In last week’s Nintendo Direct, Game Boy Advance games were finally confirmed to be arriving on Wii U this April. It’s really easy to make lists of games that we want to appear on the service. But, if we’ve learned anything since 2006, it’s easier to pick out what classic games are missing from Virtual Console. On the console side, there’s far too many sizable gaps. We just got Earthbound, but where are Star Fox and Yoshi’s Island, for instance? Game Boy Advance will be no different, so here below are the most obvious omissions from Virtual Console, and why they’ll never be seen again.
What is it: WarioWare, Inc: Mega Micro-games was a surprise hit when it hit GBA in 2003, stringing along tons of small challenges lasting but a few seconds each. 2005’s Twisted took that formula and added in gyroscopic controls. Move the GBA and it affected the game’s many micro-games.
Why it won’t happen: It’s likely that Nintendo has no idea how to emulate this game to run through the Wii U Game Pad. See, Twisted! runs on an over-sized GBA cart to accommodate it’s gyro engine and rumble feature. This also explains why certain classic Nintendo games also remain unreleased on VC, including the Super FX games Star Fox and Yoshi’s Island. Because they haven’t tried emulating those, they won’t bother with Twisted! most likely. It’s probable they regret they ever tried special purpose chips and carts they can’t re-release for easy money.
What is it: Hideo Kojima produced the Boktai series, one that wears its innovation on it’s sleeve. Boktai, a mixture of Metroid and Metal Gear, relies on a special solar chip in the cartridge, so certain sections of gameplay require sunlight to pass through, and others needed the stealth of no solar light. It’s a battle of wills, built around the original GBA’s lack of a lit screen. This makes Boktai one of the most unique propositions on GBA.
Why it won’t happen: Aside from Konami only seeing fit to reissue the Castlevania games on VC currently, they probably have no interest in these old handheld games, either. Like Twisted, the GBA Boktai games run on special carts. And a solar sensor is impossible to emulate through traditional means. Konami would have to extensively re-program the games to substitute the solar sensing with more traditional designs. Either way, gamers today would be lost on why Boktai’s design is so clever and distinct.
What it is: Yoshi’s Story never came to GBA, so Artoon did this pre-rendered Yoshi game instead. Topsy-Turvy is a side-scrolling platformer that divided critics upon it’s 2005 release. Some felt the tilt controls were “gimmicky” and “imprecise”.
Why it won’t happen: Again, this was a special cartridge. Emulating a special purpose tilt engine would be impractical, even though, yes, the Wii U Game Pad has it’s own gyroscope. This argument is both moot and hopeless.
Pokemon series (Ruby/Sapphire/FireRed/LeafGreen/Emerald)
What it is: The third true entries in the Pokemon series, Ruby and Sapphire introduced 135 new Pokemon, 2-on-2 battles, and the land of Hoenn. FireRed and LeafGreen were exemplary remakes of Red and Blue, the ones that started it all. And Emerald refined the gameplay of Ruby/Sapphire.
Why it won’t happen: Do you see Pokemon Red or Blue on 3DS Virtual Console? Exactly. Nintendo doesn’t want you to only play the old Pokemon games, they want you to play the newest ones. Plus, if the GBA Pokemon games were re-released, there’s the odd risk that their sales would cannibalize the sales of Pokemon X and Y. The Pokemon series is always evolving, and that includes its online multiplayer. It has so far been proven difficult for Nintendo and M2 to emulate the old game’s link cable connection through wireless. So, it’d be unfortunate if these games were resigned to single-player only. There are far too many tech hiccups beyond that, the least of which you wouldn’t be able to take those Pokemon to later games.
What it is: These are games born of renewed relationship between Nintendo and Squeenix. We’re talking about Final Fantasy remakes encompassing 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. There was a high-profile FF Tactics Advance, and the underwhelming Sword of Mana. And Japan got the first of the Dragon Quest Monsters Slime titles. This was a golden era for Nintendo fans, being tossed a bone from a publisher that abandoned them during the N64 days.
Why it won’t happen: It’s not surprising that Square-Enix is so focused on mobile these days, they may not bother to revisit these handheld games. They barely contribute to VC to begin with (Final Fantasy is about all we see these days, and there’s many gaps in the line-up), there’s low likelihood that we’ll play them again. We’d would love to be proven wrong, though.
All those awful third party licensed games-
What it is: Here’s some examples: THQ’s Nickelodeon platformers, graphically-ugly movie-based platformers, simulation racing and sports games galore.
Why it won’t happen: The key issue here is the intellectual properties tied to licensed games. Licensing issues and dead publishers, such as THQ, ensure the wastelands of GBA will never see the light of day again. It’s been proven by the Wii Virtual Console, where the only licensed games ever released was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on NES and the Super Star Wars trilogy, and the former was pulled a couple years ago. That alone proves how meaningless licensed games really are, if they may be inaccessible to a new audience years down the line. You have to wonder how the license holders feel about their games being locked away forever.
Bonus: Don’t expect any multiplayer action on these GBA games, either. Game Boy on 3DS already ditched their ability to link up with other players, despite that certain NES roms have proven this theory wrong. GBA roms released to 3DS ambassadors were straight ports that didn’t recognize a link cable, and when these games come to Wii U, it completely dooms their chances to simulate multiplayer. Too bad.
What other GBA games would you like to see on Virtual Console? Any you think might be hard to re-release?