Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Which GameCube Titles Are Most Likely to Appear on the Switch

Given the recent rumors that Nintendo plans to release GameCube games via the Nintendo Switch's Virtual Console, it is only natural to begin salivating at the thought of playing all of your old GameCube Glory Day favorites again. But obviously not every GameCube game can make the cut, so which popular titles are likely to show up on the Switch's Virtual Console and which are unlikely to be anything more than a memory? Let's take a look (in alphabetical order):

[Note: for the purposes of this article, we will be skipping the four GameCube games already rumored to be in development for the Switch's Virtual Console and of course be assuming that the unconfirmed rumors of the Switch getting GameCube games on its Virtual Console are true.]

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

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This one is kind of a no-brainer. Nintendo and Fire Emblem series developer Intelligent Systems have practically been dating ever since Fire Emblem: Awakening sold over 2 million units worldwide. The refreshed interest in the series (particularly in the west), combined with the positive critical reception of Path of Radiance and Nintendo's proven willingness to put Fire Emblem games on the Virtual Console point to Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance very likely making an eventual return on the Switch.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles

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If you were one of the chosen few who had access to a GameCube, a copy of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, four Game Boy Advances, and four sets of those GameCube to GBA connector thingies, then you and up to three buddies were in for a dang good time. Everybody else, unfortunately, was relegated to single-player campaign filled with a portly moogle that kept complaining about carrying your chalice for you. Though the spin-off series did continue after the original title's release, the first game's barrier of entry for multiplayer always had a bit of infamy attached to it. Unfortunately, the same elaborate peripheral requirement that sucked a lot of the joy out of the original game is also what is likely to keep Crystal Chronicles off of the Virtual Console. Without any functional equivalent to a GBA attachment announced or likely to be announced for the Switch, the availability of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is very unlikely.

Harvest Moon

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For the sake of simplicity, let's just bundle the GameCube's three Harvest Moon games into one argument, so we're talking about A Wonderful LifeAnother Wonderful Life, and Magical Melody here. These games combined to sell about 1 million units in the US alone, which isn't bad considering Another Wonderful Life was essentially just a remake of A Wonderful Life with a female protagonist. They also possess a 7970, and 83 Metacritic score, respectively. So given the modest financial success, critical success, and the presence of older Harvest Moon games on the present Virtual Console, one or more of these titles making it the Switch seems like a given, right? Well, not exactly.

Story time.

For most of the series's run, Harvest Moon (called Bokujo Monogatari in Japan) was developed by Marvelous Interactive, a Japanese game developer. In Japan, Marvelous Interactive published the games themselves, but left publishing the series in the west to a company called Natsume. All that changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Scratch that. All that changed when Marvelous Interactive dropped Natsume as their western publisher and began running with XSeed instead. But even though Marvelous Interactive continues to make the same games, Natsume held on to the rights to the Harvest Moon name. Because of this, all the new Bokujo Monogatari games (as they are called in Japan) are now called Story of Seasons in the west and the new Harvest Moon games were actually developed in-house by Natsume rather than their original developers at Marvelous Interactive. This leaves the porting of these old Harvest Moon games, which were developed by one company, are currently published in the west by a different company, and whose English names are owned by another different company, in a rather dense forest of legal ambiguity. So given the inherent complication of porting these games and the only moderate financial success of them the first time around, seeing any of them on the Switch's Virtual Console is unlikely

Mario Kart: Double Dash

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I like to think of the above image as what Biggie and Tupac would have looked like if they had been able to come together as a team and race down a mountain while pelting plumbers with turtle shells. Dope. Anyway, the ruling on whether or not Double Dash was even a good Mario Kart game is still in contention, but nobody can deny that Nintendo loves putting Mario Kart titles on the Virtual Console. In fact, Double Dash is currently the only Mario Kart game not playable on a current-gen console. Though the big N may wait until after the unannounced game that looks suspiciously like a new Mario Kart has been out for a year or two to release it, Mario Kart: Double Dash on the Switch Virtual Console is very likely.

Metroid Prime/Metroid Prime 2

If you don't count Metroid Prime: Federation Force (which many people don't), we haven't had a main-series Metroid game since 2010. If it weren't for Samus's guaranteed inclusion in Super Smash Bros., one might think that Nintendo has completely forgotten about the series. Oh, except for the numerous Metroid titles already on the Virtual Console. Yes, if history is any indicator then we will likely be seeing Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2 on the Switch's Virtual Console, assuming we don't see an outright remastering of the Prime trilogy.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

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Ah, The Thousand Year Door. This sequel to the N64 RPG holds a soft spot in many fans' hearts thanks to its witty writing, enjoyable turn-based battles, and basically anytime Bowser was onscreen. This game was even popular enough to earn a Player's Choice edition (the ancestor to today's Nintendo Selects) in 2006, two years after its original release. Nintendo has since published several more Paper Mario games (including the recent Paper Mario: Color Splash), each with their own shake-up on the Paper Mario formula, though the first two games have arguably remained as the two high points of the series. Given the game's popularity and the original Paper Mario's long presence on the Virtual Console, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is a likely candidate to show up on the Switch.

Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg

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This one was included for comic relief. Just no. Please continue scrolling and ignore the fact that I just broke alphabetical order.

Pokemon Colosseum/Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness

As you can probably ascertain from the fact that this website has a tab specifically dedicated to playing the Pokemon games, I'm a bit of a fanboy of the franchise and the two story-driven GameCube spinoffs are no exception. Featuring a much darker plot than the main series and with a unique mechanic that involves stealing Pokemon from other (usually evil) trainers, Colosseum and XD: Gale of Darkness were definitely Pokemon games to remember.

To be honest, this one could really go either way. They sold well, hitting 2.54 and 1.25 million units each. But they also had a battle mode that required a Game Boy Advance, a third generation Pokemon game, and one of the aforementioned GC to GBA adaptors. But that mode was entirely separate from the main game. But those kinds of features usually keep games off the Virtual Console. But that didn't stop Nintendo from releasing Pokemon Stadium on the original Wii's VC, a game which had a very similar feature. Frankly, it's a toss up between likely and unlikely. But the (self-imposed) rule of this article is that it must be one or the either, so I suppose I'll have to leave it to an actual coin toss.

(flips coin)


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

For a series that's been rebooted two or three times, the Prince of Persia games have actually been consistently decent. 2003's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, however, definitely stands out as one of the high points. The first game in the first reboot trilogy, which came out on Xbox, PlayStation 2, PC, and Game Boy Advance in addition to the GameCube, received gushing praise upon its release and is also probably responsible for roughly 75% of our yearly dose of Jake Gyllenhal back in 2010.

It's a bit hard to make a determination on this one. The Sands of Time already received an HD remake for the PS3 in 2010. This was before the Wii U launched, but we never saw any port of the remastering to the Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, or PS4, making Ubisoft's desire to keep the game available on current-gen consoles questionable. On the other hand, the original Prince of Persia (technically a port of a port of the original original) did make its way onto the 3DS's Virtual Console in 2012. But regardless of this fact, the GameCube version's appearance on the Switch's Virtual Console still seems unlikely.

Sonic Anything

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The GameCube played host to (sort of) six Sonic titles in the form of Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut (an enhanced port of the Dreamcast game), Sonic Adventure 2: Battle (another enhanced port of a Dreamcast game), Sonic Mega Collection (a collection of various Sonic titles from the Genesis and Mega Drive), Sonic Riders (a surprisingly fun racing game featuring the Sonic crew), Shadow the Hedgehog (angsty Sonic with guns), and Sonic Heroes. Given that SEGA has already been willing to push out Sonic Adventure to PSN and Xbox Live and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle to Steam, it would come as no surprise to see either of those titles' GameCube versions coming the Switch's Virtual Console. Despite Shadow the Hedgehog receiving very middling reviews during its release, it has also managed to eek its way onto the PSN Store. Considering SEGA's frequent pushes to make their titles available long after launch, we are probably likely to see at least one of the GameCube's Sonic games on the Virtual Console.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II managed to push almost 2 million copies worldwide, and that's in spite of the Star Wars franchise's lack of gravity in Asia. And it wasn't just because the GameCube had slim pickings for launch titles, either. Not only was this entry in the Rogue Squadron series one of the best Star Wars games of all time, it was a fantastic game period. That makes it all the more depressing that we probably won't be seeing it on the Virtual Console. Ever since Disney acquired LucasFilm and shut down the LucasArts game studio, Electronic Arts has held the exclusive rights to publishing Star Wars games. Sadly, EA hasn't put a game on a Nintendo console since 2014 (no, not even Madden). With original developer Factor 5 out of business, LucasArts essentially canned, and EA seemingly having given up Nintendo consoles, seeing Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II anywhere near the Virtual Console seems very unlikely. Unfortunate, this is.

Super Monkey Ball/Super Monkey Ball 2

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Believe it or not, the Super Monkey Ball franchise is still rolling. Please, hold your applause. But it would be more accurate to say that it was still rolling until SEGA pulled the series' most recent game, Super Monkey Ball Bounce, along with several of their other games from the App Store and Google Play. Sadly, the series popularity seems to have peaked with Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz for the Wii. Nevertheless, the first two Super Monkey Ball titles (ignoring the original arcade cabinet game) combined for almost 3 million units sold. With current sales a bit down, SEGA will probably be looking to cash in on some old gems again, which means we will likely be seeing the popular Super Monkey Ball and/or Super Monkey Ball 2 on the Switch VC.

Tales of Symphonia

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2004's Tales of Symphonia is arguably the reason that the series got traction in the west and was the first Tales of... title since the original Tales of Phantasia (1995) to appear on a Nintendo console. It even got its own, admittedly less well receivedsequel on the Wii. Though several other Tales of games have since been released on Nintendo systems, the last four in the main series (counting Tales of Berseria which is already released in Japan but upcoming in the US) have been exclusive to Sony platforms and PC. That being said, the series is published by Namco Bandai, who is not shy about putting their games on the Virtual Console. Given the companies' tight relationship, Tales of Symphonia is likely to eventually show up on the Switch's VC.

TimeSplitters 2/TimeSplitters: Future Perfect

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An FPS on the GameCube was a rarity indeed, but the two TimeSplitters games that the console played host to somehow turned out fantastic. But long story short, the rights to the TimeSplitters franchise are currently in the lap of Crytek, who is presently in a mess of financial trouble for various reasons. With Crytek committed to transitioning its efforts into publishing free-to-play games and the sale of some company assets for quick change probably forthcoming, seeing TimeSplitters 2 or TimeSplitters: Future Perfect on the Virtual Console anytime soon seems very unlikely.

Viewtiful Joe

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Despite critical acclaim, the original Viewtiful Joe did not sell a tremendous number of copies. But it was still enough to earn our boy Joe here three progressively less well-received sequels. Unfortunately, Capcom axed the studio behind the series back in 2006 after several of its prominent members left the company to form Platinum Games (who would go on to develop the similarly styled Bayonetta and The Wonderful 101). But not all hope is lost, as Capcom has been willing to put Viewtiful Joe in a few of their fighting games, meaning our red-caped crusader is not totally forgotten by his parent. That being said, Viewtiful Joe's relative obscurity and modest sales the first time around make it an unlikely title to be added to the Virtual Console library, but hey, stranger choices have been made so it also wouldn't be surprising to seem him land there eventually.

Has reading about all these old games made you a bit nostalgic? Was there an important game missing from this list? Feel free to voice your opinion down below.

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