When Wii U is released, you'll be able to play games from each of Nintendo's home consoles thanks to a mixture of backwards compatibility and the Virtual Console. With one exception. No, not Virtual Boy. Currently GameCube has no place on Nintendo's first high definition console, that we know of: only games on systems up to Nintendo 64 are available for download, and the disc slot won't accept GameCube's miniature disks, just like the later model of Wii.
GameCube was the handle-sporting mini-Hulk of the sixth console generation, boasting power far beyond what you'd expect from its toy-like exterior. Despite its third placing in the console wars of the day, it was home to plenty of classic games that we'd like to see return on Wii U. Is the system about to be thrown into a dusty corner, treated like the purple-cased odd one out? We doubt it. Here's how Nintendo could approach GameCube support on Wii U.
Last year a Nintendo of America executive suggested that digital downloads were the answer for GameCube games going forward, but since then we haven't really heard anything. It makes a lot of sense: Nintendo already has a pre-existing framework that GameCube could slot right into in Virtual Console. Decades of Nintendo titles all available with a few clicks through the eShop, now expanded into the 2000s.
On Wii there were file size constraints that prevented this from happening. That shouldn't be a problem any longer on Wii U. We're still uncertain of the exact amount of on-board storage contained in the system – rumours continue to suggest 8GB flash memory, confirmed to be expandable via SD cards – but considering Nintendo's decision to release games simultaneously on disc and as digital downloads, it seems a fair bet that there won't be any problem putting some GameCube titles online. Single disc GCN games generally come to a comparatively slim 1.4GB, which shouldn't pose any issues if full retail titles are on the way through the web.
Nintendo might, however, want to take advantage of the HD capabilities of Wii U. There are certainly plenty of GameCube candidates that would be ripe for an upscale, most obviously The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, with its timeless art style that would look glorious in high definition.
Instead of sticking solely to the digital route, perhaps Nintendo will look to the approach that Sony has encouraged on PlayStation 3: remastered HD collections. Similarly themed or franchised games could be bundled together at retail to give them more exposure, introduce them to new audiences and sneakily plug in gaps in its release schedule cost-effectively.
It's not like this hasn't been done before: Wii was home to the New Play Control! series, bolting Wii Remote motion or pointer controls on top of existing GameCube titles. That approach might well make a comeback; games' visuals could be spruced up, but perhaps these titles could also take advantage of Wii U GamePad and other system functions.
So, in an ideal world, which GameCube games would we like to see return, whether on Virtual Console or in full-blown HD remaster form? Omitting those already re-released on Wii under the New Play Control! banner or philosophy — the Metroid Prime Trilogy, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, the Pikmin games – as well as the aforementioned The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, there are still plenty that we'd love to play once again.
Viewtiful Joe, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Super Mario Sunshine, killer7 and F-Zero GX are all well-known and held in high regard, but there are lesser known titles that deserve another shot too: Chibi-Robo, Geist, Odama, XIII. GameCube was home to some of the last good wrestling games in the WWE Day of Reckoning series. Titles such as Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles or The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures could also have some kind of GamePad related future.
There were regional splits for the releases of some titles as well: Europe never received Baten Kaitos Origins, nor the wonderful Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest. North America didn't get Doshin the Giant. Neither got GiFTPiA, Skip Ltd's Animal Crossing-like RPG. Wii U re-releases could be a great way to provide this content to territories that previously missed out.
How would you like to see Nintendo deal with the GameCube back catalogue on Wii U? Which games would you like to see return?