2013’s Most Wanted: Nintendo Virtual Console Edition

Typically, gaming wishlists for upcoming years will involve new games on the horizon, but in the case of Nintendo, there’s a massive back catalog of games that’s just waiting to be made available via the company’s Virtual Console service. NES, SNES, and N64 have all had great runs on Wii – and those libraries are still alive and kicking on Wii U, playable via Wii Mode – but the 3DS’s handheld Virtual Console service is just getting started and still has a lot of holes to fill.

Hop inside for some of the Virtual Console offerings we’d most like to see in 2013.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons & Oracle of Ages

oracle-sagaZelda games are always best-sellers in the digital space, and at present almost every Zelda game is available on current hardware in one form or another. The exceptions are the two GameCube games… and the link-up Game Boy Color duo: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. Having these games available digitally on 3DS would not only round out the catalog of GBC games for Virtual Console, which is still pretty thin, it’d give Nintendo an opportunity to add-in a less cumbersome method of linking up game save data for the Linked Game feature without having to enter passwords or use two systems to transfer information.

The Game Boy Pokémon Games

Getting updated remakes of the first two Pokémon generations was cool and all, but there’s just something about the charming and severe limitations of the originals that keeps them relevant even long after the fact.

pokemon-blueAnd given that, unless you’ve been playing your games pretty constantly over the last couple decades, your in-game save batteries have probably run out by now, if you want to enjoy the oldest titles again, you’ll probably have to emulate them somehow. What better place to do so than via the Virtual Console service?

It’d also give the games a chance to get one serious set of updates to their multiplayer battle and trade services: no more Link Cables – just wireless battle. I doubt we’d see online features supported, but even such a small improvement would be a necessary step to bringing the Game Boy games to 3DS.

The EarthBound/Mother Trilogy

earthboundA Virtual Console release of the Mother franchise has been a popular demand among fans, and it looks like it might actually see the light of day if series creator Shigesato Itoi is to be believed. I’m not sure whether I think the franchise should go for a Wii/U or 3DS release – possibly both, and possibly even in retail form – but at this point I think fans will take anything they can get.

Donkey Kong

Rare’s partnership with Nintendo may be over, but there are still a large number of Donkey Kong games that have yet to be re-released via the Virtual Console service, including the Donkey Kong Land games and Donkey Kong 64. What’s more, the Donkey Kong Country games have totally disappeared from the Wii Virtual Console.

dkl-vcThese games composed an important part of Nintendo’s catalog in the 90s, so to see them absent from Nintendo’s digital storefront is a bit disconcerting. Then again, the Country series’ 20th anniversary is coming up, so maybe Nintendo’s just reserving them for a surprise re-release compilation package sometime in the nearish future? In any case, the Game Boy games, while not nearly as good as the SNES originals, were still pretty fun, so it’d be nice to be able to take them on the go in the 21st century.

Donkey Kong 64… well, if Nintendo fans can’t have Banjo, they should at least get Rare’s other big N64 game, right?

GameCube Games on Wii U Virtual Console

gamecube-vc-wiiuNow that GameCube compatibility has been gone from new Nintendo systems for a good, long while, it’s probably about time to start paving the way for them to be made available anew: this time, on Wii U. While I wouldn’t expect full HD conversions, at least giving us the ability to use the GamePad to stream games would offer some additional playability in today’s world. It’s part of that big draw that I was talking about earlier: now that these games aren’t available on current hardware, it makes sense to make them available again digitally – that way, customers can at least know that there’s a possibility of bringing them over to the next generation.

Plus, it’s a damn shame that we have to bust out a separate system to play The Wind Waker, Super Mario Sunshine, or F-Zero GX. Wii U has the Wii Virtual Console, but for existing Wii owners that’s not much of a reason to update. Adding a bunch of already-released titles to the system’s library couldn’t hurt in this early phase – that’s a lot more games to draw on than the platform currently has.

A Wii U Virtual Console in General

Being able to bring over all our digital games from Wii to Wii U was an awesome first step, but since none of them can take advantage of Off-TV Play on the GamePad and have to be run through a separate Wii Mode, they don’t really feel like they’ve moved on to the next generation. At least with Wii, most of the older games had never been playable with a first-party wireless controller before. Letting Virtual Console owners upgrade to Off-TV Play games would add a bit of that missing extra value.

Of course, if Nintendo makes their customers pay yet again for games they already own… that might not be such a hot proposition. I’d be cool with a one-time paid download for the emulation service, at which point I can upgrade my current games for free or download new ones – but, wait, why am I giving Nintendo suggestions for charging me for games I already have?