News Article

The European Version Of F-Zero On Wii U Virtual Console Comes With 60Hz Support

Posted by Damien McFerran

Nintendo does listen, after all

If you're a European gamer then you'll no doubt be aware of how TV standards can impact the way games play. Back in the days of the SNES, NES and Mega Drive, EU gamers were saddled with slower versions of existing software. This is because Japanese and American TVs used the NTSC standard, while in Europe the PAL standard was king. Although PAL is actually superior in that it offers a larger picture, the refresh rate is slower - this means that games also run slower, unless they're tinkered with by the developer to compensate. Also, the additional lines on the screen usually resulted in "letterboxed" games, as developers usually refused to optimise their titles to suit the European screens.

Now that the brief history lesson is complete, it's worth pointing out that the issue continues to manifest itself even to this day. Nintendo has been releasing PAL versions of retro games on the Wii Virtual Console for years, which means they run slower than the NTSC versions. We picked up on this issue back in 2010, and were sorry to report that the Wii U Virtual Console appeared to be falling foul of the same problem.

However, it would appear that Nintendo does listen to criticism, as today's European Download Update confirms. The SNES version of F-Zero is running at 60Hz on PAL Wii U consoles - meaning that for once, Euro gamers are experiencing the game exactly how its creators intended. No slowdown, no borders at the top and bottom of the screen. Bliss.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come - the whole PAL/NTSC problem is a relic from the past, and it needs to remain there.

Are you pleased that European gamers are finally getting full-speed games? Or do you think that these titles should have a 50Hz option, as it will be closer to what you played as a youngster? Leave a comment to let us know.

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User Comments (93)



Late said:

Never noticed the difference before I bought Balloon Fight for Wii U after playing 60Hz version on 3DS. I'm thankful for this decision. F-Zero is supposed to go fast.



lebad said:

"1st place Great"
It's wonderful, continue like that with all virtual console games ^___^



Swithom said:

YES!!!!! YES!!! GREAT!!!
Brilliant news. Single handedly made my day. Will rush home and buy F Zero ASAP



meppi said:

Now seriously. if this means that all future VC games will run in 60Hz instead of 50Hz, I'll buy a lot more games from the store instead of importing 2nd hand Japanese copies of games for these classic systems.



Squashie said:

I never had a huge problem with it, but it's nice to know we're playing games at the same standard as North Americans!



DePapier said:

Cool, then. If that's how it is, I hope they'll bring an update of Balloon Fight so people can be at peace on Miiverse.



Ducutzu said:

Now let's see what what else will the angry mob find to comment on.

These people are never happy.



DePapier said:

AND I hope they'll do the same for the Wii VC games, once they're on the Wii U VC.



shake_zula said:

This is awesome news, really glad Nintendo have got their **** together on this issue.



luminalace said:

Awesome. Really happy and hope this is a sign of every future VC game having 60hz support.



Ristar42 said:

Sounds like Miiverse performed a useful function in making it more difficult for Nintendo Europe to ignore the complaints about 50HZ VC games. Now they just need to make it a standard.



KodaSmooss said:

I'm afraid that, in the future, games running at 60 Hz will be chosen on a case by case basis only. The problem is the different languages spoken in Europe. For games with translated texts, there is a good chance that they will still release European versions...



Ristar42 said:

@KodaSmoss You're right, some would require more work, with variations for different systems depending upon how they may have been partially optimised originally. PSN has the problem with many PS1 games, but you can create a US account there I suppose.

Hopefully it will stop the 'downgrading' seen on Wii VC, I'm thinking of those Megadrive and Neo imports for example, which were never previously released in 50Hz.



Sun said:

I am waiting for the ridiculous fanboys that found it so normal and fair that Balloon Fight was 50Hz in year 2013. What would they say now that we get the 60Hz version for F-Zero? Maybe they think we are getting a wrong port and that we should get the 50Hz once again, according to their previous comments.



Tsuchiya said:

Some will still find fault with this. Reading some of the comments on Miiverse, I'm baffled why some people even own a WiiU.

50-60Hz, I don't really care but a nice little online mode would be good.



Suportedcofe said:

It's gonna be weird to play super metroid in 60hz cause I assume future pal releases will also be in 60hz and I'm really happy about that.



Mk_II said:

Now we can finally put the idea to rest that "Nintendo doesn't listen".



Gavin_Rozee said:

I'm happy. It gives me another great reason to repurchase VC games of which I've already bought the regular Wii version.

I just hope they keep releasing them in 60hz.



zip said:

All they needed to do is to change one value via a hex editor to enable 60Hz. That's common for all SNES games.



Chunky_Droid said:

If @zip is right, then that might be why Balloon Fight isn't 60hz, it could be more complicated than changing one value.

It's all very interesting though, I don't remember how 50hz played when I was a young'un, but I do know that Castlevania PAL on the NES is a nightmare compared to the NTSC version



Einherjar said:

Really good news indeed But im kinda confused about the release date. According to the "official" release date for these 30th anniversary promo games, F-Zero should come out today (Feb. 20th, wednesday) but its not available on the eShop and is instead listet under the regular thursday release plan (Feb. 21st, thursday). Does that mean that these "official" dates are not right ?



Drawdler said:

I'm indifferent because it finally means that the people who wanted it are happier now, I just wish that it were an option. I haven't played any SNES games besides Yoshi's Island's GBA port via the 3DS Ambassador Program so I don't actually get nostalgia from it, but I do wish that they would offer the 50hz option as I like playing games in their "original version".
I'm probably one of the only people here who thinks so though



TheRealThanos said:

For me personally it's not so much about finding fault, but more of what I was used to play. The only titles that made you notice were import titles or titles that came on later consoles and gave you the option to switch between 50 or 60 Hz. If you don't know what it is that you're missing, there's also nothing to complain about.

If for example you are used to playing a 2D space shooter on 50Hz, 60Hz will probably 'feel' quite different and may even be more difficult because it will run faster, so to most European gamers it would not be an accurate representation of their childhood memory playing the game in the version they used to own.
Like I said: we just didn't know any other versions back then and even though we didn't, I still enjoyed my Nintendo games nonetheless. It's only on N64 and GameCube that I became aware of the benefits of 60Hz.



GiftedGimp said:

I agree, VC games should offer the option of 50hz or 60hz
Personaly the point of VC games is to experience the game as it originally was, but there are some who only want the 60hz version as 'its the best'... which was a debate that many had back in the day and was never resolved.
Having the option to choose would please everybody.



gingerbeardman said:

@GiftedGimp 60Hz is the "original" speed. 50Hz is just the short straw we were given back in the 80s and 90s. If you first listened to a song at the wrong speed, surely you'd want to play it at the right speed?

I agree the option would be the only way to please everybody.



meppi said:

People asking for the "authentic" 50Hz version sound a bit like people who used to watch letter-boxed movies on their 4:3 tv back in the 80's and 90's and refuse to watch anything in their original cinema format on Bluray these days as they long for the "authentic home movie experience" of days gone by.
It just doesn't make any sense at all.
We got the short end of the stick for over 2 decades. Nintendo is taking the first big step to finally rectify this situation and bring us up to par with everyone else in the world who has been able to enjoy these games with their true original vision intact, and still we get people saying: "no thanks, I want the low budget, inferior, hack job of a port instead". SMH



TheRealThanos said:

With all due respect, and I couldn't give a damn if you think I'm stupid, but like I explained in my previous comment: me and a lot of other European gamers weren't aware of 60Hz versions back in the NES/SNES days, so if you're used to playing these you're not missing out at all because you didn't know any better, and as for me personally I had just as much fun playing my PAL versions as any person would have had playing an NTSC version. Besides, as the article states, PAL did offer the SUPERIOR picture, even though it's a bit slower.

As far as the Wii U VC versions of these games are concerned, I am glad however that there will at least be some optimized versions available for the people that will want to download them, although for me VC games aren't a must have; I have most consoles and cartridges still in my possession so I can play on original hardware or I have them emulated on PC (with a USB SNES pad for the 'genuine' feel)



meppi said:


Let's not start with name-calling, that won't help anyone.
The article does mention that the PAL standard had the superior picture at the time and that is indeed correct, but it doesn't transfer over into games since they didn't use the extra vertical resolution at all. Instead they simply took the original resolution of the games and filled up the extra lines on PAL tv's with black (or coloured) bars depending on the system. So you didn't have gain any of the advantages, it only made it so the lines of pixels shown were placed tighter together. Couple this with the slower refresh rate, it certainly is in no way superior to NTSC when it comes to playing games.
And yes, I do have tons and tons of original games for all the classic systems as well, yet I've been buying large amounts of Japanese imports for 8,16 and 32-bit systems in the past 15 years as well since once you do realise there it a difference, it's very hard to go back to the neutered versions.



GiftedGimp said:

@Gavin_Rozee If made the option universal, so even the US version of VC games offered the 50/60 option there would be a delay, plus then everyone gets the choice to experience the game as it was originally in thier region or experience it differently.

In fact back in the day Some US players used to import Pal Systems as they prefered the Higher resolution of 50hz pal games over the Faster Screen refresh.



WiiLovePeace said:

I would've preferred the original experience as it was back in the day in my region at 50Hz but I'm happy to play the game for 30c in whatever form it comes in haha



Sun said:

@GiftedGimp The PAL resolution is higher but the PAL games resolution not as they coloured the extra resolution in black (or blue). Again, check the link above.



meppi said:

Good link there, Sun.
Hope that explains this whole mess a little better.
And importing PAL games to the US to get higher resolution graphics wouldn't do much good without an actual PAL tv either. If those games actually took advantage of the extra lines that is.



GiftedGimp said:

I know many games had a border, but not all.
Even with the border it was generally excepted because of the slower refresh game looked sharper. (Arguably)
I'm not saying either was better than the other for gaming, because it depended on whether the game was fast paced or not and wether the game had borders (fast paced games tended to have the borders)
Tbh its niether here or there these days, I jusy think VC games should give players the choice tho.

It wasn't till the Dreamcast came along before people could tell what the effects of the 50/60 systems had.
MSR had seperate online leaderboards for 50hz & Pal60 as Pal60 gave faster times due to te refresh rate.
However Shemnue was often played in 50hz to take advatage of the sharper image.



Sun said:

It's also the 20th here (EU)

The Wii eShop (not called like that) used to feature new content on Fridays. Now it's on Thursdays for the four consoles (Wii, DSi, 3DS and Wii U) but Wii and DSi don't get anything worth of even entering the shop lately.



XCWarrior said:

Didn't realize how big of a deal this is. Glad I didn't live Europe for all that in the past I guess. Glad they fixed it for you guys.



Tsuchiya said:


Nintendo have been doing that for 25 odd years. What is it now, that strikes you as odd?

They'll be doing it for the next 25 years too no doubt.



Tethers said:

There should be a 50Hz option, because I want to play some games in the way I played them when I was young.



TheRealThanos said:

The ARTICLE said PAL looked better, not my words, so trying to correct ME on that is pretty useless since I was just quoting. You should direct your wisdom towards the writer of the article. No offense meant, just saying...

I wasn't calling anyone any names, in fact I was just preparing to be called stupid because of some of the previous comments, so the stupid was directed at myself, hence "I couldn't give a damn if you think I'm stupid" so you apparently misunderstood what I was saying there.
We are in agreement as well however, because you proved my point EXACTLY, by saying "once you do realise there it a difference" which is what I tried to get across all along by stating that the average gamer in Europe didn't know any better and was therefore perfectly satisfied with his (or her) PAL game cartridges.



Sun said:

It's not my wisdom, it's just that I read the whole article and you either did not or did not understand it. No offense... PAL does not look better at all, it looks a bit worse because the video is slower. PAL used to feature a slightly higher resolution but it happened to be worse when converting games in the cheap way as they did.

But if you were trying to offend me with your irony you are wasting your time...



TheRealThanos said:

Okay, for the sake of being social I'm going to say this once, because normally I wouldn't feel the need to do this in real life, but I understand that written text can be interpreted in more ways than one.

I am a VERY social person (that's why I said NO offense in my previous comment) and I WOULDN'T use sarcasm or irony in the same sentence as a semi apology (which is what no offense stands for as far as I am concerned), so I'm sorry to see that you ended your comment with jumping to conclusions based on an insult or whatever you thought I made towards you, which isn't the case.
And also, I did actually read the whole article, understood it PERFECTLY and it's STILL the writers' words, not mine.
I'm a 42 year old experienced inside sales account manager in IT, so on a day to day basis I do a LOT of comprehensive reading and I NEVER mince words, I just call them as I see them, no illusions or smoke screens, just straight forward.
Not always the most tactful, I'll admit, but social nonetheless.
Hope that clears things up, because I HATE to bow or grovel, so this is all the explanation you're going to get. Peace...



meppi said:

Perhaps it's just me misreading the article, but I didn't read the section talking about pal being superior in the same fashion you did.
On the pal standard itself being superior to NTSC in regards to resolution, no one can deny that 100 extra horizontal lines is a bad thing.
But then again, up until the 32-bit days and even through most of that generation, nearly all games not created by European software developers didn't take advantage of this superior standard. Instead they took the games made for NTSC sets and directly ported them to pal compatible systems, which resulted in the black borders.

So yes, the pal standard itself is superior on paper just like the article states, yet when it comes to actual games which in the end is what we are talking about, nearly no one played to it strengths and thus certainly didn't create a superior product When putting out their pal versions.



TheRealThanos said:

Nope, no misreading from either one of us. I only meant that little sentence stating that PAL is superior in the ACTUAL graphics department, NOT how it RUNS or how SMOOTH gameplay is, those are the NTSC/60Hz benefits. So that's all.
Almost makes me wish not having said anything at all, seeing as it only appears to lead to misunderstanding and frustration (the latter, albeit mildly, only on my part)

The MOST important thing I stated, though, and here it is for the third time, is that MOST of the European gamers DIDN'T KNOW, so how in the blazes could you feel like you had 'an inferior product' or feel cheated 'because you didn't get the best version' when you didn't even REALIZE that a smoother running version existed? Exactly! You couldn't! And then there was also the localization as someone else already mentioned, which meant that it was impossible for some titles to be published in 60Hz in the first place.
Import gaming also wasn't that big back then. At least, in my circle of family and friends anyways...



meppi said:

No worries. I don't want to turn this whole thing into a complainfest.
Just trying to explain I'm not talking bout smoothness or speed either. The game graphics weren't better on pal systems because they used the exact same resolution as NTSC games despite the TV sets themselves having 100 lines more in Europe as those weren't even used. The game screen looked squeezed together since the lines are closer together in pal sets compared to an NTSC set of the same size.

As for most people not knowing any better, I have to admit, you have about 5 years on me. But you should remember how some of the most respected magazines at the time stated the problems with pal conversion in many an article.
Heck even some of the most beloved UK magazines at the time were deep, and I mean very deep into the import scene and even gave gamers lots of info on how they could be playing import games. Even the one French magazine I used to buy in the day was huge into import games and helping people make the jump.
So I think you underestimate the number of people that went through the trouble of importing for this very reason, or at least knew about it back in the day.



TheRealThanos said:

True enough to the 'line issue'.
As for gamers either knowing or not, I just counted the number of what we would now call 'casual gamers'. Just think of all those kids that just wanted to plug in the cartridge and play and you'll get the idea.
They really didn't care either way. My cousins were like that and although I did know more of it later on, I still didn't care.
I guess I wasn't that much of a purist in the eyes of some people then...

And good to see we're on a social level that suits N-Life again...



cmk8 said:

I don't think we should be too grateful / overjoyed about this. The games should be in 60hz, I fear it's a sneaky marketing ploy by Ninty to get some love.
For example we're pleased with any online they give us, but it should be the norm, not the exception!



TheRealThanos said:

Well, I guess that's a matter of opinion. I consciously lived through and played everything from Atari 2600 up till now, and the "obligatory" online is something that only seems to be "necessary" since the last two generations, which means that offline gaming wins by far and so stating something is "the norm" is a bit of a stretch if you look at the total picture of eight generations of consoles.
I still find WAY more pleasure in single player campaigns or local multiplayer (such as Goldeneye on N64) than having to deal with stupid kids throwing a temper tantrum online because they didn't manage to get the "5 consecutive single-fire headshot kills with one weapon in two minutes while staying on ground level on the same map without dying or using perks" achievement/trophy. Disgusting...

Oh, and if something is given, the nature or appearance of the gift is decided upon by the one who offers it, in this case Nintendo.
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, they don't HAVE to do this, but they do it anyway, whether it's a "marketing ploy" or not...



RetroGBHippie92 said:

Great news IKR? I made a formal complaint the other day and I guess they caved in, or it's just a matter of co-incidence that all this came to pass. I'm going to post a copy of my email on the forums that i sent to Nintendo of Australia (my local branch), it details basically what Miiversers and PAL gamers have been trying to change.



Sun said:

@TheRealThanos I am not upset at all, but you clearly wrote 'your wisdom' not in the best way but it's okay, I don't care. I can even appreciate that I think you have realized that your tone was not right.

But I am writing not because of that but because I disagree again with you, and this time is not because of objective facts like PAL was not better, just had more vertical resolution which lead to poorly ported games in Europe. This time I am telling you I was perfectly aware of the PAL ports issues since I realized that Sonic games in PAL were slow and difficult to control. I used to read a lot of magazines at that time and even if I did not it was clear to me something was wrong and worse on the PAL games.

I feel that Super Mario 64 is better on Wii VC than in N64 PAL, but I cannot tell you the technical differences between the two of them.

@RetroGBHippie92 As a little kid I wrote to Nintendo for having Super Mario Bros. games on the SNES and they eventually did it. And it was not a time when ports and retro games were popular at all but a time when everybody looked forward to next-gen games and graphics. If anybody reads something that makes sense, it might happen. Only thing is you have to be lucky enough to be read, or to anybody else that had the same idea is read.



ICEknight said:

@Chunky_Droid "If zip is right, then that might be why Balloon Fight isn't 60hz, it could be more complicated than changing one value."
In the case of Balloon Fight, not even "one value" would need to be changed. Since the European version wasn't optimized to begin with, it will run properly at 60Hz.
So let's start asking Nintendo to release a patch, before they release more NES games running at 50Hz and they can say "it's too late to patch all the games now".

@Gavin_Rozee "Having the option to choose would probably significantly delay VC games in Europe"
Nope. Just slap two ROMs when needed and choose one or the other depending on the TV settings, simple as that.

@GiftedGimp "In fact back in the day Some US players used to import Pal Systems as they prefered the Higher resolution of 50hz pal games over the Faster Screen refresh."
Highly doubtful, first time somebody says this on the internet.

@GiftedGimp "Even with the border it was generally excepted because of the slower refresh game looked sharper. (Arguably)"
Now this just makes no sense, really.

@GiftedGimp "However Shemnue was often played in 50hz to take advatage of the sharper image."
No. Dude. Shenmue 1 and 2 supported PAL 60, which has both the best resolution and 60Hz refresh rate.



TheRealThanos said:

I think you're an alright person, guesstimated from all the other comments I've read from you here on N-Life (as far as can possibly be estimated from that) but I do think we have to agree to disagree OR meet halfway, because there was NO tone in my 'your wisdom' remark, so there was also nothing wrong with it, it was just meant as a little correction because all I did was quote the article writer, so it wasn't ME saying PAL is better, because I know quite well that it isn't, same as you do.
And as for you being aware of it back then (if I read you right this time) that only shows that you're not an average gamer, and it was them I was talking about when I said that most of them were definitely NOT aware, and that my good man, is a FACT. Every other word you read in any of my comments is, as I already explained in the previous comment, without sarcasm and means EXACTLY what the words stand for, so no reason whatsoever to search for some hidden meaning or insult or what not. There's no reading between the lines with me, so please don't try to read anything into my comments that I didn't LITERALLY state. If I don't like you or disagree with you, I will flat out TELL you to your face, even though I can well understand that it is a bit more fussy to get that from an emotionless piece of text, so that (in general) is probably where misunderstandings come from in the first place as far as written comments go.
Anyways, no hard feelings, I bid you well and keep gaming.



ICEknight said:

Dude, the article said the PAL standard looked better, because it has a higher vertical resolution.

Since these games didn't change their resolution to fit the PAL standards, this resulted in them looking squished and with black borders on top and bottom.

This, along with a slower speed than they were supposed to run at, makes the VC releases a poor representation of what the original game designers had in mind.

The ideal thing would be to let the user choose between 50Hz and 60Hz, though (like already happens with TurboGrafx games), but having to choose between 50 and 60Hz, the superior version in these cases is, factually, the 60Hz one.



ICEknight said:

By the way, the 3DS is already getting the European versions of these games running at 60Hz, so they don't seem to have any problems converting them.

This is something very few people seems to have noticed.



Starwolf_UK said:

Great, A shame it took over 6 years to get Nintendo to listen (then again back in the day of the Wii the only contact point was customer services whose job it basically is to keep issues away from the company) I guess Miiverse being flooded with 50Hz kind of gave the topic some much needed attention. Hope people don't get too over their heads and think Nintendo will release Earthbound and Star Fox 2 next if we pester them...



Henmii said:

Well, surprise, surprise!! Wonders do exist, it seems! I would be the last person who expected it!!



Kirk said:

I'm very happy they've went with the 60hz for the European release.



pianoman359 said:

For all the nostalgic people complaining about not having the authentic 50hz experience, I suggest you dust off your old consoles and play them on an old CRT TV using the original controllers. For the rest of us let's finally enjoy these games as the developers intended.



MadJay1664 said:

What about balloon fight? Are they gonna change that to 60 as well? It'll be a bit odd if they don't.

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