In with the new, but don’t forget the old.
There was a lot to dissect in the first trailer for the Nintendo Switch, the company’s new handheld/console hybrid. But something caught my eye. At several points during the trailer we saw two games that looked very familiar: Mario Kart and Splatoon. There were slight changes to both, but they looked almost identical to the Wii U iterations of both series.
There had been some rumors swirling about that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U would be making the leap to NX with all of the DLC included. If this is true, and Nintendo is looking at transitioning some of the best games from its last console, then it seems plausible that Nintendo could be doing the same with Mario Kart and Splatoon. Even if these weren’t the Wii U games running on new hardware, porting some of the Wii U’s best titles would be a very smart move by Nintendo.
The Wii U has a stellar library of games. From entries in classic series like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, to new ideas like Captain Toad and Splatoon. Despite this, the console didn’t do very well over the course of its roughly four and a half year lifespan, selling only 14 million units. A lot of people didn’t get the chance to experience all the Wii U had to offer.
All of these great games are now trapped on a system that isn’t going to sell any more units now that the Nintendo Switch has finally been revealed. Developing all of these games undoubtedly took considerable resources and time, so Nintendo shouldn’t waste these great experiences. Even if porting these games to the new system is a lot of work, it would still give them a wider selection of games for launch.
People are usually not too fond of remasters, but if the footage from the Switch trailer is actually Mario Kart 8, then the game is getting some big improvements. King Boo wasn’t in the original release, for instance, so we might see some new characters or tracks. Putting new content into these already feature complete games would give people who have already purchased the title a reason to jump back in. Even if the titles were just ported directly and given a slight up-rez on the graphics front, we’ll still get a better version of the title on a more powerful box.
If Smash Bros. is released on the Switch with all of its DLC and even some new content, we would not only get to continue playing the best version of Smash Bros. as we transition to the new machine, but we could also take it on the go. The 3DS version was a good Smash Bros. title, but the Wii U game blew it out of the water in nearly every way. Making the better version portable would just make repurchasing it more desirable to fans. For so long some of Nintendo’s best titles have been chained to the living room. The Wii U toyed with the idea of taking the game away from the TV, but now with the Switch, we can truly experience some of the best experiences in gaming from the past five years on the go.
The Switch is undoubtedly going to have plenty of new and exciting titles to play upon release, but ported titles could help pad out the library, letting people who skipped out on the Wii U a chance to see what was on offer. Having some of the more popular Wii U releases ported over to the Switch would also serve as a solution to the lack of backwards compatibility. The Nintendo Switch utilizes carts instead of discs due to its portable functionality. And even though it uses cartridges, 3DS games won’t be compatible either. If Nintendo took some of the best titles from the Wii U library and ported them to carts or, at the very least, threw them up on the eShop, we would still have a way to play some of our favorite games from the Wii U. It gives us a nice slate of games to play during the console’s early months and gives developers time to smooth out the rough edges on new games in each series.
When I inevitably pick up a Nintendo Switch next year I’ll have little reason to keep my Wii U plugged in. And that’s a crying shame. I’ve had so much fun dipping into its small but strong library of titles. Nintendo has always been great at remembering their past. The Wii U may not have been the breakout express they expected it to be, but they don’t need to leave it behind completely. Nintendo had some great ideas on the Wii U and bringing them forward would show the rest of the gaming world what they’ve been missing out on.