Nintendo is one of the big three console manufacturers who have had success for many years with porting or virtualising older games onto their new consoles, usually without much hassle. If you were a Wii U owner, you had the benefit of being able to use peripherals all the way from the GameCube era, and you had titles sold in the Virtual Console market going back as far as the SNES. With the Nintendo Switch, much of that backwards compatibility is lost, and Nintendo will have to go through another round of updates making the games run on low-powered ARM processors. Recently, however, the company started to trial Wii games running through streaming services, and you have to own a NVIDIA Shield TV in China to access it. That might solve the power problem.
According to an Ars Technica report, NVIDIA’s Shield TV launched today in China for the first time. The Shield TV is based on NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 platform with a modern GPU from the Maxwell family driven by ARM Cortex-A57 cores. Running Android, it doubles as a set-top box for accessing media services, as well as a replacement home gaming console. It’ll play a wide variety of games sold in the Android store as well as some ports made specifically for Shield devices, and it’s also capable of streaming games from your PC at home running a GeForce graphics card, or through NVIDIA’s GeForce Now streaming service. The internals also closely resemble those of the NVIDIA Switch, which is also based on the Tegra X1 silicon and doubles as a home console with about as much power as the Shield TV when docked.
According to user reports, opening up the App Store for their Shield consoles brought up fully remastered versions of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Punch-Out!. Available for about $10, these are remastered HD ports of the original games. This marks the first time that Nintendo’s IP has been seen on another console. If you look at the “Platform” label, it’s listed as requiring GeForce Now. This might not be a good pick for anyone deeper in mainland China who doesn’t have good internet or isn’t in close proximity to NVIDIA’s servers, but it’s a step in the right direction for Nintendo as they try figure out how to carry on their game library without losing the valuable history it has built up over the years.
This might signal that Nintendo is thinking of using streaming services to allow Switch owners to play games in their library from previous consoles. How well it works is anyone’s guess. The Switch doesn’t have cellular connectivity on its own, and requires a WiFi connection to access the internet. Perhaps if Nintendo is willing to work with Qualcomm and Microsoft to license their emulation technology, they might have a shot at porting games from the PowerPC platform that their older consoles were based on.