As someone who grew up with the console war of the late ’90s (Saturn vs Playstation vs N64), it’s strange to think that no Zelda game from that period is on the current Nintendo hardware. It’s even stranger when you consider that Final Fantasy 7, the Playstation’s answer to Zelda: Ocarina of Time, is on the Switch e-shop at this very moment. With the depth of classics Nintendo offered on both the 3DS and Wii/WiiU, it’s shocking that, even after two years, Switch owners don’t have access to these titles.
The online service that Nintendo owns is so bare-bones that it’s become a bit of a joke. NES games are fine, but there are so many more interesting titles from various systems that would give people a real reason to sign up. For me personally, a Netflix style streaming service for games isn’t quite as tempting as actually owning the game and knowing that your save file won’t get deleted if your membership expires or the service shuts down.
Will We Ever Get A Virtual Console?
Despite these points, I understand why Nintendo hasn’t released a virtual console for Switch. One reason that they haven’t is that, at the moment, they’re letting indie titles blossom and don’t want to saturate the market with too many games which might leave consumers spoiled for choice. Another reason is that Nintendo is so protective of their properties that they think there are more profitable ways to release software than something as simple and easy as a virtual console. Despite how passionate the videogame community is, Nintendo is a business and they like making money.
The NES and SNES mini are other ways that Nintendo has utilized its’ legacy content. They offer some great titles, even some third party games, like Final Fantasy 3 and Street Fighter 2. While they’re great collections and come on a cute mini version of the original systems, it still means consumers would have to buy yet another system. The glory days of the Wii virtual console are long gone and since the service has now shut down, there’s been no word of a replacement service on Switch.
Mini Console Craze
The mini console craze isn’t exclusive to Nintendo. There’s a Sega Megadrive/Genesis mini system in the works, being developed in-house, with M2 helping with the emulation. M2, who also developed the 3D Classics line on the 3DS is known for the quality of their ports so the Megadrive/Genesis mini is something fans should be looking forward to. Sony has also released a Mini Playstation 1, which was pretty bare-bones and didn’t get a great reception. There’s also a planned release of the Turbografx-16 mini coming later this year.
Other companies have found different ways to release retro content on Switch. For example, Konami has released collections of both Castlevania and Contra, which come with a small collection of the games but also digital artwork. This tactic seems like a good idea and it’s great for collectors if there’s a physical release. There’s a chance that these Konami collections are just part 1 and a second collection will be released in the future. It would be cool if the second Castlevania collection included Symphony of the Night and the DS titles.
Nintendo’s Own Classic Collections?
Sega and Capcom have also released collections. The Sega Megadrive (Genesis in the US) collection probably has the best value for money of any game on the E-shop. Over 40 titles from the Megadrive are here, including some pretty chunky RPG’s. On the other side of the value for money spectrum, the Collection of Mana only includes 3 games and actually has a higher price point than the Megadrive collection. To be fair, the games in the Mana collection are awesome, and include an official Western localization of Trials of Mana, a game that has never been released in the West!
With the idea of collections in mind, it’s possible Nintendo could bring out their own collections on Switch (If there’s no virtual console on Switch, this might be likely). I don’t mean HD remasters, but the original retro games sold together (hopefully along with a physical release). Just imagine a Mario collection with the three NES games, Super Mario World, and a digital book of artwork. Or a Zelda collection including Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask! If they included in-game acheivement,s the hype levels would be off the scale.
Does A Big Library Make Up For A Lack Of Legacy Content?
Indie games are doing really well on Switch at the moment, and many are inspired by retro classics. Games like Chasm, Timespinner and Xeodrifter are high-quality Metroidvanias clearly influenced by Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It’s not just pixel art and 2D games that are filling the retro ‘void’ on Switch, there are 3D games like Windscape and Oceonhorn that are clearly labors of love from indie developers that have grown up playing games. We’re getting more variety and innovation in the games appearing on the E-shop, and with over 2,000 games on the Switch, there’s definitely not a lack of titles.
Despite the Switch’s huge library, the issues of Nintendo’s legacy content still seems to be a huge disappointment for those that only own a Switch. The online service currently provided really doesn’t offer any good incentives to sign up apart from the ability to play games online. Mini consoles are all the rage at the moment, and Nintendo seems to prefer to offer their old games in this way rather than simple downloads on Switch. There are so many classic N64 and, dare I say it, Gamecube games that I’d love to have on Switch. Hopefully, in the next Nintendo Direct, a new brand of virtual console will be announced and we’ll finally have the option to download old games.
What are your thoughts on the Switch’s lack of classic Nintendo titles? Are you happy with indie offerings? Do you think we’ll ever get something to the virtual console on Switch? Post your thoughts in the comments.