GBA Games on Wii U Virtual Console – Why?

(originally posted April 11th 2014)

I’m just gonna say that the Virtual Console is possibly one of Nintendo’s best ideas. The ability to download classic games from the days when gaming was nothing more than a niche, little club is just genius. Not only does it allow gamers to relive some of their favourite titles from when they were growing up but it also introduces these classics to a new generation. The youth of today can now experience the kind of games their parents or other older relatives used to play. I myself would love to purchase more titles off the VC, having already got games like ‘Paper Mario’ and ‘Kirby 64.’

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Even the 3DS has got in on the action, with old Gameboy titles such as ‘Super Mario Land’ popping up, along with Gameboy Advance titles from the early 2000’s. This I can get down with (especially after playing ‘Metroid Fusion’ for the first time).

However, Nintendo have now decided that these GBA titles should also become available for the Wii U Virtual Console. While I’m not saying no to having more classic, quality titles for us to relive, I can’t help but find this decision a bit odd.

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For starters, why would I want to play games made for a handheld on the big screen? I suppose in theory that sounds cool but wouldn’t that require stretching the screen ratio and causing the graphical quality to suffer a bit? Also, the point of handheld titles is that you can play them on the move. Stuck on a plane with nothing to do? Whip out your GBA and spend a couple of hours on ‘Pokémon’ or ‘Advance Wars’ or whatever. The Wii U is not something you can carry around with you. And yeah, you can play these titles on the Gamepad itself (solving the screen problem I mentioned) but it’s still not portable. Walk too far from the console and you lose your connection.

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My next problem is the option of games thus far. While something like ‘Golden Sun’ or ‘Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga’ are titles worth considering (especially given that their RPGs), why should I get something like ‘WarioWare Inc?’ It’s a minigames compilation; something that you can quickly pick up and put down again to waste a few minutes while you’re waiting for a dentist appointment or something; it’s not something you can play for an hour on a home console. Plus, I already own it on the 3DS. Roughly half of the so-far confirmed titles can be bought on the 3DS VC. And if someone hasn’t bought it on the 3DS, why would they then decide to buy it on the Wii U? I don’t know; it just feels like a form of padding, as if Nintendo are scared that nobody’s patient enough to wait for ‘Mario Kart 8’ and jump ship. And if that was true, it’s still their own damn fault but that’s another topic for another time.

I also have to take issue with an admittedly minor issue and that’s the fact that these titles offer save state features. Basically, this means you can save anywhere you want. Now, for a title like the original ‘Legend of Zelda’ on the NES where there was no save feature at all, that would be grand. But I’m pretty sure every GBA game had the ability to save normally. Why add this?

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For a title like ‘WarioWare Inc’ it seems completely pointless and for a title like ‘Metroid Fusion’ it serves as a means of making the game needlessly easier. Also, ‘Fusion’ usually placed its save areas right before boss encounters, which is where you’d want to save anyway, so why this save state feature at all? Like I said, it’s just a means of making games easier but it’s the wrong way of going about it.

Finally, I have to say, this whole idea feels like a wasted opportunity. For years, everyone has been clamouring for Gamecube titles to appear on the Wii U’s VC, which would be amazing. It’d also make much more sense to have a previous generation’s home console games appear on the current generation’s home console.

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When handheld titles are moved to a home console or vice versa, it’s not a simple copy and paste. Changes are made so it suits the system it’s on. And sometimes maybe stuff doesn’t need to be changed. After all, the original ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ has been ported to the DS, 3DS and mobile devices with little change, but that was a relatively simple title.

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And maybe bigger GBA games such as the aforementioned RPGs or something like ‘Metroid Fusion’ could work on the big screen, there are plenty of other titles that wouldn’t. I can’t change Nintendo’s decision; I can only hope that it picks its titles wisely.

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