What Was Missing From E3
This years E3 was a series of highs and lows, with plenty of exciting moments, but some missed opportunities as well. Games like Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Gears of War 5, and the Last of Us 2 were exciting to see, but there was plenty of finished conferences that left me scratching my head. One type of game was severely lacking for the retro gamer, and that's the classic game collection.
While hardly a show stopper, it seems strange that with companies like Sega and SNK pushing collections of their video game libraries, that we wouldn't have seen more. In September, Nintendo will be launching their online service which gives access to a small collection of some of the games found on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Objectively, this is a neat feature, especially if it's true that the games will also offer online support to let you play with friends, or even watch people play. Subjectively however, there's a series problem with this.
Since November of 2006, Nintendo had a service called Virtual Console, which offered downloadable versions of some of their greatest hits, as well as a smattering of many other games. For nearly 12 years we had the ability to peruse from a vast array of video game systems and games. While some consoles like the Nintendo offered a larger collection than something like the Turbografx-16, it was still great to have those all the options we did. Now though, Nintendo has steered away from giving us the ability to download those games, and now they'll be included in the online package, potentially walled behind the subscription, so that when the Switch breathes it's last breath, the retro games it offered will die with it.
Due to this frustrating change, I had expected to see more companies rushing to fill that void as Capcom already has with Mega Man and it's Disney games. However, we saw nothing to this effect, which is hardly surprising too see from Nintendo with their new policies, but I thought for sure we'd see other companies try to make up for it. After all, it's perhaps one of the easiest projects a company can undertake.
With the assets to the game already made, and in most all cases already translated, you'd think it would be a simple matter to place the game on a CD or cartridge, add some features like save states or rewinding, and then make a big deal out of a special edition with some cheap bonuses. It seems like from a business standpoint it's a no-brainer, as you don't need to devote huge teams to the project, since you're not creating a new game, you're just recycling your product. It can't be done too often, or else fans will get burned out, but with a light touch, it can surely be a great way to boost sales.
With a small trickle of such game collections coming out, we'll have to wait and see what the future holds for the retro gamer. While Microsoft has done a good job of pushing some backwards compatibility, and Sony occasionally re-releases a Final Fantasy, Nintendo has only had a small amount of classic arcade games available on the Switch, so we'll see what their online service has to offer. Emulation isn't the answer video game companies want us to come up with, but it's hard not to see it as an alternative, when there's nothing else to choose.