Yet, that argument has always been part of the problem whenever you try to pretend that imitators, at some level, do not provide the essential service in the modern gaming age.
While the idea of playing your favorite retro games through a modern console on your TV or, in the case of the Nintendo Switch, the idea of going on a completely official trip is wonderful, the sad fact of the matter is that the opportunity to do just that is rare. While Microsoft is committed to its backward compatibility programs, Sony and Nintendo have struggled to find a way to provide gamers with ready access to some of their best retro games (if they really care about offering such options).
That’s actually a big part of the reason why some fans felt that Switch Online’s expansion pack service was too expensive from the start. Nintendo is incompatible with both the frequency of their switched online retro game library updates and the quality of the games they add to that service. Yes, this early batch of N64 games is impressive, but in the recent history of Nintendo do we feel confident that they will continue to update this service to justify this price increase properly in the long run?
Of course, these latest technical problems really focus on the scope of this problem. A big reason why people call these bad ports of the original games is that we have access to unofficial emulations of these titles that run better than this official port and offer more features. Mind you, the N64 is an infamously difficult console to emulate, but the fact that technically better versions of these games are available elsewhere is really something that shouldn’t happen.
There is a degree to which imitation allows us to see what is possible and not just accept occasional handouts as the best we can do. Yes, there are legal reasons why companies can’t always give us all the retro games we want, but there are very few reasons why the ports they give us shouldn’t be of the highest quality. Providing quick and inexpensive access to the largest collection of retro titles for imitators is one thing but it shouldn’t be when those imitators continue to be the gold standard in many ways.
That’s the point here. The biggest reason you should not be tempted to use emulators should be that companies already offer ready access to high-quality, official versions of retro games and charge you only a few bucks for the pleasure of owning them. Instead, we live in a world where you pay twenty dollars more per year to access nine N64 games (as well as all the other features you get with that service) that aren’t properly optimized and that you don’t really have. Considered a blessing by many “loyal” fans. The biggest argument against imitators should be that they are a way to avoid paying for something that is otherwise available, but not as we see time and time again.