Nintendo President Satoru Iwata had mentioned that the company was looking into bringing Nintendo DS games to its Wii U Virtual Console service, and our hearts skipped a beat. Unlike the Game Boy Advance emulation, which I've warmed up to recently, the Nintendo DS seems like it could actually serve a legitimate purpose thanks to the ability to utilize the Wii U's touch screen and use your monster TV as a top screen.
Sounds like a blast! I would love to go back and play The World Ends With You, Dragon Quest IX, and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow on a massive TV! With Nintendo launching the first Nintendo DS Virtual Console game in Japan, it has given us a look into all the fun we can expect to see once the service comes here! The first game available from today is…
…Brain Age? Wow. Really, Nintendo? You really know how to get an audience excited right out of the gate these days.
Yes, Nintendo's grand debut of the Nintendo DS Virtual Console isn't even really a "game." It's more of a never ending string of quizzes designed to trick you into thinking you're getting smarter. Who needs Mario, Link or Pikachu when you can have a spectacled, smug, and decapitated head floating around telling you that you have the mind capacity of a three-year-old? Sounds exhilarating on an HDTV.
Why would Nintendo go with this option? Well, it sold a lot of copies in Japan and proved to be one of the necessary pieces of software that attracted other audiences besides gamers to the Nintendo DS. For its platform at the time, it was kind of a big deal. Nowadays, not so much. I'm seriously hoping Nintendo is not looking for that logic to work twice, because it's going to take more than a port of a decade old "game" to get the casual audiences to buy into the Wii U.
Console gaming is not "in" these days in Japan, and Grandma can play just as similar of a game on her iPhone. People don't need a Wii U or even a Nintendo 3DS for this kind of software anymore.
So once again, just as soon as Nintendo has me excited for the Virtual Console with a string of surprisingly quality Game Boy Advance games, it has me shaking my head and questioning if the people making these decisions haven't been playing enough Brain Age.
The only other reason I can think of Nintendo not going with a game to get the ball rolling is that the Nintendo DS didn't really have that many spectacular first-party Nintendo games.
The two Zelda games have their fans, but they are more divisive than any others in the series. New Super Mario Bros. doesn't need a port right away because New Super Mario Bros. U exists, and Nintendo can sell it for more money. Of course, a true blooded Pokemon game won't be put on a console either, so don't expect Diamond, Pearl, Black, or White to be appearing ever, let alone being the debut game.
From there… not too many first-party games worthy of mention. Metroid Prime: Hunters? Not in Japan, at least.
The Nintendo DS had a wonderful library, but about 97 percent of the great titles are third-party developed, and I don't think Nintendo wants to turn to Konami, Square Enix or Capcom to star in the launch of this program. So with nowhere else to turn, Nintendo just decided to go with something memorable to all those casual audiences who don't own a Wii U, but it doesn't decide to appeal to the remaining hardcore Nintendo fans who do?
Seriously, I'm really scratching my head with this one. On the bright side, it was either this or Nintendogs, and we definitely got the lesser of two evils.