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It's Time to Bring Virtual Console to the Nintendo Switch

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  • Posted on 24th Sep, 2022 20:25 PM

The eShop closure on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U means Virtual Console games will be laid to rest unless they make their way to the Switch.

p>In a lot of ways, the Nintendo Switch is an improvement on its predecessors. Its modular design is still strange compared to most consoles, but the Switch manages to cleverly blend the convenience of a handheld console with the performance of a home console, and as a result, it's one of Nintendo's most successful consoles to date. Still, it hasn't inherited every beloved feature of Nintendo's other consoles just yet. Although the Switch's fifth birthday has come and gone, it hasn't inherited the Virtual Console library that vastly expanded the selection of games available on the Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS.

Virtual Console was a brilliant addition to these previous Nintendo consoles. Not only did it make tons of classic Nintendo games available to emulate, but it gathered games from consoles created by other major developers like SNK and Sega. Sadly, Virtual Console games can't be obtained on the Wii anymore, and with the eShop closing down on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Virtual Console will disappear from those platforms soon too. That's why it's time for Virtual Console to join the Switch. The console may be five years old, but it seemingly still has several years of life ahead of it, meaning there's time for users to get use out of Virtual Console.

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The Value of Virtual Console

Nintendo's list of Virtual Console games isn't just impressive because of the sheer number of games; the list was also sourced from a striking variety of consoles. Naturally, eShop and Wii Shop Channel users could get NES, SNES, Game Boy, and N64 games, among other Nintendo consoles, but the Virtual Console roster also included games from the Sega Genesis, Sega Master Drive, the SNK Neo Geo, and even the Commodore 64. On top of all that, Virtual Console also had a roster of arcade games.

Virtual Console was undoubtedly a valuable part of the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS in their times, expanding each console's game library by the hundreds. What's more, by emulating so many games from so many consoles, the Wii Shop and eShop preserved a large swath of gaming history. Fans may make their own emulations of some retro titles, but nothing beats the convenience of an official way to emulate a classic game on one's favorite console. With all these benefits in mind, adding Virtual Console titles to the Nintendo eShop on Switch seems like a great way to extend the Switch's lifespan.

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Why Virtual Console May Not Return

Of course, there's one major obstacle keeping Virtual Console from shining on the Switch: Nintendo Switch Online. The online subscription service for the Switch famously has its own collection of NES and SNES games. Nintendo has continued to slowly add more games to the NSO library over the years. Just recently, former Virtual Console titles EarthBound and EarthBound Beginnings made their premiere on NSO, to the delight of RPG fans everywhere. Nintendo also recently added N64 and Sega Genesis games to NSO via an expansion pack, which could suggest that Nintendo intends for NSO to fill the shoes of Virtual Console on the Switch permanently.

There are definitely some advantages to NSO over Virtual Console. NSO makes it easier and cheaper to play lots of classic Nintendo games in sequence, since fans don't have to buy games individually. Unfortunately, though, NSO's game library still isn't anywhere near as large as the list of games included in the Virtual Console program. There are tons of classic titles from all points of gaming history that aren't available on NSO. Fans of the Game Boy, Neo Geo, Commodore 64, and other past consoles will just have to hope that Nintendo either vastly expands NSO's library or shifts toward a Virtual Console model in the console's final years.

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