I’ve come to realise that they are sticking mainly to only one genre: The space shooter. Mind you, I have downloaded one or two, but they are flooding the Virtual Console with space shooters. This in itself is causing two problems: They are oversaturating the VC with so many shooters that genuine classics like Gradius are getting buried under all the titles instead of getting a release that should honor its place as a genuine legacy title. I’m not saying that it needs trumpeted fanfare, but the game was the origin of the famous “Konami Code”. That in itself should mark it as something more than a seemingly random ROM dump. The other problem? So many other genres are hardly being represented at all, if anything.

Gamers today are different, many of today’s gamers were in diapers or not even born yet at the time of the NES glory run. They don’t remember when these games were genuinely new and cutting edge. And I doubt many have taken up the role of being a video game historian for anything prior to the original Playstation. or Nintendo 64, if at all. To them, these are their “classic” games, akin to many people NES or Atari games taking that role for the previous generation.

I’ve read the forums on Nintendo’s site, which is admittedly hard to read due to all the L33T speak. But to summarize the biggest issues found there: There is a glaringly obvious lack of Nintendo 64 and SNES games, as both consoles are woefully underrepresented. Japan gets Donkey Kong Country and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past while we get titles like Baseball shoved on us. Most gamers know very little about so many of these games other than wanting the Mario and Zelda titles, but no one is screaming for Ninja Gaiden or Bionic Commando, because they don’t know anything past the current and popular Nintendo franchises. People complain about the number of Hudson and Sega titles available for the VC, when in reality, Hudson and Sega are pretty much carrying the VC by themselves (this in itself is strange, because many of the gamers who post there honestly do not remember the Nintendo/Sega/NEC competition from back in the day. They just want a Mario Kart title, and anything else that is not is labeled as “crap”). Hudson and Sega have also been better in tune by offering release schedules for upcoming titles, whereas Nintendo leaves players guessing what random and weird grab bag titles they’re going to throw out next.

There is no seeming logic to how Nintendo handles their weekly updates. Either they genuinely don’t care about what is released as long as something is released for the following Monday, or someone in charge is really uninformed about video games from 10-20 years ago.

Whether people have taken it into consideration or not, the Virtual Console is a “museum”. It represents gaming after the rise of the Great Crash of the ’80’s that threatened to wipe out gaming altogether. And many of those titles deserve to be met with enthusiasm and respect. As mentioned earlier, Gradius introduced the “Konami Code”, Ninja Gaiden introduced cartoon-like cinematics in between levels, Sonic the Hedgehog was the first real mascot that was able to take on Mario and not fizzle out instantly. Mario itself redefined depth and exploration never seen before in previous titles. And then there were just simply “good games”, which players remember fondly from the era and were met with high praise from fans and gaming publications. To compare, one wouldn’t hang the actual Mona Lisa next to a bootleg illustration of a Rasta version of Bart Simpson. They’re both from someone’s mind, but one of them certainly has more significance in it’s respective field of art.

For three weeks now, Nintendo has given the impression that they are out of touch with the software that created their empire. My Monday enthusiasm has tapered out since I never know what’s coming out anyway, so I can’t look forward to anything in specific, and when I do look at their meager offerings, I roll my eyes in frustration because someone in charge of releases certainly has some major wood for space shooters. Here’s an idea: Save some for later, and don’t blow the whole load now. Some of the classics in that genre are going to get overlooked due to all the saturation.

But what’s really frustrating is that Nintendo has absolutely no excuse to be this tight with their titles. They could save 100 AAA games back “for a rainy day”, and still not have a shortage of quality titles left if it flooded. It’s just a shame to see such a cool feature get treated so poorly.

Well, at least Wario Ware was released for the Wii this week. At least I can look forward to enjoying that in light of whatever Nintendo decides to dump on us next week, which will likely be Taboo: The Sixth Sense, Hollywood Squares, Sesame Street: Big Bird’s Hide and Speak, and an Olsen Twins game.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under: virtual console