Nintendo Really Needs To Tell Us What’s Going On With Virtual Console On The Switch – Forbes
Nintendo had a good E3. The spotlight presentation on Tuesday morning was short and sweet, with the right mix of announcements, gameplay and surprises. For a moment, it seemed like the revelation of Metroid Prime 4 was bound to steal the show, but that was before Super Mario Odyssey debuted with a mind-bending trailer that flipped from jazz vocals to mariachi Mario and a possessed frog. These are, certainly, interesting times we live in. There was one thing that was conspicuously absent, however, and it raises a question mark for the Switch going into the fall. It’s not Smash Bros., though one does wonder about that. It’s Virtual Console, still nowhere to be seen.
For those that don’t know, Virtual Console is a program that allows players to access vintage games on newer Nintendo consoles. It debuted back with the Wii and has enjoyed some measure of mixed success ever since. There are always some great games on there, but the library has never really lived up to its lofty potential. Nintendo’s greatest strength has long been its history and characters, something that’s only bolstered by the years of masterpieces it has to its name. Virtual Console is a way to sell those experiences brand new.
Unfortunately, Virtual Console has been little more than a mirage for the Switch for months now. It’s a perfect fit, given the machine’s ability to merge classic libraries from both the handheld and living room world and we know it’s coming, eventually, but that’s about all we know. I had been assuming the fall, but E3 is usually when fall announcements show up, especially ones as big as this. For Nintendo’s part, this statement to IGN from Nintendo America chief Reggie Fils-Aime is all I’ve heard from the feature, or, perhaps more accurately, the concept:
“We know that our fans, our players, want access to all of our digital content, we know that,” he said. “What we’re working through is, ‘okay, what’s going to be the best way to make that happen, to make that available? Certainly, we recognize there’s an appetite for all of our great legacy content.”
As far as an acknowledgment goes, this is pretty bare-bones. We still have no details, no timeline, no assurance that this in-demand feature will be arriving even this fiscal year. The optimistic reading would be that Nintendo is looking to roll classic games out on the Switch with a bit more intentionality than the Virtual Console format has afforded in the past. If the company is indeed working on “the best way to make that happen,” maybe it’s trying to work something better out than just gradually releasing limited titles on an e-shop. The ideal situation, which fans have called for for years, would be a subscription service akin to Microsoft’s Game Pass, giving players access to a rotating library of titles for a monthly fee. There’s no reason, however, to assume an optimistic reading of that statement.
The Switch is in a strong spot right now, but the continuing cloud of important missing features will have to be addressed at some point. Virtual Console seems to always exist in an idealized version just beyond our grasp which we’re just waiting to be made manifest. My hope is that the Switch is when that could finally happen, but this is only my hope because there’s no other platform for which to hope at this point. Until then, we’ll keep waiting.
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