This is something I've been thinking about for a while, but the Mario Direct today brought it back to mind. Because with the announcements from the Direct, nearly every mainline Mario platformer released on consoles will be playable on Switch, with the sole exception of New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
But none of the handheld Mario platformers will. Mario Land 1 and 2, NSMB 1 and 2, Mario 3D Land. Hell, Mario Land 2 didn't even get a nod in the big medley at the end. And that's a pretty significant game, given it was the first appearance of Wario.
You can also see this neglect with basically every handheld Zelda game that isn't Link's Awakening, the Advance Wars series, the Wario Land series, the Golden Sun series, one-off standalone games like Drill Dozer. Outside of occasionally being dropped unceremoniously on Virtual Console, Nintendo doesn't really acknowledge these games very much.
This isn't just a Nintendo thing, either. See the Castlevania series, for instance. How many platforms has Symphony of the Night been ported to? I don't feel like counting, but just the ones I can think of off the top of my head are a lot. In contrast, the GBA and DS games have never seen that treatment. The GBA games are playable on the Wii U Virtual Console, but that's it.
Of course that's Konami, but still. You can also look at the Sonic Advance and Rush games, the GBA Crash and Spyro games, or the Mega Man Battle Network series (though, since Capcom finally gave the Zero and ZX games the compilation they deserved, that might change soon).
The GBA also saw a lot of "demakes" of console games. Some were genuinely pretty good, like the Tony Hawk games and Rayman 3. Some were impressively ambitious, like Driver 3. Some were just fascinating curiosities, like Max Payne.
And it's not much better outside of Nintendo handhelds. Look at Sony, how they're sure to port the PS2 Jak and Ratchet games to every console, but they don't give the same treatment to Daxter or Size Matters. I'd also bet that if we ever see a Motorstorm collection, it won't include Arctic Edge. And the same goes for Vita games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Killzone: Mercenary.
(Though to Sony's credit, they're not all bad. The solid PSP God of War games got remastered for PS3, the PSP and Vita Wipeout games got remastered into Omega Collection, and one-off games like Tearaway and Gravity Rush got a second chance on PS4.)
Basically, publishers seem to treat their handheld games as afterthoughts. They were frequently just projects given to smaller studios to pop out to capitalize on brand recognition. They don't get the remaster and remake treatments, or the fanservice, or any of that. And as someone who's always played handheld games about as much as console games, that bums me out. Yeah, a lot of these games probably haven't aged well. But you can say the same for plenty of older games. That doesn't mean they're not deserving of preservation, or their legacy doesn't matter.
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