16-Bit Gems Looks at Mega Man: The Wily Wars

Over on GameTrailers, ClanOfTheGrayWolf has produced what could be seen as a rather timely and topical video. With the common perception of Mega Man Universe being a sort of "Mega Man 2 Powered Up" (to which Capcom would seem to rather us wait before making such judgments), it seems like a good time to turn back the clock and look at the first remake of the original three Mega Man games in a well-known but rarely-experienced title from the 16-bit era. Warning: some mild vulgarity within.

What makes this video even more topical than the slight relation to Mega Man Universe is that The Wily Wars has been known to rank high among the most-wanted Virtual Console games listings in Nintendo Power. While this in no way seems to directly affect what games are released on the service (or else we'd have a lot more titles by now), it does bring to mind another similar case and how it is being handled.

Fans of Mario know that Nintendo has recently begun celebrating the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., and in Japan, they are commemorating the occasion with a special retail Wii release of Super Mario Collection, better known to us in the West as Super Mario All-Stars. And for those still unfamiliar with the title, it preceded The Wily Wars and gathered the four NES Super Mario titles, upgraded their graphics, sound, and features, and released them on one cartridge for the Super NES.

Since the debut of the Wii and the Virtual Console service, Nintendo has released the original NES versions the four games to the service, including the 8-bit version of The Lost Levels, also known as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan (and which was never released in 8-bit form in the West prior). This left people to wonder how Nintendo would handle the release of the 16-bit upgrades of the games-- and if they were to do so.

Typically, NES games would run for 500 Wii Points on the Wii Shop Channel, with Super NES games running 800 a piece. To get the full contents of Super Mario All-Stars in 8-bit form would cost 2,100 Wii Points (The Lost Levels was 100 more, as it was an "import"), but how should the 16-bit forms be priced? Since they were all released on one cartridge, some believed that is how they would come to Virtual Console, retaining the 800 Wii Point price.

On the other hand, it is comprised of four games which could be released individually. And being 16-bit, they could in theory charge 800 Wii Points each, bringing the total to 3,200 Wii Points. Or perhaps just charge more for the four collectively.

As one can see, there are numerous factors to consider, to say nothing of consumer reaction. As a business, Nintendo would need to figure out a way to release the games in such a way that they would not undercut the value, but also not rip-off/enrage their potential customers.

In Japan, Nintendo has apparently found a solution to the problem by taking advantage of the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. to release the Super Mario Collection Special Pack, which not only includes a Wii disc containing the 16-bit versions of the four classic games, but also a special anniversary booklet and soundtrack. So far, this limited-edition package has not been announced for a Western release, but fans remain hopeful.

Naturally, this now calls into question how Capcom might approach a Wii release of Mega Man: The Wily Wars, especially now that a clear precedent has been set. It seems unlikely (though not impossible) that it could be used to mark his silver anniversary as Mario's does; Mega Man is only 22, turning 23 later this year.

Of course, it's possible that Capcom could simply just release it anyway, though we are left to wonder if they would have the inclination to. They could also just go the Virtual Console route, but that would lead to the issues noted above, not to mention the factors involved with Wily Tower in the mix.

It's hard to say what plans, if any, Capcom has had for a re-release of The Wily Wars, or if Nintendo's Super Mario Collection Special Pack has simplified or complicated matters. At the very least, we can continue to hope that it does eventually happen, as it is a neat set of remakes of the original three games of the franchise. Plus, the joy of getting to customize your arsenal from those three games as you prepare to fight three new and exclusive bosses is one no Mega Man fan should be denied.