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Nintendo correct? Wii U gems coming to Switch long overdue, hopefully just a beginning

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is coming to the Nintendo Switch
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is coming to the Nintendo Switch

One year after unveiling Switch to the public, Nintendo has announced the next wave of games for the hybrid console/handheld system.

A snap-announced (yet very expected) Nintendo Direct presentation on Thursday — the day before the anniversary of the day the console originally codenamed NX became Switch — revealed a new batch of games — many of which aren’t “new” at all. While some would say it shows a lack of innovation, actually more old games coming to Switch can only be a good thing.

Ported over from the previous Wii U console are Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition. I’m most excited for Tropical Freeze, which I passed up the first time around but wanted to play, just not on the now-cumbersome Wii U.

Previous Wii U ports to the Switch have included Pokken Tournament DX, Bayonetta 2 and Mario Kart 8, which become “Deluxe” on the Switch and is practically a must-have title for owners of the new system. Splatoon 2 is largely a port of the sensational online multiplayer Wii U original, with new gear, modes and a different central hub.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is upgrading the Wii U brawler for Nintendo Switch
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is upgrading the Wii U brawler for Nintendo Switch

The wisdom of the crowd seems to be that the Wii U as a concept was a misstep, and yet the games for the console stand the test of time. Those that can be easily ported or even slightly re-engineered for the Switch should be, if for nothing else than to make them mobile since the Switch is so portable. And transferring a Nintendo-made game from Wii U to Switch, while certainly not child’s play, is relatively easy if you’re Nintendo.

Maybe, with luck, we’ll get other Wii U ports; Super Mario Maker, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Star Fox Zero all deserve another chance, and New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World have a lot going for them.

The ports from other, non-Nintendo systems include some impressive fantasy RPG titles: Dark Souls Remastered, an upgrade of the series’ original game plus some DLC, bringing the series to Nintendo for the first time; The World Ends With You: Final Remix, a 10-year-old Square Enix title; and Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana from the PlayStation 4 and Vita.

Besides adding to our on-the-go gaming options, bringing games over the Switch serves another purpose: preservation.

Games aren’t forever.

Games aren’t forever. Studios shut down. Systems die out. Far too many digital artifacts have been lost already, as many companies — even those with resources comparable to Nintendo’s — let classic games fade away.

Services like the Virtual Console help prevent such a tragedy, but even they can go away, as the original Wii’s Shop Channel sunsetting shows us. If you have or can get your hands on a Wii or Wii U, you there’s still time to plumb the original Wii Virtual Console’s depths for download treasures — but even so, Wii and Wii U hardware won’t work forever, and having redundant consoles on hand isn’t really feasible. Nintendo is working on a Virtual Console-like service for the Switch, but unless it lets you access games you’ve already bought on previous iterations, it’s not very practical for most gamers. (We’re likely to get Switch cloud saves before that happens … and while that’s a totally different topic for another time, we should be so lucky.)

The Switch shouldn’t be just a dumping ground for Wii U software, and its tremendously successful and enjoyable first year proves that it’s far more than that — but it can and should be a new home for a generation of games in danger of becoming lost for as long as possible. We’re all the richer for it.

Also coming to Switch …

In addition to the ports of Wii U software and other games, Nintendo announced a few more Switch goodies on Thursday:

  • Mario Tennis Aces dusts off a long-running tradition of somehow successful plumber-related sports sideshows.
  • Super Mario Odyssey gets free DLC that includes new photo filters for Snapshot Mode, new Mario duds and Balloon World, a minigame available to those who’ve beat the main game that lets Luigi shine (finally).
  • Donkey Kong joins Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle in new DLC.

Something for the 3DS crowd …

Nintendo 3DS owners aren’t left out in the cold — the venerable handheld isn’t dead yet: the Japanese hit Detective Pikachu is finally coming to America on March 23 — with a jumbo amiibo figure that is sure to be a hot item.

(Remember, unless you have the New 3DS, you’ll need a separate NFC reader/writer accessory to use the amiibo’s helpful features in-game.)

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