In the January 2015 Nintendo Direct, the late Satoru Iwata announced that Wii titles were coming to the Wii U eShop. The Wii was home to a great number of fantastic games throughout its lifetime, and the prospect of some of its greatest hits being re-released onto its successor’s digital storefront was a salivating one to many Wii U owners. Unfortunately, while the idea is certainly commendable, Nintendo at large has been very sloppy with its execution.
In the nineteen months since Wii games became available on the Wii U, only a paltry sixteen have been publicly released in North America, twenty in PAL regions, and 21 in Japan. But by no means does this imply that the current selection of games is terrible. Among others, the inclusion of great titles like the Super Mario Galaxy games is a no-brainer, and the revered Metroid Prime Trilogy and the once-limited Xenoblade Chronicles are now much more easily accessible than ever before.
The problem is the startlingly low amount of Wii games the eShop provides, despite the original system having an expansive library of quality first and third-party software in demand. Titles like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (after last October’s leaks), Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (with the series’ newfound status as a major IP), Animal Crossing: City Folk (especially after Amiibo Festival was predictably slammed by critics), and Super Smash Bros. Brawl (here’s looking at you, Ice Climbers) would all make welcome additions to the service.
This is all on top of the issue of disjointed release schedules across the three markets. The North American eShop is still waiting on releases like Mario Strikers Charged and Donkey Kong Country Returns (outside of an expired My Nintendo reward), while gamers in other regions have already been enjoying them for some time. In Japan, multiple Wii games are being introduced on a near weekly basis since the end of July, while the eShops in North America and PAL regions are still lucky to get even one a month.
In comparison, Microsoft’s Xbox One has a similar approach through backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games, which are then also sold through the Xbox Games Store. Admittedly, most of these include Xbox Live Arcade titles, but since Microsoft began rolling out backwards compatibility on Xbox One in June 2015, over 200 games from several publishers have been ported, and that number is only continuing to grow. Microsoft is actively outperforming their business rivals at Nintendo when it comes to last generation re-releases in both quantity and third-party support—the selection of third party-published Wii games on the eShop is extremely limited with an embarrassingly low amount of five titles worldwide.
With all of that said, the concept of repurchasing Wii games from the Wii U eShop is a fantastic idea, as it gives audiences old and new the chance to try out some of yesteryear’s greatest hits. Unfortunately, its current execution leaves a whole lot to be desired and makes for one big missed opportunity, especially while other companies are handling the idea better. What Wii titles do you believe the Wii U eShop is sorely missing out on? If they were to become available digitally, what Wii games would you personally recommend to those who have not had the chance to play them? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!