If you've been paying attention to Nintendo Switch news recently, then you know that the Japanese gaming company celebrated Mario's 35th Anniversary by announcing that four classic Mario games will be coming to the hybrid gaming system within the next few months. Super Mario 3D All-Stars releases in September and containes Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Then in Feb. 2021, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury will also come out on Switch.
However, Super Mario 3D All-Stars will only be available until March 2021. Then it will be going back into the "Nintendo vault."
I don't know about you, but once the initial excitement went away from hearing these announcements, I honestly felt a bit angry. Nintendo has made it difficult, if not impossible, to play a lot of its classic games on modern consoles. These announcements only emphasize how much of a problem this has become.
This is especially true given how other gaming companies deal with classic games. Since 2017, Microsoft's Game Pass has not only allowed gamers to play both new and older PC and Xbox games, but has also worked to upgrade these classics for a more modern playing experience. All you have to do is pay a monthly fee and then hundreds of games are at your fingertips including things like the brand new Wasteland 3 which sells on its own for $50 and the classic Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which on its own goes for $30 even though it includes six games.
Meanwhile, Nintendo makes you buy its ports at full price as we've seen with recent Wii U ports like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. In the case of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Nintendo even slaps a time-limit release on it. Maybe Nintendo is still making up for the horrible flop of the Wii U era, but it would be treating its fans so much better if it learned a thing or two from Microsoft and made these Mario games available via the Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) subscription.
Even the Wii U offered a virtual console and gave us more classics to play than the NSO membership. Unfortunately, the NSO subscription only gives you the ability to play online multiplayer games and a handful of mostly random and unwanted NES and SNES titles. Nintendo seems to be saving all the good stuff that players actually want for money grabs like the ones mentioned above.
The comparisons don't stop with the Wii U. Many of Nintendo's classic SNES, NES, N64, Game Cube, and DS games can only be played on the original system that they were designed for as hardly any ports have made them playable on the later consoles including the Nintendo Switch. Need an example? If players want to get their hands on Pokémon Heart Gold or Soul Silver games, they're going to need to pay over $100 for the original DS cartridge and play on a DS or 3DS, since these classics aren't playable on any other system.
Let's jump to another popular franchise. Nintendo has released 19 Zelda titles in the last three decades, and yet only two Zelda titles are available on the Switch eShop. I'd love to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or even Majora's Mask on my Switch. Since these are both such important games, however, we'll likely either never see them on the Nintendo Switch, or we'll have to wait for them to get a Link's Awakening-like remaster. It's also possible they'll get packaged to us similarly to how Super Mario 3D All-Stars is getting sold to us.
I love Nintendo, but this gaming company is way more out-of-touch with its fanbase than its competitors. I'm certain that if Sony or Microsoft operated the way Nintendo does, there would be rioting. Somehow Nintendo manages to get away with these stunts.
It probably has something to do with how the nostalgia for Nintendo's past consoles, its iconic characters, and the brand itself still manages to be powerful. I dare say it has an even stronger connection with its audience than both Microsoft and Sony do with theirs. Still, this is no excuse for Nintendo to treat its fans this way. Yes, we're dying to get our hands on these classic Mario games, but Nintendo could have found a better way to get these to us.
We won't know what life will be like within the next six months, but slapping a time limit on a popular collection of games in the middle of a pandemic when many people are struggling to stay employed seems like a jerk move. If anything, this just opens the floor for price gougers to take advantage of people down the road.
Like other Nintendo fans I rant and rave, but I will obviously still end up grabbing these ported Mario classics for my library. It just feels like this is a one-sided relationship.
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Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.