The Wii U to Switch Ports: Good or Bad?

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Nintendo

The Wii U… what to say. It was a console! I can tell you that much! Honestly, for all the bad you can say about the Wii U, and there is a lot to say, it had some amazing games. While the 3rd party support for the system was just never there, the 1st party support, while slow, had quality. Some of Nintendo’s most impressive titles of recent memory came from the Wii U. Whether it be the Dark Souls of platforming, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the fresh new IP Splatoon, or the Tekken style Pokemon title, Pokken Tournament, Nintendo delivered. And now, many of these games are getting a new lease on life on Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch. As of the time of writing, six titles have been announced or released for the Switch that originally released on the Wii U. Nintendo seems to be using this porting strategy to bolster the Switch’s lineup, and has been doing so steadily since release day. This is an interesting strategy and has both some positives and negatives to it, which is what we’re going to be diving into in this article. If you’d like to watch the video version, feel free to check it out down below and let’s jump right in.

Let’s start with the positives to this system of porting. As you may or may not know, several handfuls of Wii Us were sold worldwide, estimated to be at least 30 or so, with me being one of them. So, while the Wii U had a solid library behind it, very few people had the chance to experience the titles. With the Switch closing in on the Wii U’s lifetime sales of under 14 million units in only a year, the audience to play these games is really there this time around. The Switch is continually flying off the shelves, and to many system owners, these games are completely brand new to them. With Switch owners now having a chance to pick these games up, they’re truly getting the recognition they deserve.

In tandem with that, the Switch had an absolutely amazing 1st year, and if they want sales to continue to smash records, they need to keep the 2nd year just as strong. The first year of the Switch’s library featured a massive 1st party title every month or two, and with two of Nintendo’s biggest mascots already having a title on the system (Mario and Zelda), year two is where they’ll need to prove they can keep the exclusive titles coming. That’s where the ports come in. February will welcome Nintendo’s first offering for the Switch in 2018, being one of the ports, Bayonetta 2. To put it delicately, this game tanked on the Wii U, due solely to the fact that the system it was on tanked right along with it. With the port being released on the Switch, they’re killing like seven different birds at once. They’re giving the game to a new audience that never had a chance to play it, turning an even bigger profit from the title, fleshing out the Switch’s library, proving they’ll continue to support the system with a wide variety of titles, and starting up the hype train for Bayonetta 3. All that from a port. Not too bad if I’d say so myself.

Another bonus to these ports is that each game so far has gotten some sort of an enhancement as they’ve moved from the Wii U to the Switch. While some have received only minor changes, such as Bayonetta 2’s amiibo support, others have received huge additions, such as Pokken Tournament getting a new fighter in the form of Decidueye, and Mario Kart 8’s overhauled (and far superior) Battle Mode. If we’d never received Switch ports of these games, we would have never had these additions that really added to some already great games.

However, with all the good I’ve mentioned, there definitely are some negative points to all these ports, that truly only stem from the way that Nintendo themselves have been handling them, and many of these problems come from the pricing structure. So far, each of these ports has had a retail price of $60. To me, this is absolutely ridiculous. To put this in perspective, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Bayonetta 2, Pokken Tournament, almost every ported game to the Switch, launched at less than that, usually in the $45-$50 range on the Wii U. That means I’m paying $15 extra dollars for amiibo support from Bayonetta 2, $15 for Funky Kong in Tropical Freeze (I’m absolutely not mad about that at all I’ll pay any price for that Kong) and $15 for Decidueye in Pokken. While the changes that were made to these games for the Switch were definitely nice, they don’t justify the massive price jump from their Wii U counterparts. In my opinion, each of these ports should cost no more than $40 dollars, as the effort of making a quick port with some updates doesn’t nearly equate to creating an entirely new game that would usually cost $60.

Bayonetta 2, Nintendo

There is one more problem with the pricing structure of these ports. Nintendo is ignoring Wii U owners. I bought almost every single one of these games when they originally came out on the Wii U and loved them all. Now, I’m being asked to buy them all again on a new console, with some minor additions, for a higher price point. Now, I will say, it is 100% my choice to buy these games again on the Switch. No one is forcing me to do so. However, I enjoyed these games the first time around, I know I’ll enjoy them this time. Besides that, I want to support the Switch in every way I can. While Nintendo is in no way obligated to do this, I think it would have been a great gesture from Nintendo to give the Wii U owners some sort of discount on these games. Whether it be through a trade in system or just any way at all, it would have been really nice to see Nintendo giving a little bit of notice to the 14 million customers they dropped immediately as the Switch launched. Do I sound bitter? I promise I’m not. Not at all. Like I said, Nintendo doesn’t need to do this, but it would have been a great gesture and would have made me feel a little less guilty for buying all of these games twice.

However, while I do have these gripes, does it really matter in the long run? No. These games are selling incredibly well. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe became the fastest selling Mario Kart game of all time. These games are doing great at their $60 price point, with no discount for Wii U owners, so why would Nintendo lower the price, why would they give a discount to the bitter Wii U owners? They don’t need to. And while I do definitely have some problems with this system of porting, I’m still here, buying all of the ports, and will continue to do so. I truly enjoyed these games on the Wii U, and with each port released, I have fewer reasons to pull out and dust off the old system. That in itself is a blessing. Overall, this port system benefits just about everyone. Nintendo fills out their Switch library by delivering games that don’t require much extra development, players receive critically acclaimed games that many didn’t have a chance to play, and everyone’s happy. Except for the bitter Wii U owners (definitely not me at all) who just want a little recognition for their struggles. Just a little.

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