Nintendo’s philosophy is most easily summed up as “lateral thinking with withered technology,” as several prominent designers at the company have said for years. Rather than trying to be on the cutting edge of technology and move the industry forward, Nintendo is generally more focused on how they can repurpose their existing concepts into something fresh and interesting. In few places is this more obvious that in its hardware: backwards combability and communication between handhelds and consoles have always been standards for the Big N. Besides being beneficial from a financial standpoint – if players can play DS games on their 3DS, they won’t stop buying DS games, even if the old handheld is no longer manufactured – it’s also helpful for fans who may have missed out on Nintendo’s illustrious back catalog in its heyday.

Nintendo recently made headlines for its release of a small collection of Nintendo 64 games on the Switch, which are available to those who purchase the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. The reviews… aren’t great so far. Ever since the closure of the Wii’s Virtual Console store, Nintendo has been struggling with what to do with its previous games. It’s clear that players want them, but the development giant simply hasn’t found an effective way to provide them. Even so, the release of these N64 games has me thinking about the future of Nintendo’s “withered technology” releases. Why shouldn’t the GameCube be next in line for a virtual console collection?

How does backwards combability work?

Earlier Nintendo hardware, like the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS, had backwards-compatibility baked in. In order to be able to play Game Boy and GBA games, respectively, the Game Boy Advance and the DS had pieces of their earlier counterparts’ CPUs and motherboards baked in to their hardware. This enabled the handhelds to effectively “switch track” from one processor to another depending on what kind of game they detected in their cartridge slots, as explained by Alex Custodio in Who Are You?, the comprehensive biography of the Game Boy Advance and one of my favorite books of last year. Owning a Game Boy Advance, a Nintendo DS, or even a Wii (which could play GameCube discs) was almost like having two platforms in one.

More recent hardware have made the trend virtual. Alongside its native GameCube compatibility – which included GameCube controllers and memory cards – the Wii introduced the Virtual Console shop, an online store where players could purchase and download games from previous consoles like the NES and the SNES. Virtual Console even included games from companies that were competitors of Nintendo at the time, like Sega and NEC. The 3DS continued this trend, allowing players to purchase select Game Boy and Game Boy Color games alongside console classics reformatted for handheld play. The Switch follows this trend: while it’s not backwards-compatible in terms of hardware, the proliferation of digital software sales since the inception of Virtual Console has made it easier for Nintendo to deliver old classics right to your doorstep. In the spirit of (limited) progress, the available games are from the Nintendo 64, Nintendo’s first 3D console.

Why the GameCube?

Since the N64 titles were just released for Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack subscribers, it’s unlikely that we’ll see another generation of old games coming to Nintendo consoles anytime soon. Even so, the logical next step in the process would be to allow players access to GameCube titles. The GameCube, which was the successor to the much-loved N64, was the black sheep of the Nintendo hardware family. It launched without a Mario game, instead giving fans Luigi’s Mansion. At the time, this was a strange decision – launching a Nintendo console without a flagship Mario title was like eating a sandwich that’s just bread. (Eventually we got Super Mario Sunshine.) In the years since its release, Luigi’s Mansion has become a cult classic, alongside titles like PikminChibi-Robo, and Animal Crossing. The GameCube gave us The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, one of the most-loved Zelda titles. The point is: people love this console!

Like its other Virtual Console collections, the release of a GameCube collection would likely make Nintendo a lot of money, provided they choose a good set of games to feature. It would also give fans of today’s games a chance to look back on their earlier titles. Animal Crossing‘s popularity didn’t really explode until Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but the series started (in North America) as a lesser-known GameCube title. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is widely considered one of the best games of all time – why not let newer and younger fans experience Wind Waker and Twilight Princess on a console they’re already familiar with?

Many GameCube games still look and play great, unlike the many N64 titles with control issues that have been reported so far. Games that require precision, like Mario Kart: Double Dash, Super Monkey Ball, and Super Smash Bros. Melee are all still playable today. They may not be playable in 4K or at 60 fps, but they’re responsive and fun. Heck, Melee is still being played at fighting game tournaments around the world and it celebrated its 20th birthday this year. Nintendo sells Switch-compatible GameCube controllers for Super Smash Bros Ultimate players who grew up on Melee. Making GameCube games available to current fans through the Switch would also cut down on piracy – why pirate a game if you can already play it on an existing console?

It’s likely that we won’t get a GameCube Virtual Console for a long time, as much as I’d like to see it happen. We just got N64 titles, and they’re obviously not doing as well as Nintendo hoped. There are also technical issues that need to be ironed out, like lag caused by Nintendo’s less-than-stellar online capabilities and the extremely small library of available titles. Finally, Nintendo moves at its own speed: it’s proven before that it refuses to be rushed by other companies, fans, and the press. Even so, I hope Nintendo learns from these issues and brings a strong library of GameCube Virtual Console titles to our TVs and monitors in the not-so-distant future. Hyrule could always use saving.