Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Final Word on The Last Story

The Mercenaries 

After years designing games Hironobu Sakaguchi had arrived at a crossroads at the start of the production process for The Last Story.   “I just felt like I was at a slightly different point from everyone else. As if I was surfing alongside the others, but had ended up riding a different wave from the one I should have aimed for,” he admitted to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.  “This project came about just at the moment when I was becoming aware of this,” Sakaguchi added.  “That’s why, if I'm honest, I feel a real sense of gratitude towards this game.”

Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi
Image courtesy of Nintendo
His first game as director in 18 years,  The Last Story is not a typical Sakaguchi game.  “We knew that we wanted something that differed from the way things had been done before. We wanted to express the game world and story in a whole new style.”   The result is a more modern take on the Japanese RPG, with elements borrowed from western RPGs such as branching decision points.  That said, The Last Story is not an open world exploration role-play[ing] game. It remains a story-driven game in the classical Sakaguchi style. “I’ve always attached great importance to the story,” he noted   “It was no different with this title.”  

Sakaguchi however did go in different directions in the structure and focus of the story. The game is an episodic fantasy with many chapters that can be played out of order, bound by an overarching narrative of war, friendships, intrigue and betrayal.  The game offers a vignette of events at a crucial turning point in history at a place called Lazulis Island and the player is dropped in-media-res with a band of mercenaries on their way to meet the island's powerful Count.  The game alludes to a wider world where a human empire won a decisive victory against a another race of humanoids generations ago at a high cost. This is a world in which Lazulis Island is a key player, but only just a player.  Yet the story remains focused on the island and its surroundings. The world-spanning Final Fantasies are condensed into a single city of Lazulis, a city worthy of a massively multiplayer on-line game.  While it does not share the world maps of other Final Fantasies, it is in a way a far more intimate and richer game than any of Sakaguchi’s previous efforts. Quests abound, storylines interweave, and the winding alleyways and side streets all come together to create a living world.   It is this Majora’s Mask-esque familiarity with people and places that really works to the game’s favour.

Lazulis City Market
Despite having what may on the surface appear to be a typical RPG plot, it manages to engage in a way many other RPGs don't.  At its core, the game is a human drama as much as a struggle of the forces of good against evil.  Whichever side wins is less important than the person who wins the victory.   Virtues such as avarice, ambition, courage, love, temperance and honor can be found in nearly every character in the game.  The band of mercenaries the players lead are hired to fight in a racial war.  There are echoes of Chrono Trigger’s racial dichotomy of an oppressive human kingdom discriminating against non-humans.  The leaders of the land are torn between ambition and duty to protect the people, and in this tension the script weaves an excellent narrative and character arc as key characters sought to combine their ambitions, motivations and their duty to advance their own interests.   

While the turncoat or the morally conflicted character is not new to the genre, the way in which Sakaguchi and his script throws the players knee deep into this duality is fresh.  There are entire segments of the game where there are no good choices. And in order to proceed, the player must choose the lesser of two evils.  Making a less than desirable choice knowing the alternative is ruination of the kingdom.  In the back of the player’s mind, we know the decision is not right, but we are taken for a ride anyways. In the end, the script finds a way to extricate the hero out of the moral quandary. However, the tensions between doing what others expect of you and what you know to be right creates the core of the game’s narrative conflicts and plants seeds of an emotional journey that reaches right into the Epilogue, aptly titled "The Last Story".

This is a notable achievement for a game that is essentially linear with many dead-end choices.  Despite this, I rarely felt a decision was forced to serve the game, the decisions that progress the game serves the overall narrative arc and enriches the overall experience.  It makes the revelations  to come even more bittersweet.  It is also this play on human drama rather than a focus on lore or an overwrought mythos and backstory that makes this game enjoyable.  There's not a lot of high-fantasy babble and convoluted plot lines. The story is far simpler, but just as rewarding because of its emphasis on human drama. From Sakaguchi’s point of view, the fantasy setting is merely a vehicle for the story.   By giving the world at fantasy setting, it is “actually easier to bring out realistic human dimensions in a fantasy setting,” Sakaguchi explained.

It’s worth noting the top notch voice acting done for the English edition of the game. With a cast of BBC actors, the leads played by Jack Ryder (Zeal) and Alix Wilton Regan (Callista) fit the part with subdued neutral voices that almost anyone can identify with.  Kelly Wenham (Syrenne), Daniel Curshen (Therius), Nico Lennon (Dagran), Montserrat Lombard (Mirania) and Derek Riddell (Lowell) are perhaps the strongest of the bunch as the voices of the game’s supporting characters.  Wenham’s Syrenne is particularly well done as the peppy, ‘nothing will get me down’ party member that by the end of the game, I have grown fond of.  This also makes her moments of weakness even the more poignant.   The ancillary voices too are top notch. There’s variety and life in the sounds of everyday life in the city of Lazulis.  They curse when the player bumps into them while walking on the street. Later on, the same citizens will apologize profusely  and praise the player when the player has become much more well known.

Taking a cue from the real-time battle systems of Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII, Sakaguchi’s battle system blends the strategic with fast-paced action where it feels more like a hack-and-slash ARPG than a RPG.  “I would say it’s all about order and chaos” noted Sakaguchi.  “In battle, the side that manages to impose ‘order’ on the battlefield will secure victory. Or to put it the other way round, disrupting the ‘order’ of your enemy so it degenerates into ‘chaos’ is the key to victory. That’s something I wanted to express in the battle scenes in the game. But I didn’t want this to be achieved in a logical, methodical manner like Japanese chess. I was looking for a more intuitive battle system in which you can feel the flow of time.”

The result of this innovation is the emphasis on strategy and placement of enemies and kills orders that is more deliberate than the lock-on-target and whack away real-time battle strategies in the recent Final Fantasies. As a result, some have suggested The Last Story’s innovative battle mechanics is perhaps something the Strategy-RPG genre can look to in place of the deliberate and contemplative turn-based combat mechanics popular in the genre.

In an unusual move, Sakaguchi further emphasizes the flexibility of his battle engine by inserting an on-line multiplayer mode, allowing players to replay the game’s many boss battle with several other real people over the internet in a co-op mode or against each other in a deathmatch mode.  Winning reward players with special weapons and craftable materials that is otherwise unobtainable or difficult to obtain outside of the game’s story.  All loot earned can be used in the single player game.  With a New Game+ mode allowing players to carry over their levelled up characters, weapons and armor into a new adventure with more difficult enemies, there is a special demand for the rare craft materials that may only drop once in the entire game to power up certain armor and weapons to +99 ratings.

 Nobuo Uematsu (Left) Hironobu Sakaguchi (Right)
Image Courtesy of Nintendo
In The Last Story, Nobuo Uematsu reprises his role as the composer to a Sakaguchi epic.  While many of the compositions are ‘typical’ Uematsu fare, the overall soundtrack is quite well rounded.  The main theme "Toberu Mono (Those who Can Fly)" is sufficiently sweet to evoke the right sort of emotions.  It’s the kind of melancholic theme Uematsu is famous for and compares favourably to "Theme of Love" (Final Fantasy IV) and "Melodies of Life" (Final Fantasy IX).   

Uematsu’s best work in the soundtrack is a piece that is played near end of the game, likely forgotten in the shuffle to get to the ending for some, and for others, in the depths of an emotional  gut punch.  A piece titled "New Days", an extended version of  a violin piece called "Bonds", the music serves as the bookend to a narrative journey.  Starting with a minimalist piano, it builds to a crescendo before receding back into a melancholic end.   "New Days" is a theme about moving away and moving on to new beginnings where old bonds end.

Uematsu affirms his unique approach when speaking about The Last Story. “For this title, I put aside the priority was to create a certain atmosphere... The music isn’t there to help explain or underline what’s happening on screen. Rather, it exists as another kind of sound effect. There is a unity between the persuasiveness of the images and the power of the music, and I think they fit together in a very natural way.” On the subject of the soundtrack, Sakaguchi adds, “I feel that The Last Story itself changes as you listen to the music. That’s the power of Uematsu-san’s melodies. It’s not simply that the music is beautiful, it’s also the fact that his humanity comes across in them. They are instantly recognisable as his songs.”

Although parts of the game could have used some extra polish – There is a broken (though not game-breaking) quest in the mid-point of the game involving a chase through the city streets – The Last Story is a dazzling and beautiful game with a solid core of humanity.   Unlike Sakaguchi’s previous efforts, there is no massive marketing machine and brand solidarity to power opinion to the near unanimous praise his previous games enjoyed under the Square-Enix banner.  But as a long-time fan of Sakaguchi’s games, I feel The Last Story stands as one of his most unique and emotionally powerful works, even if it may not be his best. 

The Last Story is Sakaguchi’s period in the long sentence of a genre he had popularized globally in the 1990s—The extravagant story-driven fantasy opera with archetypal leads, damsels in distress, heroic arcs and mythical beings.

The Last Story (Wii) is published by Xseed Games in North America and Nintendo in Japan and Europe.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

With under one month to go before the Wii U's debut, messaging remains an issue.

Where is the hype?

That must be one of the most common refrains heard across the interwebs from people in the know scratching their heads about Nintendo's sluggish movement.

Expanding on the Google Trends analysis done a few weeks ago, searches for Wii in October 2006 climbed 27% from September when Nintendo officially unveiled pricing and launch details. In contrast Wii U searches from September 2012 (also the month the revealed launch and price details) is down 50%.  Similarly, Wii + Nintendo searches were up 35% in 2006; Wii +Wii U + Nintendo searches are down 22% from September.

Granted this isn't a fair comparison given there are two two weeks to go in October and we know the marketing will ramp up closer to the end of the month.  The Wii U demo kiosks for example finally started appearing in stores yesterday.

However, the bigger question remains as to how exactly Miiverse, Nintendo Network and it's on-line system will work.

At last month's price and release date announcement in New York, Nintendo of America's Bill Trinen let it slip that more details on Miiverse will be revealed closer to launch.  How thorough a presentation and how close to launch remains an open question.

Nintendo is expected to release financials October 24th, so one may expect news to come out around that time, but this is not guaranteed.  The scope of the clarification expected also remains a mystery.  Will it be a dinky video showing Miiverse working with Super Mario Bros. U or will it be a detailed hour-long Nintendo Direct explaining all the features of the Wii U, from Miiverse to the expected accounts system that will be tied to it?

No one knows, and the silence is killing the hype.

The issue Nintendo faces now is with a lack of information on their on-line modes, Nintendo Network and Miiverse, the rumour-mongers are starting to control their message with negative hype-killing stories such as:

No Elite Pass for CoD Black Ops II - Suggesting sup-par on-line modes when a major 3rd party has given up on trying extra monetization on their biggest franchise, at least for this year.

Wii U voice chat being supported but not through the GamePad's Mic -  While the extra tethering to a Wii U GamePad might be a little bit annoying, this opens the question of whether cross-game chat would be supported or would players be limited to certain games?  No answer so far.

On those two questions that are 'important' to some 'core' gamers, Nintendo basically just outsourced their Wii U PR to an Activision rep and the editorial slant at Kotaku and the various media outlets who picked up the story. No official word from Nintendo, just lots of negativity from core gamers already fearing the worst.

While Nintendo of America may not be able to 'fix' some of these problems, as it is possible even Nintendo themselves isn't quite sure on how to solve some of them, the fact that they are letting others control their message this close to launch is troubling.

So how about it Nintendo?  What exactly is going on with your on-line infrastructure?  When will we finally get to know all the features we're being asked to buy in a month?  Is this another 6 month wait for a proper on-line system like we had with the 3DS? Friend codes again? Accounts?

So many questions. So far, zero answers.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

New Super Mario Brothers 2

New Super Mario Brothers 2 for the 3DS is a joy to play.  While its DNA is very much rooted in the same New Super Mario Brothers (NSMB) game that debuted on the Nintendo DS six years ago, there are enough differences to warrant the purchase.

Interestingly, I had purchased the original NSMB on the DS, got to around world 5 and got bored of it and stopped.  It didn’t  grab me  despite being the first true side-scrolling Mario entry in a long time, though I suspect my MMO addiction at the time also took its toll.  The same thing happened with NSMB Wii. I bought it feeling obligated to due to the high praise from reviewers, but felt that it probably wasn’t for me given that its strengths were in co-op multiplayer mode.

So what made NSMB2 different?  The coins.  It’s a neat little gimmick, but the one million coin goal and the coin rush mode is an incredibly potent hook. It forced me to complete the game in the ‘story’ mode (doing so gives you a free gold flower in the coin rush modes- an invaluable advantage) and in the process it made me appreciate the tight and imaginative level designs. Coin rush is mind-numbingly addictive.  Hearing the clanging of coins and watching the coin counter grow is intoxicating, not to mention the sense of achievement when I clear a streetpassed coin rush challenge and beat someone else’s frighteningly high coin total.

In hindsight, I probably didn’t give the original NSMB on the DS and NSMB Wii a fair shake (pun intended) , and this is where I fundamentally disagree with critics of New Super Mario Brothers 2.  While all three games shares a common DNA and all had tight well designed levels, NSMB 2 isn't just a rehash.  The original was the kick-off to the franchise. The Wii game was multiplayer centric.  This entry on the 3DS is aimed squarely at a gamers’ need to achieve, to get the high score and to find everything.    Coin rush isn’t just about randomly getting coins and clearing a level on a small time budget, it’s about earning coins efficiently.  Do I jump around near the beginning to grab the floating coins and hit the blocks?  Or do I skip those and rush right in spend my time gabbing higher yield but more difficult to grab gold medallions instead?  The coin rush mode introduces rationing and scarcity of time, highlighting trade-offs and opportunity costs to maximizing the amount of coins one can collect in each carefully crafted level.  Coin rush also rewards repeated play and familiarity to the randomly selected levels used in coin rush.  Knowing each of the three levels in a coin rush inside and out is also crucial to getting the highest coin totals as collecting each of the three gold medallions yields exponentially more coins, and the 1up Mushrooms in the standard game turn into golden mushrooms that reward 50 or 100 coins in coin rush mode.

Revisiting  the DS original, it becomes plainly clear that  NSMB on the DS is several steps behind NSMB 2.  In the DS original Mario has fewer power ups and moves, the visuals are full of pre-rendered, pre-baked sprites to keep a consistent visual look on a more limited hardware, and the game doesn’t even scroll or animate as smoothly.  New Super Mario Brothers 2 in comparison had fluid animations, better quality artwork, including a neat use of the 3D slider to interpolate depth-of-field backgrounds, and power ups that I enjoy, especially the gold fireflower.

It is true that the leap from NSMB to NSMB 2 isn't in the order of say going from Super Mario Brothers to Super Mario Brothers 3, and that is a legitimate complaint for those who felt discouraged that Nintendo insisted on keeping the same (even if improved) aesthetic style on the 3DS.  But to me, that’s not a rehash, there’s enough there for it to be considered a true sequel.

If there is one thing I would knock it is how the streetpass system works.  While there is plenty of room to store streetpassed Coin-rush levels and even favourite streetpassed levels you like to avoid them being overwritten. Each player only has room for 1 coin-rush pack that they can share with others via streetpass.  Want to show off your high coin run on a relatively easy Mushroom Pack (stages randomly selected from Worlds 1-2)? Need to use your one slot for streetpassing.  Want to show off your leet skills on a difficult coin rush challenge? Need to use your one slot.  Want to show the guy you streetpass every morning you beat his 13,000 coin total? Need to use your one slot for streetpassing.  Also, outside of your one save slot for streetpassing, there’s no way to save and archive interesting and fun coin rush packs the game creates for you unless someone else you streetpassed sends it back to you.  I wish there is a more robust option here, perhaps three slots to allow players to  save a selection of coin rush stages. That said, it is a minor quibble.  If you can streetpass someone daily or even weekly, there’s plenty to do in terms of beating other people’s coin rush records.

New Super Mario Brothers 2 is a great game and one of the finest platformers out there today. It is also a game that knows its platform very well, playing to the 3DS’ unique features, including 3D, while avoiding its weaknesses, including 3D.   Each level is no more than three to five minutes long, and coin rush modes randomly string three of these levels together.  I’m amazed by how well the game works around rationed time.  If I have 20 minutes here or there, I can do a quick coin rush or two and before I know it, my time is up.  

Fun Fact: World Wide coin total sits at 184 billion and counting, updated every few seconds.   

Friday, October 05, 2012

Nintendo's Virtual Problem

When Satoru Iwata first introduced the idea of playing perfectly emulated old games on the then codenamed Revolution console, I was amazed by the simplicity and brilliance of the idea.   I remember thinking to myself that in one fell swoop, Nintendo could have the entire Mario library accessible to their fans on their next-generation hardware.

Virtual Console concept introduced at E3 2005
"We are redefining the term backward capatability," Iwata boasted at Nintendo's E3 2005 when the idea was first introduced.  "We have designed the revolution to be a virutal console capable of downloading 20 years of Nintendo content," he added to much applause and fanfare.  Then he dropped something of a pie-in-the-sky goal for his vision. The [Wii]  is "technically capable of playing virtually every Nintendo console game ever created."

It was an amazing insight, and in 2005 that was an incredibly progressive idea.   With the introduction of the Virtual Console service on the Wii in 2007, early barometers of its success were promising.  There were a crush of games and I was able to explore entirely new platforms from the rapid addition of TurboGrafx titles, ranging from Bonk to Sim Earth, Ys and Military Madness (Nectaris).

While fans naturally clamoured for releases of favourites like Megaman, Final Fantasy titles, Sonic, Mario and more Mario, early on, there were also  real attempts by large publishers to release era specific titles that may not have been on many wishlists. This included KOEI’s suite of Super Nintendo strategy games such as Ghengis Khan II and Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV and even the heavily niche open-world exploration sim Uncharted Waters: New Horizons.

However, something happened between the service's early success and the following years when releases in the service dwindled to a crawl.  This shift started by the appearance of restricted releases to only a few a week, sometimes no releases at all.  It led to a kind of skewed economics, a rationing of slots, that led to increasingly selective releases.  Third party publishers on the services selected their best selling games and increasingly the diversity found initially began to recede. Fewer selections lead to fewer returning customers to check out what’s new and the service stagnated.  This undoubtedly lead to a downward spiral of diminishing downloads leading to fewer releases to funnel downloads to even fewer games which in turn lead to even fewer downloads and interest.

Speaking personally, after the initial rush of releases in 2007 and outside of a few select event releases such as the Import Sin and Punishment release, I just gave up checking because it’s not worth  waiting a week to find out next week’s release  of one VC game (on a good week) is yet another game I didn’t want to play.

This trickle down, top down approach is even more evident on the 3DS eshop service.  Not only are we being asked to re-buy Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda (again) to pad the available selection of 3DS virtual console games, third party support has been lukewarm and where support exists, they inevitably dig for their better selling GameBoy titles and stop there.  While the Wii’s Virtual Console store had at least a launch phase to accrue an impressive and diverse starting library, the 3DS VirtualConsole selection in contrast is being choked to death with draconian release of the week practices.

The following are things I feel Nintendo can explore to help better their Virtual Console service:  

Treat virtual console as an investment rather than a cash cow – Yes, VC downloads have high margins. Rather than approaching releases by asking “how much can we make right now” the focus should be on“how much can we make in longer term” ;  This would shift the focus from curated limited release of Virtual Console content to a more flexible strategy of building a community of repeat customers who come back again and again because there’s something new and worth checking out every week.  

The thinking needs to move beyond just Mario and marquee mascot titles of the era.  Yes, a lot of people love those games, but those don't add depth to the service.  Virtual Console is currently a one-note service for many people, a place to get legitimate copies of Mario and Zelda games, but not legitimate copies  of hundreds of other titles that they grew up with.  To achieve the critical mass needed, the number of games releases must increase, niche titles will be part of it, and third parties must be involved.

Virtual Console as a loss leader – The question for Nintendo to ask is  "what can Virtual Console bring to the table to help us sell more 3DS units?"  Given the early success of VC on the Wii and the continued support by fans who own Nintendo platforms, the answer is quite clear.  The Virtual Console service can do a whole lot to make the 3DS value-proposition a lot stronger to a broader swathe of the public.
  • To foster this active community of purchasers,  a lot of games need to make it on to the market while at the same time making it as riskless as possible.  Third parties must be given a risk free way to release as much of their back catalog as possible and monetize even their most obscure niche products without fear of not being paid. One option is to allow publishers to sell the first several thousand copies of a game at 100% share of the profits to encourage publishers to release  a broad selection of titles, not just their top selling game of 1994.  
  • As part of the Virtual Console initiative Nintendo should spend money tracking down owners of games that may be in ownership limbo because the publisher and developer are no longer in business and if possible find a publisher or publish it themselves.  (A game on my personal wishlist is the fantastic  1993 console port of Gremlin Software’s Utopia: The Creation of a Nation; easily one of the best strategy games on the Super Nintendo) or Square USA's  western developed ARPG Secret of Evermore,  a moody and atmospheric gem in the rough with impecabble writing from Square's US localization team.
  • Spend the money to get special emulators for FXChip titles and esoteric hardware that may only be supported by one game so those games will also have a place on the service.
  • Finally, don’t treat the Nintendo 64 like a premium platform.  It’s a 15 year old console, and the N64 titles available on the Wii VC does the N64’s third party library a great disservice. 
Under-appreciated at the time, a popular pick for Virtual Console  by fans

Tap into Nostalgia – Yes, we know it’s a ROM dump but Nintendo doesn't have to treat it as such.   Tie in the Virtual Console service with Virtual Nintendo Power or Virtual EGM Virtual Famitsu, and Virtual GamePro to allow players to relive their childhood in sync, with the appropriate issue made available with each game purchase, for a small fee.

Create a  virtual ‘rental service’ that so many of us used as children and use it to the advantage of the service. Make it a place where players can spend 99 cents to try any VirtualConsole title for 24-48 hours without being stuck with buyer’s remorse while having the option for say one week to pay the price difference to 'upgrade' to a full purchase.  Not only does this generate a cashflow that can be plowed back into servicing the Virtual Console, it allows players to try before they buy and converts full access to Virtual Console content into a kind of in-app purchase.  This also allows Nintendo to justify charging the relatively higher prices for ROM dumps of nostalgia.   In the current environment of smarthphone apps, easy access emulation of classic games, and free games, the calculus is free/ 99 cent app download vs. A $3.99 download of a 15 year old game, the calculus is often not  in favour of the 15 year old game.

Treat Virtual Console as a Platform instead of a Brand -  Nintendo may not have thought that far ahead in 2006, but in 2012 they’ve had six years and millions in profits from the Virtual Console downloads, not to mention billions in income from the Wii to chart a course for the future of the service.

Virtual Console should be a platform that sits inside Nintendo consoles and portables.  Like itunes, or Amazon's Kindle downloads, Virtual Console should be seamlessly accessible across all capable Nintendo devices.  Gamers gave the DSi a pass because we knew it wasn’t powerful enough, but the fact that the 3DS eshop and Wii shop continues to have segregated  libraries and storefronts is a major hindrance to sales.  We are now at a point where someone could conceivably own the same marquee Virtual Console games multiple times. This blatant anti-consumer practice has not gone unnoticed.  A common refrain from many who used to own a Nintendo DS or Wii is to complain about the loss of their digital downloads when they traded it in or upgraded and how much better (insert smartphone here) is at managing their downloads.

This pattern of compartmentalization by platform appears to be repeated again with recent hints that while transferring Wii Virtual Console purchases to the Wii U is possible, they must be limited to running in Wii mode when run on the Wii U, ruling out the possibility of playing Virtual Console games on the Wii U GamePad while the TV is freed up.   The obvious question to ask is why do we need to run an emulator of an old Nintendo console on an emulation of the Wii hardware?  Why can't we run it directly off the Wii U?

More importantly for Nintendo, all the neat Miiverse connectivity social togetherness that cost millions of dollars in research and development to implement for the Wii U will be turned off when your users are playing these emulated version of old games on a Wii environment.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to have these games run natively on the Wii U so someone can post on the Miiverse how much they still love playing Super Mario Bros., post a screenshot of their 'hard-core' accomplishments and high scores or to ask for help from the community? 

Nintendo's Virtual Console remains a compelling and brilliant concept.   Despite their competitor’s best efforts to copy the service, they cannot match the depth and nostalgia factor Nintendo has with the first fififteen years of games between the NES and N64, or the 20 years of Gam Boy/Color’s library of titles.   This is a significant competitive advantage that is difficult to copy short of buying Nintendo, and this can be used by the company to parley customers of the Virtual Console service into regular and loyal customers to their digital stores.

The ball is in Nintendo’s court.  With the Wii U and their new DLC infrastructure, the door is open to not only patch their existing slate of Virtual Console games to run natively on the Wii U, but to relaunch the service, rebrand it not ONLY as a platform for nostalgia but as a repository for gaming history.  This will bring more games to the service AND gamers willing to spend $2 to $5 on a whole variety of titles back to the table again.

It took the slow painful decline of the WiiWare and DSiWare for Nintendo to figure out demos and featuring games matter in digital stores.  I hope it doesn’t take them another generation of atrophy to figure out that having a seamless Virtual Console ‘platform’ that offers a vast selection of games that is portable across  all Nintendo platforms and accessible everywhere is where they need to be.