News has spread that this is the last week that NES puzzler Yoshi’s Cookie will be available on the Wii’s Virtual Console. An expiring license is being bandied about as the main cause for the impending removal, despite Yoshi’s Cookie being a first-party Nintendo title. Sadly, Yoshi’s Cookie isn’t the first title to disappear from the Virtual Console, as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, R-Type, and all three Donkey Kong Country games have already faded into obscurity. Sadder still is knowing that there’s probably no end in sight for these unceremonious removals.
What frustrates about these losses to the Virtual Console is that the service should be the go-to source for classic, Nintendo gaming. Instead, fans are lucky to get a single new release in a week, and with the transition to Wii U, these releases are now limited to NES and SNES titles. It’s not that Nintendo doesn’t have an abundance of systems and games to draw from; they simple choose not to. As a result, numerous titles remain in limbo, confined to their systems of origin with little hope of being rediscovered.
The issue of licenses is understandable, as titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were born under complicated circumstances, and as a result can’t be brought back easily. Other games, though, like Yoshi’s Cookie, don’t seem to have a legitimate reason for being allowed to reach a point where they need to be removed. Even if another developer like Rare or Bullet-Proof Software was involved, if the game used any of Nintendo’s IPs, I can’t understand the logic on Nintendo’s part to just let the title disappear without a fight. The Donkey Kong Country games are perhaps the most glaring example of this. The titles are beloved, and seem a shoe-in to help build hype for the upcoming Tropical Freeze title heading to Wii U. Instead, it’s been nearly a year since they went AWOL and Nintendo’s lips are sealed on the possibility of their return.
As a fan, this sucks. The DKC games are as fun as they are influential, and to see them so callously dismissed is disheartening. I’ve stated before that videogame developers owe it to everyone to keep their back catalogue of games preserved, and Nintendo is no exception. Indeed, Nintendo is the one company above all others that has the biggest responsibility to do so. While games like Super Mario Bros. are always available, the milestones shouldn’t be the only games that warrant their attention. Yoshi’s Cookie going away is just more confirmation that Nintendo doesn’t place enough priority on keeping all of its older games in the minds of fans. Here’s hoping that Nintendo will stop the bleeding sooner, rather than later.