In a generation dominated by remakes and remasters, Nintendo remains oddly abstained. Will we, and more importantly, can we, ever see Wii games remastered?
With the Wii U lifecycle soon coming to an end having only brandished a disappointingly small library of games, the potential for remasters and remakes of older Nintendo games seems like it would have been an easy fix. What better way to pad out scant game launches than older games with a new coat of paint? Yet among the countless remastered game releases on its rival consoles, we were only given two Nintendo remastered Nintendo games, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess respectively.
While the Wii U did initially see a number of third-party remasters, from the Nintendo side only the two aforementioned Zelda game re-releases saw the light of day, and even more telling, both only being Gamecube games. Initially many, including myself, speculated that Nintendo would only re-release their games if given a substantial makeover and new features to provide a truly fresh experience, as evident by The Wind Waker HD. But Twilight Princess HD quickly shot this theory down, with the game lacking any major updates to its content aside from the jump to high definition. So why didn’t we see more of these?
It seems an odd choice to again remaster another Zelda game after The Wind Waker, with other fitting Gamecube classics like Super Mario Sunshine and Metroid Prime being left in the past. And even more confusing is the complete lack of Wii games. There’s no doubt that games like Super Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword were great looking, but severely hindered by their standard definition. With the Wii U even making strong efforts to tie itself to the Wii with the ability to use the motion-sensitive Wiimotes as a control option, it’s strange this connection wasn’t taken advantage of.
Did the Wii U’s backwards compatibility to play Wii games mean HD remasters would be unnecessary? After all, the Wii U could even boot into a Wii-only mode and games like Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime Trilogy were sold digitally on the eShop. But is it enough to offer low resolution, untouched Wii games alongside fully redone games from an entire generation behind?
Some might feel that this endeavor would be a waste of time, not worth the resources or effort to bring classic Wii games to HD when they were already readily available to be played as originally released. But now that the Wii U’s time is over and the Nintendo Switch is quickly approaching, it might mean we’ve entirely lost both the chance to see these games remastered or even the chance to play them on a current Nintendo console again.
Backwards compatibility is always a tricky subject. Both the PS4 and Xbox One have their own different methods of dealing with it, with the Xbox actually capable of playing both digital and physical 360 games, and PS4 offering PS3 games via their streaming service and slowly updating a catalog of remastered PS2 games. Nintendo too has made a huge effort in allowing their older games to always be available, with the Virtual Console a staple of the Wii, Wii U, and even 3DS. But while most remain hopeful on their plans for implementing this system on the Nintendo Switch, with rumours now swirling of Gamecube being added to the list, the Wii library becomes a problem.
While all the details on the Switch’s numerous control methods remain unclear, there has been no confirmation so far of motion controls. In their pursuit to distance themselves from the Wii-branding, will Wiimotes no longer be a viable control option? Even if the new Joycon controllers are able to replicate this motion control, could it match the precision of the Wiimote Plus, a necessity for games like Skyward Sword? Or has the Wii’s reliance on motion controls sealed its fate for future-proofing its games?
We’ve already had confirmations for numerous Wii U ports to the Switch with Breath of the Wild, Splatoon, and Mario Kart 8. As much as the Wii U attempted to implement its tablet controller gimmick into its library, few truly took advantage of this unique control method to the extent of Mario Maker, and most games seem fairly easy to simply port over. But with motion being the only way to control games like Metroid Prime 3, Skyward Sword, and the Mario Galaxy games, is there any way to reliably play these games with a standard controller?
It is of course already possible to emulate the Wii on a PC, even swapping the motion controls instead for the movement of a joystick. But this remains imprecise and only a quick-work around to the problem, hardly a solution Nintendo would ever implement. Would it be possible to rework these games for a standard control scheme? After all, with the work that went into Wind Waker HD, could Nintendo put in a similar effort of gameplay changes to make its most acclaimed Wii game playable with only buttons and sticks? Sadly, with a game like Skyward Sword’s reliance on precise movement for all of its combat and puzzles, it seems like too big a task to take on.
At this point, the future of the Wii library remains murky. We were never given remasters for any of these games on the Wii U, and if the Switch lacks any ability to use motion controls, it’s possible we may never be given the chance again. Despite these hurdles, I’m still holding out hope that we’ll be able to play Mario Galaxy in glorious HD one day. Nintendo has never been one to forget its roots and the new mini NES and continued support of the Virtual Console is proof of that. I’ll leave it to Nintendo to pull off some crazy scheme out of nowhere that completely and totally eliminates this problem. The fate of beloved Wii games may be uncertain now, especially as we move towards the very experimental Switch, but I’m still convinced we’ll continue to have new ways to play our favourite Nintendo games of every generation for years to come.
Written by Nic Schaus. Send Nic a message over Twitter @NicSchaus or comment below to tell him your thoughts on the future of motion-mandatory Wii Games.