Since the launch of the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo has made almost 400 classic games available to download from their online store. Many of the most popular games are available, but the Virtual Console also includes cult classics and a handful of games that were previously unavailable in North America (Sin & Punishment is the most prominent import title released so far and is definitely worth playing).
I don’t expect that the Virtual Console will ever include every classic game worth playing, but there are some notable games and series missing from the service. Some of the most notable games actually have stories behind why they are not on the service, and other games may be released very soon without us knowing!
I’d like to highlight some of the video games that I’d like to see released on the Virtual Console.
Harvest Moon 64
The Super Nintendo game Harvest Moon was released on the Virtual Console in early 2008. At the time, I was very excited because I had never had the chance to play Harvest Moon as a kid even though it was a game I had always wanted to play. I’m glad to have access to the original game now, but when I was growing up my first experience with virtual farming was Harvest Moon 64.
I cannot begin to tell you how much time I spent playing Harvest Moon 64. I’m certain I had done everything you could possible do in the game before I chose to start over again. I’m not alone: every Harvest Moon fan I know considers Harvest Moon 64 among the best in the series.
So, with such a big fan base I was surprised that the game had not been released…until I did some research. Once I began researching, I remembered reading why Harvest Moon 64 is not on the Virtual Console back in 2010.
NerdMentality had the opportunity to interview Natsume’s (the publisher of Harvest Moon in North America) Vice President of Operations, Graham Markay, and specifically asked about Harvest Moon 64 on the Virtual Console. Here’s what Mr. Markay had to say:
“It will not. It will not. And it’s not from lack of trying. Unfortunately, the code of the game is not… it’s not an easy transfer. It would be really time-consuming and long, and we’ve looked into it, and we’ve tried to see if there’s any way around certain things, but the conversion to virtual console, it’s just… I shouldn’t say it’s never going to come out, but there’s just a really, really, very small chance that it would ever come out. Which is unfortunate because we know that for a lot of dedicated, die-hard fans, that’s their favorite.”
Even after reading his quote, I’m not giving up on that small hope that the game will be released, and I am glad that we know why it hasn’t been released yet. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the other games on this list.
The Soul Blazer Trilogy
This is one of the lesser-known entries in this last. The Soul Blazer trilogy is a series of loosely connected Super Nintendo action RPGs. The games in the series, in order of release, are Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma.
Of the three games, Terranigma is the most notable because it was never released in North America despite being translated to English for its European release. If Terranigma were released, it would be a new import title for the Virtual Console that would not require much work prior to release.
Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia are both cult classics in North America. The games are only loosely connected, but you can definitely see the gameplay similarities if you play both games.
I have not spent enough time with Soul Blazer (it’s on my list of games I need to spend more time playing), but Illusion of Gaia is one of my favorite Super Nintendo games. I’ve completed it multiple times, and it’s a game I wish more people had the chance to experience.
Unfortunately, the biggest question is who has the rights to release the games. According to the limited information on Wikipedia, the status of the game’s developer, Quintet, is unknown. However, we do know that the company has not released a game in several years (though it seems they helped other companies develop a few games), and we have no reason to believe this will change soon.
The good news is that Actraiser, one of Quintet’s best known games, has been released on the Virtual Console. Actraiser was published by SquareEnix (just Enix at the time), and SquareEnix also published the Soul Blazer trilogy. So, there may be a chance for the three games to be released.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
Yoshi’s Island is the only major classic Super Mario game that is not on the Virtual Console, and I have no idea why it has not been released. However, another gamer suggests that it could have something to do with the technology used in the game.
On a more positive note, the Gameboy Advance remake of Yoshi’s Island is being re-released on the Nintendo 3DS as part of the Nintendo Ambassador program. That doesn’t help fans who want to play the game on the Wii, but it does leave some hope that the game will eventually be released.
While most gamers remember Star Fox 64 better than Star Fox, the original is still a game worth playing. Unfortunately, the reason for its absence from the Virtual Console may be the same technical issue that is potentially keeping Yoshi’s Island off the service as well.
Star Fox has never been re-released on any platform, and Star Fox 64 has always overshadowed the game. Star Fox was one of the first Super Nintendo games I had the pleasure of playing, and I hope that someday soon the game is available once again.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
This is some very wishful thinking.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is the predecessor to the much more well-known Final Fantasy Tactics that was released on the PlayStation. Tactics Ogre was originally developed for the Super Nintendo, but was not released in North America until it was ported to the PlayStation. More recently, Tactics Ogre was remade for the PlayStation Portable and released in North America.
However, the original Super Nintendo version of Tactics Ogre is available on the Virtual Console in Japan, and it would be beyond great if the game was made available in North America as well.
No list of missing Virtual Console titles is complete without this one. Earthbound is the ultimate cult classic with one of the most dedicated followings of any video game despite the fact that the game sold poorly when it was released in 1995 and has never been re-released.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of Earthbound being released on the Virtual Console right now is close to none. Starmen.net is a leader in the fight to have Earthbound re-released, and they’ve done the research. Earthbound was almost released, but was then caught up in a legal battle between Nintendo of America’s lawyers, and the offices in Japan.
Simply put, Earthbound cannot be released unless changes are made to the game first, and Nintendo (in Japan) has so-far refused to make those changes.
We can only hope that one day those changes are made and the game is finally released. After waiting for over fifteen years, I am amazed that fans of the game are still as supportive as they are, and I hope that someday soon their dedication pays off.