Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Nintendo, Please Bring SNES Games to the 3DS Virtual Store

Will this only be a fantasy? Image courtesy of Primagames.com

I have held off for quite some time on buying a Nintendo 3DS. There wasn't anything wrong with the 3DS per se, but there wasn't a truly compelling reason to buy one other than Pokemon Y and X when they released. I like Mario just fine and I'm interested in trying out some other games, such as Bravely Default and Kingdom Hearts 3D, but for the longest time the PS Vita simply had the games I wanted to play. It still does. I can count on two hands the games I want to play on 3DS, yet I need to setup a spreadsheet for all the PS Vita games I can't wait to play. 

That being said, I've finally snapped. I picked up the New Nintendo 3DS in New Red, and I am a big fan. The screen size is nice. The hardware feels solid and playing Pokemon in 3D for the first time on a handheld literally took my breath away. But there is one glaring misstep that I can not let go of when it comes to the 3DS: The Virtual Console.

As I said, the PS Vita has most of the games I want to play, but Nintendo has some hard to beat exclusives, like Legend of Zelda and Pokemon. However, the  reason I bought a 3DS was to not only play the new 3DS games, but explore a vast history of games I missed out on. That promise is only halfway met, and it's a glaring problem.

So here's some history about myself. I used to hate playing games. Not just hate, but practically despise it. I wasn't very good at them. I lost often. Died constantly. And consistently had the lowest score between myself and my two other brothers I used to play with. Despite my terrible skills, I was still enthralled by games. I loved watching my brothers tear through levels of Super Mario World or rip the heads off of their opponents in Mortal Kombat. When I was around five or six my dad met his future wife Julie and she brought console and handheld gaming into our lives. The Super Nintendo was never left alone when we were home as my brothers shot through xenomorphs in Aliens 3. I loved watching. I myself rarely picked up a controller, and wouldn't do so until I received my very own see-through purple Nintendo 64. 

Let me play this on my 3DS, please! Image courtesy of GameTrailers.com

So despite growing up in the era of video games, I missed out on a lot. Now that I am a better player and a willing masochist, I want to dive into these older games. I want to learn why The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is so revered, especially before I play A Link Between Worlds. I want to see for myself why Super Metroid has been so influential on games I love, like Gucamelee. Part of this desire is realized with the original NES titles, but most of the NES games started the franchises we know and love today, but the trends and history of more complex gaming genres that have become so influential today didn't really start until the SNES era of gaming. Without SNES games, this large gap is still very much missing and can't simply be written off.

So why hasn't Nintendo brought over SNES titles to the 3DS Virtual Console? Two major reasons have been cited in the past: Memory and Resolution. SNES games take a considerable amount of memory to run, more so than NES, GameBoy or GameBoy Advanced games, which means larger download sizes and more CPU required to run. However, with the New Nintendo 3DS, this problem is easily overcome. There's no reason why the New 3DS CPU can not play a ported version of a Wii game like Xenoblade Chronicles and not run a SNES game. And since the memory card can be replaced for larger memory cards, download size shouldn't be a problem either. 

No, memory and space aren't as big of an issue as Resolution. Resolution for the SNES is listed as around 512x448 while the top screen of the 3DS is 800x240. This would create quite a problem, as the expanding or contracting the game to fit these parameters would logically result in an ugly, squished version of a game that no one wants to play. But, that's not the end of the line. It turns out that a large portion of SNES games have a resolution of 256x224, making them completely playable on the 3DS. As a matter of fact, most SNES games have this resolution. So, Nintendo has a selection of games they could bring over. 

Yes this is one of the great GBA games on 3DS...If you were an Ambassador. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

And it's not like more complex Virtual Console games aren't already possible. The members of Nintendo's Ambassador program already received 10 GBA games on Virtual Console. Games that will not, according to Nintendo, be released to the public. Even if Nintendo wanted to ensure that those games never came out so that members of the Ambassador program can feel like they earned something special, why not bring over other GBA games? There are plenty of them (some of them even ports of old SNES games) that could be brought over and make money while giving players access to more games on the Virtual Console.

So will we ever see SNES or GBA games on the 3DS Virtual Console? It's hard to say. Nintendo as a company makes some baffling decisions, and most of them are made without real transparency or explanation as to why. There have been countless rumors over the years and I'm sure that as the years go on we will see more and more of them, but whether this desire from fans will translate into a reality is entirely up to Nintendo.

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