In the recent Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced it will release free Super Nintendo games for those who subscribe to its online service. In total, twenty games were released, ranging from bona fide classics such as Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past to quirky yet strong cuts such as Demon's Crest and Stunt Race FX. The company also announced it will release a USB controller modeled after the Super Nintendo controller for players in search of the most authentic experience possible when playing these classic titles.
And yet, while these games are a welcome addition as many Nintendo fans have been clamoring for SNES titles to be offered ever since the service launched, it seems as though Nintendo has taken a step backward rather than forward in terms of making its back catalog available. While the SNES games are not unwanted, Nintendo should be offering fans much more than just its 16-bit catalog and fans should expect more from the company.
Nintendo started re-releasing its older games sometime around the beginning of the 2000s. It was then that the company started re-packaging direct ports of NES games on the Game Boy Advance, as well as enhanced ports of Super Nintendo games. Nintendo later went on to release a dozen or so NES games, hiding them in the GameCube title Animal Crossing. As long as you earned them by playing the game and accomplishing certain challenges, you would get an NES game for free -- or it could be considered as a bonus once you paid for your copy of Animal Crossing.
It wasn't until the Wii was that Nintendo offered its old games digitally via the Virtual Console. In fact, not only did Nintendo offer NES and SNES titles on the console, but Nintendo 64 games as well. They also offered Genesis, Master System, TurboGrafx-16, Neo-Geo AES, and more. Many classic games -- as well as forgotten gems -- were available through this service and many would return to the Wii U Virtual Console. However, the Wii U Virtual Console would not feature third party libraries, sticking only to Nintendo consoles, while the 3DS featured third party libraries but regulated it to handheld titles only.
Less Is More
You may notice a pattern here. As time went on after the Wii, Nintendo decided to offer less and less of its back catalog while still re-charging for it. Back when the virtual console was announced for the Wii U, there were rumors that GameCube titles would be added. Yet here we are and Nintendo is barely adding Super Nintendo titles to the Switch two years into the handheld's lifespan. Sure, it's nice that it's included with a Switch Online subscription and these games are all portable due to the Switch's design. However, all of these games are mostly unchanged from their original releases, with only basic emulator features added. Nothing is remade or remastered so you're essentially getting the same games over again.
With the number of games Nintendo has in its back catalog and with the capabilities of the Switch, Nintendo should be offering much more than it does currently. It could be offering not only NES and SNES games, but N64, GameCube, and Wii games. Nintendo should also dive into its massive handheld library, since the Switch is a handheld console itself, and offer GameBoy, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, and DS titles. It could even go the extra mile and offer Virtual Boy and Game and Watch titles.
Nintendo fans should expect more from Nintendo re-releasing of its back catalog, especially as it continues to expand. Even if the games are not included for free with a Switch Online membership, the offer should be there. Especially as some games would benefit from it. Playing something like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword would be a lot easier now as a Wii Remote Plus wouldn't be required as the technology in the Switch Joycon is surely enough to play it. Unfortunately, though, Nintendo has learned that it can do the bare minimum and fans will still eat it up and be grateful while doing so.