This article is opinionated. You are allowed to disagree.
The Nintendo GameCube, released in 2001, is somewhat of a fan-favorite when it comes to the Nintendo fan base. Mostly due to the various titles it churned out in its entire lifetime. With games such as Super Mario Sunshine, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door and Super Smash Bros. Melee, it essentially gained a following of people who fondly look back at those titles with astonishment and excitement.
Due to that, there has been a massive outcry of wanting this console to appear on the Wii U Virtual Console for quite some time as it would fit quite fondly with the rest of Nintendo’s consoles that are already on the service. Not to mention, Nintendo removed GameCube support from the console, so there’s currently no official method of playing these games with the Wii U Gamepad which is what fans have been clamoring for.
With the Wii U on the way out and the NX about ready to get revealed, it would seem like that Nintendo could care less about the Virtual Console when their focused heavily on the next console. In truth though, this might be the right (and only) time for Nintendo to finally announce GameCube Games for the Wii U’s eShop which could highly benefit them in the short term. I feel this is mainly due to 4 factors which could really help GameCube Games actually become a reality on the eShop and help Nintendo in a short time span.
1. The Wii U
WII U WII U WII U WII U
This year’s holiday for Nintendo is going to be extremely scarce for the Wii U when it comes to first-party titles. The only known Nintendo game coming out for it is Paper Mario: Color Splash which is not a really good line-up for the console. Even if the NX is coming out in March of 2017, Nintendo still wants people to get enticed on playing the Wii U so the owners of that consoles don’t feel that cheated in having to buy an NX. In essence, trying to ease people into their next console.
The best way they could do that is if they announce at least one new exciting thing for the Wii U before they completely switch over to the NX. Padding out titles with VC releases is what Nintendo seems to be already doing, but adding a new console to the lineup last minute would definitely make a lot of buzz. This would also allow Nintendo to make more money on the Wii U platform before they move on from that.
Not to mention, Nintendo have made recent developments in their Virtual Console service by announcing SNES VC for New Nintendo 3DS owners and bringing over TurboGrafx-16 games to the west on Wii U. So that shows that Nintendo is still willing to support their Virtual Console late into a system’s life cycle.
2. The Hardware
Being that the Wii U is Backwards Compatible with Wii software, it contains some things from the original Wii inside it (such as its OS and 512 MB Flash Memory.) Internally on the original Wii, it was an upgrade and more enhanced GameCube which is why most of the models on the market had Backwards Compatibility with it. With that in mind, the Wii U is actually capable of playing GameCube software on an hardware level (with slight emulation needed.)
Nintendont and Devolution are notable examples of software that can play these games at a hardware level on Wii U. Due to the slightly enhanced processing power the Wii had, you can run background patches while GameCube games are playing so they can match the Wii’s system processes (in summary, a virtual machine) within the Wii Mode on Wii U. Other functions (such as Memory Card and Controller Inputs) are emulated in the background which can allow things such as Memory Card Emulation. You can also use a Classic Controller or Wii U Pro Controller instead of a GameCube Controller.
This is something Nintendo could (most likely) easily develop and test for in each game as well as do in a short amount of time. The Wii U has so many things going for it when it comes to hardware, and it’s surprising Nintendo hasn’t really taken advantage of it. Heck, they could always use Nintendont’s code and use that as a base since the source (which has no restrictions due to there not being a license attached to it) for that has been released for quite some time (although this would probably be unlikely considering Nintendo has always used their own tools to makes things from scratch.)
On another note, they also released Super Smash Bros. for Wii U with a special USB GameCube Adapter that has the signature 4 ports the GameCube was known for. They could easily add support for the adapters since it would only require a minimal amount of emulation (and the fact that Nintendont already supports them) making for a truly authentic experience.
Other than that, the hardware makes it easier for them since they don’t have to deal with the struggles of emulation and allow for more compatibility with these games.
3. Wii Downloadable Software
Wii have Gaems.
The distribution of Wii Software on the Nintendo eShop was announced in the first Nintendo Direct of 2015 where it was explained that instead of using standard emulation, each piece of software was playing natively in the backwards compatibility mode. The only difference was it was being played off the Wii U’s Internal Storage/an HDD connected to a Wii U and having gamepad support for games that support for the Classic Controller.
With the Wii U being able to play GameCube games on a hardware level within Wii Mode, all Nintendo would have to do is include special software (similar to Nintendont or Devolution) that runs a virtual machine allowing the GC game to boot. This makes it so they don’t have to change anything when distributing software titles that require the Wii U’s Wii mode.
This really helps Nintendo once again as it allows them to get GC games running with the tools and resources they already have. It then make them efficient in their distribution method.
While Nintendo doesn’t like to be too keen on releasing titles under the “Virtual Console” name without some sort of brand new feature (such as save states or suspension points), they could always just have it be its own thing just like Wii software is at the current moment. It wouldn’t really hurt the branding at all and they could always upgrade it to a “Virtual Console” banner once they possibly get those extra features working on the NX if they do happen to pursue GameCube emulation on that console.
Overall, they easily have the tools and distribution methods in place to get this kind of thing up and running in a short amount of time.
4. The Nintendo eShop Platform
This is probably one of the most important things for Nintendo when it comes to distributing their software. Nintendo’s digital platform is what determines at what prices software is meant to be sold, and this could honestly be detrimental if they add GameCube to their distribution service. Right now in the GameCube retail market, games keep on soaring and the modest prices right now for high-in-demand games seem to be about $50. Heck, there’s barely a selection of GameCube software at certain used game stores here in recent times.
Nintendo selling GameCube Games around the price of Wii games or even below it would attract a lot of people to the VC platform. They could generate a lot of income if they were to put the high-in-demand titles onto the Nintendo eShop. It’d be easy and convenient for a lot of people to access without having to resort to things like eBay.
Doing this could even help settle the retro market just a little bit too as people wouldn’t have to buy as much from Amazon if all the high-in-demand titles are on the eShop.
With everything factored in, Nintendo has all the tools and hardware to pump GC software onto the Wii U without much expense. Doing it could highly benefit them in the short term and help them in their successes in the future. Right now, is just the right time where all the puzzle pieces are sitting there waiting to be put together.