Nintendo often finds a way to surprise its fans and throw a curveball, and so in the most recent Nintendo Direct it didn't unveil the Switch Virtual Console, as such, but the 'Arcade Archives' series. It started this week with Arcade Archives Mario Bros., and the following are still on the way.
- Vs. Super Mario Bros.
- Vs. Balloon Fight
- Vs. Ice Climber
- Vs. Pinball
- Vs. Clu Clu Land
The names are familiar, but these are all reproductions of arcade cabinets, as made clear with the 'Vs.' moniker, for example. In some cases they're relatively similar to the games that ended up on NES and multiple Virtual Consoles, in others there's quite a notable difference in terms of content, while the Punch-Out!! arcade is an example of a game quite far removed from the NES equivalent. We've reviewed Mario Bros. and quite enjoyed it, while being impressed with the authenticity of the port and the extra features that are available. That's no surprise, as HAMSTER has been releasing 'ACA' Neo Geo titles with the same principles for months and has simply continued the good work.
The reception has been relatively positive, in some respects, but also quite muted. Mario Bros. isn't burning up the eShop charts after over 24 hours on the store, sitting in 9th in North America and Japan (at the time of writing) and 14th in the UK. In the UK chart, for example, Golf Story is already up to 5th place and has only been out a matter of hours as we publish this.
In some respects the Arcade Archives range feels like a middle ground - it's not the 'Virtual Console', and we still don't know when (or if) that'll be fully realised in its traditional form on the Switch. Is the rumoured GameCube actually on the way, or will the 'Classic Game Selection' in next year's full Nintendo Switch Online service fill the gap? Some people are undeniably underwhelmed and questioning the $7.99USD / €6.99 / £6.29 price tag for Mario Bros, while others argue it's a more than fair price to pay for an official ROM that's rather unique. On the one hand it's a faithful reproduction of an arcade cabinet that's now expensive to acquire, but on the other it's the same price as (arguably) far more complex and advanced ACA Neo Geo games on the eShop.
We're curious about what you think of the Arcade Archives range, and whether you're planning to add many of them to your collection. Are you in the same camp as those posting rather gloomy "RIP VC" messages, a bit more optimistic that a full VC is still coming and that these are an extra treat, or simply pleased as punch with the release schedule and the fact these downloads are coming?
Let us know what you think in the polls and comments.