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Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?

Image for Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?
Nintendo confirmed details of the Virtual Console service for Wii U this week, a spruced up version for the latest home console that introduces GamePad and Miiverse support to the mix.  Whilst there are a matter of months before the Wii U Virtual Console launches in Spring 2013, Nintendo have already started to release a series of $0.30 / 30p / 30 Yen games to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
 
With multiple aspects to the Wii U Virtual Console service and campaign, the Cubed3 Team got together to discuss Nintendo's announcements , the positives and what needs changing when the full Wii U Virtual Console launches.
 
We've also put a quick video overview on the Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console and the debut title Balloon Fight (NES).

 

 

Jorge Ba-oh, Editor & Founder

I still love hooking up the older Nintendo consoles, giving cartridges a good blow and plodding away with enlarged pixels on the flat screen. The House of Mario have a huge catalogue of games to tap into for the Virtual Console and have been doing so since the days of the original Nintendo Wii.
 
The inclusion of retro games on the Nintendo Wii U of course doesn't come a surprise - with the smaller handheld screen and a better structured Nintendo shop, there's solid ground for the company to pursue these retro gems. What did come as a surprise, however, are the added extras that have come about. I was expecting a standard affair:  games, GamePad support and that's about it. But Nintendo have proven to care more about their legacy this time round then perhaps ever before.
 
Each game will be hooked up to the Wii U Miiverse service, allowing seasoned fans and newcomers to talk about these older titles, plus there'll be the option to fully remap the controller to suit the player. If that's not enough, save states will allow you to perform a quick save at any point and resume without hassle. The Virtual Console setup is a smooth and usable experience so far, offering a handful of features commonly reserved to fan-made emulators. One niggle though was sorting out multiplayer if using a GamePad and a Wii Remote; it needs tweaking to set the GamePad to player two (see our guide here), and it's unclear from a multiplayer perspective.

Image for Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?

 
Having to pay for these upgrades if you've already shelled out £5/£10 on these titles on the Wii is a disappointing move. There is of course business logic behind the decision - upgrades and re-releasing costs time and resources, but for those who did pay full price for the original Wii Virtual Console release; a Wii U upgrade should be free of charge. That said, upgrading is optional and you can still play the game through the Nintendo Wii Mode to avoid making the jump.
 
The bigger drawback about the Wii U Virtual Console, for PAL gamers, is the decision to start releasing games in 50Hz - a move that fizzled out on the Nintendo 3DS but by the looks of things, may well return on the Wii U. With this in mind, we're petitioning for change, hoping Nintendo will at least give players the option to download the 60Hz version instead.
 
So far a good start for Nintendo and the Wii U Virtual Console, something that will hopefully be addressed when the service rolls out in full this spring.

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Adam Riley, Operations Director

Virtual Console, the haven for games gone by, and all at a pocket-friendly price, right? Well, no, to be frank. The cost of these 'classics' (some really stretch the meaning of the word beyond recognition) is simply far too high. For anyone that had laid down plenty of cold, hard cash for the sake of building up their collection, it would have made perfect sense for Nintendo to allow gamers to transfer all of their wares across to the Wii U internal hard-drive and have instant access to things likes GamePad support. After all, it was possible to move DSiWare content to Nintendo 3DS, and it is even a reality that 3DS eShop titles can make the transition from system to system. Therefore, surely Nintendo would not let consumers down after such a strong track record…
 
Well, congratulations Nintendo on letting people down again. Argue as much as you like about how the added Miiverse integration requires extra work that constitutes charging consumers something, but at the end of the day nobody should have to pay again for something they already own. It sounds a bit backwards to me, anyway. Paying extra for Miiverse chat rooms, the ability to play on the Nintendo Wii U GamePad, and messing around to get multiplayer to work properly, what advantage is there again to this process? Perhaps it has slipped my mind.
 
Image for Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?


The only reason for having to part with money is if the '3D Classics' route was taken, perhaps sprucing up the sprites to look better when viewed in HD format. Currently, the whole idea seems ludicrous and something that only people with money to burn will take up. Personally, switching to Wii mode to access the Virtual Console collection is preferable.
 
On a positive note, however, the trial service to encourage people to dip into the past is intriguing, although Brits get burned in the conversion rate in order to stick to the '30' theme! Still, 30p for Super Metroid? Yes please! Hopefully there is a strong response to this particular scheme so that Nintendo decides to do regular sales on a wide variety of titles further down the line.
 
Lastly, the addition of Game Boy Advance games to the ever-burgeoning format list was pleasing to see, but what about other systems? Where are GameCube, Dreamcast, Saturn, Lynx, WonderSwan, NeoGeo Portable, and so on? Come on Nintendo; try to not hold out on too much, please!
 

Image for Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?


Shane Jury, Feature Writer

Although it was unfortunate that the Nintendo Wii U's eShop service did not launch with the Virtual Console intact straight away, I do feel that it was the better move to promote the newer indie titles on the service and allow Wii owners to still be able to play their purchased games on Nintendo Wii U albeit in a limited form. Now we know more about the retro titles that are set to be released in spring and onwards, looking at it objectively paints quite a rosy picture.
 
The full service itself is not due for a few more months yet, but the Famicom 30th Anniversary promotion gives us a good look at what to expect in the way of Save States and Controller Support, with the only major elephant in the room (for Europe at least) being the needless 50hz restrictions that need to vanish, and do so quickly.

Image for Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?


From what we know at this point, one select Virtual Console title with be uploaded each month and set at 30 pence for the remainder of that month, which even with unfortunate picture setbacks, is a bargain worth going for. With luck, Nintendo have learnt that regular sales drive purchases and store visits more so than otherwise, and implement regular discounts in the future (though probably not this low in hindsight).  
 
We also know that there will be a slight charge when upgrading from already-owned Wii Virtual Console games to the new Wii U Virtual Console version which sounds like sheer profiteering except when taking in account the game-restructuring needed to enable Off-TV Play, customizable control and an entire dedicated Miiverse community. Even without this, the games are still playable through Nintendo Wii Mode so there isn't an absolute need to upgrade should you not want to pay that bit extra.
 

Image for Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?


One thing to consider at this point is that for the Wii U Virtual Console's full launch there will undoubtedly be a higher number of games added to the service at once; whether they'll just be updated versions of titles already on the Wii Virtual Console or not is anyone's guess, although it would be safe to assume that they would fall under the three confirmed formats of NES, Super NES and Game Boy Advance software. It is odd to see Game Boy Advance support for a home console before a handheld (minus the Ambassador titles of course), but it is by no means unwelcome.
 
I was slightly disappointed that there were no mention of Nintendo GameCube-era support for the Virtual Console, though something like that might be best left for an E3 reveal anyway, and in the case of the recently revealed HD remake of the The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, GameCube remakes and upgraded ports might be what Nintendo is considering to pad out Wii U retail releases. Their comment about knowing the small install base of the GameCube leads me to believe they will give special focus on that machine's library even if it ends up just being stuck on Virtual Console.
 

Image for Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?


Az Elias, Deputy Editor / Database Manager

I've got mixed feelings with regards to the future of the Virtual Console on Nintendo Wii U. Firstly, and I would stress this as one of the most important areas that needs addressing for PAL regions where Wii U is sold, is the matter of whether future games will be in 50Hz or 60Hz. Wii owners were made to put up with the fiasco last generation, which caused a huge number of fans to either not support the service, import NTSC Wii consoles, or take other measures. With the first Wii U VC game, the NES' Balloon Fight, being made available for download in 50Hz format, this has rubbed me and many more Nintendo fans the wrong way, with an overwhelming amount of people expressing their anger at this decision online and through Miiverse. There is no excuse for us PAL gamers to be made to pay for the archaic 50Hz versions in this day and age, when NTSC regions get the games how they were designed to be played: in 60Hz. I am desperately hoping Nintendo understands how much of a deal this is to us and sees fit to ensure we get the option of downloading the original 60Hz versions in the future. Otherwise, just like with the Wii, I can safely say I will not be purchasing any VC games on Nintendo Wii U.
 
Image for Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?

Another matter that has me very disappointed is charging those that bought VC games on Wii to download them on Wii U. Yes, I understand that they will come with the benefit of being playable on the GamePad and will support Miiverse features, but I don't agree that it is fair that people must pay again, whether that is a discounted price or not. I know some people have downloaded an awful lot of Wii VC games and it would still cost a hefty chunk to repurchase them on Wii U. To squeeze even more money out of fans that were looking forward to playing their VC games on the GamePad is cruel. Of course, Off-TV Play in itself is a very enticing feature, and I'm sure a lot of old-school classics are going to look great on the small screen.
 
In light of the NES' 30th anniversary, the 30p/$0.30/30 Yen offers on select games are very welcome. However, I'd like to see discounts much more often, and indeed a regular stream of additions to the Virtual Console catalogue. Nintendo has a terrific history of games at its disposal, and really didn't push the VC service on Wii as much as I would have liked, with it sadly being forgotten about over time. I really want to see Nintendo adding a good consistency of games, hopefully with some more interesting touches such as online play or one player playing on the GamePad whilst a second player competes on the TV. I was particularly happy to see the Game Boy Advance listed; obviously the GamePad means portable games fit the Wii U VC service very well, but it also allows us to play such games on the big screen, too, acting like the GameCube's Game Boy Player.

Image for Critical Hit | Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console: Retro Heaven or Archaic Hell?

 
Speaking of the GameCube, clearly one of the big announcements of the Nintendo Direct was a remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Since no mention of GameCube games coming to the Wii U VC has ever been officially confirmed, this makes me think remakes and enhanced ports might be the way Nintendo chooses to go. It would mean a lot less potential GameCube games arriving on Wii U in some form, surely, but it leaves us to ponder just which games have the best chance of receiving such upgrades. I do feel that in the case of The Wind Waker, this will prove to be a good decision to fill in the gap before the next true Wii U Zelda arrives. At least fans will have something to tie them over until then.
 

What do you think of the Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console service so far and the potential for the future? What changes would you like to see Nintendo adopt with the Virtual Console for launch and the months ahead on Wii U and 3DS?
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26.01.2013 15:06

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

JayUK said:
The argument for a staggered approach with games already on the Wii VC seems to hinge on each game getting their time in the limelight. This is silly, they could achieve the same amount of exposure by having a weekly sale featuring a select few VC games. There are hundreds of VC games on Wii, I don't expect them all available instantly, I do however expect them to be all available within a year of the Wii U Virtual consoles launch. Any longer than that and they're stalling.

Sales was what I had in mind, too. Do like they do on 3DS eShop with banners promoting games which are on offer and you'll get your sales and money that way.

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

JayUK said:
The argument for a staggered approach with games already on the Wii VC seems to hinge on each game getting their time in the limelight. This is silly, they could achieve the same amount of exposure by having a weekly sale featuring a select few VC games.

That's exactly why I feel the entire current Wii VC line-up should just be dumped onto Wii U, then give certain ones discount sales or special attention via promo boxes like on the 3DS eShop.

Linkyshinks said:
The most loyal customers, get punished on Nintendo platforms.

First it was the ridiculously labour intensive transfer/redownload process, which is still as cumbersome and crap as it was on Wii, and now this. Actually being charged money, for the indignity of spending an entire weekend of my life, with a handrawn paper list redownloading my games.  This will never happen on the other platforms, they would never treat their most ardent fans so poorly.


Exactly - it's ridiculous that some people defend this sort of treatment as well, trying to justify Nintendo's decision.

I really feel like boycotting it entirely. Playing in Wii mode, until they phase that out with their next console.

That's exactly what I'll be doing, unless there is a specific Wii U VC game that comes out and is not available on the regular Wii VC.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

JayUK said:
The argument for a staggered approach with games already on the Wii VC seems to hinge on each game getting their time in the limelight. This is silly, they could achieve the same amount of exposure by having a weekly sale featuring a select few VC games. There are hundreds of VC games on Wii, I don't expect them all available instantly, I do however expect them to be all available within a year of the Wii U Virtual consoles launch. Any longer than that and they're stalling.

During Wii, they said they did it to fill gaps between retail releases........


There were huge gaps at retail and on the VC, and to top it off we had a team of clueless Germans dishing out shovelware when games did release.
 
 

( Edited 26.01.2013 22:52 by Linkyshinks )

Linkyshinks said:
JayUK said:
The argument for a staggered approach with games already on the Wii VC seems to hinge on each game getting their time in the limelight. This is silly, they could achieve the same amount of exposure by having a weekly sale featuring a select few VC games. There are hundreds of VC games on Wii, I don't expect them all available instantly, I do however expect them to be all available within a year of the Wii U Virtual consoles launch. Any longer than that and they're stalling.

During Wii, they said they did it to fill gaps between retail release........ 
 

That makes sense, but i'm talking about the ones that have already been released on the Wii's VC. They could continue to do this, but with games that aren't currently on the Wii VC. It's not filling a gap if it's already available, just without gamepad support. 

Adam Riley said:
Linkyshinks said:
I really feel like boycotting it entirely. Playing in Wii mode, until they phase that out with their next console.
That's exactly what I'll be doing, unless there is a specific Wii U VC game that comes out and is not available on the regular Wii VC.

Adam Riley...you strongly criticize Nintendo in the above article for:
1) Not allowing you to transfer your Virtual Console games to Wii U
2) Forcing you to buy all your games all over again just to play them on Wii U

So to protest those decisions you're going to:
1) Transfer your Virtual Console games to Wii U
2) Not buy them all over again, but continue playing at no additional cost on Wii U

( Edited 27.01.2013 02:40 by Sonic_13 )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Sonic, I believe he's talking about not actually being able to have the Wii VC games in their 'upgraded' Wii U VC form. i.e. no GamePad play, no Miiverse interaction, and whatever else gets added to them. People were expecting to transfer their Wii VC games straight over to play on the GamePad, not have them in a separate Wii Mode that doesn't allow for that, then ask you to pay for the same game to be able to play it on the GamePad. He can correct me if I'm wrong.

( Edited 27.01.2013 00:54 by Azuardo )

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

You do know that you can use the Wii U Transfer Tool to move VC games across to the Wii U for use in Wii Mode, right? That's what I've been doing. Therefore, I will stick to playing the games I've already paid for, on my Wii U, without any additional charge, and will happily not bother paying extra simply to get Miiverse and GamePad compatibility included.

What I will do, however, is download any VC games that appear on the Wii U VC catalogue that have not appeared on the regular Wii VC catalogue.

Anything else?

Edit: Yes, Az, glad I'm not going crazy - that's exactly what I meant.

( Edited 27.01.2013 01:01 by Adam Riley )

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I think that's exactly the drawback about the Wii U virtual console as it stands - I can understand the business logic with Nintendo or any other media company - these extra features a consumer should pay for in some form - if they own the game, perhaps it is justified for these extras.

But -  I don't think being able to play a Wii virtual console game transferred / previously purchased on the GamePad should be chargeable. The save state feature, custom button mapping and the Miiverse sure - but simply outputting a game to the GamePad screen and having to pay for that imo is bonkers.

I think it's because of the inconsistency in Nintendo's approach to online in particular - in the past everything was a case of being bolted on, upgraded and tweaked because they were learning. With Wii U it's still a learning process but Nintendo appear to be in a better place, more structured and thought out. Only issue I feel is that Nintendo should have better integrated Wii Mode - done away with it all together and simply had Wii games playable and the entire VC catalogue available on the Wii U eShop from the start.

Two options: Download game (original VC release) or download game with extra features - simples.

All copies would be playable on the GamePad regardless, but button mapping, Save states etc would come as an extra cost.

( Edited 27.01.2013 01:48 by jb )

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Get what you're saying, jb, but I just cannot justify it at all. Pay to save your game and choose which buttons do what? People shouldn't be paying at all for such basic stuff like that. Maybe it does cost money to tack on some Miiverse stuff and get it running on the GamePad, but if you've bought the same game on Wii, you should not have to pay to have those extra little features. I'm sorry, but I can't justify it at all.

Look at Linkyshinks for example. Over 100 VC games. Fans fork out so much of their hard-earned cash on these overpriced digital games. The least you expect is to not have to pay to have them running on the biggest selling point of the system. The GamePad is right there in your hands already - why the hell do you have to pay to stream it over to it after you spent £300 on the system?

When Iwata was presenting that part in the N Direct and was saying how much prices would be, I really was expecting him to say people who already downloaded the games on Wii would download them on Wii U for free. I was really shocked to see prices come up there, discounted or not.

When you're offering a service like this, customers should not be expected to pay in a situation like this. You can try to justify the cost of tacking on Miiverse functions all you like, but I think it's the least they can offer for dedicated customers who fork out so much on Nintendo. It's not asking for much at all, is it? You've bought the overpriced console, you're buying overpriced games - let the fans have this one, Nintendo, surely? No chance.

And as if to remind you how much they care about us, here you go: 50Hz. Enjoy your Wii U.

( Edited 27.01.2013 17:22 by Azuardo )

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
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I agree the whole snes nes and gba catalog should b available from day 1. There's still the vast majority of n64 and gamecube catalog for Nintendo to drip feed us, aswell as segas catalog and the other catalogs already on wii. IMO any 16bit or below games dnt need miiverse, should b gamepad compatible and free to download if u already own them. N64 and gamecube games should all get miiverse and some should get hd makeover and online. Wouldn't mind paying discounted rate to redownload if I'm getting worthy added extras. All this has come about cuz ninty never thought about the long term future of the VC. Here's hoping VC on their nxt systems is as simple as putting in a user name and password to retrieve YOUR games

It takes the input of a simple line of programing code to stream the visuals to the GamePad, how anyone can think that justifies a small cost is beyond me.

I have no need for any of additional features, when they come at cost, I consider them to be a sad excuse to charge more money. 3DS VC games, which have some these basic features (and all eventually, at no extra cost I imagine), cost the same as those on Wii. Why don't we see the same elevated prices for them?.

They've imposed Miiverse intergration, and are funding it with an incentive of a feature which we simply shouldn't have to pay for. I like everyone assumed all VC games would be playable on the GamePad, the consoles selling point.

I'm going to write a letter of complaint to Nintendo's divisions, I feel like I need to because these costs cannot be justified. Let new buyers fund Miiverse integration, not those who supported the VC despite it being notably shit. The lack of 60hz rubs salt into the wound.



( Edited 27.01.2013 09:47 by Linkyshinks )

Paying $1-1.50 to update the games is practically nothing, and we do get to play on the GamePad and take part of the Miiverse community. All in all, the upgrades are worth the upgrade price, and we can't believe we'll get new features for free.

Also, the $0.30 games are a great start. You get 2 points for your Deluxe Digital account, 5 coins for your Club Nintendo account, and games that are fun enough for such a small investment (not counting Super Metroid since $0.30 for that masterpiece is just amazing).

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