E3 2005 brought several big announcements from the major players in the video game industry, but the most publicized by far were details on the new crop of consoles. Microsoft prominently displayed the Xbox 360 and placed a release date in the fourth quarter of 2005. Sony wowed gamers everywhere with specs for and footage from 2006’s PS2. Nintendo declared that the upcoming Revolution would feature… a bunch of old games?
In case you missed it, the big announcement from Nintendo was that the Revolution would feature downloadable content in the form of hundreds of classic NES, SNES, and N64 games. Nintendo fans drooled so much that California’s water table rose two inches. But is this really a big deal for everyone else, especially the “mainstream gamer” who’s more interested in the next Grand Theft Auto or Halo? Is a pile of games you can find at a flea market a selling point?
Consider the list of announced games (which you can find in our news article[https://mygamer.com/index.php?page=globalnews&mode=viewnews&id=953]). Scanning quickly, it looks great. Over 200 games! That means the Revolution has a huge library before it even comes out! But look more closely. To begin with, some of the games in this list are Japanese titles that have never been translated. Is Nintendo going to take the time to localize Fire Emblem: Ankokuryuu to Hikari no Tsurugi? How about Gendai Dai-Senryaku: Ultimate War? Will Microsoft honor the warranty on my copy of Word if typing one more Japanese title causes the spellchecker to explode? If all of the titles on this list make it to the U.S., you’d better start brushing up on your Kanji.
After accounting for at least a dozen games we can’t play, look at the games nobody wants to play. I can’t be the only one not psyched about Mario: Fun with Numbers. Sure, Kirby is one of Nintendo’s more interesting mascots, but eight Kirby games? Don’t forget the inclusion of games that were just bad, even when they were released. There’s so much filler that Nintendo would be better off simply including a handful of the best games instead of wasting everyone’s time with the rest of the junk (my personal selections from the list are at the end of this article).
Consider also the fact that sometimes nostalgia quickly fades. Go play some of those great, revolutionary games from the early days of the Playstation — Twisted Metal, Tekken, Ridge Racer. At the time, these games were awesome, but today they’re ugly and frustrating. After fifteen minutes, most people will stop playing half of the games on the Revolution list out of disgust. It’s hard to understand exactly how far we’ve come and how primitive some of yesterday’s games were until you’re actually playing them; I hate to say it, but Star Fox, as amazing as it was at the time, is amazingly blocky and choppy today. The fact that many N64 games were designed specifically to take advantage of a unique controller compounds this, and unless the Revolution’s hardware replicates some of those features these games could be practically unplayable.
What’s more, Nintendo has essentially done all of this before — and it’s failed! eReader cards bombed so horribly you can still pick them up for pennies on the clearance rack. Nobody really wanted to spend $20 on a classic NES cartridge for the Game Boy Advance unless it was Zelda. Nintendo already knows that no one in the U.S. market wants to play Balloon Fight, Donkey Kong 3, Slalom, or any of dozens of other titles. Why they think something has changed, and that gamers will presumably pay for the privilege of downloading these games, is a mystery.
All of these points really ignore the fundamental problem with this concept, a problem that may be contributing to Nintendo’s troubles securing a toehold in the states. Nintendo seems to be living in the past. Most of the big Gamecube releases trace back at least as far as the SNES, if not the early days of the NES itself: Star Fox Adventures and Assault; Super Mario Sunshine; Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2; The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and yet another upcoming Zelda sequel. Granted, all of these games are really, really good, but they’re just variations on a theme. How long can they milk these franchises before gamers say enough is enough? Nintendo is quick to put out innovative hardware, but where are the innovative games? To be fair, the gaming industry as a whole seems to have taken a cue from the movie industry and is pumping out sequels like Paris Hilton pumps out home movies, but Nintendo seems to be relying on these classic characters to see them through.
With any luck, the Revolution really will be revolutionary and include some interesting and groundbreaking features. But for now, Nintendo seems to be relying on the news that you’ll be able to play a lot of ancient, crappy games. Never mind the fact that those who really want to play these NES and SNES games are already doing so (illegally, my lawyer advises me to mention) via emulation. Never mind that we know virtually nothing else about Nintendo’s new machine, while the Xbox 360 is right around the corner and the hardware details of the PS3 are so well known that some geek somewhere is probably building one from scratch. No, instead Nintendo promises a blockbuster Zelda title for the Gamecube and old game downloads for their next console. Time will tell if this is really a revolution, or whether the Revolution will find a home in the clearance bin with the eReaders and Virtual Boys.
The Revolution Classic Game Short List
The following is the list of games Nintendo should make available for the Revolution, culled from the announced list. Most of these are included because they really are great classic games that are still good today. Some of them are included for historical reasons, such as Star Fox, which as previously mentioned hasn’t aged well but should still be checked out for perspective. There are easily hundreds of other games not on the original list that should be included, but that’s a matter for a different article. This cuts the original 200+ titles to just over 40; add a few of your favorites to make a nice round 50, charge $50 for access to all of them, and everyone wins.
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels
Super Mario Bros. 3
The Legend of Zelda
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Super Mario Kart
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Super Mario World
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario World 2
Donkey Kong 64
Mario Kart 64
Mario Tennis 64
Star Fox 64
Super Mario 64
The Legend of Zelda DD (Ura Zelda) (Master Quest in America)
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time