When it comes down to buying a new system, obviously the buyer is purchasing the brand-new system to enjoy the wide variety of brand-new titles that they now have access to. However, there is a plus. It’s become increasingly commonplace for newer hardware to show love towards older titles. Whether it be due to a remake or a simple re-release, old titles still get lots of love despite the deluge of new titles that gamers are currently surrounded in. But there’s an even greater show of love: backwards-compatibility.
Having a system where you can enjoy both new titles as well as older games is definitely a win. Recently, both Sony and Microsoft have made strides to support titles from their past systems. This has caused a good chunk of the gaming community to go into an uproar of excitement. While this is all fine and dandy, it’s left me wondering: where was all this sunshine and happiness when Nintendo started doing it 17 years ago?
The Gameboy Color was the very first system from the company that featured backwards compatibility; it was able to play cartridriges from its predecessor, the Game Boy. In like manner, its sucessor, the Gameboy Advance, could play both Gameboy and Gameboy Color cartridges.
The Nintendo DS continued the practice. Being the successor to the Gameboy Advance, the system could play every game from its predecessor. This allowed owners of the GBA to sell or trade in their old system in order to obtain a new Nintendo DS, while still keeping their old collection of games to enjoy alongside the new experiences.
Nintendo implemented the same features in the Wii which fully supported the games, controllers and memory cards from its predecessor, the Gamecube. Seeing that the Gamecube was the least popular system of its generation, this allowed Wii owners to be introduced to titles that they may not have played. Considering the Gamecube has such an amazing library, this was definitely a plus. Even though they were already doing a good job, Nintendo decided to turn it up a notch even further. How so? The Virtual Console.
Announced alongside the reveal of the Wii, Nintendo pushed the Virtual Console service as one of the system’s greatest features. The ‘VC’ would give Wii owners access to over 2 (now 3) decades of gaming history, even supporting games from non-Nintendo systems like the SEGA Mega Drive and Commodore 64. The trend continued on into this generation with both the Wii U and 3DS having full backwards-compatibility with their aforementioned predecessors, as well as the continuation and growth of the Virtual Console service. A lot of Wii U titles even support the Wii Remote as well as the wide array of other peripherals from the past system.
So as you can see, Nintendo has made great progress in the field of backwards compatibility, rivaling even that of the Microsoft Windows platform where a lot games and software as far back as the late 90s can still run on today’s hardware. With that point having now been established, why is it all of a sudden such a big deal that the PS4 can now emulate PS1/PS2 games, and that the XBOX One can now run 360 games?
Just to be clear: I’m not knocking either company for caring enough to implement these features. I think it’s great that owners of these systems can now take a little trip down memory lane, or even discover old gems they never knew about.
These features are only now being implemented into the PS4 and XBOX One, and while they don’t have as much as leeway as Nintendo’s offerings, they’re still being treated as the next best thing. That doesn’t make the fact that they’re being added a bad thing, just something that’s being given way more airtime than it probably should.
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.