Monday, February 23, 2009

The Resurrection of Virtual Console

Today, three games were posted on Nintendo's Virtual Console service. All three were Commodore 64 games, and they were the first such games on VC. This week was the first week since December of 2007 that saw three VC games.

The obvious question then is "Is the VC back?"

This isn't really a fair question. It never really left. Even though there have been a lot of weeks with only one game lately, sometimes that one game has been really, really good. For example, all four of the Mondays this past January saw only one game, but all four of them were in the good to great range (in order, they were Kirby's Dream Land 3, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, M.U.S.H.A. and Wonder Boy in Monster Land). Certainly, Nintendo spoiled us early in the Wii's life by releasing three or more games a week regularly, and when that stopped, there came a lot of internet bitchery.

This is not to say that the bitchery is entirely unfounded. Some weeks saw only one game, and that game was absolute dreck (e.g. this past Groundhog's Day saw only Sonic Chaos for Sega Master System). Nintendo implied, if not flat out promising, a much greater number of releases prior to the Wii's release. There are some, myself included if I'm being honest, that believe the House That Mario Built should've just taken the iTunes approach and dropped anything and everything they had access to right away, and added less frequently and in much larger chunks as the acquired new systems and companies willing to contribute content. They didn't.

On the flip side of this coin, one needs only look to the competetion to see how wonderfully Nintendo has treated us retrogamers. SCEA has released, so far, 29 PSOne games for download on the Playstation Network. 29. As of this morning, there are 283 games on the Virtual Console. That's nearly ten times as many games. Meanwhile, the classic arcade games on Microsoft's system are extremely infrequent (though they typically get good treatment, check out R-Type Dimensions if you don't believe me). Of course, they don't have the backcatalogue that Nintendo or Sony do, so I'm inclined to cut them a little slack.

But back to the question at hand; is the VC back, if indeed it ever left at all? My answer would be a tentative yes. People (internet people, mostly) had begun to question if Nintendo even cared about the VC anymore. While I never questioned that, I had begun to question to what extent they were committed. Today, however, gave me hope. Three new games and an entirely new system added to the catalogue show me that Nintendo is still committed to giving us a steady amount of new/old content every week. And really, that's all I ask.

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