[ Update: A description page on the Chinese Nvidia site suggests that the Wii games in question run through the transmission through the Nvidia Geforce Now service, instead of through emulation directly on the Shield hardware. This complicates the idea that Shield is being used as a test for any effort of the virtual switch console. The mere existence of remastered HD versions of classic Wii titles suggests that Nintendo may have more plans for these games than just basic emulation.]
The TV box of the Nvidia Shield decoder is released today in China with the same type of Android-based games and family video streaming capabilities for the owners of the West. But that launch abroad also comes with an unexpected exclusive addition to the new market: a remastered version of 1080p HD of certain Nintendo Wii games.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and the Wii version of Punch-Out !! are available to owners of Chinese Shield TV for 68 RMB (around $ 10), with Super Mario Galaxy "coming soon" according to a press release and an introductory breakthrough.
This is the first time in decades that the direct ports of major Nintendo games have appeared on hardware not manufactured by Nintendo. It is also the first official HD remastering for some of these Wii 480p games anywhere in the world (although Twilight Princess previously received HD treatment on the Wii U). And the Shield TV titles mark Nintendo's first effort to bring its console games to mainland China from the Nintendo iQue Player, which overcame China's early 2000s game console ban by playing only a handful of N64 titles.
For Nintendo fans outside of China, however, the Wii re-releases on Shield TV are interesting so they could point to Nintendo's plans to re-launch the Wii games on the Switch. After all, the Switch uses the same system on an Nvidia X1 chip as Shield TV, which means that similar Wii HD ports should be simple on the Nintendo console. The Chinese ports of Shield TV could easily be seen as a launch test for similar releases of Switch in the near future.
Nintendo has been surprisingly slow to exploit its deep catalog of classic games on the Switch, except for a handful of "Arcade Files" re-releases and a well-hidden copy of NES Golf embedded in all systems . Officially, only NES and Super NES downloads are planned as part of Switch's online subscription service next year. But with these Shield TV ports, and Nintendo's recent introduction of Gamecube controller compatibility in the switch, we hope that the latest Nintendo hardware games may also soon be decorating the switch.