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.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Running in Full 1080p on the Dolphin Game Emulator

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.

F-Zero GX

Even GameCube Games, Like F-Zero GX, Look Great When Upscaled!

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.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 HD: Cha-Ching Edition

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.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade

Beautiful Games like Muramasa: The Demon Blade Will Probably Never Receive Their Time to Shine in HD

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
  • bonezai

    Oh that is really very sad.
    Its the first thing I had in mind to buy a Wii U.
    I was really hoping the Wii U can do upscaling Sin & Punishment 2 in HD.
    Maybe they do not want to copy Xbox 360 the second time around.

    • http://www.facebook.com/JonathanRider Johnny Rider

      When have Nintendo ever copied Microsoft instead of the other way around?

      • TheUndertaker85

        You mean like Nintendo creating the last HD console? Oh, and those accomplishments the WiiU is getting? Not started by Nintendo. An online infrastructure? Not on Nintendo first. Delivering content outside of video games on gaming consoles didn’t start with Nintendo.

        Just saying. It helps to be factual when attempting to argue with people though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JonathanRider Johnny Rider

    I know exactly why they aren’t upscaling their games. They don’t need to, simple as that. Nintendo pride themselves on quality gaming experiences. That means excellent gameplay/ stories. Skyward Sword, Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime etc. look excellent as they are. Nintendo are concentrating on the future, moving the industry forwards using innovation and creativity instead of HD. The only reason Microsoft or Sony have to upscale their games is because graphics and power is all they have going for them and without Nintendo concentrating on what’s important to gaming Sony and MS would make the industry become stagnant and eventually crash again.

    • Asinus

      That seems a little naive. Yeah, some of the Wii games are really innovative or conceptually beautiful. Skyward Sword is very blocky and jagged on an HD TV over 20 inches or so. It’s actually difficult to make some things out because it’s hard to tell the difference between an object or an enemy at some distances. Xenoblade is a lovely game in principle, but the grass and other scenery looks too cluttered in 480. It is definitely an SD game that is pretending at being HD. I am genuinely excited to rip my copy and play it in Dolphin Emulator (as a Wii owner, I hadn’t been following Wii emulators closely, but just downloaded it and gave Tales of Symphonia a go in HD and it is beautiful!).

    • 5AMTech

      Then explain why the Wii U outputs in HD.

  • Mousse Effect

    Actually the Wii U could not upscale wii titles on software alone. It’s not powerful enought to do that, Dolphin requires a very powerful PC to do wii in 1080p.

    • 5AMTech

      But the only reason the Dolphin emulator has trouble upscaling games is because it’s just that. An emulator. It has to convert instructions built for a PowerPC machine, with PowerPC built SDKs, to a format that x86_64 computers will understand. And because the Wii U runs on a dual-core PowerPC processor, it doesn’t need to emulate anything to do with the WIi. Rendering in 1080p on Dolphin will only reduce your FPS by about 10% of what your computer is capable of running, not necessarily the current FPS or speed. And with how much power the Wii U has got to spare, it would be able to do the same thing with about the same results. Now, let’s say that the Wii U has two cores, each core running a little less than double the processor speed of the Wii (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wii_U, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wii). Assuming that the Wii software can only utilize one core, at about 60% capacity, we can say that rendering at 1080p would utilize about 70% of only ONE of the Wii U’s cores. Now, this explanation is oversimplifying things a bit, but the concept stands, the Wii U is perfectly capable of rendering Wii games in 1080p.

  • Yeah

    Metroid Other M in HD please!

  • Vindaloo Lion

    You know how in the Dolphin emulator you need to set dozens of parameters on an individual game-to-game basis? Yeahhhh, well, about that…

    • 5AMTech

      But that’s because the Dolphin emulator is just that, an emulator. It estimates a lot of the Wii’s CPU cycles, so it’s never perfect, simply because that’s just the way emulators work.

  • Paul

    I’ve found that Wii games look more vibrant on the Wii-U, but characters, etc look more jagged (their edges more pixilated)

    • http://twitter.com/LeiAndLove Lei Adeline

      Yep, it’s because the Wii U is outputting from a higher resolution which removes a lot of the softness that we got from 480p.

  • Whatsup

    Many websites have reported that the Wii U does in fact upscale wii games to 1080p

    • http://twitter.com/LeiAndLove Lei Adeline

      They are incorrect. The Wii U does not upscale any Wii games. The games will look like they are more vibrant and more jagged, however, due to the export changing from a composite connection to an HDMI. It’s nothing to do with the system, just how the data is transferred to the television.

      • 5AMTech

        “Upscaling” can mean either rendering at a higher resolution, or outputting at a higher resolution, of which the Wii U does the latter.