(Now your thinking with third parties)
Rockstar, a company most famous for its Grand Theft Auto series and more recently because of Manhunt 2 have announced that their Xbox 360 title Table Tennis and the PS2 title Bully are going to be released on the Wii. This is very good news on the one hand because yet another third party company is showing a commitment to Nintendo by releasing quality games and because these games are aimed at a more mature audience, with Manhunt currently in limbo its good to see Rockstar has more to offer Wii owners and hopefully have more to offer in the future.
Yet on the other hand Rockstar is releasing ports and they are not the only company doing this Capcom has released Resident Evil 4: the Wii edition, EA Scarface and Godfather, Ubisoft Far cry and Prince of Persia. On the face of it there is nothing wrong with doing this, it is in fact common practice through out the gaming industry, it is a good opportunity for companies to expand their user base and increase sales. At the end of the day it’s the sales of their games that enable them to produce more games.
Nintendo themselves are no strangers to porting games and over the years have ported many games from console to hand held, or console to console. Some recent examples of this would be The Legend of Zelda: Collectors Edition on the Game Cube, Mario 64 for the DS and the NES classics series for the Game Boy Advance. Eiji Aonuma has also expressed an interest in re-releasing a director’s cut version of Wind Waker on the Wii, originally sighting the game’s weaker final act a result of time constraints, Aonuma is keen to flesh out the later stages of the game in an attempt to improve the game.
Not owning every system, or having the money to purchase every game means that there are games that I’ve missed out on playing and the prospect of getting another chance to play these games is very exciting. The problem with ports is that a lot of people see them as an opportunity for companies to make a quick buck and companies don’t usually improve or revamp the game for the next console, there are however exceptions to every rule and Capcom is proving to be that exception with a lot of their ported games seeing addition features or improved graphics to the original games. Most of the Resident Evil games as well as Veiwtiful Joe have seen improvements or exclusive content on the ported versions between the Game Cube and PS2. The majority of games unfortunately are not improved upon when ported across platforms and usually have the same faults as the original, sometimes developed years before. To add insult to injury most ports look bad because each game is optimised for a particular system.
Taking a step back from the Wii’s current interest and looking back at the DS GBA and Game Cube’s third party support there is a very similar trend with porting. The GBA was rife with ports of SNES and Mega Drive games and was even turned into an old NES as part of a very shrewd campaign porting NES games on to the System. The DS is find a home for a lot of Puzzle games like Theme Park and Sim City along with the odd N64 games being ported over like Mario 64 and Diddy Kong Racing
The Wii’s graphical power (or lack of it) makes it ripe for PS2, Xbox and Even GC ports, with the potential for developers to just port over hit franchises and merely concern themselves of adding a bit of waggle to the games in an attempt to capitalise on the Wii’s current market domination. The benefits of quicker production times, lower costs and smaller team involved with porting a game, as opposed to years in development time and the potential of millions spent in developing a totally original game will surely be a temping prospect for any developer.
Will the Wii ultimately just become a retro machine where companies release their back catalogue through the Virtual Console or by porting more recent games for more sales? Could this be as a result of the Nintendo difference? Miyamoto stated that third parties need to start using their best development teams to make Nintendo games and not their 2nd or 3rd string teams; with Nintendo’s popularity it is quite possible the Miyamoto will get his wish, and with games like Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars, Dragon Quest Swords and SoulCalibur Legends just an portion of what to expect its safe to say don’t expect the Wii portal anytime soon