News Article

Talking Point: The Importance of the Virtual Console

Posted by Gaz Plant

Old games seem to sell

The start of a new console generation is always problematic for fans of older titles, as with each passing system backward compatibility becomes an increasing issue, and older titles risk being lost to the ages due to damage. Nintendo’s recent policy has been one of allowing backward compatibility for the previous generation only, so Wii U owners can go back to Wii games but not GameCube; as we saw with the DS and subsequent DSi iteration, however, this compatibility isn’t a lifetime guarantee.

The solution to this problem was presented by Satoru Iwata at E3 2005; a cornerstone of the then codenamed Revolution’s initial reveal — the Virtual Console was said to offer a complete 20 year library of Nintendo software, and when the renamed Wii launched the following year, it did so with a selection of classic Nintendo titles ready to buy. Over the past six years we’ve seen the Wii’s Virtual Console library grow, giving its owners a valuable and permanent collection of retro games, while also providing a rare opportunity to purchase games previously unreleased in West; the Hanabi Festivals brought titles such as Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars to Europe for the first time.

Despite the marketability of rare titles being widely available, the Virtual Console has never really been at the forefront of Nintendo’s advertising. Be it the somewhat severe pricing on decade old games or the hit and miss release schedule, the admittedly large range of games has never really found its own place in Nintendo’s plan, seemingly resigned to being just another feature. But recently Nintendo has made strides to change all that, and in the coming generation we could see the Virtual Console being one of the major selling points for both the Wii U and 3DS.

It won’t, arguably, be the erratic releases of Nintendo’s typical library that will make or break the Virtual Console in the next generation. With titles such as Super Mario World and Super Metroid needing only minor Wii U functionality upgrades, it falls upon the remaining few titles to really push the boundaries of what the Virtual Console can offer; thankfully, Nintendo still has a vast catalogue to turn to.

The 3DS has already made significant strides in broadening the Virtual Console library, with the introduction of Game Boy and Game Boy Color games (along with third-party handhelds) being a welcome addition, along with portable NES games for the first time since the Game Boy Advance days. The service began with quite a fanfare, with games such as Super Mario Land and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX hitting the service in its early days, but much like the Wii, the release pacing and volume has since tailed off. The service now becomes all about quality over quantity, and in April’s Nintendo Direct Satoru Iwata revealed the next big title for the service, and an indicator of just why the Virtual Console remains an important outlet for Nintendo.

The release of the Capcom-developed The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons is big news for fans. Not only is this a rare opportunity to delve back into two of the franchise’s more unique titles, it also provides a service that few of the original owners managed. Uniquely, the Oracle games featured a hidden third ending – by connecting the two games together using a password system, gamers could experience the true ending to the mini-series, and without going into spoilers, it’s an ending that is worth seeing. This re-release makes it easier than ever to see this ending, and will allow many Zelda fans an opportunity to experience it for the first time, and at far less cost than buying two full priced games when originally released. It’s a chance to play through something that was a distant dream to many - precisely what the Virtual Console should be doing.

And speaking of distant dreams, they don’t get much more distant than another Virtual Console announcement from April’s Nintendo Direct. Released as Mother 2 in Japan, EarthBound in the US and never released in Europe, the adventure of Ness and his friends has gained nothing short of a cult following worldwide, due in part to its high collector’s value and the continued appearance of the franchise in Super Smash Bros. It’s been a long wait for this almost legendary title to be available worldwide, but in 2013 its hiatus will finally end, a full 19 years after its initial release.

Somewhat ironically, when the Virtual Console was announced in 2005, Iwata suggested three games that could be available on the new service – Excitebike, Punch-Out!! and EarthBound, the latter of which got a rather excited response from some audience members. And despite it taking eight long years to appear, EarthBound is precisely the sort of game the Virtual Console should be offering. Like Super Mario RPG, it offers gamers a chance to play a game that was never released in their territory, or play a game that is in such high demand that it’s almost impossible to buy.

The announcement and subsequent release of EarthBound could have an even stronger effect though. The demand and love for this series is so high it’s possible that, for those just about on the fence, it could be tempting to find a good Wii U deal to play an official version with the Virtual Console goodies included. If marketed well, EarthBound could prove to be one of Nintendo’s biggest download hits of 2013, a true testament to the potential of the Virtual Console.

But of course, games don’t sell by themselves, and it’s up to Nintendo to ensure that the eShop remains a positive environment to buy games. Since its inception on the Wii Shop Channel, the pricing of Virtual Console titles has been a hot topic amongst Nintendo fans, and there is certainly a case to be made for the games being cheaper than they are; it is after all, hard to argue with the fact that after making the necessary porting arrangements, it costs Nintendo relatively little to distribute these games digitally.

The pricing issue makes the current Famicom 30th Anniversary sale an interesting experiment. To celebrate 30 years since the Famicom’s debut in Japan, Nintendo is currently offering Wii U owners a selection of classic titles for the bargain price of just €0.30/£0.30/$0.30, and if Miiverse chatter is anything to go by, the sale is proving to be a rousing success. However, once this sale is over the games will be going back to full price, and for those such as the simplistic Balloon Fight, it’s a steep increase. Which begs the question, how many units of Balloon Fight would Nintendo have sold at full price, in comparison to the sale offering? After all, it’s arguably better to sell a hundred thousand copies – or more — of a game at 30p than a handful at more than ten times the price.

While we’re not suggesting that Nintendo should drop all its eShop titles down to a lower price than a bar of chocolate, it would certainly make sense going forward to continue these sales periodically. Digital distributors such as Valve’s Steam famously discount games intermittently, and as any good business person will tell you, get people buying one thing in your store and they will more often than not return. Positive pricing not only brings in sales of discounted items, but it also breeds a more digitally-minded consumer, something that Nintendo’s eShop offerings are geared towards. After all, putting a Virtual Console title than costs almost nothing to produce at a lower price doesn’t actually cost Nintendo anything.

While the Virtual Console only has a handful of titles at the moment, its Miiverse communities are regularly appearing on the WaraWara Plaza.

With more sales come more gamers experiencing classic titles, and that’s another area Nintendo is ready to capitalise on. While some of us perhaps didn’t quite grasp the full potential of Miiverse early on, since Wii U’s launch it has been almost universally praised by critics and fans alike. Offering a direct community in which to discuss games not only gives fans somewhere to gather, but it also offers Nintendo and the community a way to gauge interest in a game. While the Virtual Console only has a handful of titles at the moment, its Miiverse communities are regularly appearing on the WaraWara Plaza, such is the popularity of these titles. And if a game continues to appear on your home screen, it is only natural that you’ll click on it, go to the eShop and consider buying it – purchases driving further purchases.

It would appear then that Nintendo has everything it needs to make the Virtual Console one of the Wii U’s core selling points in the near future, but perhaps there is more improvement needed. As we alluded to earlier, the 3DS, and earlier the Wii, have suffered with an erratic release schedule, and coupled with a lack of promotion, means that many fans have no idea what is available on the system. Of course, Miiverse and the eShop have alleviated some of that pain, but we’d like to see a more coherent strategy from Nintendo on Wii U – a set calendar would be a sensible arrangement, perhaps releasing new titles once a month, offering a steady stream of sales and upgraded titles in between.

And what of the future for the service? Eventually the quantity and quality of releases will begin to dip, so perhaps it’s time to introduce a new generation to the Virtual Console. 3DS, being an updated DS, is already well positioned to play DS games, but with the push to digital software becoming a larger part of Nintendo’s arsenal, maybe it’s time for DS games to be available in the eShop? This could be particularly valuable for titles that can be considered rare or niche. And of course we couldn’t pass an entire Virtual Console article by without giving mention to GameCube games on Wii U, something that many fans are keen to see implemented with the loss of GameCube functionality this generation.

Overall then, the Virtual Console could very well be a useful weapon in the coming years. While the teams toil away behind the scenes on games we can only dream of, the Virtual Console can continue to grow and provide us with compelling and memorable experiences from our past. While the roster of games may be tiresome to some, the service can also offer us titles we never expected to play such as EarthBound, or allow us to experience the full game we never could afford such as with the Oracle games. With correct management of pricing and well timed sales, it’s entirely possible that Nintendo’s eShop could become one of the great digital marketplaces.

What would you like to see on the Virtual Console in the coming years? And if you don’t have a Wii U yet, has EarthBound changed your mind? Let us know in the comments below.

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User Comments (109)



MAB said:

< Release this guy here he is worthy and needs some VC love



Sanqet said:

I hope we'll see a great range of titles from the nes to the GameCube at reasonable prices especially the GameCube games if the prices for the snes games is anything to go by they could be expensive



Einherjar said:

I guess that GCN games will go for 20-30€ But to be honest, i dont mind really. These games are really expansive even used and you always have to manage memory cards, hope your discs dont get scratched etc.



HeatBombastic said:

Why not have Wii games sold digitally on the e-shop later on? That would be interesting.

If they put virtual console titles and old full priced games on discount constantly like how Steam does, I'm going to be a poor, happy man.



DualWielding said:

I think nintendo is short sticking us 3DS owners by not making SNES and GBA titles available on the 3DS virtual console, I understand that since the Wii U has no games of its own having exclusivity over SNES and GBA titles is more important for it that for the 3DS that is doing well. Still as a 3DS owner who has no plans whatsoever of buying a Wii U it sucks



HeatBombastic said:

@ferthepoet They WILL have those available. Not right now though, because this new generation could last a 5-10 years. They want to spread out the releases so that it will keep the virtual console alive and active. I promise you, they will have them there.



bluecat said:

@ferthepoet SNES I can understand being only on a console, but it still boggles my mind as to why the GBA games, which were for a handheld system, are only going to be on the Wii U.



DESS-M-8 said:

Saturn games. Please release Saturn games.

Namely, the whole panzer dragoon series, burning rangers, shinobi x, clockwork knight, bug, guardian heroes, NiGHTS, street fightet vs xmen and radiant Silvergun. Pleeeeeeeease. Not HD, just straight ports would do and panzer dragoon saga, even if it needs coding again from scratch, somebody bring this rare and overly expensive classic to virtual console and back to the masses



DarkCoolEdge said:

As it is now, the VC is crappy. Games are way too expensive, a lot of wanted games never showed up, no GBA games in the 3DS (really??)...and I could keep going. In fact, I am. It's great to finally have access to Super Mario RPG and Sin & Punishment but they are even more expensive than the other already expensive games. It's crazy.

I understand they don't want to flood us with a gazillion games each month but the current pace is ridiculous. Still, the worst is the pricing. 5$/€ for DK jr or Ballon Fight is insulting. If they release GC games, how much would they cost? And DS games? 20-30? It makes me mad because I really want to buy a lot ofthose games but I don't because they have to see how wrong they are.

Ok, I might buy Oracle of Ages but it'd be just an exception.

@DESS-M-8 yeah, Panzer Dragoon would be awesome but I think that the Saturn is not easily emulated.



HeatBombastic said:

@bluecat GBA games are not ONLY going to be on Wii U. GBA games were already given to Nintendo Ambassadors of the 3DS, so clearly their waiting later in the 3DS's lifetime to release GBA games to all. GBA games are coming to Wii U, but they're not coming in the initial update, we don't know when. SNES games will most likely be in the 3DS vc later in its lifetime. Please read/listen to what Nintendo actually says.



HeatBombastic said:

@DarkCoolEdge If you live in Europe, I think I get it. In the United States, though, much of the pricing is fair. Except for some of the games which have less depth. I think they should start pricing them on content.



bluecat said:

@HeatBombastic That's actually an assumption I believe, assuming that they will come to the 3DS for the masses just because the ambassadors got them. If you can link me to a source that states other wise, quoting Nintendo themselves, then please do.



DualWielding said:

@DarkCoolEdge I think the artilce is right on that, it may be a good business strategy if the games are normally overpriced so when you come with half price only for a week or something liket hat it seems like a big deal and drive sales. The thing is they're not doing that, they let the games sit there at too high prices even if they see they are not selling.....



HeatBombastic said:

@bluecat They mentioned GBA games during a press conference, same with gamecube games on Wii U. If they can let Ambassadors download them, clearly they can let anyone download them if they wanted to. In a business standpoint, spreading out your releases just makes sense. Please stop being ignorant.



bluecat said:

@HeatBombastic Please stop insulting me. I am not ignorant. I am simply asking for a source. Now which press conference are you referring to exactly so I may reference it?



DarkCoolEdge said:

@HeatBombastic Yes, I do live in Europe (in Spain to be precise). That's exactly what they should do. Different games, different prices.

Every release of a new game of a pre-existent saga should be preceded by the release of a previous one in the VC.
DKC Returns 3D? DK for the eshop two weeks before.
A link to the past 2? Well, quite obvious, ain't it?
Or maybe a month, but it would be good to build the excitement for the new iteration.

And of course, games that haven't been released in the Wii VC. Getting more third party support would begreat too but that's not gonna happen.



DerpSandwich said:

I concur, we need sales on those old titles. They can't still expect us to pay five bucks for an NES title. (Oh wait, I guess they can, because we still do.) With each generation the old stuff should get cheaper, in my opinion.

But you know what's funny? I really don't like old games that much. Everyone seems to like playing all these classics, but whenever I pick up an old game I usually end up getting frustrated by the difficulty and the lack of saving, and I know people liked how old games didn't "hold your hand," but I don't find it fun having absolutely no idea where to go or how to play the game. I also just don't tend to think they're very fun. They're incredibly simple and coupled with the fact that you've got to die and start all over after playing for an hour I find that I never have the patience or any sort of desire to continue. It was great back in the day, but now any kid with a computer can make the same thing, and when you strip away the nostalgia I don't see much of a point. There are obviously games that really are just great (Super Mario 3 comes to mind), but so many others...meh. But I realize this is really just me.

Anyone else feel this way? My friends are always like, "Aw, man, I just got Star Gradient Alpha Wolf 4 on my Neo Geo Pocket, it's super awesome!" And I'm just like, "Uh, I like Yoshi's Island... That's pretty old, right?"



ajcismo said:

I love the VC and its possibilities with the gamepad. Its driving me nuts that Nintendo is taking its sweet time getting it rolling.



Tender_Cutlet said:

That's got to be Gamecube games on VC [at best with an HD lick of paint] but at the very least with full NTSC 60hz component support which most of us Europeans never got. Perhaps even for games like MK Double Dash, Kirby Air Ride and 1080 Avalanche to have their original online functions thrown in? I for one didn't yet have internet at home back then, let alone fork out for the GC Broadband Adapter! Would love to see games never released in Europe [like Homeland make it over for Hanabi.]



placidcasual said:

I was a big supporter of the vc on wii. When I was young (im 32 now fact fans) I loved my NES & SNES so I've relived a load of my favourites like Secret of Mana, the Marios and Zeldas, Super Metroid and Megaman & pumped close to 100 hours into SNES Sim City. Because my 7-15 year old self couldn't afford much from pocket money and birthday and xmas presents its nice to be able to pick up a lot of the games that I've missed over the years too.

Oh and Gamecube would be sweet. I'm also really looking forward to some Wdvance Wars action on the gamepad if they release that as a future GBA vc game, which let's face it they'd be stupid not to...



DarkCoolEdge said:

@DerpSandwich Yes, there are games too rough for me too. Nevertheless, the save function they have implemented frees you from restarting the game over and over again, it's truly a great addition.



AJWolfTill said:

The only reason I bought Links Awakening DX on the eshop (I had the original) was because I won eShop credit at a Kid Icarus tournement. The only reason I bought Mario Bros 3 and the Original LoZ was because one of them was a concession for paying for the internet browser and the other was with club nintendo points.
Although the only reason I have pursued the Wii U VC so far has been the sales I am more likely to support it than I have been other VCs. However without discounts I am unlikely to buy anything that I was not already hoping for such as Link to the Past.

I really hope they do add N64 and GC games as these are far bigger draws to me than classic NES games, largely since I grew up around them. (Sorry retro fans).

I wonder how many people have a similar attitude.



blackknight77 said:

these young whippersnappers nowadays need to experience the golden age of video games. When games were created for gamers and innovation was at the forefront of game design.



klautrec said:

Great article. In fact the catalog of old school games on Nintendo eShop and even in the Wii shop is better than in any other online store, it's an advantage in therms of what's being offered beyond Wii U and 3DS exclusive games.

For me, it has a high value, I'm from the 80's I love those games untill these days, and in my opinion it's a better entertainment than a vast number of "new" tittles.

If one day I get married and have children they'll not be allowed to play any new tittles, untill they finish the first Zelda, Mario Bros, Donkey Kong and Mega Man and other classic tittles. No Let's Play YouTube videos allowed too.



Giygas_95 said:

@DerpSandwich I feel that way about the first Metroid and Zelda 2. It's so hard to figure out where you are or need to go in Metroid, and I found Zelda 2 to be too frustrating to be fun. Just having a map in Metroid would make me want to play it more, but getting lost all the time sort of turns me away from it...I'd rather play the infinitely superior (in my opinion at least) Super Metroid. To me, Super Metroid gave you just the right amount of assistance to help you get through, but it didn't hold your hand. Same goes for A Link to the Past in comparison to Zelda 2. Much more accessible, but it doesn't hold your hand.



DerpSandwich said:

@Five-seveN I'm actually really looking forward to getting Super Metroid for 30 cents! That's one game I really wish I had played when I was a kid, but at least now I get the chance.



BabyLogey said:

I had wanted a Wii U since I heard about them, it was a want, and then EarthBound was announced for the Wii U VC, it instantly became a need. It's a fun game, but costs over $100 to get it used even.



Giygas_95 said:

@DerpSandwich I really envy you for not having played it yet. I've played through it so many times that I know a large deal of the game inside and out though there are still a lot of missile expansions I haven't found. Even a few days ago, however, I saw a video on the internet of a room I had never found before, and my brother also looked up something to help me get an item that I could never find (it was in another room I had never seen). It really impresses me how that game has secrets I'd never seen even though I've been playing it since about the year 2000. It's undoubtedly my favorite of the whole series, and I bet you're going to love it! I too am looking forward to getting it on the Wii U VC!



DerpSandwich said:

@Five-seveN Yeah, I'm excited. I'm bummed that the whole atmosphere thing might be a little lost on me seeing as I've heard about the beginning and the end so many times, but it's the gameplay that really matters! I've been meaning to play a 2D Metroid since the GBA titles came out. Hopefully they'll get released on the VC so I can play them too.



Moshugan said:

I think VC is important, but Nintendo doesn't quite know how to leverage it. They could do much more for promotion and even functionality. (Imagine online for VC multiplayer, it could be done!)
Atleast I do play VC games consistently. A little bit of age doesn't stop a good game being good.
I'll update only select titles for Wii U functionality, but especially the off-screen play is a very attractive feature.
I expect to see new games, like Gamecube, and I hope for rare ones too.



Moshugan said:

I hope Emily Rogers is right and what she meant by "having both 3DS and Wii U being beneficial" relates to eShop/VC synchronization.



GiftedGimp said:

I would like WiiU games to be £10, Estore originals at £5, Vc games to be under £2, going down in price the older the console generation..... I'm being sarcastic by the way.

Yes people want things cheaper than they are, that applys to everything, but to say VC games are over expensive is wrong.
VC games are cheaper on the WiiU than they were on Wii, and are cheaper than the carts that are about. Plus on the WiiU you get slight visual improvment, in pal territories 60hz, usually, extra features and you never know maybe a few titles never to make it to pal territory.
If anything the upgrade fee should be argued, yes your buying extra features, but the Wii VC titles cost more to begin with.



DarkCoolEdge said:

@AJWolfTill Just like me. Kid Icarus and Excitebike, both 3D classics (not the same as VC but almost the aame in these cases) were free, and Mega Man 2, Sin & Punishment and Super Mario Bros 3 too thanks to Nintendo points.



ecco6t9 said:

I think 3DS owners just want a confirmation of GBA on the 3DS even if it takes 2 years.



Nintendojuenger said:

Nintendo should better bring more own innovative WiiU or 3DS eShop Games for a fair price than VC. Ergo not Games like the overpriced HarmoKnight or the less innovative Splash or Crash (I played already years ago on WiiWare: Minna de Tobikome! Penguin Diving FuPaRuPa)

@GazPlant Nintendo released already Super Famicom Wars on the Japanese WiiWare.



Neram said:

I think it's pretty bad that we have to pay more to unlock the Wii U Virtual Console versions of the games we already paid for on the Wii Virtual Console.

I'll only be buying the games that were never released on the Wii Virtual Console, because I simply refuse to pay more for something I already have just to use it on the new emulator.



WindWakerLink said:

Good article!
The VC for the Wii U will get better. "Maybe they will eventually release Mega Man X3 since they never did on the original Wii's VC. I'm still waiting for it..." "A guy can dream right?" (Chuckles)



Einherjar said:

I really dont get all the hate towards the VC. Dont get me wrong, the start line up of the WiiU VC is absolutely poor, but all the talk about the prices.
Sure, 8€ may seem steep, but consider this: Have you looked at the cartridge prices at (online) stores ? Are they lower ? Then buy a cartridge. Are they higher ? Buy it from the VC, since the emulation is almost perfect and much more convinient than hooking up an old system to a modern TV,
Another thing you have to consider sre backup batteries. If a cartridge dies, there is no way to easily replace its backup batterie.

Also, i have often read the comparison with iStore games and the like. Really ? Sure, these games are dirt cheap, but there is a reason for it. Content. I dont think that "mobile games" offer 40+ hours of gameplay. Some of them, yes (the only game i know would be the matrix remake of Final Fantasy 3, and that costs more than a few bucks) but the mayority is made up by minigames and time wasters.

And if you already bought a game on the Wii and are not willing to pay 1.50 for a newer version...then dont. Simple as that. Wii Mode hase become more accesable since the spring update. Your can directly boot into Wii Mode and start up your game. No one is forcing you to upgrade.

And sure those upgrades cost money. They put work into the conversation and they have to be stored somewhere. Money doesnt grow on trees. And seriously, were talking about a corporation, that regulary gives away free, full price retail games if you registered a system (or other games) beforehand. They cant give everything out for free.

Again, i also find that the prices are quite high, but i exactly know what im getting for that money. These games are well known, you dont buy them blindly. If you find that they are worth it, get them, if not, dont.
I find that the VC is an excelent way to conserve old games. And the WiiU VC uprade is very convinient (no controller switchng or batterie jugling)



link_hatchet said:

The virtual console is the best thing they ever made, an itll keep on improving as years go by.



grovertheblue said:

I have to say that regular sales of games would be a great idea. If the iOS App store is anything to go off of, I know that when titles are on sale I personally am much more likely to make a purchase. I have already made several Wii U eShop purchases of sale priced games that I probably would have never bought full price. Not that they're not good games, but everyone only has limited funds and some games just don't make the cut, unless of course, sales prices are enticing enough. Agreed though that the Virtual console prices are pretty high. But, then again, alot of the games released would cost you almost as much if not more if you tried to buy the original cartridge second hand. I believe the insanely low prices on the iOS App store are partially to blame for most peoples perception of an acceptable price regardless of Nintendo's input/time costs to release these games on the eShop.



mihimarcelo said:

what is the point in havin' a virtual console for the 3DS if we see almost no updates outside japan?
Only two games this month on the americas? Where are the Game Gear games? What about GBA? We have NES, but no Master System?
I want to spend my money with the 3DS eshop, but Nintendo don't want my money!



SirQuincealot said:

they shouldnt be talking about ds games until we have snes game, having said that i would love to see star fox ds on the eshop



SirQuincealot said:

@ecco6t9 snes first, i have enogh gba games, bot from the ambasadors program and from the days when that was still a thing, but i never had an snes, only nintendo system i never owned (plus the wii u) and im sure alot of other people are lie that and wish to experience the snes on the 3ds



Ren said:

Nice article, my thoughts exactly. It's silly that people try to argue that the prices are fair. People will pay it but they've crippled their own sales with the high prices. and someone argued that they have to pay to store them?! really? most of these VC games could fit on a phone. some people buy almost everything as it comes out and it still fits onto large SD cards. Go to the corner store and buy a HDD.
hosting this stuff is not hard or expensive, but they're doing it the wrong way;
the VC games are a natural gateway to get people buying the new stuff, and if priced right, buying lots more of the VC stuff. They treat it all like these are great titles being introduced to a new generation for re-selling. They are great, and they are important digital relics of another time, despite their quality and playabilty. They only highlight the great history of games and even highlight what is great now with new games. they should be bonuses for new games bought, gateway games to previews of new ones, samples for the library of other games like them, etc. They are awesome free marketing for Nintendo and they'd feel free to us at $1-$5 dollars, maybe $10-15 for gamecube and Wii games in the future. But would anyone NOT download loads of them at those prices? and end up ALWAYS having the machine on and tempted to keep up with the latest games?
massive missed opportunities. Nintendo needs new leadership to figure this out, really.



Sun said:

Ridiculously expensive. And very funny how upgrades are more expensive for SNES games. The games chosen are old NES games and the only one I will be getting once again because it is the best game ever is Super Mario World.



fluggy said:

My nexus 7 plays any old console game I want perfectly. . . in any part of my house (my Wii u can't even connect to control pad if its 5 metres away in the next room with doors open!!!) GameCube titles would be only reason I would use VC.



Dpishere said:

I personally love using the Virtual Console service as it gives me a chance to play games that I always wanted to but simply couldn't. Without the Wii's Virtual Console service I would not have been able to play Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Mario Rpg Legend of the Seven Stars, or Majora's Mask without purchasing the original cartridges. Also those would likely crap out on you after a period of time while the digital versions of these games are permanent. All in all the Virtual Console service is a blessing for me, and I intend to use it many times more in the future, starting with Oracle of Ages and Seasons, two more games I never had a chance to play.



Dpullam said:

I can just imagine how many epic adventures I could have if they announced Nintendo DS games for the 3DS eshop. I'd prefer to have some DS games digitally rather than boxed. I am also happy that the Wii U is going to get GBA games but I wish the 3DS would get some of them as well. After all, they were originally on a handheld system in the first place. At the very least, if they don't arrive on the 3DS, this will give me one more reason to buy a Wii U.



BrightBeing said:

Here are the main problems for the Virtual Console:

Wii U:

  • Too Few Games. Goal should be parity with Wii and beyond.
  • Too few systems represented. Again, goal should be Wii.
  • No Set schedule of releases. Goal should be monthly and a set number.
  • Handheld games on a console. Goal should be only Console games.
  • Prices far too high. Goal should be reasonably above cost.
  • No marketing. Should be on every system box and commercial.


  • Way too Few Games for the amount of time on market. Goal should be all major GB, GBC, GBA games, favoring GBC versions of games that are also on GB.
  • No set schedule of releases. Same goal as Wii U
  • Console games on a handheld. Goal should be handheld games with the exception of 3D classics, only because they add value.
  • Prices far too high. Same goal as Wii U.
  • No marketing. Same goal as Wii U.


gojiguy said:

Finding it hard to get excited about the Wii U VC... Barely any new features, barely any selection, no NEO GEO or Genesis....

The only hopeful sign is the lack of multiplayer titles on Wii U VC pointing to Nintendo considering including online play in their games. That would be a megaton.

But really my favourite VC games are on NEO GEO and that console hasn't even been confirmed for Wii U VC... Let alone Genesis, Gamecube, Dreamcast, TG-16, Master System, Arcade, N64, C64, et al...

I wish Nintendo told us more about their VC roadmap...



EaZy_T said:

@klautrec I love your idea of making children have to pass a course of classic games to graduate to modern games, it's brilliant! XD
Plus there is added benefit of knowing that most of the classics are appropriate for younger players.



GiftedGimp said:

Its going to take a bit of time to get WiiU VC on par with Wii. Even titles already on Wii VC need to be converted to WiiU's VC emulation software.

Thing is I would prefer it if Only the biggest Wii VC titles got the WiiU conversion, and Nintendo concentrated on bringing All New titles not yet on Wii VC to WiiU.
Reason being If I want a VC game and its only on Wii I can still buy and play it in Wii Mode easy enough... and if by chance one day any Wii VC titles I do own did get the WiiU conversion It would be my choice to pay the upgrade fee or not.



snesman said:

So will Earthbound be released on the (original) Wii Virtual Console as well?



Kirk said:

I really do believe that if Nintendo just lowered the prices of these Virtual Console games across the board and offered a much larger choice much quicker, as well as unify all the different Virtual Consoles into one single service, that it would have a much bigger and more positive impact across the board.

I don't understand what it's so blatantly obvious that this would be the case and yet Nintendo is so reluctant to actually do it.



klautrec said:

@EaZy_T Kids these days seems to be more interested on Call of Duty and other violent games than anything else. The marketing is so strong that it reaches all the audiences, and parents these days, at the same time, do anything to make kids shut up and let them in peace.

As much as I think that games don't make kids, violent adult persons, I wouldn't expose them to it because it's their first experience with games, and games are really strong. When I was a Kid I remember being a huge fan of Sonic, all my favorite games with my friends involved "running", I wanted to be the fastest boy, If my mother asked me if I could buy something on the grocery for her, I would do it running as fast as I could! It can influenciate, for sure how kids act. or maybe I had issues. lol



ouroborous said:

duh, nintendo could fund themselves FOREVER by simply releasing their ENTIRE back catalog



BrightBeing said:

@klautrec Violent games don't make bad kids. Bad parents make bad kids. Full-Stop. A good parent wouldn't be getting their kid COD, etc. Just like a good parent wouldn't let their kid watch a rated R movie. If they do, then either they have to put in the extra effort to explain to the kid what they saw was not acceptable behavior, or they are a bad parent.



Tertis said:

>'Prices are too high'
>Original games go for 3 to 4 times as much as the download version



ueI said:

The reason the virtual console is a great idea is the same reason it's not working out. The virtual console can let people play games available almost nowhere else, such as Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, Majora's Mask, and Pokemon Snap. But instead of this, Nintendo prefers to release the same few games so many times that anybody who wants them probably already has them.
@Tertris I was thinking the same thing.
@DerpSandwich I have the same views towards retro titles.



Meaty-cheeky said:

@BrightBeing well said.

What I want to know is where are all of the Gameboy/ Gameboy Color games? clearly Nintendo hasn't released all of them yet, so what's taking so long? I want to have a good GB,GBC library on my 3DS before Nintendo starts pumping out Gameboy Advance games.



marck13 said:

I got myself some classic VC-games, but next i'd like to spend money on RPG evergreens and games with 3d-worlds, like we know them since Super Mario 64 or Dukem Nukem 64 .
Or SNES Games i'm dreaming of are: Shadowrun or Syndicate.



SirQuincealot said:

@Kirk they don't want to release too many at once because they want people to try the ones they havent, if they release them all at once the same five games we sell great and so many classics would get lost in the pile



klautrec said:

@BrightBeing That's what I think. As I said, violent games don't make kids grow up being violent persons. but to get the perfect example: just try playing some COD on the 360. Many kids want to be adults, its an insult for them being a kid, if you give them a 18+ game they'll think they are actual adults and will "try" to act like one, screaming bad words on everyone's head. That's influence of a violent game, it doesn't mean they will be violent persons. That's why I replied to the other guy, that my kids will have to learn how to play games with the classic ones. lol




I've said it a million times on this site and I'm saying it again.


Just the charm and experience of these classics from the past are the greatiest stuff in gaming WAY better then what we have now.

Every single game they have on the Wii VC should have been on the Wii U DAY ONE I really hope they won't be going as sluggish with releasing games as they were on the old Wii that was so annoying -_-

Here's my Wii U VC wish list but first thing I want CHEAPER PRICES AND CONSTANT SALES!! Your getting money for games that are sometimes 30 years old! Come on I know morally some of these games are worth alot more but let's be realistic I've seen NES and SNES cartridges go for way pennies!!

Back to the games I wanna see.......I'm still waiting on: U.N. Squadron, Primal Rage, Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3 and a few more from SNES to be there. I would love to see MK 4 from N64 with Killer Instant 1 and 2 but that one is a fantasy.

Also why don't they EXPAND the plaforms to take games from how about GAMECUBE games like Killer 7, Viewtiful Joe 1 & 2, Resident Evil 1, 2 and 3! Also the Wii's hidden gems like Zack and Wiki, Madworld, Boom Blox Bash Party, No More Heroes 1 and 2, Goldeneye, Deadly Creatures and more BUT ONLY the really good rare ones that deserved to sale well but didn't. THAT DEFINATLY INCLUDES WiiWARE GAMES!!

DREAMCAST GAMES come on Nintendo your cool with Sega now make it happen! Crazy Taxi and stuff like that. Oh yeah and while your talking to them bring back some of Sega's classic 90's ARCADE LIGHT GUN GAMES!! Like Time Crisis, House/Typing Of The Dead etc. etc.

Lastly revive the COMADOR 64 games library since the touch screen can act as a keyboard!! Speaking of the keyboard how about you bring back classic text only PC dungeon crawlers like ZORK and a bunch others.

There's so much great potential that the Wii U has Nintendo just needs to listen to the community, reach out to the tons of developers volunteering to make games for them and watch the competition more closely BUT NOT TO CLOSE and the Wii U will be just fine.



GiftedGimp said:

@NINTENBOY You wont get dreamcast games on VC, Sega are revamping them in HD under a Sega Classic (or something) banner.
Jet Set Radio, was the last one they released to my knowledge. before that un-upgraded with HD they done Sonic Adventure 1/2 (dx as dlc), Crazy Taxy and a few others.
Would like to see Dreamcast games on WiiU, but tbh if they do appear they will be published by sega, maybe upgraded in hd and cost more than what ppl probably would want to pay if they were released on VC.

As for other Non Nintendo Games on WiiU VC, even if they are on Wii VC the licence Nintendo got from the publishers will be for the Wii, Not the WiiU.
Nintendo will have to pay for the rights again to put Non Nintendo published games onto WiiU VC.
Even some Nintendo published games could have assets that they would get licenced to use if a game contains assets Nintendo don't actually own.



th3r3ds0x said:

Honestly I think Nintendo should stop right where they are and retool their infrastructure to support a single login ID and tie all purchases to that ID. Then allow one Wii U and one 3DS to be activated with said ID. Then put out all these wonderful games for play on either system where it's feasible. I would go completely digital if they did this and I would buy alot more games. Cloud based game saves would be the icing on the cake. Imagine MH3 for instance without having to transfer save data between Wii U and 3DS. Everyone else is doing it, they should be too.



Capt_N said:

I would have commented this moments ago, but the 3ds just has a hard time w/ large web pages, so my comment ended up being wiped.

In my opinion, the VC has a few issues needing to be addressed:

1. More consistent releases; a schedule for the fans would be nice, & attention grabbing, although I know Nintendo more than likely purposely doesn't want to, for fear of ppl holding back on d/ling something/anything, until their favorite hits.
2. Make use of all a console(in these cases, WU, & 3ds) hardware, software, & firmware. Mario Paint, dance/power pad,& light gun based games are perfect examples of what I'm talking about. The Gamepad, for example, w/ a little tweaking could emulate the SNes mouse. The 3ds camera could be used by the Gameboy Camera. In other words, the real console's hardware/software/firmware being used for whatever the game required. After all, as I understand it, each game is packed w/ its own emulator, tweaked specifically to run that game almost flawlessly as close as possible to the real thing. Wiimotes could also be useful, I'm sure.
3. Games that are Nintendo's, but have certain chips, & sometimes software code. Yes, I understand that any co. will not consider it worth it, if the financial inputs exceed the profits, but games like Star Fox, Yoshi's Island, etc. need to be on the service. Nintendo has enough money to make it happen, if the other co.s involved play ball.
4. Any system that had games on a expansion peripheral, & said games never made it, even if some gameplay elements from those games were used in later released titles. Famicom Disk system, BSX(I'm looking at you specifically), N64 disk drive, etc. Pulseman is a good example; that was a Sega Channel game. So, what about other games we've missed from those systems' peripherals?
5. Advertise



TheAdza said:

Maybe, just maybe, there just isn't enough games around. There would be if third parties jumped on board. I had quite a few Sega games on my Wii. Where are the Sega games now?



aaronsullivan said:

I don't think it's time to worry yet. Wait until we see what's released next week.

Time to market:
As for time it takes to release these again on Wii U. Each virtual console game has screenshots and trailers in the store now. That's a nice touch and a slowdown to getting these things online. Fine tuning the emulation is important and custom enough that they bundle the emulator in with each game download and the controller options have multiplied. (Each game is a minefield of potential disappointments to fans who remember every detail.)

I find the upgrade cost a good value but the prices for some of the games is definitely starting to feel too high. I love Ice Climber and Excitebike and even Balloon fight, but those games are VERY comparable to many mobile game and tablet experiences that are $1. $3 would probably get me to scarf of everything I ever owned on the NES.

Really love the clarity of Super Mario World on the Wii U compared to the Wii. I also used the restore function once and I didn't even feel bad about it. (I don't like to cheat, but there are times in some games, like a tricky boss at the end of a long level slog that isn't really challenging, where it is just perfect.) It's also really nice to play on the small screen sometimes. Then there's screenshots and MiiVerse channel filled with fans of just that game. It's a nice value proposition to upgrade.

Like I said before, Nintendo only has so many resources to spend on this (you know, time and money). So, if you are expecting 10 times as many games at the launch of the Wii U virtual console just choose one: Wait 10 times as long, or pay 10 times as much.



Tamalesyatole said:

Is there a technical difficulty in making Virtual Console games for the 3DS? Or why else Nintendo don't release more of them?

I mean, the SNES resolution is 256 × 224, and even the N64 used 240p), and we have the same button layout for SNES games! am I missing something?

And even if they are restricted to only nintendo-developed games, that's still a lot of games!



WaveBoy said:

How exciting, Nintendo is selling VC titles that have been available for years now on the Wii's VC, which most of us already freaking have including myself, but oh look! You can now play them AGAIN on a shiny new console with slightly better picture quality. Yippie! Sigh* Gotta love that emulation lag + HDTV & Gamepad lag. Heavier, less responsive & clunkier feeling controls for all the kiddies, durp!



tsm7 said:

I'd hardly say the 3ds VC made significant strides. Hopefully, the release on Wii U will be faster but I think they may be slow to get people to buy games you don't really care about.
@WaveBoy....uh, there is no lag because of the gamepad or hd and the controls are now fully customizable.
However, I dont understand why the emulation has to be so exact that when multiple enemies appear on screen in kirby it slows down like I'm actually on a nes.



tsm7 said:

The Wii VC launched with 20 games and added 3-5 a week. The cost is not that high and nintendo is completely capable of dedicating the resources if they so chose.



Kirk said:

Well that's really the concern of the publishers/developers, to figure out how to get their old games noticed and played in a way that makes sense for everyone, and not the consumers.

I think as a consumer I'd rather have access to as much of the back catalog as possible and be able to pick and choose what games I want to play from the full library and when I want to play them.

The eShop is for new games to get their chance in the spotlight but these are just old games that everyone's seen and played before anyway and I think most people would really just want to get access to them now so they can download and play the games they loved from their childhoods on their new Wii U console.

Making gamers wait a couple of years for some NES/SNES/Whatever game they enjoyed as a child is more frustrating and imo detrimental than just giving us all access to the full VC library right now.

If I had access to all those games right now, and at cheaper prices (they are currently too expensive for what they are imo; which is digital copies of 20-30 year old games that have already made their money back ten-fold), I might actually consider buying a Wii U.

As it stands, Nintendo isn't sniffing my money.

So I ask you; Which sounds like the smarter business decision to you?



Schprocket said:

I think Nintendo needs to consider (a) how many times they've been trotting out the same VC titles and (b) 'competition' from the shadier aspects of non-Nintendo emulators when setting prices.
Obviously, there has to be compensation for the effort of the conversion but all nostalgia aside, there are better games than Balloon Fight that deserve the full-price Nintendo are asking. Now,make it a "pack" of two to three games in a theme of sorts and that would seem a little more reasonable - in my opinion.

I'll also comment about the platform selection on offer.

How about bringing out the VC titles which haven't already been released for the Wii, Big N?
Forget the regurgitation of NES/SNES, and to some degree, the N64; those of us who've brought over our Wii VC collection will already have them.

Where's the GBA and Gamecube games?

The few classics I'm aware of like Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Golden Sun, Advance Wars would be perfect for the 3DS and Gamepad and yet this market is being eaten into somewhat by the emulators smartphone and tablet platform.

I'm lucky enough to have the 3DS Ambassador GBA titles and if I had my druthers between a NES game - which I had trouble seeing on a regular 3DS screen - and a GBA game, I'd always pick the latter (no misty-eyed childhood memories of NES, I'm too old )

Price-wise, I'd think that if the current NES/SNES prices applied to GBA titles, I'd probably tolerate maybe $15 - $20 for a decent GC title; I can only dream...



JohnG said:

Very interesting article Gaz. The problem is that Nintendo is only toying with Virtual Console. It is certainly not a priority.
How often do we see a new GB or GBC title?
What is the point of NOT releasing some GBA titles?
I wait every week to see the VC releases and 9 times out of 10 I am left disappointed!
I can understand not wanting to release a glut of games all of sudden but at the current rate it will take 30 years for some to get released!
It also seems that Sega has given up on VC altogether with no GG games being released for ages.



Moshugan said:

Well aren't I the fool. I got all excited about the 1,49€ price tag but then I remembered that it's just the promo for owning it already on Wii. Hurr durr...



Mario-Man-Child said:

Can anyone tell me because I'm not up to date here; Have Nintendo said there will be Gamecube games on Wii U VC? Plus this 1.49euro for a VC game? So if I have a VC game I downloaded to my Wii, I can download it on Wii U for 1.49euro and still keep it on my Wii, so I will have 2 copies one on my Wii and the other on WII U, have I got it right?

I don't think Mother 2 will sell many Wii U consoles but you never know, I would not buy a console to play retro game.



MAB said:

You need to do the Wii --> WiiU transfer first otherwise the discount won't be applied to your eShop account... The files are still on your Wii SD card but when you go to launch them on the Wii a message pops up saying they can't be played on that system only on the WiiU Wii mode does that make sense.



XyVoX said:

I think most of us know that VC titles be it on Wii, eShop or WiiU are to expensive especially if you live in Europe where it seems the conversion rate used against the $ is preposterously high making the games even worse value.



DESS-M-8 said:

Among my top desires is to get some Wii games released on Virtual Console. Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, Zelda Twilight Princess & Skyward Sword, all in HD, all with off-tv play. Having a Wii U with a 2TB drive is just crying to become your own personal Nintendo Archive. Each Nintendo franchise from it's NES roots right through to the Wii U eshop, back to back, each franchise in its own sub category ready to boot whenever ALL on your amazing Gamepad or your lovely HDTV. Having that many quality games throughout the last 30 years in one console and technically in the palm of your hand is monumental and something no other console can offer.



aaronsullivan said:

@tsm7 Exactly, Nintendo can devote the resources needed if it chooses to. That was my point. From where would you like them to divert resources from? Time is a real resource, add a person and you need to pay them. People want it faster and at no cost. It doesn't work that way.

Also, on comparing the number of games on the Wii and the Wii U, it was a different time and a different situation. The Wii was just a Gamecube architecture-wise. Programming it low-level was much easier than porting a new emulator to a new hardware/software platform that very few are familiar with, which the Wii U is. Porting an emulator over is can actually be HARDER than porting a 3D game because modern hardware and software is targeted to the 3D way. Speed should certainly pick up now, however.

I do think the prices should be lower but for a different reason. I believe volume of sales would offset the loss in profit per purchase in these types of games. Of course, once you calculate the number of Wii owners compared to Wii U owners Nintendo may be skittish.



NotEnoughGolds said:

I still want to see The Guardian Legend.
It's consistently missing from people's top ten lists, which can only lead me to the conclusion that almost no one has actually played it.
Because it's pretty much the best game on the NES.



NotEnoughGolds said:

Also, 3DO would be awesome.
It has the only non-PS versions of Road Rash (3D) and Return Fire (+ Maps O' Death), as well as the best versions of Gex, Another World, Alone in the Dark, and (arguably) Myst.



bassoongoon said:

I love virtual console, and have quite the collection from Wii VC, however every time I got a virtual console game, I kind of choked on the price. I think nintendo needs at least a 25% price reduction (or higher). I am really excited that GCN games are coming to VC, and I will probably buy a few, however if they are charging $20 or higher, that is definitely a ripoff.



UnseatingKDawg said:

Actually, I would like to see SOME king of support for both the 3DS and Wii U from Nintendo of America. They could release at LEAST 3-5 games per week, instead of 1. I'd also like to see some games that are only available in Japan on 3DS, like Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3, and maybe some more Game Gear games. We haven't gotten any Game Gear games in more than a year now.



ecco6t9 said:

@NotEnoughGolds Agreed. It's a game that may be lost in limbo with the rights.

Maybe Nintendo could solve that by buying the rights to it.

Never mind I did a little research and discovered that D4 owns the rights to it.



sr388survivor said:

I don't really think the cost is too high. It's true that certain games like Ice Climbers and Donkey Kong Jr. feel high but if they priced those down based on appeal they would end up pricing others with massive appeal higher. Games like Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World, Link to the Past and soon Earthbound for $7.99 is insanely cheap. Those games are impossible to find under $20.00 and that'd be a great price.

Also we're talking about games that cost less than lunch.



aaronsullivan said:

@NotEnoughGolds Guardian Legend was pretty cool. I'd probably buy it. One of my 7-year-old daughter's favorite pieces of music is a remix of the title screen music from Guardian Legend.

@skjia It's the disparity in NES games that really makes me feel the price though. Some of those early NES games are great but VERY basic compared to later ones.



Sceptic said:

I think it's a nice idea to add some 'bonus' content but it's execution shows a huge market reality disconnect. These type of games would hardly sell for a dollar in mobile device app stores and even then would get rated down for value. The 40 cent special sale price seemed about right. $7 is just a ridiculously high price and incedibly pretentious by Nintendo. Even more so if my purchases are tied to my console, not my account.



T1m1 said:

The games i'd like to see come to the Wii U Virtual Console are Robotrek, Crystalis, the 7th Saga and Gamecube games.



bluecat said:

@skjia "Also we're talking about games that cost less than lunch."

That's a great way to put it. I think the prices are very fair. Especially for the pricey carts out there like Earthbound. I like to collect retro games but find it very difficult to drop more than $20 on one. The VC fills this void for me.



FritzFrapp said:

Drip, drip, drip...Too few games and too expensive.The same argument we've been having for years. Eventually Nintendo have to play catch up to Apple and the others and price their games at a similar sensible mark.
30p is the correct price for a 20 to 25 year old rom. Retail games on disc should be the same price as Blu rays and DVDs. £19.99 tops.

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