News Article

Talking Point: The Wii U Virtual Console Trial Campaign's Advertising Role

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Simple but effective

Among the many announcements in yesterday's Wii U Direct, only one had an immediate impact on console owners, with the Wii U Virtual Console Trial Campaign launching right after the broadcast. Balloon Fight is now available to download with some Wii U-exclusive features — which we'll get to later — and the release schedule for the monthly additions to the campaign will bring a variety of well-known NES and SNES titles to the Wii U eShop.

The first thing we feel we should do, for the sake of clarity, is explain how the promotion is set to work. There was understandable confusion when the news was announced due to Nintendo's use of the word "trial", suggesting that you're paying a reduced rate to rent the download for a month. Thankfully that's not the case — we don't think Nintendo would charge for time-limited access to software — as these are standard downloads that will be yours to keep forever, or for at least as long as you own and play your Wii U. Pay the lower price within the relevant period, and you've got a good deal that not even a future sale is likely to match.

As Iwata-san explained... the intention is to attract newcomers to the idea of the Virtual Console, tempting them to sample the retro delights by making the downloads cost less than a bar of chocolate.

This promotion from Nintendo, officially, is to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the release of the original Famicom in Japan, which became the NES in the West. The branding makes perfect sense, with a new classic game each month being available for 30 days at a promotional price $0.30/€0.30/£0.30 — yes, this doesn't account for currency exchange rates, but it's still inexpensive in every region, regardless. After that period the titles will go back to their normal price, which is a debate for another day as arguments about Nintendo Virtual Console pricing can have almost no end.

As Iwata-san explained, which makes the reference to a "trial" understandable, the intention is to attract newcomers to the idea of the Virtual Console, tempting them to sample the retro delights by making the downloads cost less than a bar of chocolate. Much of the Nintendo Life audience will already have multiple copies of these games, so for many of us the choice will be down to whether we actually care about owning another version on our shiny new home console. For newcomers, however, it's easy to understand why the pricing alone — though a stylish banner at the top of the eShop also helps — will attract them to try it out. The choice of Balloon Fight to launch the campaign is arguably a strange one, as it's not regarded by many as an NES classic, but that's all subjective opinion.

At the very least, however, it'll show us how the Wii U Virtual Console will make its own stamp on retro games. There's excellent controller compatibility — though it'll vary slightly depending on the game — which in the case of Balloon Fight means support for the GamePad, Wii Remote, Wii Classic Controller and Wii U Pro Controller; it seems as if everything but the Balance Board has been included. We also have save state functionality as enjoyed on the 3DS VC, which is largely irrelevant with the début release but may prove helpful once Super Metroid arrives in May. There's also Miiverse support, which is certainly welcome for those that want a bit of retro-themed conversation on the service, while boasting high-scores with screenshots most certainly will happen. Having communities for these games will make the social app rather busy, but Iwata promised improvements — including easy search options — will be frequent.

These are neat features to enjoy when playing classic games, surpassing the options on Wii and 3DS, and this Famicom Anniversary promotion is convenient timing for Nintendo: it can get the Virtual Console into gamer's minds before it formally arrives in Spring. Another benefit is that it'll play its own part in attracting curious Wii U owners onto the Wii U eShop, which can only be positive for the developers selling their efforts on the store. While the lengthy gap in releases — until the arrival of The Cave this week — was perhaps inevitable, especially with the impressive range of titles there on day one, we'd speculate that the number of visitors to the store will have deteriorated as the weeks passed. Demos and sale prices have perhaps helped, but consumers often have the biggest appetite for new downloads, even if they're new versions of old games.

If gamers pop onto the eShop to pick up their 30 cent/30 pence download regularly, then perhaps they'll browse at what else is new and be tempted to buy more, as that's generally how window shopping works. We have a handful of new titles due in Q1, so it can be hoped that enough new download-only games will arrive on a regular basis to communicate a message that, after a quiet spell, the eShop is becoming a more vibrant, busy marketplace.

For a number of us here at Nintendo Life, it's likely that the allure of titles such as Super Metroid, Punch Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream and F-Zero will be hard to resist at bargain-basement prices. Importantly, however, it could not only encourage those unfamiliar with Nintendo's retro games, but act as a vital advertisement for the Wii U eShop as a whole.

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User Comments (71)



aronatvw said:

I have super metroid for snes, but the convenient e of it on the wiiu will be excellent at such a great deal. Cash in some of my prime member ship currency!



Auracle said:

I missed some of these games on the VC before. Now looks like the perfect chance to pick them up.



aronatvw said:

Side note, how amazing would it be to take a game like double dragon or contra, and add online co-op and achievements! just saying Nintendo, ppl would bow to you!



Lunapplebloom said:

Interesting article.

I for one am extremely happy with this new initiative, especially since I'll have to pay a fee any was to play my previous purchases on my Wii U. Still think it's a silly idea, but I guess it's better than it could have been.



Gamesake said:

This article makes me want to eat a bar of chocolate. Curse you Nintendo Life.



Ryno said:

Awesome deal Nintendo. Super Metroid, my second favorite game of all time for .30 cents??? Thank you and plus it's playable on the Gamepad!



Wonder_Ideal said:

I have been wanting to get Super Metroid for a long time now. I'm glad I've held off because $0.30 is a real steal.



brooks83 said:

Too bad I can't afford a Wii U right now, as all of the .30 cent games are ones I didn't buy on the Wii.



SuperCharlie78 said:

So, if I own Punch Out for the Wii VC and want to play it on the 3DS I must pay another 5 €., and if I want to upgrade to Wii U features I must have trasferred the game from Wii to Wii U and yet I'm told to pay a reduced special price, again?!

I was able to play Vagrant Story on PS3, PSP and Vita by sharing the same single purchase.

Oh, Nintendo



Inev said:

You know what would have REALLY acted as a strong advertisement for the Wii U's VC/eShop?

If Nintendo had given us Earthbound in the Trial Campaign, like Japan is getting.



NintyMan said:

Super Metroid for $0.30 is an almost unbelieveably huge bargain. I'd definitely buy it again even with already owning it on the Wii. That even includes the perks that come with the GamePad.



Furealz said:

Balloon Fight is an unworthy opponent to Urban Champion. I mean it got a 3D Classics Remake, it's got to be better? Right?



sdcazares1980 said:

I already own Punch Out for the Wii VC, but think about this: if I were to skip this one out, I would have to pay $1 to transfer the game to the Wii U.

Damn, Nintendo, just take my 30 cents already.



Ryno said:

@Five-seveN: You bought a license to play Wii VC games on the Wii. Did you not read your service agreement?

I bought Super Metroid for my SNES when it originally came out so should I be able to play it on every new Nintendo system I get?



alLabouTandroiD said:

Could Balloon Fight be the first 'cause it's very popular in Nintendo Land or something?
And it's about time that people finally get the chance to boast about high scores that took them a lot of time instead of cheap skill. Restore points ftw!



Azikira said:

Balloon Fight is one of my all time favorite NES games, don't say it isnt a classic! Easy to learn, hard to master, multiple game modes and 2 player support? This has Classic written all over it.
I would gladly trade any or ALL of these games to get Earthbound though... NoA stop hating us and just sell us the game already! ;w;



Ryno said:

@Five-seveN: I understand the convenience aspect but that is not how it is going to work. There is a reason Nintendo has a "Wii Mode" on the Wii U and that is why your Wii VC games are to be played that way. You want to play games on the Wii U then you are going to have to pay and agree to the license for the upcoming Wii U VC games.



dragon_rider said:

@Five-seveN They have to recode the emulators to have save states, custom controls and eventual game pad support.
please, it's not necessary to be rude about it — TBD



Varia01 said:

Aw yeah, Super Metroid in May! I am so buying it! And even luckier, I got it for the Wii, so I get a discount! I'm so mad I'm not able to play it now (I don't have the classic controller). I can't wait pay it again so I can get back at Ridley!



Hyperstar96 said:

@Five-seveN You didn't watch any of the Nintendo Direct, did you? You don't have to re-buy any of your games, pay $1 for an NES game or $1.50 or an SNES game to transfer it over.



Token_Girl said:

I don't mind picking up games again for 30 cents each, but I'm dismayed that after charging so much for these old games on the Wii, that Nintendo is just saying "screw you" to those who supported the service. I bought Sonic 1 on my iPhone 3GS for $4.00 a while ago, not the $8.00 Nintendo is STILL asking for on the Wii. I could play it on the iPhone 5. The benefit of digital is NOT having to rebuy games on every platform every generation.

I'm sorry, having to patch/update games with upgrades is not a problem for ANY OTHER DEVICE. I'm not going to be getting VC games on the WiiU eshop, because when the next console comes out, I don't want to play them in a gimped, slow-loading "WiiU mode," and then lose them completely when the console after that releases. I wouldn't even be opposed to paying for upgrades if there are enough new features (save states and gamepad only play would be worth probably about $1/game or so for me).

And I just saw your post - so I can upgrade games from the WiiU VC for about the asking price I offered? I'm off to do some reasearch, but n/m, not mad then if that's true. In fact, very happy!



theblackdragon said:

Looks like the honeymoon's over! I love how angry everyone's getting over the idea of paying to upgrade their Wii VC titles to Wii U VC versions. This is what the digital revolution has in store, guys. This is why people have resisted choosing digital downloads instead of embracing them. When you don't own a physical copy and/or you want to get rid of your original console(s), or if in the future companies decide they don't like missing out on your money, they've got you over a barrel.



miletich3 said:

30 cents? For every single game? I bet I could get like 100 games for a mere 30 bucks!



Shworange said:

30 cents for each game you don't have is almost like an inexpensive ambassador program.



Boo_Buster said:

@Gamesake haha!

I'm getting the games I like off the list. 30 cents is just... it is a great price. I'll call it that. Let's hope they keep this momentum rolling with some good games on the eShop. (hopes for Earthbound)



EaZy_T said:

When I watched the Direct video I understood it as .30 for a month then 1.00 to keep it after the promo period.
Now I know I keep it for .30, thanks for clearing it up.
The way I look at the .30 pricing is: I used to play games at an arcade for .25 and had to 'buy' more plays for .25 at the game over screen, so the .30 price is awesome!



Rapadash6 said:

These 30 cent downloads are, in and of themselves, a great deal, and I plan to take advantage and get all these games at these prices, even if I do own 5 of them already. My biggest hope with this Virtual Console though, is that Nintendo gets around to releasing new games to the service amongst all the updated old ones. Just announcing Yoshi's Island would be enough to satisfy me at this point, although I would like to replace some of my favorites. I'm definately not going into archival mode this time though, and I will only download games I feel I play enough to warrant the purchase.



Sun said:

@NL, they chose Balloon Fight because Iwata worked on it! Just listen to him...

The problem is that the games are being redone for Wii U's VC so it can take forever for a good selection of games to arrive, take a look at Wii's VC and see. And again they are focusing on NES games which most people do not care about. On top of that 50Hz for Europe.

I'm quite disappointed about Wii U's VC to be honest.



Retro_on_theGo said:

I have been hunting for a working saving cartridge of Super Metroid and now Nintendo is offering me the game for 30 cents!



GN0LAUM said:

@Sun "they are focusing on NES games which most people do not care about."

What are you talking about? Even my parents care about certain NES games. The NES has a far wider appeal than almost any other Nintendo console. Back in the day, parents (including my own) would try out, even play many NES games for extended periods. There is a huge nostalgia factor attached to these games. There is a large collector community actively collecting NES games and even the old people in my family who haven't touched a video game in years can recall playing Super Mario Bros. or the Legend of Zelda back in the 80's.

Now, YOU might not care about NES games, but I find it preposterous that you would make such a broad generalization. I for one, love the system. It's my favourite of all time. Could you tell ?



dragon_rider said:

@miletich3, only for certain games that will be released between now and July, but you keep them forever.
@NintendoCat14, we can thank America's copyright trolls for preventing Earthbound's release. We need the same laws as Japan, that way, we can see its release.
@Sun Why are you disappointed? Would you rather have them not have custom controls and be forced to use a controller that isn't to your liking?



Emaan said:

F-Zero and Super Metroid for just 30 cents is amazing. Really glad I held off on getting those on the Virtual Console up until now.




I already own all of these titles on the Wii virtual console aswell as some of the original cartidges, and was delighted to see I'd get a massive discount as they have been transferred to my Wii U, but I'll def be getting these at the £0.30 rate! It's a no brainer. It seems as though all of the risk for people on the fence has been removed by the massive reduction in price!



K1LLEGAL said:

@theblackdragon No disrespect but that's complete rubbish. "This is what the digital revolution has in store, guys" This is what Nintendo has in store. I doubt Microsoft or Sony would be dumb enough to charge extra for games a second time. The games are tied to our accounts so we will just be able to download them again. Sure that's an assumption, but the way Nintendo is justifying charging extra is because of the gamepad capabilities.

@aronatvw You mean like Microsoft did 6/7 years ago with those exact games. (Well, Contra. Not sure about Double Dragon). Not being a 360 fanboy, before anyone cries thinking I am, but get your head around that. 7 years. You're wishing Nintendo did something that XBLA did 7 years ago.

TLDR; Nintendo is being dumb.



FluttershyGuy said:

I think this program is a great publicity tool for the upcoming Wii U VC (and perhaps even the Wii U itself among retro gamers). For that little, and some of the great titles like Super Metroid that will be available, you know the Trial Campaign is going to get plenty of attention. And it already has. The Miiverse board for Balloon Fighter, an almost 30 year-old game, was bustling with activity yesterday. Last I saw, it had almost 5,000 posts! Man, how I wish Miiverse had been around years ago when first playing these classics (and I definitely consider Balloon Fight a classic). This was a great idea on Nintendo's part, and hopefully a sign that they're going to try harder with Wii U VC.

That said, I think the exclusion of Earthbound except in Japan is a big mistake and detriment to the program. It's well known by Nintendo how much it's been wanted around the world, not just Japan. I know one Nintendo Power (RIP) issue had it as THE most wanted VC game. And yet, Japan's not only getting the same gaming favoritism it has for as long as I can remember as a gamer, it's getting it in a high visibility manner being a part of this program in Japan. I'm not Hell bent on having Earthbound myself, but I'm sure there are those who are breathing fire, knowing that Japan's going to get it for next-to nothing after they've asked for it for years. I don't really understand what Nintendo's thinking. Then again, I don't understand much of anything video game makers are doing in this day and age (and I'm not sure they do either, as is evidenced by some of their questionable decisions).

Now, what I am happy about is the inclusion of Super Metroid. I can only hope that this exposure of, IMHO, Samus' best adventure will increase demand for classic 2D Metroid on 3DS and/or Wii U!



theblackdragon said:

@K1LLEGAL: don't worry, no offense taken — but look at the fine print next time you buy something digitally. they have the power in that situation, and they have the legal rights to do whatever they please, up to and including remotely messing with your accounts. Other companies have been more generous, but apparently this is as far as Nintendo wants to go right now, and there's nothing anyone can say or do to stop them. There's no telling what other companies may choose to do in the future, either, regardless of what they're doing right now. It might suck for the consumer, but it's the price we pay for choosing digital over physical. The benefits are nice, at least up until the drawbacks begin to rear their ugly heads.



dragon_rider said:

@Austroid It's too much of a PITA to remove the old save battery and solder on a new one, the VC is easier to deal with.

@FluttershyGuy You have to keep in mind that there are potential legal issues should the game get released. Either Nintendo has it planned for eventual release, or they don't, but we could always start to spam their phone lines and servers with email begging them.



Chomposaur said:

All i ask is for that my wii VC games to be played on Wii U mode instead of switching back and forth on the clunky Wii mode .. i totally understand paying a £/$ for the additional content but why not let the loyal Wii users have all there games in one place ?



FluttershyGuy said:

Hmmm, I thought the copyright issues must've been settled, in order for it to be released in any territory. Then again, I've not followed the situation. It's so strange that it didn't cause trouble when it was originally released!

And, especially with behavior I've seen from companies such as Capcom with the Mega Man Legends 3 fiasco, I'm convinced that no amount of fan input has any influence on the decisions of the modern day game maker (sadly).



Discostew said:

@JogurtTheYogurt - It could be possible for Nintendo to update the OS to allow such a thing. The Wii U mode is capable of reading information of the Wii mode (the Miis, for example). It would be nice if a separate folder on the Wii U menu held all your WiiWare/WiiVC titles, and could be launched from there.



AcesHigh said:

If you pay attention to what Iwata said in his presentation, he stated that the WiiU versions will be enhanced and cannot (for technical reasons) be ported straight over. Already Balloon Fight has added functionality over the other offerings (standings, an extra mode, etc.). If you paid attention, he also said that people who own the same title from Wii VC will receive a heavy discount: $1 for NES and $1.50 for SNES. That is more than fair and nominal at best, for the work needed to port them to WiiU VC. Quit complaining and enjoy. Or don't enjoy. No one is holding a gun to your head to re-buy these games. Fire up your Wii if you want to play them.



AcesHigh said:

BTW, when you say "it would be nice if they could...", that = development time and labor. They don't have a magic wand or a magic "make-this-work" key on their keyboard that automatically ports software. Plain and simple, "porting" is a process. And the WiiU is a different platform than the Wii. And no matter how close they are, it takes time and resources to make work. Again, asking for $1.00 for the convenience of playing your games ON A NEW CONSOLE is more than fair. Plus the added functionality they've included (and no, there is not new functionality between PS3 and Vita releases of their classic games). There is no reason for them to eat that cost totally.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Just thought about it again.
If there truly are a lot of people downloading these games for the first time on Wii U it could be a quite risky gamble for Ninty here.
Once you offer your games for such low prices people could get the impression they're not worth much more.
Personally i don't think the prices are too high for the best games of their respective systems and 30 cents would have been acceptable for an upgrade of your Wii VC game. Looking back at the Wii's VC i'd have preferred the somewhat flexible pricing of the 3DS VC at least though.
Anyway, to practically give these games away for free now hopefully leads to a better value of VC games in the near future.



StarDust4Ever said:

People need to quit whining about the $1 fee to upgrade their games. But still, VC games are really just an emulator and a ROM. Hackers proved this by extracting WADs off the Wii and injecting new games that weren't currently available. Heck, the NES games even had iNES headers which made them super easy to search for the embedded data using a Hex editor. Nintendo need only produce a single emulator for each VC platform, then they can use a script inject ROMs all day long to quickly update the back catalog. The most difficult part of the process would be reformatting the manuals.



DarkEdi said:

What about the Genesis, Master Sytem, Turbografx, Commodore and Neo Geo games? They will cost $1 if i already had them from my Wii transfer? And what about games like Bloody Wolf, DKC trilogy, R-Type games, Ninja Spirit, etc?



Marioman64 said:

you know why I don't want to do the transfer? 1-bomberman wiiware becomes useless because you can't do 8 player anymore using 4 wiimotes and 4 gamecube controllers, 2-no more using gamecube controllers for brawl, and 3-lostwinds doesn't go through the transfer



Sun said:

@GN0LAUM You only got a tiny part of my message. I mean, most people under 30 years old as myself do not care much about NES games. And even if you love NES games it doesn't mean most VC games should be NES games, as SNES and N64 also exist and people also like them.



Magrane said:

Hey guys, help me out please So, I don't own a Wii U yet, but right now, if I purchased one, would:
1. it cost me money to transfter the games over to the Wii U?
2. it include, if it does cost me money, those third-party titles like Final Fantasy IV: After Years, Mega Man 9, Contra Rebirth, etc.?
3. it change in some sort of way by transferring it over? Meaning, would it still be on my Wii console too?

Thanks for any replies in advance!!



Mascarpino said:

Super Metroid all the way! Definitely one of the best games ever. Anyone with a Wii U in may should totally get it.(Well, it's on Wii VC, too)

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