Where Did the Virtual Console Go?

Remember the enthusiastic E3 speech when Nintendo announced you’d be able to play any game from any of their consoles through the Virtual Console? That idea died, didn’t it?

The Wii’s Virtual Console is all but dead, week after week coming up empty on the usual Monday release date. It’s such a shame too. There was a lot of potential in this concept, bringing back the classics, but let’s face facts: a lot has happened since that E3 speech.

The hardcore have all but abandoned the hardware, picking it up whenever Nintendo releases something and staying far away otherwise. The online experience is simply too clunky, and the disc-based stuff is beyond mediocre at this point.

The casual audience the system attracted has no interest in the past. If it doesn’t use motion controls, why bother? They probably won’t take the time to get their console online anyway. Why would they? What advantage does it have for them?

Certainly the final straw was the laziness of the service, simply releasing plain ROMs for these titles, which is hardly sufficient in the days of HD remakes or added online modes. People are being steered away from certain minor classics like Star Parodious or Neo Turf Masters because if Nintendo doesn’t care, why should they? How awesome would it be to fire up Contra III and play co-op with a friend?

Unfortunately, it’s far easier to slap a ROM together and charge a few bucks than to take the time to do it right.

I’ll admit to being in the hardcore crowd who simply doesn’t turn the hardware on that often. The last time it was on was Super Mario Galaxy 2, and it might have been six months prior the time before that. If you don’t turn it on, you don’t browse. I had purchased some of the retro stuff I didn’t own physically, or stuff that as a collector was too expensive. Interest wanes past that.

The concept should not just go away or die this slow, suffocating death. There is life in it, but it’s not handled well, and barely even promoted. Something needs to spark this back to relevancy, like some actual effort being shown, legitimate value to spur on these purchases. Until then, it’s all a pipe dream.

… Speaking of which, why isn’t Pipe Dream on the VC? That was a great title.