There are official Switch N64, GameCube, and Wii emulators, but will Nintendo do anything with them?

A datamine of a leaked copy of Super Mario 3D All-Stars produced a startling discovery, one which could determine the future of the Switch. The three titles included in the collection, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy, all run via emulation. This means that Nintendo has devised an official means to run N64, GameCube, and Wii titles, making porting games from those consoles to Switch much easier. However, the big question is whether or not Nintendo will actually do anything with the new emulators.

On Wii, Wii U, and 3DS, Nintendo used the Virtual Console to sell select titles from its back catalog. On the Wii U alone, which is Nintendo’s worst-selling console, 311 games from the NES, SNES, N64, GBA, NDS, and TurboGrafx-16 were available to purchase on the Virtual Console. The titles available included most of Nintendo’s most-beloved games available on those platforms. By contrast, the Switch, Nintendo’s second best-selling console, has no Virtual Console and only offers a smattering of its NES and SNES back catalog to its online service subscribers.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars Leak Emulation

The datamine of Super Mario 3D All-Stars shows all three games are running via emulation.

Nintendo has ported several titles from the Wii U to the Switch, which makes sense due to the console’s low sales. However, Super Mario 3D All-Stars will mark the first games from the N64, GameCube, and Wii to make it to the Switch. It was previously hypothesized that maybe the Switch’s relatively low-powered hardware couldn’t handle GameCube and Wii emulation. After all, Dolphin requires a fairly robust device to play games at full-speed. That doesn’t seem to be the case, though.

Unfortunately, Nintendo is worse than Disney when it comes to vaulting content. Despite almost universal acclaim for most of its first-party titles, the company is incredibly stingy with re-releases. This is exemplified by how much hype there is for Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Few companies could get a fanbase as enthused for three old emulated games as Nintendo has.

Mother 3 Switch

Despite fans asking for it for years, Nintendo has never released Mother 3 outside of Japan.

Whether it’s a strategy, as indicated by Super Mario 3D All-Stars’ limited availability, or simple lack of desire to re-release games, Nintendo’s catalog is seen as “more valuable” due to its tact of making past releases unavailable. Because of this, it seems doubtful we’ll see a GameCube, Wii, or N64 Virtual Console on Switch. Since it seems intent on keeping its past successes in the bank to withdraw for a rainy day, I doubt we’ll see any significant use of these newly discovered emulators. We’re dealing with a company that ignores that people are willing to pay full-price for Mother 3, a 14-year old game if Nintendo localizes it (even when the fan translator for the game offers their script free of charge).

As much as I love Nintendo, it seems content to flirt with making its older content available instead of providing its catalog for easy purchase. It’s odd because Nintendo often goes after ROM hosting sites, so you would think it would realize how much people want access to its back catalog. Regardless, if the company continues to take the same tact it has for the entirety of the Switch’s lifespan, don’t expect to see much in the way of further N64, GameCube, and Wii re-releases on the system.