The Wii's Virtual Console was a major selling point for a lot of people. The idea of playing classic games from a multitude of different platforms on one console was very tantalizing and seemed too good to be true. Unfortunately, it now appears it was too good to be true. Instead of giving us great game after great game, the big N offered a ton of mediocre titles, with a gem thrown in every now and then. Now the trickle of Virtual Console releases has almost completely stopped, and Wii owners have been trying to come up with answers as to why some very big names are still not available on the service. I have chosen a few titles to focus on, and will examine some of the explanations Nintendo fans have come up with to explain their absence. As you will see, these explanations are nothing but myths.
Nintendo can't release Donkey Kong 64 because it was developed by Rare
This one makes no sense. Donkey Kong is the franchise that introduced Mario and gave rise to the Nintendo empire. It was created by Shigeru Miyamoto and is wholly owned by the Big N. Sure, Rare revived the series and created a ton of new characters, but they developed the games under license from Nintendo. When you are licensed to use a property, you have permission to use the brand, characters, and everything that it entails, but you do so under guidelines set by the owner of the IP, and you acknowledge that you own no rights to said IP unless specified in writing. The entire Donkey Kong series is property of Nintendo. The fact that the Big N was able to re-release the Donkey Kong Country games on the Virtual Console and even resurrect the series with Donkey Kong Country Returns is all the proof you need. Still not convinced? Rare has actually tweeted on the subject, reaffirming that Donkey Kong 64 "belongs to Nintendo." End of story.
|PROPERTY OF NINTENDO|
Nintendo can't release Donkey Kong 64 because it contains Jetpac, a Rare IP
Now this one has some weight to it, but it is still false. If you aren't familiar with Donkey Kong 64, or Jetpac for that matter, let me fill you in. Jetpac is a game that was developed by Rare and published in 1983, back when the company was still known as Ultimate Play the Game. You would play as a generic character named Jetman, who would fly from planet to planet via a rocket-powered backpack while contending with aliens. When Rare was granted a license (there's that word again) to create Donkey Kong 64, they included Jetpac as a mini-game. When Donkey Kong 64 did not appear on the Virtual Console, speculation about the reason for its absence began raging, and naturally, Jetpac became the center of attention. As an IP that is wholly owned by Rare, who in turn are owned by Microsoft, it was the most logical choice. Nintendo fans are correct that there are legal issues that would have to be dealt with, but only if the game were included in the Virtual Console release.
|Jetpac could be replaced with something else.|
The fact of the matter is, Jetpac doesn't really need to be in Donkey Kong 64. All Nintendo would have to do is remove Jetpac from the game, throw something else in to take its place, and DK 64 would be good to go. Rare themselves have even suggested replacement games from Nintendo's own library. I am aware that Nintendo does not like to alter the code of their old games, but they have done so before. Look at the Virtual Console version of Animal Crossing. The original version had a bunch of classic NES games that were fully playable, making it appeal to a wider audience. Before making the title available for Wii owners to download, Nintendo removed all of the old classics so people would have to buy and download them individually. That is a clear example of the company making changes to an old game, and I don't see why they couldn't do the same with Donkey Kong 64.
|Rare themselves are wondering why this game isn't on the Virtual Console.|
Donkey Kong 64 needed the Expansion Pak to run. Games that required the Expansion Pak can't be run on the Virtual Console.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask required the Expansion Pak too. It's on the Virtual Console. Not an issue.
Donkey Kong 64 is a massive game. The Wii doesn't have enough storage space.
Donkey Kong 64 is 256 megabits in size, which is just 32 MB. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is also 32 MB in size and it's on the Virtual Console. The Wii has 512 MB of storage space, which is enough to hold quite a few N64 games. Size is not the problem. As far I can tell, the only thing standing between Donkey Kong 64 and the Virtual Console is Nintendo itself.
|Same ROM size as DK 64 and required the Expansion Pak too. Not issues.|
The Wii can't handle games that used the Super FX chip. The Super FX chip is too hard to emulate.
Tell that to the homebrewers and hackers who have managed to develop SNES emulators for just about everything that has a processor. They have been running pirated versions of Star Fox and Stunt Race FX for years. They've even got Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island to work, and that uses the Super FX 2, a stronger and more complicated version of the chip. Believe me, there is nothing to this one.
|If it has a processor, you can probably play this game on it.|
The Super FX chips were designed by a third-party company, and there are legal issues that prevent them from re-releasing SNES games that utilized them.
I have seen this claim all over the place but not one person has provided an authoritative source to back it up. Yes, the Super FX and Super FX 2 chips were designed by a third-party company. Argonaut Games, to be precise. The company is now defunct, it's dead. They disappeared in 2004. Nintendo re-released Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island on the Game Boy Advance in 2002, and again in 2006, after Argonaut had ceased to exist. Need more proof? The Game Boy Advance version of Yoshi's Island was just re-released again in 2011 for the 3DS Virtual Console. Like I said, the game used the Super FX 2 chip. If there are legal issues, how did they re-release the game multiple times after Argonaut was out of the picture? I am aware that the GBA port isn't identical to the SNES ROM, but they were still able to re-release the game and get the same graphical effects. Trust me. If Nintendo wanted to, they could re-release the original Star Fox and many other titles that were powered by the Super FX chips. Legal issues? I think not.
|This game has been re-released two times since Argonaut's collapse.|
Every time a company fails to deliver and no reason is given, wild speculation ensues, resulting in myths that become accepted as fact. I have owned every one of Nintendo's consoles and I own a Nintendo-centric website, yet I do not allow my admiration for the company to blind me. Face it. When it comes to the Virtual Console, the Big N is either asleep at the wheel or deaf to the cries of gamers. Wake up, Nintendo. You're losing money and fans.
If you think any of my arguments are flawed and/or wrong, please provide a credible source and I will make changes to this article if necessary.
Sources"Rare doesn't know why Donkey Kong 64 isn't out on the VC yet" -nintendoeverything.com
"Rare reaffirms that Donkey Kong 64 belongs to Nintendo" -nintendoeverything.com
"Argonaut Games" -IGN.com
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Screenshots of Star Fox and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island courtesy of The Video Game Museum - vgmuseum.com
Virtual Console logo, Donkey Kong 64 box art, and screenshot of The Legend of Zelda: Major'as Mask downloaded from Wikipedia
Donkey Kong 64 screenshot downloaded from mariowiki.com
Images used under Attribution-ShareAlike Unported 3.0 license.