Who'd have thought it? Major entries in some of Nintendo's biggest franchises are launching on the NVIDIA Shield. That's right, Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Punch-Out, among other Wii (and possibly GameCube) games, are coming to NVIDIA's set-top-box in China. All games will be running in native 1080p instead of their original resolution of 480p
The Shield, which hit store shelves in China today, is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra X1 chip like the one found in the Nintendo Switch, which could partially explain the surprising deal between the two companies. Prior to the release of the Switch, Nintendo and NVIDIA were rumored to be closely working together to ensure that developing for the new hybrid console, and porting over existing titles, would be as easy and hassle-free for developers as possible.
But there's also another reason for Nintendo to bring some of its old titles to another console in the region. The regulation of video games in China has been rigorous since the infamous video game ban of 2000, although the situation has warmed up a bit in recent years, which forced console manufacturers such as Nintendo to partner with local companies to develop proprietary versions of their hardware that fulfilled the various requirements imposed by the Chinese government on gaming devices. One of the better-known examples of this practice was the Nintendo iQue Player, which was a plug-and-play version of the Nintendo 64 crammed inside a controller.
This was China's N64, the iQue Player
The ban on video games was lifted in 2015, but Nintendo is still reluctant to bring its own hardware to the market, with the Switch still not available in the region. Furthermore, the NVIDIA Shield model that launched in China is a completely localized device, meaning its digital storefront and content have been tailored for the Chinese market, so don't just expect Mario Galaxy to pop up on the Shield store in the US. This is all happening as a part of a deal between Nintendo, NVIDIA, and Chinese video company iQiyi.