I’m still on the fence about the whole “Virtual Console” thing. While I was initially very excited about the whole concept and initial execution on the Wii, the total mishandling, content stoppage, and the recent game removals have soured me from ever utilizing the service on the Wii again.

And now that a similar service has been on the 3DS, I still remain skeptical. Sure there are Game Boy games, and Game Boy Color games, and now NES games (which I think have replaced the idea of the Turbo Duo ever appearing on the service due to Hudson being bought out by Konami, and the mass content removals on the Wii), but there are a LOT of games on those three consoles alone. And I mean well over a thousand potential titles. Well, more “hundreds”, I suppose with all the licensing issues. But do we really need Home Alone for the Game Boy?

Now, finally after almost a year, we have Game Gear titles. The Game Gear was Sega’s attempt to take on the Game Boy back in the 8-bit days. It was essentially a portable Master System, but boasted full screen color at the cost of a higher price tag and heavy battery drainage. The plus side with the Game Gear was that it existed during Sega’s “cool” phase, existing alongside the Genesis, and reaping a lot of the rewards of similar content. The downside being that a good part of the content was (you guessed it) licensed, meaning that all those Marvel and Disney games are likely not going to happen.

History lesson aside, I picked up GG Shinobi with the Game Gear’s announcement. And I have to say that the emulation for Game Gear titles is far superior to Nintendo’s own offerings. Embarrassingly so. Among the many options are the smoother user interface, the “screen within a screen” option that allows gamers to play within a mini Game Gear (with customizable system color skins), options to play in the “original” mode with motion blur and backlighting, and it just looks good. The interface is so much better, Nintendo should really update their own offerings with a similar interface.

Game Gear on the system represents good and bad for a lot of reasons:

Good
* More games to play on the service.
* This will probably be the first chance people will ever get to play Game Gear titles.
* The Game Gear era was during a time when Sega was really trying to be cutting edge with their content to stand out from Nintendo.
* Eliminates the hardware limitations from the Game Gear, making it more presentable.
* Excellent emulation and the cleanest user interface on the Virtual Console service.

Bad
* Limited number of games.
* Numerous licensed games means that the chances of seeing games like Spider-Man and Mickey Mouse are slim to none, unless Sega pulls a Konami and works something out with Disney (Fortunately, Disney owns Marvel now, so that’s two birds with one stone. Disney also owns Power Rangers, for that matter).
* Nintendo is generally horrible about supporting Virtual Console content, especially notorious for introducing new systems with an initial rush of 2-3 titles, then ignoring it completely after the fact during the system’s lifespan (“Hello” Arcade, Master System, and Commodore 64).

Survival of the Game Gear on the Virtual Console is going to going to depend on two things:

1.) Sega releasing titles, and Nintendo actually adding them for release, and continuing to actually support the service.
2.) A LOT of licensing deals are going to have to be worked out to get certain wanted titles.

All in all, the emulation is great for Sega’s handheld, and it’s a promising start, but I suppose time will tell if the system gets any love from Nintendo, or are they going to instantly bury it into obscurity.

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