A while back, images and videos of gamers emulating various Wii games to great effect began surfacing online. Aside from playing incredibly well, with ways to remake the console’s motion controls proving effective, the titles looked better than they ever had on Nintendo’s Wii console itself thanks to upscaling systems that rendered the games in full 1080p.
Due to the Wii’s limited graphics rendering capabilities, many beautiful games like Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Metroid Prime 3 weren’t able to show their full aesthetic upon initial release, appearing more pixelated or muddy than desired.
However these new demonstrations of what Wii games, when played on a system capable of upscaling them, could do were simply astounding. The games became sharp, crisp, and clear, showing just how much effort had been put into them by Nintendo and other developers.
Seeing these results left many gamers hopeful that Nintendo, for its highly anticipated new HD console the Wii U, would allow Wii games to be upscaled to a higher resolution. After all, what better way for Nintendo to sell some gamers on their new console than by allowing them to play their current Wii library in a whole new light?
Sadly this would not be the case as Nintendo eventually announced that, while the Wii U will play Wii games, it will not upscale them to HD. With many gamers left disheartened by this fact, I have to ask: why?
Why would Nintendo not include this functionality in their new system highly-touted as being Nintendo’s first foray into high-definition? The ability is certainly there, seeing as third-party emulators are able to do it, and a machine that Nintendo claims is more powerful than the PS3 or Xbox 360 would certainly be able to handle upscaling the games with little hassle.
Are they worried about having frame-rate issues, making the games play a little finicky or glitchy in some areas? Are they worried that it will make some games that didn’t have as much effort put into them look worse? The simple fix to both problems is to making upscaling an option, allowing players to turn it on or off, and giving a little warning saying that, when on, some games may not play as originally intended. Done and done.
But no, it’s not any hardware or software issues keeping Nintendo from allowing upscaling. We all know they can do it. Rather, it’s something far more simple that can be summed up in one word: money.
Why would Nintendo not allow the Wii U to play GameCube games despite being able to map their controls to the Pro Controller? Money. Why is Nintendo giving shallow Club Nintendo benefits to those who download new 3DS games instead of buying them at retail despite offering no financial discount? Money. And that’s exactly why Nintendo won’t let the Wii U upscale.
With the success of HD re-releases becoming apparent over the past few years, with PlayStation HD collections proving extremely popular and single upgrades of games from Sega and Microsoft holding their weight in the downloadable market, it would be financially foolish of Nintendo not to jump on the bandwagon. They’ve even done it before to an extent, with “New Play Control!” re-releases of Pikmin, Mario Power Tennis, and other titles showing decent returns.
It’s almost inevitable that, along with eventually offering GameCube games on the Wii U’s virtual console, Nintendo will re-release Wii titles with “new, HD graphics!” plastered all over their marketing. Though neither are confirmed, Nintendo will go where the money is, and the money is definitely there.
But what about all the games that don’t warrant a re-release for whatever reason? Maybe they didn’t sell well enough, or the original distributor doesn’t have the resources to develop and promote a release. Some Nintendo-made games, like Wario Land: Shake It! or ExciteBots: Trick Racing, even fall into this category, along with massive amounts of great third-party titles.
And, if the past is to believed, some popular games may not even receive an HD re-release from Nintendo. Despite their popularity among fans, the Big N has yet to release Pokemon Stadium, Donkey Kong 64, or Mario Party 3, among other games, on the Wii’s Virtual Console. Who’s to say they won’t do something similar with games like Donkey Kong Country Returns which, while popular, might not be as lucrative with a re-release as the Mario Galaxy games.
In the end, while Nintendo may make a greater profit, they are doing so by hurting their fanbase. Outside of those who emulate, which may be too confusing for some people, too taxing on some people’s computers, or seen as illegal or immoral by others, most people will never see some truly great Wii games in their full, beautiful, HD glory.
And we have Nintendo’s greed to thank for that.
Images Used under Fair Use for the Purpose of Commentary