News Article

Virtual Console Top 20 - March 2008 (USA)

Posted by Damien McFerran

A quick glance at the top 20 most downloaded Virtual Console titles for North America in the Wii Shop shows that Wii gamers just can’t seem to get enough of Nintendo titles. In the entire top 20 this March, all 20 games are from the NES, SNES or N64 systems. Poor old Genesis, TG-16 and Neo Geo!

There is no date range specified for the top 20 downloaded games in the Wii Shop but this list is thought to be a recent view of what North American gamers are downloading on the VC, not total sales to date.

This gives a little perspective on recent issues with Virtual Console releases; perhaps the service isn’t proving to be that profitable for third party publishers, hence the reluctance of companies like Hudson and D4 Publisher (who are handling Neo-Geo distribution on the service) to release games?

If this is the case then the situation is eerily similar of the position the Wii currently finds itself it – only Nintendo’s titles seem to sell in any significant volume while other publishers find it hard to make a decent profit, despite the huge installed user base.

Anyway, here’s what you came for – the entire top 20, in full:

1 - Super Mario Bros. 3 - NES
2 - Super Mario Bros. - NES
3 - Mario Kart 64 - N64
4 - Kirby 64 : The Crystal Shards - N64
5 - Super Mario World - SNES
6 - Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream - NES
7 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - N64
8 - The Legend of Zelda - NES
9 - Super Mario Bros. 2 - NES
10 - Donkey Kong - NES
11 - Super Mario 64 - N64
12 - Star Fox 64 - N64
13 - Pac-Man - NES
14 - Donkey Kong Country - SNES
15 - Pokemon Snap - N64
16 - Kirby’s Adventure - NES
17 - Paper Mario - N64
18 - Bubble Bobble - NES
19 - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - SNES
20 - Harvest Moon - SNES

From the web

User Comments (73)



That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

It looks like nostalgia sells on VC. People buy back the games they used to play... Most of them are great games, mind. It´s no surprise lesser known quality titles didn´t make the list.

Since the actual number of downloads isn´t published, it´s hard to judge if non-Nintendo titles sell bad or just "good but not great". I hope it don´t keep third-party companys from bringing their games to VC anyway. "Odd" games are always welcome in my opinion.



Damo said:

I'm quite shocked as Super Mario World is clearly a better game all round.



Roo said:

Super Mario 3 for 500 points...can't go wrong there.

Kirby 64's awfully high up for a game which isn't too great.



Damo said:

Kirby 64 is a fairly new game though so expect it to drop down shortly.



Villain said:

@Damo: I agree. but like That Guy from Faxanadu said; nostalgia. edit: At your first post.

These number are completely unfair. It seems like popular names win against hidden potential, considering how many 3rd party games aren't on that list. I'm not surprised. Looking at this list really reflects how indie my own list of VC games is...I've got the fundamental masterpieces, but I've clearly skipped the overrated "classics". Maybe Nintendo should...I don't know...raise the prices for their own games and lower the prices of the 3rd party games? Nah, that might be stupid. Cause I really wanna see some more 3rd party masterpieces right now.



retrospekt_au said:

I also have to agree with Damo. Super Mario World was in my experience the greatest of the Mario series ever made. I tried mario 64 and I don't know.. it just doesn't do it for me.. Funnily enough though, Mario Galaxy does it for me



Rossi said:

How did Kirby 64 : The Crystal Shards beat Kirby's Adventures



slangman said:

Not suprised with the VCs to 20 since it all the games up there are nostelgic titles. I am suprised the likes of Contra 3 and Super Metroid didn't make the grade though.



That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

retrospekt_au: I experienced the same thing with Mario 64 and Galaxy. Though it was groundbreaking, Mario 64 isn´t quite as fun as the 2D games. I think Nintendo pushed themselves to be more creative and playful with Galaxy and came closer to the ultimate Mario experience: Super Mario World..



Jockolantern said:

Really surprised to not see Super Metroid make the cut; then again, a lot more terrific games didn't seem to make the cut either, so...

Mario 64 is one of the few great games on the N64, a system that was plagued by mediocre to bad titles and a lousy graphics engine to boot. If we're gonna' talk massively overrated games on the N64, my glare rests firmly upon Ocarina of Time. Why on earth people consider it one of the great games of all time continues to escape me. It is by no means horrific yet by no means fantastic; Zelda series greatness can be found in the original adventure, Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Minish Cap, and Twilight Princess... but not Ocarina or Majora. Although considering its overall popularity, I'm surprised OoT didn't score higher in the Top 20 VC titles.



Bass_X0 said:

This gives a little perspective on recent issues with Virtual Console releases; perhaps the service isn’t proving to be that profitable for third party publishers, hence the reluctance of companies like Hudson and D4 Publisher (who are handling Neo-Geo distribution on the service) to release games?

Maybe if D4 chose more recent fighters instead of the NeoGeo's oldest more people would download them. If VC isn't proving profitable for D4, then they only have themselves to blame. People don't want to play World Heroes, AoF1, Fatal Fury 1. As well as Mark of the Wolves, there are several fighters I would download if they made them available. Yet they don't so my only downloaded NeoGeo game is KoF94.

i hope we get something good tonight. i'm kinda expecting Spelunker but i hope the other game is worth downloading.



Bensei said:

Could you do the same for Europe please

I think other consoles titles didn't sell so well because we're talking about a Nintendo console that was developed for casual gamers. Not only that most would only buy games of franchises they know from the present or the nostalgia already mentioned, the other consoles weren't as successfull as Nintendo's were.

I for myself never heard of Turbo GrafX back those days and I hardly knew the Neo-Geo



Eva said:

^Actually looking at IGN, as well as the SNK anthology (interestingly labeled volume 1), there's also the Samurai Shodown Anthology and a King of Fighters Collection coming out (all listed as Q4).



blackknight77 said:

This list reminds me why I think Nintendo will release Super Mario Allstars at some point. It would sell like hotcakes



Plunge said:

I think this is mainly because the majority of third party games that have been released arent as great or as well known games as the Nintnedo masterpieces. If a third party game like Earthwrom Jim or a Megaman game were released, people would be all over it.




One thing we must consider is the avalibility of these games in recent past, such as re-makes and re-releases. (OOT has seen 2 on the last GC).



strenny said:

I can only explain this list by admitting that the huge user base consists 90% of casual gaming folks that just send in the stars they got from (lets say..) their xmas wii+games to change them into wii points and then only getting one game. And what are they buying - just what they know. I reckon those customers would never buy wii points seperately to get a retro title. This way i am afraid that the vc will turn into a lame duck as soon as wiiware is out everywhere.



Will said:

It would be great to know the overall sales wouldnt it? Is that possible?



DJ_Triforce said:

The Legend of Zelda for the NES is the best game ever made! I would buy it 10 more times, if it allowed me. But I don't think I can agree with you here, Damo, Super Mario 3 is amazing...

And to be honest, I don't think any other Wii game is worth buying (not VIrtual Console games), unless it's made by Nintendo. Nintendo is about quality... I mean, think about it... there's a reason that they are the Console Champions right now. And they are the only console with a history at all. Mario, Zelda, Metroid... these have become household names. Mario is more famous than Mickey Mouse! Here's my Wii Games right now (most of them are Nintendo):

Mario Strikers Charged (Nintendo)
Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo)
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles (Capcom)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Nintendo)
Super Paper Mario (Nintendo)
Mario Party 8 (Nintendo)
Wii Play (Nintendo)
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Nintendo)
Wii Sports (Nintendo)
Link's Crossbow (Nintendo)

However, if anyone knows of any other Wii games that are good, let me know. I'm always looking for good games.



Mirokunite said:

I'm quite shocked as Super Mario World is clearly a better game all round.

True, but Super Mario Bros 3 has quite the nostalgia factor to it.

I would dare say SMB 3 is probably one of the best all around platformers on the NES.



KCar said:

I'd love to see some sort of price incentive for third party publishers, if that's what's keeping titles from being published. Personally, I'd like to see the VC as a kind of pay-archive, where any game is legally at the touch of your fingers (with a nominal credit card transaction). I don't want to think of these titles being "published" again - I want to think of them as belonging to a greater library.

My two cents, anyway.



witchfinder said:

To those people suggesting that this list may put off third party companies from releasing more of their back catalogue, why would it? I'm sure they are still making money from VC downloads and since it's effectively money for old rope (well, old games) once the system emulator used in VC is up and running, I doubt the fact they are not selling as much as obvious favourites like Mario etc is going to stop them from releasing more titles....

I'm surprised to see Pac-Man and Bubble Bobble on there given that they not great conversions on the NES - clearly money is being spent by casual gamers that don't have a clue about stuff like MAME...



KCar said:

I've gleaned that part of the cost of making these games available is getting an ESRB rating (or international equivalents). @Damo - any chance of us finding out roughly what that costs? I wonder if Nintendo would consider offsetting those costs to get more publishers involved.



Jogurt_the_Yogurt said:

Two issues here:

1) We don't know how transparent Nintendo is with this top 20 list. Without real figures, we can't know if those are actually the top 20 or if they're just likely candidates that Nintendo wants to promote even further.

2) I think the issue with games for the Wii proper is a little bit different. The reason first party games on the Wii are doing so well is because they're freakin' excellent. Twilight Princess, Galaxy, Brawl, Fire Emblem, and Metroid Prime 3 are all top-notch games, probably the best in their respective series that we've seen for a long time. Third party sales are obviously going to pale in comparison for a while. But after Kart, I think Nintendo is going to have already unleashed the first wave of big guns, and third-party software sales should pick up. I think the developers know this, too. The ones who aren't crybabies or shovelware shovellers, anyway.



DJ_Triforce said:

Jogurt the Yogurt, don't forget that Reggie says that they have a big title coming out aroud Christmas... hopefully a Kid Icarus title.



diablos79 said:

ive quite suprised to see kirby beating the likes of super mario world and zelda:oot. surely kirby isnt better than those 2 is it? i dont know cos i never played it. Also imo mario world is better than mario 3 cos its basically the same but with better graphics and gameplay and no pointless suits. CAPE MARIO FTW!!!!



NikeXTC said:

I've been tracking Italian Top 20s daily since the feature came out and clearily Mario and Nintendo games are the most appreciated here as well.
Anyway, recently there's an outsider: Bubble Bobble. Since it came out, almost 4 months ago, it stayed in the Top 5. Pac-Man has almost 5 months of presence all summed up, but it floats around the 12th place in average. Street Fighter (Turbo, then Super took its place when it came out) is another game that is always in the chart, very often in the Top 10. Fighting games are quite popular in Italy, and in fact the various Neo Geo's beat'em up were able to reach high places in the past.
In the past week, beside Nintendo games, Super Turrican and Adventure Island have been in the Top 10, but for non-Nintendo platforms, only Sonic and Bomberman 93 did a quick appearance at the bottom of the Top 20.



niner said:

People buy what they know and ignore the unknown. That's human nature and in my opinion it's the single greatest challenge for the video game industry and even more so for Nintendo. Other forms of entertainment like movies or music have other mediums upon which they can pander their wares. But the only way for the video game industry to speak to a non-hardcore consumer is thru word of mouth. What a mess. Nintendo really needs to do something in order to prevent what happened to N64 and GCN from happening to the Wii.
What VC needs is a way of recommending alternatives to the consumer. Nintendo could either do this out of the goodness of their hearts, or as another source of revenue, like Google does. In other words, third-party companies like Hudson and D4 could pay Nintendo for advertising.
This could be accomplished a number of different ways using the current Wii GUI or thru some relatively minor changes. Nintendo could send notes to a system's Messages with a list of recommendations. Like, "We hope you're enjoying The Legend of Zelda. You might also enjoy Actraiser, Neutopia 2, or Magician Lord, etc." That way the uneducated (i.e. everyone who doesn't visit this site) can learn about other games. Or, Nintendo could add Google-esque "ads" that list similar games to the one that the user is currently viewing. Or, Nintendo could add a dynamic "Recommendations" search filter to the WiiShop menu similar to your average ecommerce site like Amazon.
Any other ideas?



Dazza said:

@niner - I suggest that Nintendo give VC-Reviews a nice big wad of cash to put their reviews up on the Wii Shop to help consumers decide what VC games to buy!



blackknight77 said:

@DJ Triforce
Try Endless Ocean! Its a totally different and cool game

Also I bet Vectorman would be a great seller .hint hint NOA



NikeXTC said:

@niner - Your analysis is correct: people tend to ignore the unknown. Although I've seen some of the less known games gain quite a good popularity on the Top 20s. Sin And Punishment was a huge hit and even reached the first place here, I saw popping in the Top 20 games like Legend of Hero Tonma, StarTropics, Blue's Journey, Punch-Out!!, Magician Lord and Mario's Super Picross, which aren't that popular nowadays.

What you say about recommendation is a nice idea, and it would surely work if purchasing a game would trigger a little discount on a similar but less popular game (say, you buy the first Zelda and get a 200 points bonus for buying StarTropics or Neutopia). This very unlikely to happen, though =/



niner said:

Good point on the discount toward your next purchase. I hadn't thought of that. I don't see that happening either.
Another idea is to add average user ratings. Pretty much look at every big ecommerce site and use some of their functionality.This isn't a problem that's isolated to video games.



DJ_Triforce said:

dialblos79, Pointless suits?! Super Mario Bros. 3 kills Super Mario World!

Tony, I'll check it out. What's the point in the game?



Objection said:

@ DJTriforce
Earlier, you asked about great Non-Nintendo wii games.
Here are my picks: Trauma Center (both Wii ones), Geometry Wars: Galaxies, Rayman: Raving Rabbids 1 and Red Steel if you can find it somewhat cheap. You're free to disagree, I suppose.



Kenryoku_Maxis said:

@Jockolantern - Yeah, its too bad that Super Metroid wasn't consistently one of the top 10 or even top 5 best selling VC titles. Not only because it should be and its one of the best games on VC by far, but because a lot of Metroid fans were hoping it would send a signal to Nintendo to start production of that next 2D Metroid... Oh well. We can still hope its sell well without being on the top 20, knowing full well some of those titles are selling WAY more than all of the rest of the titles on VC combined.

And to everybody questioning if 3rd parties will shy away from VC because Nintendo is hogging sales...its a Nintendo system. Of course titles like Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda and Kirby are going to take some of the spotlight. They'd do that even if they took them off of the VC altogether. The 3rd party titles are still selling and expect not to do as well as the Nintendo ones. They should be trying to put MORE of their titles on the VC to outnumber Nintendos and to get a better chance of getting theirs bought. Also to make the VC known for being a service with verity of items other than just 'Nintendo and a few other companies on board'.



DJ_Triforce said:

Objection_Blaster, no I don't disagree. Haha, I'm in no place to disagree... I don't own them. I've heard that Raving Rabbids was good. And my girlfriend wants to be a nurse, so maybe Trauma Center would be good. Thank you for your inputs.

Does the Wii have any good RPGs?



ericwithcheese said:

I am not surprised to see SMB3 doing well on the Virtual Console. Even though Super Mario World may be a better game in some opinions, it is SMB3 that I feel so many older games hold dear to their hearts. It was the last platformer of its kind on the NES, and it came in the last cycles of life for the system... and it had so many new innovations (i.e. the raccoon suit, the saving powerup cards to begin a level, etc) for the series while remaining true to its original roots. I know of myself and quite a few friends who literally jumped for joy when SMB3 came out for the VC a few months ago.

and @ Tony: I love Endless Ocean!



JaredJ said:

@ DJ Triforce

If you like umbrella chronicles check out house of the dead 2 & 3 return (sega).



Mike1 said:

First off, to the person that said Kirby 64 isn't a good game, you couldn't be more wrong. I loved Kirby 64 back in the summer of 2000 and it's just as good now. Also Kirby's Adventure has been out for over a year and Kirby 64 came out last month. That is why Kirby 64 is higher than Kirby's Adventure.

Anyway, I think that this list proves one thing. People want Nintendo made games, not Neo Geo or C64. And besides why buy any Neo Geo game now. Almost every game released for the Neo Geo on the VC is coming out on one disk this summer. That is stupid.



ChocoDK said:

@retrospekt_au I agree with you 100%. I don't really enjoy Mario 64 much but for its time it was a revolutanory game. And I agree with Damo too that SMW should've been higher up there as I believe IMO that it is a way better game then SMB3. But I think nostalgia has a lot to do with it. And I really enjoyed Super Mario Galaxy as it brought back the magic of Super Mario World.



shynra said:

Personally i would get MB3 over world as for a pure technical reason: MB3 works interlaced via component and world does not I would not be able to play world on my wii unless i changed cables around (or get a better more expensive HD tv )...



Serpent said:

People just cant get enough of SMB3, well it is the best selling game of all time.



blackknight77 said:

@ Dj Triforce
Endless Ocean is based on exploration not action. Its very similar to Pokeman Snap for the VC/N64 except underwater. So if you enjoy Pokeman snap and like to explore its a good game.
Worth the $29.99

Also I have never played Yoshi Island. I heard its good



Betagam7 said:

Just a thought but I know one thing that's stopping me buying more megadrive and Neo Geo Titles: The PAL conversion!

Other than a few NES titles I've bought to feed my girlfreind's nostalgia I've stuck almost exclusively to SNES and N64 titles (while also buying 3 of the 4 import 60hz titles) for the main reason that SF2 Turbo aside they have all been improved over the PAL original in some case (even if its just making them full screen).

One of the reasons I avoided buying Wave Race and selling my N64 cart was that I heard they made no effort to improve it and similarly after experiencing what Sega and D4 were offering up in the way of bordered gaming I've declined to buy titles for those systems that I would have otherwise snapped up if they'd even done so much as fixed the borders, let alone the speed.

I'm afraid while Sega and D4's apparent apathy continues they won't be getting my money



BJ1 said:

Wow, Mario Kart 64 over Super Mario 64. Who would have imagined?



ODOGG618 said:

Why would anyone be surprised? Nintendo controls it completely. They even control what sales figures they report. Wake up folks! Of course they want you to think that Mario 3 is the #1 download and of course they're going to limit the crap out of 3rd party titles. It's called positioning.



Tim said:

Where are you Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Is no body playing with you? It can't be true because you are the best of the bunch. Ah, the 'new generation' probably doesn't know whats what and who you really are. So sad



DJ_Triforce said:

Tony, thanks. I think I'll rent it and give it a shot.

Tim, I think that people lost interest in Sonic because Sega lost the war, much like Sony and Microsoft will lose this one. Nintendo is King. Always have been, always will be. Personally, I can't say that I've played many Sonic games. I've always thought that they were a sped-up Mario clone. However, the classic series of Sonic games (before 3-D) had incredible soundtracks.



Betagam7 said:

Tim, again it may be that people prefer to buy one of the various Sonic collections available on other formats (and even the GC) where the game can be played at the speed it was intended to be played at rather than buying the slower, bordered and signifigantly more expensive VC alternative



Dazza said:

@Betagam7 - As these are the North American favourites it can't be the 50Hz issues which are putting VC gamers off downloading Sonic. Maybe as you say, it is readily available on compilation discs already.



Marvel_Maniac said:

"Damo: I'm quite shocked as Super Mario World is clearly a better game all round."
I'm not sure this is fair to say. There is still an ongoing debate as to which one is better. If this statement was true, then there really wouldn't be one, would there? Personally, I prefer Mario 3. I acknowledge Mario World's greatness and agree with all of its strengths, but I'm not sure I like the Bowser fight as much. That's the clincher for me. #3 just did it better, and broke the tie.



Jogurt_the_Yogurt said:

@ DJ Triforce: For a good Wii RPG, try Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. It's not only one of the best games for the Wii, but it's one of the best tactical RPGs, period.

And of course the VC is populated by a few "classic" RPGs like Breath of Fire II and Shining Force. But other than Final Fantasy, RPGs still aren't a mainstream enough genre to land titles on a weekly best seller list like this VC sales chart.



arobo21 said:

wow kirby 64 way ahead of ocarina of time
guess some ppl just dont know good from bad (or terrible in this case)



TBoneTony said:

I feel that the 3rd parties find it hard to sell their games on Nintendo's consoles even in the past because their main competition is Nintendo themselves, also ask any other person what they know about Videogames and all they can think of is either, Nintendo, PlayStation and XBox.

Sadly not even the average person knows who CapCom is.



XCWarrior said:

Well if square would give them VC titles, those would sell. I mean there are some third party titles I do want that are currently on the VC, but I don't have the time to play them right now. When I get some other stuff done, Sin and Punishement (it is an import) and Lords of Thunder are two of the first I'm going to download.



DJ_Triforce said:

Jogurt the Yogurt: I've read a little bit on it. It seems interesting. Maybe I'll give it a try. Thanks.

By the way, how do you write things in bold. I've tried everything I could think of. I've tried "<b></b>", I've tried, "<bold></bold>". Haha, help me.



stinssd said:

Mario 64 was pretty mediocre, IMO. It was the transitional title into the next generation of Mario games, a.k.a. "Super Mario Fetchquest."



Dazza said:

@DJ - Use the asterix character (shift + 8) around the words you want to bold - ssshhhhhh



Betagam7 said:

I didn't read that this was the N American charts. That would go someway to explaining things as the North American charts in general do tend to reflect a more linear, buy what we know (or perhaps what our stores will stock) policy.

It's interesting to note that among the crowd of Mario titles purchased it seems American's are still choosing to ignore the Real Super Mario Bros 2 (aka lost levels) or was it pulled as the EU version was? I was under the impression it was still available.

It's also concerning that neither Sin & Punishment or any of the other "import" titles have made the list. THis could have a negative impact on Nintendo's "import" policy in the future.



Dazza said:

@Beta - Haha we've renamed the title to make it clearer! We'll put up the EU list later today for comparison

SMB2 Lost Levels is readily available in the USA, just no one seems to be downloading it in great quantities! Europe/Australia only had it for a limited time so that would explain why this won't show up on the Euro list sadly!



Luigison said:

I downloaded and sent several gifts of SMB2LL. Now that it's out of the top 20 I image it's downloads have went down considerably. Any chance Nintendo will expand the list to the top 30 or 40? Didn't they say something about adding a rating system for games you've downloaded similar to what VC-Reviews has done? Also, what do you think are the chances they'll offer SMAS or SMAS+SMW later and offer discounts for people who have already purchase some or all of the games?



StarDust4Ever said:

Around the time when Harvest Moon came out, it was really high on the list, but Super Mario Lost Levels had finally dropped down to number twenty. It hasn't been on the list since. For a while after SMBLL was released, it was second place to Super Mario Brothers (this was the game that finally prompted me to update my Wii, buy my first points card, and download SMBLL). I believe there was also a couple of Sonics on the list - I forget which ones. Now that Harvest Moon has finally dropped to number twenty, it will soon be forgotten, too.

A while back, I had heard some rumors that the TurboGrafix games were doing extremely well in general, and this may still be the case even if no single game reaches the top twenty. For all we now, there may very well be several in the top forty. BTW, I think it would be fascinating to know just exactly which games are on the bottom ten - I'm just hoping they are not the cherished import games...

The Mario platformers will always share high ranks, but to me, it is just ashame that Lost Levels has been forgotten once again



2hip2beskware said:

If Square gives us something more than ActRaiser or the godawful King's Knight... Chrono Trigger... They'd quite possibly be in the top ten for a while.



Mike1 said:

60. arobo21 22 Mar 2008, 03:50 GMT
"wow kirby 64 way ahead of ocarina of time
guess some ppl just dont know good from bad (or terrible in this case)"

Wow you really are clueless! As I said before, Kirby 64 was released a month before this list came out, that's why it is higher than OOT which came out over a year ago.

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