So I've been thinking about backwards compatibility. We've heard nothing from Nintendo (as far as I know) and so it seems like we might not be getting any compatibility with Wii / Wii U (not counting VC) except for direct ports like Mario Kart 8 or sequels like Spla2n.
But all this got me thinking. How would backwards compatibility work if they DID implement it?
Imagine for one moment you're a design engineer for Nintendo. One day Reggie walks up to you (which is odd because you work for NoJ not NoA) and congratulates you on getting the lead design engineer position for the Wii U Backwards Compatibility team for the Switch. Your team's goals are:
- Get Wii U games running and playable on the Switch. As many as possible. Digital, disc, whatever you manage.
- Optionally get Wii games running as well. The Wii was a far more popular console so this could be a good selling point.
There are multiple aspects to consider, such as how the games will run on a single screen instead of two, and how the user will transfer their titles from their Wii U, especially if their library is all disc games. Maybe you want to risk doing software emulation to keep hardware costs down, or try and see if the hardware can be augmented to run the games directly.
You might only be able to get digital titles transferred from an owner's Wii U. That's fine. Maybe only titles that can be played on one screen. Limited solutions would be considered.
However, Reggie warns, you're subject to some restrictions:
- Piracy must not be facilitated. Allowing a user to stick a disc into their Wii U and run a Wii U channel to get a digital download credited for their Switch is a great idea, but not if someone can then take the same disc and stick it into a second Wii U and repeat the process… you'd have to prevent that. Even keeping the original disc running on Wii Us isn't really desired, but might be acceptable if there's a guarantee of only one digital copy being created from it.
- They've already got everything for the 1/12/17 presentation locked down. You can't make any major changes to the console hardware itself because of this, at least not visible ones. So no adding a second screen or Wii sensor bar. You could make accessories, perhaps a bundled one that comes with the console. Or make subtle changes, like ensure the joycons have the hardware to work like a Wiimote and Nunchuck.
- Ideas must not be TOO unrealistic… for example, recoding every Wii U game to support a single screen is probably not viable, especially for third-party titles.
I have a few ideas to start, I will post them in the comments.