In one of the more out-of-nowhere announcements of the last few days, Nvidia have announced that they are partnering with Nintendo to bring Wii and Gamecube games in HD to the Nvidia Shield in China.
There’s a lot of caveats to that statement, so let’s start from the beginning. About a year ago, Nintendo, Nvidia, and Chinese online video platform iQiyi announced a partnership together to “strengthen all three brands.” Nintendo have long been interested in entering theChinese video game market, but has never really been able to go completely in like they have in other regions, so partnerships with other companies makes sense for them.
While the Chinese ban on foreign game consoles ended in 2015 after lasting fifteen years, manufacturers had a difficult time figuring out how to gain a foothold in the country with no distribution networks or really any knowledge of the business network there. As recently as September, Nintendo have been openly eyeing partnerships with Chinese mega-corporation Tencent for games like Arena of Valor.
This brings us to Nintendo’s partnership with Nvidia, who have long had intentions of becoming a major player in the Chinese game market. When Nintendo partnered with Nividia for the Switch’s internal hardware, speculation was abound at why, beyond just general technology, Nintendo chose to eschew their usual partner of AMD. With Nividia’s announcement that the Shield will have Gamecube and Wii games, that choice started to make more sense.
The Shield TV, which is basically an Android-powered console that plays some high-profile PC games, is slightly modified for its Chinese version, as neither Google Assistant nor Google Play Store work in Mainland China. This makes Nvidia’s job of positioning it as a specialized box for the Chinese market a little easier and aided by Nintendo’s games.
The Wii and Gamecube games run in 1080p, though without a tech analysis, it is difficult to say if it is re-rendering the game at HD resolutions or merely outputting and upscaling to 1080p. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Punch-Out!! have all been announced to be coming to the Shield in time.
Analyst Daniel Ahmad also reports that Metroid Prime 3 is coming, as well.
Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 use the IR pointer for gameplay and Punch-Out!! uses it for menus, begging the question of how these games will play using the Shield’s controllers. A number of adjustments will most likely have to be made.
In China, the Nvidia Shield costs 1499 yuan, or roughly $225. Each Nintendo game itself runs for 69 yuan, or roughly $10. You can check out the preview trailer for the Nvidia Shield below, which showcases their partnership with Nintendo.
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Considering these are Wii games being ported to hardware that is at least a similar family to what powers the Nintendo Switch, I wonder if this means anything for these games being ported to the Switch in the near future. The work is already being done and it seems like releasing them on the Switch would not be exceptionally difficult. We’ll have to wait and see.