Analysis: Dreamcast to soon be available for Wii U Virtual Console
Imagine the scene: A Nintendo-Direct in the near future, or perhaps E³ 2014, Reggie steps out in front of the camera with that look of his. He might be smiling, he might not. He speaks in that usual calculated, slow pace of speech. After the formalities, he starts with:
“A lot of people want to equate the Nintendo Wii U to a late, great console you might remember, the SEGA Dreamcast. Released in 1999, the Dreamcast was ahead of its time, had a lot of great titles, and was even the first console to use an optional two-screen play style for some games. Many of those people wished the Dreamcast survived longer than it did, because of that great innovation, and that library of fantastic software. Well, I would urge those people to have a look at this.”
What seems to be a montage of the Dreamcast’s highlights plays under some thumping music. Some battles from Grandia 2 are displayed, followed by some intense shooting action from games such as Cannon Spike, Giga Wing, and Ikaruga. Some environmental and dialogue sequences from Shenmue. A familiar landscape, oh that’s Windy Valley, and there’s Sonic the Hedgehog running for his life! Dreamcast footage flashes by one game after the other, concluding with “Available for Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console”.
Reggie concludes with all the important details, “You can get these games on your Wii U eShop RIGHT NOW, and these fantastic titles will set you back only 12 dollars each.” Everyone watching immediately switches on their Wii U (or opens the Home menu if they were watching the stream on it), calls up the eShop and sees for themselves:
12 bucks for Grandia 2? Yes, please!
12 bucks for Project Justice? Absolutely!
12 bucks for Giga Wing 2? Take my money!
12 bucks for Power Stone? Totally!
12 bucks for Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram? Done and Done!
12 bucks for Shenmue? Sure!
12 bucks for Soul Calibur from back when it was all Namco characters? Most Definitely.
12 bucks for Maken X? I’m there!
And there goes this blogger’s monthly game-budget.
There are a couple of reasons that this seems to be a logical choice for SEGA and Nintendo. First of all, the Wii U is shown to be capable of more than perfectly emulating consoles up to the PS3 and XBox 360 levels of power. Games like Batman and Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge demonstrated this in the Wii U Launch window. Comboing this into Nintendo’s dedication to their Virtual Console platform, the mere 1GB capacity of Dreamcast discs allows for even basic Wii U owners to download around 8 Dreamcast VC titles, if the Dreamcast VC is the only reason they buy the Wii U. Secondly, SEGA can still aim for long-tail sales of their titles such as Sonic Lost World and their Sonic/Mario Olympic title, if they continue to support those games with patches as they have been, and if they continue to support the Wii U itself with more games to attract the SEGA crowd. Third, the statement “The Wii U is a Dreamcast” becomes a selling-point rather than a jab against it.
Finally, and probably most importantly, SEGA is going to want to capitalize on the Bayonetta 2 noise as much as possible, especially in these months leading up to that game’s release. Bayonetta is a SEGA franchise, and they’re going to want to ensure that Nintendo is successful with the upcoming Bayonetta 2 by getting all kinds of SEGA fans on board the Wii U.
With the recent resurgence or demands for a Shenmue sequel, SEGA could gauge exactly how many of those people would be willing to put their money on such a project with a Shenmue-Dreamcast-VC release.
SEGA went all out in providing a selection of 3D Classics for the 3DS. They could potentially be doing the same for the Wii U Gamepad, enhancing VMU elements of their Dreamcast software to work in colour, with a higher framerate, or even swapping out the original VMU functionality to that of the Gamecube-GBA connectivity software (for example, offering Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and Sonic Advance together as a double-VC Deal, allowing download-play to NNIDs linked to both a Wii U and 3DS)
Similarly, third parties such as Ubisoft’s investments in Nintendo hint that they shouldn’t have much trouble releasing Grandia 2 on the Wii U Virtual Console as an early offering. And in the same vein, CAPCOM has already shown some big support of the Wii U and it wouldn’t take much for them to continue that support, and make available Rival Schools Project Justice, Tech Romancer, Puzzle Fighter, Code Veronica and other titles of theirs available for the Dreamcast Virtual Console for the Wii U.
On a smaller note, ATLUS’s closeness with Nintendo lately allowed them to release the previously never-localized SMT: Soul Hackers for the 3DS. A Dreamcast Virtual Console for the Wii U might allow their overlooked DC title, Maken X, another chance to get sold and appreciated by a savvy gaming audience.
Nintendo launched the Virtual Console service for the Wii by allowing downloads of games from the NES, SNES, N64, SEGA’s Master System, Genesis/Megadrive, and 32X, the TurboGrafx16 and Turbo Duo, and even the SNK Neo Geo and other Arcade hardware. They’ve added Gameboy and Game Gear VC to the 3DS, and SEGA has taken the touble to enhance its 3DS VC games into 3D Classics. This blogger has little doubt that the Dreamcast will be soon, if not the first new VC Console of the Wii U, with more to come.
While waiting, this blogger will be working on his high score in 3D Space Harrier.