A fan theory is growing regarding Nintendo’s archival process. Namely, fans are speculating that Nintendo might keep a copy of the source code (or at least a final ROM) for every single video game released on any of its consoles. And if so, that could be a great thing for the game industry moving forward.
The theory is laid out with a few pieces of evidence by user “mael” on ResetEra. Firstly, the user presents video research by Krvavi Abadas that details the extent of Nintendo’s emulation efforts, dating back to the time of NES games in Animal Crossing.
Secondly, Collection of Mana became a Nintendo Switch exclusive because, according to Game Informer, Square “had to actually get the code for the games from Nintendo.” Square Enix didn’t have the code for its own Mana games, but Nintendo had them ready to go. They will likely be knocking on Nintendo’s door a lot from now on, since Square Enix has ambitions of releasing its full catalogue of games digitally.
Finally, regarding the ROMs of the Mana games available in Collection of Mana, the ResetEra user makes this case:
All of these versions are basically direct ROMs of the French, UK, German and US releases of both games.
We also know that M2 who did the Collection basically used ROMs that work on official systems in their custom emulator for the Collection.
We also know from all these years since Nintendo revealed its Virtual Console initiative that the major hurdle for rereleasing the games were getting the distribution rights.
If any of you had a Wii and used the Virtual Console service, you know that the version of the games you would get through the service were the exact same versions that were released in the market of the shop you were buying the game…
It’s not an open-and-shut case by any means. There are any number of caveats to be found here, but it’s still food for thought. In any case, we know for sure Nintendo has fast access to a wide number of games. We hope this spells good things for the future of game streaming and game preservation.