EarthBound and Color

Why isn't every old NES game available on Nintendo's virtual console? Iwata explained during a recent investor call.

"Virtual Console releases require testing, checking for present day issues, and other work," Iwata said, according to a translation provided by Twitter user Cheesemeister3k.

"It's not that we don't want to put in the effort, but there's new development, so we can't use our limited headcount just on old products."

It's not as simple, it seems, as backing a truck up to the virtual console server and dumping everything in. Because the virtual console is emulating games, there can sometimes be unintended side effects. Nintendo isn't known for releasing shoddy software and it sounds like they apply the same quality assurance to their emulated games that they do to the new ones, so they have to pick and choose for that reason.

Additionally, while Nintendo does have the rights to many old titles, negotiating third party titles can be difficult as well.

Even so Iwata says "we want to strive to continue providing a satisfactory virtual console lineup."