2.20.2007

Game Boy, Game + Watch, And More: The Virtual Console Rant



Virtual Console currently offers Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, SEGA Genesis, and NEC TurboGrafx-16 titles.



But wouldn't it be great if Nintendo released Game Boy and Game & Watch titles on Virtual Console?



GoNintendo's RawMeat Cowboy sure seems to think so. And so do I.

(Quotes from the comment I left on that article)

"GameBoy games could really help fill the gap between big, AAA Nintendo classics. For example, while the US waits for Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, wouldn’t it be great to see Virtual Console updated with Link’s Awakening for $4?"




Either of the Link's Awakening titles would be great (original or DX for the Game Boy Color) to see on Virtual Console. So many gamers today who love Zelda haven't been able to ever experience the excellent Game Boy installments, including the aforementioned Link's Awakening and Oracle of Ages and Seasons.



"If Nintendo released GameBoy games on Virtual Console, I think it’d be in their best interest to keep price points very flexible and below $5. For example, the original Super Mario Land? No more than $3. Donkey Kong ‘94? Perhaps $4."




This would be excellent. So many classic titles were released on Game Boy and Game Boy Color. Donkey Kong '94, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Tetris, Kirby's Dream Land 2, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, you name it, the Game Boy had it. And so many people missed out on these amazing titles. Since Game Boy games have a reputation for being simple, why not offer these titles and more to a new audience that would appreciate them, especially at a budget price?



"Another idea I’d love to see happen is the release of Game & Watch titles on Virtual Console. So many gamers only got a taste of that simple series through the Game & Watch Gallery series, and if they missed that, then they didn’t get to play around 60 Nintendo games. Since Wii is about simplicity, Game & Watch could really be opened up to a new type of consumer. Furthermore, the games would be extremely cheap, which would be extremely attractive as an impulse buy. Who wouldn’t drop between 50 and 100 points on the Game & Watch version of Super Mario Bros? Or Climber? How about The Legend of Zelda?"




Several Game & Watch versions of key Nintendo franchises were created years ago and only released in Japan. Nintendo can make a pretty penny off of these titles if they release them at the correct price point. With the Zelda craze going on right now after the stellar sales of the Wii version of Twilight Princess, the US in particular would be a great time to re-release old Zelda titles. There's even a market for other Game & Watch games, like Ball or Fire, because they're so simple that anyone can play them. In Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten, released only in Japan, Nintendo put Ball on the card, and in Shaberu! DS Oryouri Navi, Chef was thrown on the game card. Heck, Club Nintendo even got Game & Watch Collection as a promo. It's obvious that Nintendo can see some use in Game & Watch games, so why not offer them to the public? For a dollar or less, each of the games would be an impulse buy in the highest.



"Nintendo could provide a number of options with how people would buy Game & Watch games. People could pick out games individually, or perhaps Nintendo could offer “Value Paks” with 10 games for 400 points or less. Each game would have to feature a virtually recreated model of the Game & Watch itself, as well. I would also hope that Nintendo provides a system update to allow Game & Watch titles to be grouped so that they don’t flood the Wii Channel Menu."




It's obvious that all shoppers love bargains. In the grocery store, people will stock up on milk or anything if it's on sale. It's be great if Nintendo capitalized on this by offering "Value Paks" where people can purchase several Game & Watch games at once for slightly less than if they bought them individually. A recreation of the original Game & Watch on-screen is important as well, if nothing else then for control lay-out and nostalgia factor. And, of course, Nintendo would need to expand the Wii Channel Menu's capacity by providing a system update that allows for the simplistic grouping of Virtual Console Channels and/or more than 48 slots on the menu, since the way things are going for Virtual Console and the additional channels available in the Wii Ware section of the Wii Shop Channel, this extra capacity will be needed. External hard-drive support and the ability to back up entire channels on SD cards or other external storage devices would also be important once that 512 megabytes of internal memory runs out.



"Another interesting way Nintendo could present Game & Watch games is through a “Game & Watch Channel.” The navigation of this channel would work excellently with the Wii Remote, and it could take on the museum feel of the Game & Watch Gallery series. Imagine seeing a giant gallery of Game & Watches on your screen. Then, using the Wii Remote, hovering over each Game& Watch would reveal its name and perhaps a little description of the game itself. Clicking on the Game & Watch would bring it up to the screen and allow for play. Perhaps scores and win-loss records on multiplayer Game & Watch games could be stored to individual Miis. The Channel could be released at a price anywhere between 1000-2000 points and added to the Wii Ware section. Perhaps it could be priced even less than these price points and give the player about 10 Game & Watch games, and then the rest could be bought through a catalog system within the Channel."




I always love new Wii Channels, as everyone does. I really think that a "Game & Watch Channel" of some kind would be great as something for Nintendo fans, as a contribution to Gunpei Yokoi, and as a market opportunity. The Channel could be an all or nothing affair, where the consumer would buy all of the Game & Watch games by buying the channel, but I think it'd be more popular if the Channel itself had 10 or so titles initially available, pushing the cost of the actual channel down, and then giving the user the ability to add more Game & Watch games by spending additional Wii Points. This spending of points of Game & Watch titles would be handled within the "Game & Watch Channel" itself, so as to not make the user head back to Virtual Console to download additional content. By allowing scores and records to be tied to individual Miis, new life can be brought into games that were previously thought long gone.



Another option for Game & Watch titles on the Wii is to release a be-all end-all installment of the Game & Watch Gallery series on the Wii. Place every Game & Watch game possible on the disk and add in "modern" modes of play like the Game Boy installments do with Wii Remote control, and I'm sold, especially if it's released at a budget price with an online component. Being able to connect in an instant and play Judge with a casual gamer in Europe would scream old-school and could really attract a different kind of online audience.



"The possibilities are really endless with both Game Boy and Game & Watch games. Hell, I’d love to see a Virtual Console version of Hanafuda, Color TV Game 6 and 15, Racing 112, and all sorts of other Nintendo classics that most people haven’t heard of, all for a bargain price. Games with dials llike Color TV Game 6 could utilize Wii Remote control much like WarioWare: Smooth Moves accomplished it."




Nintendo has a lot of other software that they've produced over the years that is simply a perfect fit for Virtual Console. Offering a virtual recreation of Color TV Game 6, Color TV Game 15, and Racing 112 for extremely small prices (using the Wii Remote to substitute for dials and steering wheels), honoring Nintendo's card-making history through a Virtual Console version of Hanafuda (with full instructions, single-player, local-multiplayer, and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support). How about Computer Othello? Or maybe some of Nintendo's other old arcade games, like Sheriff or Donkey Kong, which is clearly superior to the NES version in every way? Heck, it's even a possiblity that old Nintendo Power issues and freebies can appear on Virtual Console. All of these old titles and giveaways now have new found potential on Virtual Console.



"What about Virtual Boy? Obviously, the console did horrifically in stores and was a complete and utter failure for Nintendo. But there were a few gems found on the console that so many people never got to play, such as VB Wario Land, which I myself have never been able to play. Obviously, technology has improved since the time that Virtual Boy was released, so certainly there must be someway to emulate the pop-out 3D effect that the Virtual Boy produced without making it as painful to view. Yes, I know that Virtual Boy content on Virtual Console would never happen, but I can certainly dream."




Yes, many think I'm out of my mind suggesting this, but I don't care. There were some real gems in the Virtual Boy collection, most notibly Virtual Boy Wario Land. Yes, the game system was literally a pain to use, giving those who put the headset on headaches due the the channels of black and red color swarming their eyeballs. But if Nintendo emulates the 3D effect of Virtual Boy on Virtual Console, maybe slaps a warning on each title to take a break due to the potential of headaches, and sold them for 500 points or less, these titles which never had a chance when originally released can finally get the appreciation they deserve.



"There’s just so much potential for Virtual Console and the Wii Ware sections of the Wii Shop Channel, both for Nintendo games new and old, as well as indie titles. I’m really hoping that Nintendo sees the value of allowing us to play Game Boy and even Game & Watch titles on our Wiis, and even give us the option to beam them to our DSes. Virtual Console is a celebration of Nintendo’s past and the past of other console developers, and so to leave Game Boy and Game & Watch games out is, in my opinion, horrible."




Virtual Console has some of the biggest potential out of any feature of the Wii. Nintendo has a lot of money that it can make and a huge amount of old content to potentially bring to the service. With that said, Virtual Console can also be a showcase for connectivity. By allowing users to beam NES, SNES, SEGA Genesis, and TurboGrafx-16 titles to their Nintendo DSes for portable play, as well as adding Game Boy, Game & Watch, and maybe even Virtual Boy titles with the same capabilities would also be excellent. Even better would be seeing "new" NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, TG-16, Game Boy, Game & Watch, and Virtual Boy titles up for download, where Nintendo and other developers (including indie) can use older tools to create a new, original game for Virtual Console.



Speaking of these indie developers, if Nintendo aggressively goes after indie support as many are suspecting, then Virtual Console can and will be flooded with content if Nintendo handles the delivery of the kits, technical support, and the actual approval and uploading process correctly.



Bringing over formerly Japanese-only content to North America is also important. How about the totally localized and ready-to-go Mother 1? The first installments of the Nintendo Wars series anyone? How about all of those Japan-only Fire Emblem games? It is important for Nintendo to translate and localize these titles for regions other than Japan and let them loose on fans in other territories. Just as importantly, cancelled Nintendo games, such as the basically completed Star Fox 2 also have a new opportunity to make it out of Nintendo's vault and onto the Wii consoles of fans around the world. Does the Mario Artist series have a chance? What about some other cancelled Nintendo 64 Dynamic Drive projects? Would it be possible to see some Broadcast Satellaview-X content on Virtual Console? Wii's internal clock could be the key to making it work.



Let's not forget third-parties. Many third-parties are beginning to support Virtual Console, with the ESRB now listing ratings for Virtual Console versions of Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and others. These companies are important to Virtual Console's success, as not all of the classics on these old systems were developed by Nintendo. Third-parties deserve to see as much success with re-released Virtual Console versions of their back-catalog of games as Nintendo does.



Finally, what about new, original titles from Nintendo and its partners? For starters, the Wii Sports Airplane demo from E3, as well as even the Obstacle Course demo from the same event would be great to see as Virtual Console games that take advantage of the Wii Remote, have a certain amount of charm, and are fun and easy to play. Maybe we could see some new, small Virtual Console games, games that are on the level of depth of those found in Wii Play? Perhaps even "toys" like those found in the WarioWare series of titles would be markettable on Virtual Console for budget prices.



It would be in Nintendo's best interest to create games like these with both Miis as the stars and popular faces from Mario, Zelda, and other Nintendo series. How about a Yoshi breeding game? What about a Metroid-themed Morph Ball maze game using the Wii remote to tilt the environment? What about an full-fledged, stand-alone version of the long-loved Zelda fishing mini-game with Wii control?



What about remakes of older games already on Virtual Console? What Nintendo fan wouldn't download a cheap, modified version of Super Mario Bros. that features Mario running through levels and moving the remote upwards to jump (as seen in WarioWare: Smooth Moves)? Or an SNES Star Fox remake with the graphical and control updates presented in WarioWare: Smooth Moves? A motion-sensitive version of PilotWings or PilotWings 64, anyone?



The reason why I keep using examples from WarioWare is because the mini-games (NOT the four-second Microgames the series is famous for) and toys found within the games in the series are the kinds of things that would be great for Virtual Console; software that is fun to mess around with for a small amount of time, takes up little internal memory, and costs little money.



Virtual Console is shaping up to be an impressive service that Nintendo needs to take full advantage of. It would be a shame for the service to not be used to its full potential, because it makes it even easier for developers to make a profit off of the Wii, as well as satisfy gamers. The service will also be important in getting the next generation of game developers into the industry if it is handled correctly.



Nintendo has its own plans for the Virtual Console service, obviously. I'll just hope that some of our ideas match.

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