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 & FounderI 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.
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.
Adam Riley, Operations DirectorVirtual 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.
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!
Shane Jury, Feature WriterAlthough 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.
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.
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.
Az Elias, Deputy Editor / Database ManagerI'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.
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.
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.