Farewell to Virtual Console, the boldest part of Nintendo’s mid-2000s revolution • Eurogamer.net
Nintendo’s mid-2000s revolution seems so far away now, even if its impact hasn’t really diminished. The tactile feel of the DS led in its own way to the iOS revolution, the motion controls of the Wii helped bring video games back into the living room and push them into the mainstream, and the reverberations of both still linger. feel to this day. There is another facet of his revolution which unfortunately never had the same impact, and which is now on the verge of extinction.
It’s crazy to look back all those years at the collection of announcements that led to the reveal of the Wii – Iwata’s assertion that specs don’t matter all that much (it was more innocent times), and then the following year the reveal of the console itself, no bigger than a few DVDs (it’s something people were watching movies on in the mid-2000s). Even wilder than before taking a look at this game-changing controller, the big feature that Nintendo’s bold new console would rely on would be this little thing called backwards compatibility.
20 years of Nintendo games, all available in one place! The Virtual Console concept was as giddy in its own way as the Wii Remote would be, though the reality of that at launch in November 2006 wasn’t quite as dazzling – there were only a dozen titles to choose from, but I think we were all too busy with Wii Bowling to really complain too much.
Still, over the years it’s blossomed into something remarkable, and by the time the service came to the Wii U it was an absolute treasure trove with MSX, PC Engine, and even Nintendo DS games among which Choose. I will always fondly remember the Hanabi Festivals which generously offered games that were previously only available in Japan, and they were an integral part of the Wii’s appeal. And Update Day, of course.
Its days were numbered when Nintendo rolled its back catalog into its Switch Online subscription – a service I gladly signed up for and greatly appreciate, but a miserable alternative to what it replaced. The news that Nintendo will soon be shutting down the 3DS and Wii U eShops, the last remnant of Virtual Console, is also a miserable reminder of Nintendo’s appalling attitude towards its own catalog. Maybe all of these titles will make their way to Switch Online’s subscription service, but that’s never a substitute for actually owning these things without risking them being shut down some distant day.
It’s also another reminder of the importance of game preservation – something that seems even more important now given how clearly small big companies like Nintendo care. It’s perhaps naive to expect a big company like Nintendo to take a step that promises little in the way of attention to profit, and it puts a new emphasis on the vital work of gaming professionals. archiving. who have since pointed out how Nintendo deliberately hinders their good work. What a shame to see a company with such a storied history as Nintendo so eager to erase it.
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