During the recent financial results meeting, President Iwata stated that there will be a Nintendo DS Virtual Console on the Wii U. I was late getting a DS, so this makes me very excited. I’ve played New Super Mario Bros. and Pokemon Black, but to say that I’ve missed some games would be an understatement. I honestly think having a DS Virtual Console could fix a number of issues currently plaguing the Wii U. Now, I’m not trying to jump on the Wii U bandwagon of hate, but having some DS games available is simply a good thing.
Also, before I jump into it, I will say that I don’t think any of the following will end up happening. Since it is a Virtual Console, Nintendo is most likely just going to port over the games without additional tweaking or content. They released a screenshot of Brain Age on the Wii U GamePad and I expect all the games to be played in such a manner. I’m still excited, but I think if Nintendo put some effort into it, as I’m about to discuss, I really think they might have something here worth noting.
Since the Wii U was released, I’ve always looked at it as sort of a console DS. It doesn’t take a genius to see why: two screens with one being touch and the other to house the action. I expected the GamePad to bring the same innovation of the handheld to the home market, but most of the games I use the GamePad for is for item management and optional gyroscopic aiming. Besides Nintendo Land, I feel like the GamePad hasn’t been used to its fullest potential. Nintendo even said in their meeting that they failed in communicating the importance of the GamePad. With DS games, it won’t be an issue.
The first title I want to discuss is Henry Hatsworth, a third-party offering from EA of all places. The game itself is fantastic, with a challenging and engaging platformer on the top screen and a puzzle game on the bottom. While playing as Henry, players will defeat enemies, which will in turn become a block on the persistently growing puzzle screen. Players will have to shift their focus and eliminate the blocks once the screen starts to fill.
As far as asymmetrical gameplay goes, it’s as asymmetrical as they come. This could translate very well to the Wii U, as the television will display Henry’s adventure while the puzzle is on the GamePad. If EA wanted to take a step further, they could have a semi-multiplayer experience with one player using the Pro Controller and the second player taking charge of the puzzle.
Another third-party offering I want to use is the criminally underrated Aliens: Infestation from Sega and Wayforward. Like many DS games, the action exists on the top screen while the bottom screen contains the map, items, and the iconic motion tracker. This particular experience is screaming for a Wii U treatment; the television will contain the main game and the GamePad will be the inventory and map. Turn on the volume on the GamePad and suddenly, you’re holding the beeping motion tracker from the film. This would not only be a neat feature, but it could lend some Zombi U atmosphere into the mix. If you want to look at your map, the on-screen character will unpause and open to an attack from the aliens. This should be any horror fan’s delight.
The point of these games would be to demonstrate what the GamePad could do in a way that hasn’t been seen since the launch titles Zombi U and Nintendo Land. For Henry Hatsworth and Aliens: Infestation, it would enrich the experiences of both games while demonstrating the potential of the GamePad in an way that’s not gimmicky. That’s not all the benefits of the Virtual Console.
Nintendo’s online service has greatly improved from the Wii to the Wii U and, while the eShop and Miiverse are fun, Nintendo seems reluctant to make online a part of their software. Co-op games, like Super Mario 3D World or the upcoming Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, are local only and seem like a missed opportunity. I would love to jump online in Nintendo Land for some Mario Chase action, but unfortunately, Nintendo keeps rolling out the “focusing on living room” excuse time and time again. How does this tie into the Virtual Console? Metroid Prime: Hunters.
Metroid is known for delivering single-player experiences, but with Hunters, they added a surprisingly well-done online multiplayer component. You and three other players can duke it out across twenty-six maps and select from seven characters, each with their advantages and disadvantages. There was a voice chat option. other gameplay options, such as disabling radar, and different modes, such as deathmatch and Prime Hunter. It was fun, extensive, and abandoned in future titles.
If Hunters ever made its way to the Wii U, it could demonstrate to people that Nintendo knows how to make a good competitive online game. Since it is a DS game, I’m not saying Hunters will be the Wii U’s Killzone: Shadow Fall or Halo 5, but it could easily be a taste of something new from Nintendo and, most importantly, fill in a hole in the software lineup. I do enjoy first-person shooters, but looking at the Wii U, my choices are between Call of Duty and the poorly received 007 Legends. More options are always welcomed.
The final benefit of DS games on the Wii U is simply more software. Nintendo hardware is unfortunately known for having some big droughts, so having more Virtual Console options is always a plus. Even though the current Wii U Virtual Console is slow to update — we’re looking at one game a week here — Nintendo could make the wait between their heavy hitters more bearable if they ever decide to beef up releases.
Even though the DS is a handheld, it has quite a number of long adventures like Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and about a thousand Sqaure Enix remakes like Dragon Quest 4-6 and Final Fantasy 4. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn alone took me around thirty-five hours on my first playthrough and I still didn’t explore everything.
Just to repeat: I know that this is just a Virtual Console service and I don’t expect Nintendo to do much more besides a straight port. Be that as it may, having the vast library of DS games available on the Wii U is a great thing, plain and simple. Maybe I’m being a bit too optimistic for my own good in a sea of pessimism, but I figure that the last thing the Internet and Nintendo needs is more negativity.