This year's best Rock Band DLC didn't even come out in 2012!
Hey 2012, you're already half over. In your first six months, you've given us the highest grossing superhero movie of all time, a presidential primary, zombies on bath salts, a Battleship movie nobody watched and protests over Mass Effect 3. It feels like only yesterday I was celebrating New Years by downloading Rush's 2112 in Rock Band 3. What a wild and crazy adventure you've been, 2012.
But you haven't been kind to everybody. For whatever reason, 2012 has been especially mean to the old school video game download services. I'm talking about the Virtual Consoles and PSone Classics. Sadly, most of these online storefronts have seen a drop in both releases and quality. Worrying this was a trend, we've decided to go by the numbers and see if the first half of the year spells doom for the second half. That's right, 2012, it's time to put you to the test and determine your mid-year report card. Let's find out how you stack up to last year when you read This Year in Defunct Games: How Are They Doing in 2012?
Virtual Console (Wii)
Super Street Fighter II may not look like much, but it's a very important first for the Virtual Console!
Going into 2012 I was skeptical about the level of Wii Virtual Console support. And for good reason, as Nintendo went four months without releasing a single old school game. What's more, it seemed clear that Nintendo was more interested in supporting the 3DS Virtual Console with classic Game Boy games. By this time last year Nintendo had released 13 games, including Ghosts 'N Goblins, Faxanadu, Super Bonk, Mega Man X and Chrono Trigger. Unfortunately, Nintendo was only able to
scrape together five more Virtual Console games over the course of 2011.
Although it took them more than a month to get their act together, Nintendo surprised me with a heavy flow of top-rated console games. So far we've seen nine games, down slightly from last year. However, the nine games
Outside of a few gems, 2011 was a terrible time to be a retro gamer with a Wii!
released are significantly better than other recent years. Strider, The King of Fighters '97, Super Hang-On, The Last Blade and Mega Man X2 are all must-own games, while last 2011 saw Bomberman Hero, Rival Turf, Mega Man 5 and Super Adventure Island.
Beyond the number of games, I've been surprised by some of the firsts happening on the Virtual Console. For example, this is the time Nintendo uploaded an online multiplayer-enabled retro game (Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers). If that wasn't enough, Monster World IV marked the first import release in more than two years. We're also seeing the return of long-abandoned systems, including the Neo Geo, Genesis and arcade.
Over the Years:
With nine releases this year, that means that 2012 is only a 30% drop from the first half of 2011. That's actually really impressive, especially when compared to the paltry second half of last year. As it turns out, 2011 saw a similar drop when compared to 2010; it went from 17 games down to 13, a 24% drop. If you keep pulling at the thread you'll see that most of the years feature a 25% drop from year to year -- 2009 (26%), 2011 (24%) and 2012 (30%).
2008 and 2010 are the two outliers, both dropping by nearly half year to year. In 2007 we saw an incredible 72 games launched on the Virtual Console between January and June. By 2008 that number was 42 games, a whopping 42% drop. Similarly, 2009 saw 31 games, while 2010 only saw 17 games (down 45%).
Uniracers is just one of the dozens of Nintendo game left out of the Virtual Console party!
Although both drops happened for completely different reasons, each is easy to explain. It was unrealistic to expect Nintendo to release 72 games in the first half of every year, so 2008's 42 games is the company coming back down to earth. The 2010 drop has a lot to do with the WiiWare push. Here you saw Nintendo give priority to original games, letting only 17 select Virtual Console games leak through.
Year End Prediction:
Despite offering fewer games in the first six months when compared to last year, I predict that the Wii Virtual Console will end 2012 with more games than 2011. So far there have been nine releases, which means they only need nine more to match last year's eighteen games. Suddenly that seems doable.
Believe it or not, Nintendo has been on a roll recently. In the past month they've uploaded Metal
We'll see even more Virtual Console games now that it's coming to the Xbox 360 ... er, I mean Wii U!
Slug 3, The Last Blade and Mega Man X2. They've even started releasing multiple titles on the same day, as they did with Wonder Boy in Monster Land and Monster World IV. I take both of these events has a good sign. Perhaps we've seen the bottom.
Last year Nintendo decided to simply abandon the Virtual Console after August, making for a rough five month hiatus. But that won't be the case this year, as Nintendo will continue supporting the Virtual Console on the soon-to-launch Wii U. Thankfully we will be able to export our Wii Virtual Console games to our brand new system. Even if Nintendo never gets back to the days of 60 and 70 games a year, I have no doubt they'll do better than eighteen retro releases in 2012.