With the last generation of games, if you had the hankering for some classic gaming action, you would either have to check out a used game store for the original game or you could likely pick up a compilation disc.
Now that we have services such as the Wii’s Virtual Console, getting our retro gaming fix has become much easier, but also much more expensive. The pricing for Virtual Console titles is something that has been argued about in the past in other publications, so we won’t focus on that too much. Eight dollars is still a damn fine deal for Super Metroid no matter how you look at it.
Instead, consider the fact that compilation discs of the last generation were usually had on the cheap and that more often than not they included a bunch of games we weren’t even interested in among the ones we were looking to play. So for some, downloadable games are better than the compilation disc. Downloads are a no-frills way to enjoy only the games you want to play. You don’t have to worry about storage (memory issues aside) and you don’t have to worry about losing disc cases or manuals.
But then there are those people who just like having a lot of games to choose from when it’s game time. And then there are the collectors who like having the original packaging for their games. For them, a disc featuring a bunch of titles is where it’s at, especially since they can be had for as little as $20, sometimes even less. In fact, the only issue that compilation discs sometimes have is less-than-exact emulation of the original games and some button mapping problems.
From a retail perspective, digital downloads are a much more profitable business model for publishers to follow. Packaging needs neither to be designed nor produced. An actual hard copy of the game needn’t even exist and the prices don’t drop within a few months of pithy sales like retail games so often do (even with strong sales, we might add).
Sadly, for people like us here at Toronto Thumbs, the days of the compilation disc seem to be coming to a close, and too soon at that. It was really only in the last generation that compilations got to be any good. The Midway Arcade Treasures discs, for example, are full of classic arcade gems that really recall the glory days of the arcade (hey, remember arcades?). And let’s not forget the Mega Man Anniversary Collection, which despite having awkward button mapping (why did Capcom reverse the jump and shoot buttons!?) is still a solid collection of all the blue bomber’s early adventures. Should those games make it to the Wii Virtual Console, they will likely be 500 Wii Points a pop. And yet Anniversary Collection could be had for under $20 now if you can still find it in stores.
And let’s not forget the unquestionably awesome Sega Genesis Collection which includes 28 classic games (including the three Genesis Phantasy Star titles) and also retails for under $20. Many of the games on it are also available to download through the Virtual Console, but at the cost of roughly 800 points each, you’d have to spend $224 to download them all to your Wii.
Suddenly the Virtual Console doesn’t seem like that great a deal, does it?
Still, the existence of newer compilation discs such as last year’s Metal Slug Anthology and the upcoming Samurai Shodown Anthology (which at this point may or may not happen thanks to SNK toying with the idea of releasing the titles on the Virtual Console) gives us hope that the compilation disc may just go out with a bang rather than a hissing, dying breath. We’re just sad that our dream of seeing a Wii disc with every single NES game on it will never come to fruition.