After Nintendo’s lackluster cameo at VGX, the future of the Wii U is still looking bleak. If the best they have to show off is Cranky Kong’s inclusion in the previously announced Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, what hope is there for the future? Well, while that decision may not have been the wisest, all is not lost for Nintendo’s struggling console. They have a card left to play, one they’ve flashed only a few times in the Wii U’s short life, that if used properly could turn everything around: Virtual Console.
The Wii U’s Virtual Console is one of its most underutilized elements (second only to the gamepad), and currently features a paltry 59 games. For a company that has released over 5,000 games in its history, that is absolutely disgraceful. Nintendo have the gaming history their competitors can only dream of, and it’s time they utilized it. We need more than one or two obscure releases each week; Adding ten or fifteen new titles a week would illustrate Nintendo’s intent to improve and support the Wii U. But in order to prove their commitment to the fans and to the success of their console, Nintendo will have to take it one step further. It’s time for the virtual return of GameCube games.
With the inclusion of the GameCube library, the Wii U has the potential to become the ultimate Nintendo machine. By assembling the greatest games from each of their previous consoles on one platform, Nintendo could create a package that gamers simply wouldn’t be able to ignore. At this point Nintendo’s focus is on making the Wii U an attractive package in the eyes of consumers, and if they can’t do that with new games alone, supplying owners with a steady stream of quality retro titles is the next best thing. It would certainly make the wait for new Wii U games more bearable, and Virtual Console releases of fan-favorites like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Mario Kart: Double Dash might just sell the system by themselves. As much as I enjoy the gorgeous HD and 3D remakes Nintendo have treated us to over the last couple years, releasing the original games virtually would allow them to focus their time on developing more outstanding games like Super Mario 3D World, while still giving us games we want to play. Truly, it would be the best of both worlds.
In the wake of the hugely successful releases of the Xbox One and PS4, the Wii U needs to offer gamers something they can’t afford to miss. While Nintendo must work out just how they’ll accomplish that with upcoming games, unleashing an avalanche of gamepad-compatible Virtual Console titles may just bring the added value the console has been lacking. Reliving favorite gaming experiences is something gamers will pay to do, and Nintendo would be foolish not to seize this opportunity and remind everyone why we love their games. The pieces are all there; it’s up to Nintendo to make them work in their favor. They need to make a statement, and fast.