During today's Nintendo Direct, company president Satoru Iwata revealed to those watching that not only would the Wii U be receiving a Virtual Console service this Spring, but that it would also include the Game Boy Advance, whose library of games has not even been available to the Nintendo 3DS eShop (save for a handful for those part of the Ambassador Program, of course).
Naturally, this made us perk up, as the Game Boy Advance heralded a renaissance (as Heat Man put it) of sorts for the Mega Man franchise throughout the early aughts. Granted, one could argue that it was this same renaissance which has left Capcom out of sorts regarding how to take the franchise forward and reluctant to introduce yet another new series under the Mega Man brand. In spite of that, however, you can't argue that we didn't get some good games regardless!
(This is the part where some of you [you know who you are] will lament the GBA output of the franchise in the comments. Sure, have at it.)
In 2001, the Blue Bomber was reborn for the internet age in Mega Man Battle Network, one of the franchise's most popular iterations to date. Spanning multiple forms of media as MegaMan NT Warrior, this series introduced a lot of new fans to the franchise through its alternate-universe reimagining of many of the franchise's most popular robotic characters as NetNavis who fought with the aid of NetOps and Battle Chips across cyberspace.
Though there were a few odd releases for other platforms, such as Mega Man Network Transmission for the GameCube, the main bulk of the series was released on the Game Boy Advance. In addition to the first two Mega Man Battle Network games, each subsequent numbered title came with two Pokemon-styled color-coded releases through its sixth and final installment. Beyond those ten releases, there was Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge, a card-battling game of sorts which took place between the third and fourth installments.
Incidentally, one aspect of the Battle Network series' popularity was the ability to battle other players of the game as well, and find out whose Battle Chip folder was superior. Details are all but nonexistent thus far regarding the Wii U Virtual Console's Game Boy Advance feature, so we don't know whether this will somehow be retained.
In any case, the Battle Network games have not seen any sort of re-release in the West (save for the lone two-in-one Battle Network 5: Double Team DS), so fans of the series may have something to look forward to here.
For those who preferred Mega Man's platforming roots, the four Mega Man Zero games provided a significant-- and arguably punishing-- challenge for fans of the franchise. Meant to pick up where Mega Man X5 was to have originally left off, the series follows Zero in a future beyond the X series and a cataclysmic Elf War spoken of in legend. As Zero helps a Reploid Resistance in their fight to survive against the oppressive city-state of Neo Arcadia, he employs a variety of weapons, abilities, and Cyber Elves over the course of the series.
Incidentally, the desire to own these four entries might have been stifled somewhat by the release of Mega Man Zero Collection for the Nintendo DS. In addition to containing all four games on one game card, the collection also features an Easy Mode for those who love the story and characters, yet fight the difficulty too daunting.
Speaking of challenging, the last Game Boy Advance release of the Mega Man franchise came in the only Western version of Rockman & Forte, here called Mega Man & Bass. With the self-proclaimed monarch of robot-kind, King, taking over the castle and forces of Dr. Wily, Mega Man and his rival Bass must "team up" in order to stop the new menace.
Granted, the two don't really "team up" any more than X and Zero did in Mega Man X4; that is to say, you pick one or the other, and you're stuck with them throughout the game, for better or for worse. For some, the Super Famicom version has proven to be one of the most challenging of the original series, something which isn't helped by the designers merely cropping away a significant portion of the screen for the Game Boy Advance version.
Of course, none of these titles have been announced; we're only laying out for you here the significance of the Game Boy Advance Virtual Console to the Mega Man series, as that platform yielded perhaps more Mega Man titles than any other during its tenure.
And purchasing them again won't be without its benefits; Iwata spoke of new features to be implemented into Virtual Console games on the Wii U, which we're guessing applies to the GBA library as well. These include Miiverse community functionality, save states, and the ability to play off-TV on the Wii U GamePad.
With all of that said, are you looking forward to the Game Boy Advance arriving on the Wii U Virtual Console? And if so, which games are you most looking forward to playing? Any old favorites, or perhaps one you've never had the chance to try? Tell us in the comments!