June 8, 2005

Viva la Revolution?

First it was reported that select past generation Nintendo games would be free to Nintendo Revolution owners. Now reports of a flip flop have been coming in, old Nintendo games will not be free. They may in fact cost a little chunk of change or be bundled with new games. Get it straight Nintendo. Why are you concerned with cornering the market on your past games? Why make us pay for them a second time around?

Up until recently, I was a loyal Nintendo guy. From the original NES up to the GameCube, I got them all. After the GameCube sat next to my TV for months unused thanks to an ailing selection of games for the platform, I sold it and got a PS2. At that point, I doubted I would be going back to Nintendo. Along came E3. Yes the PS3 looked incredible, really incredible. But what’s this? Nintendo has their shit together too. The promise of a cool new system and free back catalogue? But alas, it’s too good to be true. Nintendo nearly had me again with this one. The idea of buying a Revolution and having access to all my old favorites was compelling to say the least. Nintendo has a lot of ground to make up against it’s competitors, something like a free retro game library would have not only rewarded loyal fans, but would have also given Nintendo a leg up in the console race. Why should I pay a second time for old games that I *cough* can already find for free? So that I can play them 5 feet away on my TV instead of my computer? Thanks, I’ll have a PS3 for that. Nintendo, -1.

Commentary (32):

1. Shaun Inman says… jun 8, 2005 | 8:42 am

Ooh, burn!

2. Dave Child says… jun 8, 2005 | 8:50 am

What a spectacular missed opportunity. I haven’t owned a Nintendo since the N64. I was seriously considering going for the new one though - Mario Kart (the SNES version), Zelda: Link’s Awakening (from the Gameboy), and a myriad of other great games for free had me sold.

Given this news, I’ll now be getting one of the others. I’d buy the games I like from the back catalogue if I did get a Nintendo, but half the appeal of them all being free was the chance to play new games. It would have been the ultimate in boredom relief.

3. Brent O’Connor says… jun 8, 2005 | 9:03 am

Maybe some Nintendo executive that’s a fan of Stan (hey that rhymed, giggle) will read this and changed their mind!

I haven’t bought a Nintendo since Nintendo one. But, if they offered free retro games I would rush to the store to buy one. Heck I would wait in line at a store that start selling it midnight! Well maybe I wouldn’t go that far, I need my beauty rest!

4. Steve James says… jun 8, 2005 | 9:06 am

Though I would never condone it, you could always just buy an xbox, hack it, and put nes and snes emulators on it with all the games you want…

5. Trevor says… jun 8, 2005 | 9:48 am

Anyone who thought Nintendo was going to offer their entire back catalogue is nuts. I don’t know why you would believe that inaccurate report and then get mad at Nintendo about it. Take a look at the history here - have the Gameboy Advance re-releases of old SNES games been free?

I would rather have access to a large number of old games (at a reasonable price!) that have access to a couple for free. And I don’t mind paying a bit for an old game that I can play on new hardware. Plus, some of those old games (Super Bomberman being one) cost 30 bucks or more… if you can find them.

I don’t see anybody mad at Sony that they don’t ship PS2s with the entire back catalogue of PS1 games. I would love to have the ability to get some of these old games running on new hardware. And if you can play all of your old game now anyway, then who cares?

6. Olly says… jun 8, 2005 | 10:23 am

I reckon it’d be OK if for instance they sold fifty old games for a fiver or something. Whack’em all on one disc.

Thay call it shovelware don’t they?

7. Lanny Heidbreder says… jun 8, 2005 | 10:47 am

Ditto to most of what Trevor said. The “all retro games free” thing was a flagrant misinterpretation from the get-go. The “some retro games for some non-negative amount of money” thing was the official announcement and hasn’t changed.

“Ailing selection of games for the platform”

Which games did you have, and which do you have now?

“Why should I pay for them again?”

Because there’s going to be a whole new generation of folks who’ve never seen an NES with access to these games, none of whom have paid for them before.

Because bandwidth isn’t free, selling consoles alone isn’t profitable, and those games are still worth a whole lot.

And so you can play them on non-aging hardware, legally, and without worrying about emulator compatibility. I did the emulator thing for a while, and I got tired of the graphical glitches, the sound problems, the freeze-ups and crashes that wouldn’t let me past certain points of certain games.

Plus, it just didn’t feel right. There’s nostalgia when you play an old game in a compilation on an NTSC TV. Not so much when it’s antialiased at UXGA resolution.

8. Ian says… jun 8, 2005 | 10:48 am

I remember a similar E3-rumor-inspired bout of excitement. I heard that a limited functionality XBOX Live was going to be made available for free to XBOX360 owners. Turns out this is partially true. Only, it looks like I’d be able to play XCheckers or something like that with a guy from Tulsa.

9. Jason Santa Maria says… jun 8, 2005 | 11:04 am

Lanny: “Because there’s going to be a whole new generation of folks who’ve never seen an NES with access to these games, none of whom have paid for them before.”

So am I too old now to enjoy Nintendo? :D

10. western dave says… jun 8, 2005 | 12:40 pm

Bastards! I was finally going to be a proud Nintendo owner!!! My kids are going to cry over this…

11. Dave Lowe says… jun 8, 2005 | 2:12 pm

I was pretty excited too when I heard (wanted to hear) that Nintendo was going to offer their entire back catalog of games for Revolution owners. Then rationality set in and I wondered why all those other game developers would let their stuff (albeit old and not generating any new revenue) be given away for free.

Still, if Nintendo could figure out a way to do it, man… I’d definitely have a Revolution sitting next to my PS3. I left Nintendo for the PS2, so I’ve been longing to play the latest Mario Kart and assorted other GameCube games.

And yeah, Sony isn’t giving away their back catalog with the PS3, but Nintendo’s in a different spot. They’re a has-been of the game industry. Distant third in the console market… distant third in game developers, both quantity and quality (overall)… This would’ve given them a nice boost.

12. John Athayde says… jun 8, 2005 | 3:23 pm

I just keep playing the good ol 8 bit games. Can’t beat them. There’s something wonderful about up up down down left right left right A B start. (is that the right contra code? it’s been a while on that one).

Seriously control pad. two buttons. Easy for anyone. The new controllers have more buttons and combinations than I know what to do with.

13. Matt says… jun 8, 2005 | 3:54 pm


The difference in your analogy between Nintendo’s retro titles and the PS2’s retro titles is that you can play any PS1 game on the PS2 because they’re on the same platform as the new PS2 games. Same for PS3, it will have backwards support for all PS2 and PS1 titles.

On the other hand, Nintendo changes the platform that their games come in every time they put out a new system, and so they’re in no way backwards compatible.

So, um, it’s a bad analolgy.

14. Derek Nelson says… jun 8, 2005 | 4:47 pm

Lanny: “Because there’s going to be a whole new generation of folks who’ve never seen an NES with access to these games, none of whom have paid for them before.”

I think that Nintendo would be wise to give these classic games away for free. There’s a large number of people that want to play these games for the nostalgia factor. This little added bonus may be enough to get those “on the fence” Nintendo fans to cough up the dough for a Revolution instead of, or in addition to, a PS3.

And, maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t see that many 10 year olds that will play a shiny new Zelda game on Revolution really giving a crap about an 8-bit Zelda - at least not enough to spend their lunch money on it.

I mean I’m sure Pong is great and all, but I never played it when it was new and I’m certainly in no rush to buy it.

15. Justin Hong says… jun 8, 2005 | 9:39 pm

If I bought a PS3, I’d have a cardboard box put over it. *shudders*

And the Revolution plays GameCube games, Matt.

16. Greg Storey says… jun 9, 2005 | 8:38 am

I agree that Nintendo could carve a niche in the nextgen console war and it’s a shame they backpeddled from their earlier statements to the media at E3.

Still the promise of access to Nintendo’s library won’t do it for me, I get bored with older games too quickly these days. That said, when my wife heard that she could get a Revolution and play Super Mario Bros. she got excited and who am I to say no to a new console.

Nintendo is more than a year out on this thing and right now any news or quotes you hear are free consumer research being conducted from Japan via the media.

17. Chris Preston says… jun 9, 2005 | 10:38 am

My Sony can beat up your Nintendo!

18. Peter Santa Maria says… jun 9, 2005 | 10:51 am

Thanks but no thanks Nintendo, I’ll sick with my Atari 7800 THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

: P

19. Ryan says… jun 9, 2005 | 11:39 am

I’ll never go back to Nintendo; however, I would drop some serious coin for another shot at ‘Kings of the Beach’.

20. Blake says… jun 9, 2005 | 11:45 am

Do we all remember the way Nintendo handled the hype regarding the old Nintendo64? CDs were ALL the rage, yet they would not budge on cartridges. They claimed cartridges would always be superior in speed, and they’d find a way around the storage capacity problem. They never did, the industry didn’t really listen, and now it is an industry of shiny discs. They sort of budged when they introduced the GC mini-discs, but not much. So, in the end, this sounds very typical Nintendo to draw a hard line. Unfortunately Nintendo is slowly turning into that nagging old lady that never, ever budges on her opinions being right, when we all know the moon isn’t made of cheese.

21. Ken says… jun 10, 2005 | 11:06 am

I can agree with a lot of people saying that would cost too much, however, we are forgetting that Nintendo is taking on the equivalent of two Godzilla’s in the marketplace.

Anything to set it apart would be a huge boon. I’m already pissed that I can’t buy old skool Nintendo games without shelling out an arm and a leg or for a different platform.

Nintendo is sitting on the Fort Knox of video game libraries with a fanbase that has money to burn.


22. Onno says… jun 11, 2005 | 5:09 am

For me the availability of their old catalog would be a reason to buy a Revolution. The fact that it plays Cube games won’t do that. I have a cube, but have spent more time on Super Mario alone than on all of my cube games together.

But there are also rumours that Nintendo might open up their console to smaller and independent developers.

23. David says… jun 13, 2005 | 7:28 am

I totally agree with you. They totally missed the boat. And not only that, but PS3 will be able to play games 2 generations back, the Xbox 360 one generation back, and Nintendo may or may not play GC games…big freaking deal. The Revolution is looking less like a Revolution in gaming and more like the Nintendo Virtua Boy…

24. doodi says… jun 13, 2005 | 12:07 pm

Im surprised at all the Sony fans here. As someone that attended this years E3 (i run a site for older gamers) I can say that the hype seems to lead the gamers attention for then facts. This is one thing Nintendo just isnt good at. Sony throws numbers like 9 cells and 50 times faster and people assume this makes content better. Nintendo did fumble a bit, but we still have no real idea what there console will be like. I must also say the same for the PS3. After waiting in line for 3 hours all I can tell you is what it looks like. There is no real evidence of what it can do, nor how great the games will be. At this point we really just need to wait and see. I was sure the downloads were going to cost something, becuase they have to still pay to licence them. How much is really the better question.

25. NazT N8 says… jun 16, 2005 | 1:04 pm

I gave up on Nintendo when they stopped supporting the N64. I caved and bought a PlayStation and haven’t looked back. I also have an Xbox I just purchased but only 2 Xbox games in my library and something like 50 on the PS2.

The biggest thing that killed the GameCube besides lack of third party support was NO ONLINE SUPPORT!!! Imagine Mario Kart online… sick!

26. Jalada says… jun 19, 2005 | 4:30 pm

It’s a bit of a cop-out from Nintendo though isn’t it? I mean come on, you’re a big company Nintendo, I know you used to make good games, but could you make some good new games, rather than rehash old ones, not even rehash…

Almost as bad as Final Fantasy XXXIV or whatever…

Good article. And I concur with NazT N8, no idea why Nintendo said ‘no’ to online support.

27. Drew says… jul 6, 2005 | 3:20 pm


I’ve got one CD that has 98% of the NES games ever made on it. I can play/emulate them all with a Sega Dreamcast. Perfect video and sound. Like the real thing.
Blew me away when I first saw it.

Nester DC is what you need. And go pick up a used Dreamcast for thirty bucks. My work here is done.


28. Kerorin says… jul 13, 2005 | 6:58 pm

Then why don’t you give away for free your old site designs? :)

The idea of downloading free Ninty games is appealing but think for a moment about building and mantaining servers, paying personell in order to operate the infrastructure and so on. That costs money.

Also, I red that old games may get a graphical update so, I guess paying a little amount of money for an updated version of SNES Mario Kart may be worthwhile.

I’m more excited about upcoming Revolution titles and system innovation than old games. As a matter of fact, I don’t see what’s new about paying for the old Nintendo catalogue: GBA games are for the most part straight ports from old systems.

29. stephen says… jul 17, 2005 | 7:32 pm

“I totally agree with you. They totally missed the boat. And not only that, but PS3 will be able to play games 2 generations back, the Xbox 360 one generation back, and Nintendo may or may not play GC games…big freaking deal. The Revolution is looking less like a Revolution in gaming and more like the Nintendo Virtua Boy…”

.…the revolution will play gamecube games as they have already said, so it has just as much backwards compatibility with the other systems seeing as it would not be possible to fit cartridges from the older systems into the tiny slot for the discs that gamecube uses and those that the revolution will use.

as for the downloading of the old cartridge games, of course there will be a fee. how could you expect them to just let everyone download all their games free of charge…they would have no good reason to be complaining about people using roms and such if they were just going to give them all away as free downloads.
and it won’t be the entire collection of the older games anyway. nintendo already said that they are working with the other companies that made the older games to try and let them put them up for downloading…and who knows, maybe they’ll even consider translating some japanese games that never made it over here, like earthbound 0. but many of the older games don’t have much dialogue anyway.

30. nintendo die hard says… nov 24, 2005 | 9:31 pm

You all are whak I mean seriously the nintendo will always be the greatest in revolutionizing the gaming industry from the nintendo to the revoulution they have all been the greatest! I mean who had the first talking game? snes! (Tales of Phantasia Rocks!!) So what if you have to pay a little to get the classics its still frikin’ awesome!!

31. nintendo die hard says… nov 24, 2005 | 9:37 pm

So what if they missed the whole “Online Gaming thing” At least they have it in the revolution
(Tales of Phantasia still rocks!!!!!!)

32. Okin says… feb 4, 2006 | 11:07 pm

Personally, I think charging a little for the classics is more than reasonable. lol

Heck its only gonna be 1$ at most for most of them…

And to top it off, there will be quite a few of the 1st party games free, while the 3rd parties may choose to charge a bit.

If your not willing to pay 1$ for an old game that you once loved, then what kind of fan are you… XD

And its not like the classics are all that the Revolution has to offer, no thats just a small part to it. The best part about it will be the way new games will work with the controller, and the unknown features that we are still in the dark about. ^_~