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The Virtual Console Goes Global
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 08, 2012   |   Episode 183 (Show Archive)  


Look, it's not a perfect metaphor!
I have officially broken up with the Virtual Console. There, I said it. I've been flirting with the idea of ending our six year affair for some time, but today is the day I break it off for good. I'm sick of being treated this way; I deserve better! It goes weeks without an update, never listens to my suggestions and I'm seeing less of it with each passing year. If what you're shoveling is company, then I'd rather be alone.

How bad is it? So far in the first five weeks of 2012, Nintendo has only given us one single Virtual Console game. That's one across two separate platforms. That game was Lock 'N Chase for the Game Boy. Things are even more dire on the Wii's Virtual Console. As I noted in This Year in Defunct Games: 2011 Report Card, Nintendo hasn't bothered updating the Wii's Virtual Console since August. That's a staggering six months, which is completely unacceptable.

Classic arcade game, mediocre Game Boy port!
And just as I was about to shut the door on the Virtual Console once and for all, I noticed something strange. It turns out that Nintendo hasn't stopped supporting their classic game download service. That's right, the problem isn't the service ... the problem is my location! Believe it or not, the Virtual Console is still alive and kicking in other countries.

Just this year alone, Nintendo has released six Virtual Console games in Europe and a whopping eight in Japan. That may seem low, but it's not bad for only five weeks. What's more, in both regions Nintendo has made it a point to support the Wii Virtual Console, something that has been all but abandoned here in the states.

It's not like the games released in Europe are less relevant to us Americans. Trip World, an adorable 2D platformer for the Game Boy, was never released over here in the states. The game requires no translation and would help justify the very existence of the 3DS Virtual Console. The same goes for Kirby's Block Ball, a game that is destined to hit the U.S. eShop eventually. What about Super Mario

Releasing Trip World would go a long way to justifying the 3DS Virtual Console!
Land 3: Wario Land? This recent arrival on the Japanese Virtual Console would fit in perfectly next to Mario Land 1 and 2.

It's also worth pointing out that Nintendo has plenty of games already on the server that are just waiting to be released. Case and point, there are currently ten viable Nintendo Entertainment System games that could be served out from one week to the next. By releasing 8-bit NES game in the off-weeks, Nintendo continues to rake in the cash and keeps me off their back.

Over the last six years the Wii Virtual Console has amassed an impressive 392 games. That's roughly one and a half games a week for five years (and a few weeks). Europe isn't far behind, offering Wii owners 378 games across nine platforms. The Japanese market, on the other hand, is flooded with 644 Virtual Console games, nearly the same amount as both the U.S. and Europe consoles taped together.

The numbers are even more telling when we look at the system breakdowns. In Japan there were 147 Famicom games, compared to 92 in the states and 78 in PAL territories. A similar result happens

If Nintendo was smart they would release Cross Swords in April alongside Game of Thrones!
when you compare Super NES andTurboGrafx games. SNK fans will be disheartened to know that there are nearly twice as many Neo Geo games available in Japan than anywhere else in the world. It's even more depressing when you realize that games like The King of Fighters '97, Crossed Swords and World Heroes 2 Jet require no localization. But alas, these games just sit across the globe far away from my Wii's reach.

Without a doubt, the most shocking figure came when comparing the Virtual Console Arcade. Announced late in the Wii's life, the Virtual Console Arcade is made up of games like Ghosts 'n Goblins, Exed Exes, SonSon and other Capcom hits. There were 19 arcade games released in the U.S. and 18 in Europe. Japan blew that number away with a

I speak for all of North America when I say we can handle Rolling Thunder 2!
staggering 76 arcade games. I'm talking about big hits like Cyber Sled, Shinobi, Burning Force, Rolling Thunder 2, Dragon Spirit, Mr Do! and Star Blade.

Are we not good enough for Rolling Thunder 2? I've made an entire career out of talking about games like Cyber Sled and Star Blade. Again, these games require no localization and practically no work on Nintendo's part. These games may not have outsold The Legend of Zelda, but I have no doubt they would more than make up for the bandwidth required to host them on the server.

Interestingly enough, there are three classic platforms where North America and Europe outperformed Japan. Japan seems to be missing a Nintendo 64 game released

Seriously, who are these people?
elsewhere in the world. The same is true for the Sega Master System. And it's worth noting that no Commodore 64 games were released in Japan. Nintendo ultimately opted to release 15 MSX games instead (none of which have come to English speaking parts of the world).

With so much ripe fruit, one has to wonder if Nintendo has simply lost faith in the Wii. It's not like there's much software left to release on the Wii, especially now that Skyward Sword has been devoured by adoring Zelda fans. Still, that doesn't explain why the company has only released one Virtual Console game on the 3DS. This is a thriving system that just saw a push for classic games thanks to the Ambassador Program. It's time to strike while the iron's hot and force people in the habit of buying old school games on the go.

I see how you are Nintendo. You make nice for all the other regions but can't give me any love. Well, I'm not going to accept your crap from here on out. If I don't see some major improvements then we're over. Got it? Shape up for get the hell out of my house ... I don't have time for no scrubs!


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