Backwards compatibility has been somewhat lost on this generation of consoles. Neither the PlayStation 4 nor the Xbox One are capable of playing their predecessors' games, and the Wii U has to switch into a separate mode just to play older titles. At the very least, it's nice that Nintendo included the ability to play Wii games on newer hardware, but it's far from the most elegant solution.
Thankfully, Nintendo has found a way around such hurdles: re-releases!
Announced via Nintendo Direct earlier this morning, the publisher confirmed that Super Mario Galaxy 2, Punch Out!! and the Metroid Prime Trilogy are all headed to the Wii U eShop later this year.
According to Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, the new versions of these games will be able to launch directly from the Wii U menu, as opposed to switching over into a separate mode. "Now that we can reproduce Wii disc software on Wii U, we can make these titles available to download."
In terms of a release schedule, Super Mario Galaxy 2 will hit the eShop first...which is actually later today. Punch-Out!! will follow, debuting on Jan. 22, while Metroid Prime Trilogy drops on Jan. 29. Iwata mentioned that more Wii games would be headed to the Wii U eShop, though whether or not Nintendo will keep such a fast-paced release schedule going is still up in the air.
It's easy to accuse Nintendo of simply rehashing its games in order to fill out the struggling Wii U library (and that's probably part of its strategy), but it's also easy to forget just how hard-to-find some of these games are nowadays. The Metroid Prime trilogy alone goes for ridiculous prices online - now, the games are reasonably priced at $20, and the fact that all of them will be half-price for the first week after launch is just icing on the cake.
The Wii U may still be struggling to find its footing, but moves like this could really help the Big N. There's plenty of room left for expansion - if the Wii U can run Wii games, it can certainly run GameCube games - but it's a solid way to give Nintendo's newest console a stronger library without costing gamers a fortune. It's a smart move on Nintendo's part, and the discount pricing ends up making the company look even better in the eyes of its fans. Players would have felt cheated if the games were going for full price, but at $20 - they're a steal.