Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wishlist: Top 5 NES/SNES/GBA Games I'd Like to See in the Wii U Virtual Console

No one can argue against the fact that Nintendo was keen to try new things during the Wii generation. Some of those ideas didn't really sit right with me; I was never really a fan of motion controls, for example, especially when they were shoehorned into games that didn't need them (such as Donkey Kong Country Returns). On the other hand, one of their other innovations of that period was mind-blowing for me: the Virtual Console.

The idea of getting to play old games as budget downloadable titles is nothing short of genius, especially from a company with the kind of backlog Nintendo has. If we had an itch to replay the classics, no longer would we have to resort to hunting down old cartridges (or, conversely, utilizing shadier methods). It's one of those "how did I never think of this before?" moments that are so glorious, yet so rare.

Many Wii U owners have plenty of reason for bitterness towards the Virtual Console platform, however. The range of VC titles available for the Wii U pale in comparison to what was already on offer for the Wii. Truth is, the Wii VC featured a lot more platforms to choose from, such as Sega's Mega Drive and Master System, SNK's Neo Geo, or even Nintendo's own N64. The Wii U did introduce Game Boy Advance as an option (with some quite handy technology to smooth out the handheld's pixels for the big screen, no less), but otherwise it's left with NES and SNES as options - which, incredible as they are, have already been mined to death on the Wii itself.

Here's the thing, though: while we wait for the situation to change, be it with the already announced DS, be it with the dream of Nintendo 64 and (gasp) Gamecube joining the party, I'd argue there is still quite a bit of amazing content that could come our way.

Which, of course, is why I came up with this Top 5. See if you agree.

5. Capcom Disney platformers (NES)

Video by World of Longplays

Capcom is certainly one of the more prolific third-parties to populate the Virtual Console. From Mega Man to Street Fighter, many of its most beloved games from early Nintendo systems are already available on Wii U. That begs the question: where are the much loved NES Disney games such as Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, and Rescue Rangers?

One possible answer is that, as copyright holders, Disney has to be consulted, and maybe that is more trouble than Capcom is willing to go through for something like the Virtual Console. My favorite theory, however, is that maybe we'll see remastered versions of those classics, like what happened to Duck Tales last year. Be that as it may, I'd be totally down for replaying those games in all their retro glory.

4. Sunset Riders (SNES)

Video by World of Longplays 

Konami's cowboy-themed arcade was ported to the SNES (and Mega Drive) with excellent results. As far as 2-player simultaneous co-op go on that platform, you really can't get much better than this. Sunset Riders features interesting mechanics and progression, pretty graphics, a great western setting, and a truly memorable soundtrack.

Many Castlevania titles are already available on the Virtual Console (and that's going to get even better when the DS games finally start coming), so Konami is certainly aware of the platform's potential. We can only hope they diversify their presence there in the near future, and releasing Sunset Riders would be an amazing way to do that. 

3. Yo! Noid (NES)

Video by SaikyoMog 

Yeah, we can probably throw this one on the "never gonna happen" pile.

If you never heard of this game, here's the nitty-gritty. It started life as an entirely different game in Japan, featuring a masked ninja and his trusty falcon. When porting it to the West, Capcom partnered with Domino's Pizza, and ended up changing it into a New York-based game featuring that company's ubiquitous mascot of the time, the Noid. In place of the falcon, the Noid was given a yo-yo (don't ask). Voilà: one of the most underrated platformers of the NES was born.

The reason why I believe this isn't coming to the VC anytime soon is the fact that I don't think Domino's would be interested - they haven't used the Noid as a mascot for decades now, and may think rereleasing Yo! Noid will send mixed messages to their customers. Plus, I read somewhere that Nintendo's e-Shop team frowns at "advergames", which this is. Sadly, that's our loss, since I don't think we're gonna get another game featuring pizza-eating contests as boss battles anytime soon.

2. The Donkey Kong Country series (SNES)

Video by World of Longplays  
As I write this, lucky Europeans are already able to play these gems on their Wii Us. I'm not in Europe, though, so they have to make my wishlist.

I absolutely adore this series. The first and third games are amazing feats that pushed the SNES to its limits. The second, well, that one is nothing short of a masterpiece. All of them blend old Rareware's unflinching creativity with their technical prowess, resulting in experiences that look gorgeous and sound even better, featuring astonishing level design and incredible, atmospheric settings.

These games were even released for the Wii Virtual Console, but at some point they were pulled, likely due to disputes with Microsoft (current owners of Rare). I never thought we'd see them officially released again, until the surprise announcement of their coming to the European Wii U last month. Luckily, this probably means it's only a matter of time until we get them in the Americas. At least I sure as hell hope so.

1. Mother 3 (GBA)

Video by

This will happen. It just has to. And here's why.

The Mother trilogy was a hit in its native Japan, fueled in part by the pedigree of its creator, copywriter/media personality Shigesato Itoi. Only one game in the series was released in the Americas: Mother 2 for the SNES, known in English as EarthBound. It wasn't very well received, so we never got an official Western release of Mother 3, the Game Boy Advance sequel.

Here's the thing: EarthBound is incredible; people at the time, for some reason which simply escapes me, just didn't realize it. It tells a tale about a boy named Ness and his three companions embarking on an adventure to save the world from evil Giygas - which, admittedly, sounds pretty much like every RPG on the SNES. It just so happens that Mr. Itoi's penchant for poignant writing and quirky sense of humor, along with the game's peculiar setting of an USA-inspired land seen from a very Japanese perspective, elevates EarthBound above the vast majority of its peers.

It is one of the best RPGs of all time - and the good news is that people in the West eventually became aware of that fact. The game garnered a cult following over the years, and it all culminated on a Virtual Console launch, which was wildly successful by every metric imagineable. Over one year later, the game has yet to drop from the weekly top 20 of best-selling games on the Wii U e-Shop - and keep in mind that this list includes even downloadable versions of retail titles.

Meanwhile, Mother 3, which was even entirely translated by a dedicated group of Western fans, keeps eluding the Virtual Console. With Game Boy Advance available as a platform there, it becomes paifully obvious that they just need to give us this game. Looking at how well EarthBound has been doing, there's no reason to think Mother 3 wouldn't be a smash hit for the platform. It's the perfect title to fill a gap between major releases, and I hope Nintendo is, at the very least, seriously considering it.

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