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Wii

5 Ways to Save Wii's Virtual Console

by Jonathan Metts - January 22, 2011, 11:45 am PST
Total comments: 17

With Nintendo's Virtual Console service expanding to 3DS, maybe it's time to address some problems with the original version on Wii.

Despite a few notable releases in 2010 (Ogre Battle 64, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, and Final Fantasy II/IV), Nintendo's Virtual Console service is in its worst dry spell since the Wii launch. It's been a long, slow decline since the days of Nintendo releasing three classic games every Monday, like clockwork. With nine hardware platforms currently supported in North America, it's foolish to assume that Nintendo and third-parties are simply running out of games. There are, in fact, many popular games that fans are still waiting to see and purchase on Virtual Console.

Yes, Wii is probably nearing the end of its active lifespan, but these VC games are catalog releases that could continue to sell for years. Improving things on Wii also sets up a better environment for the Wii successor. Here are five ways that Nintendo could boost sales and encourage continued updates to the service:

  1. Move VC Releases to Friday

When the Wii launched in November 2006, Virtual Console was Nintendo's first and only exploration into digital distribution. Since then, VC releases have been overshadowed and vastly outnumbered by WiiWare and DSiWare games. When a classic game is included in the weekly announcement, it's hard to find amidst a dozen or so cheap, original games for the other services. Nintendo could separate Virtual Console and launch new games for it later in the week, giving fans and the press a better chance to see the updates.

  1. Add N64 Controller Pak Support

The dearth of N64 games is an old joke that far precedes Virtual Console, but it's just as on-point today. There are only 20 titles available for download in North America, and all were originally published by Nintendo (with the half-exception of Ogre Battle 64, which was a Nintendo title in Japan). Despite conventional wisdom, there are some great third-party N64 games, including Beetle Adventure Racing, Turok 2, Bomberman 64, and more. What these games have in common is a reliance, like most third-party N64 games, on the Controller Pak. That's right, the tiny memory card used for save files is preventing dozens of potential releases, because the Virtual Console emulator doesn't support the device. Fan-written emulators have supported this feature for years, and Nintendo needs to catch up.

  1. Overhaul the Wii Shop Channel

Nintendo 3DS will soon feature an “eShop” with built-in game demos, videos, and cash-based purchases that make Nintendo Points unnecessary. With over 300 Virtual Console titles across a dozen platforms, the Wii Shop Channel is long overdue for a similar reorganization, which would also reinforce the eShop brand across multiple systems. Currently, it's not too hard to find a specific title thanks to the basic search filters, but the shop is very poor at helping curious visitors discover classic games. The "Popular Games" button just shows the best-sellers, which are always Mario and Zelda games that we all know and probably already own multiple times. How are customers supposed to find more obscure titles from large libraries like Super NES, TurboGrafx-16, and Genesis? One of the best things about Virtual Console is that we can play great, lesser-known games that we missed back in the 80s and 90s. Currently, the Wii Shop Channel can't even show videos of these games, and you can forget about demos. Nintendo doesn't even showcase specific titles from the archive. Any, or preferably all, of these features would help gamers find and purchase more games from a wider array of systems and publishers. It might also encourage publishers to release more of their games on the service, with increased confidence that consumers will find them.

  1. Exploit Nintendo's Arcade Roots

Classic arcade games first hit the service in March 2009, but the Virtual Console Arcade selection has been sparsely updated since then. Some of the arcade titles are redundant with cheaper (and sometimes superior) home versions already available on VC. It's a shame, because the arcade emulation is easily the best and most ambitious of any platform represented on Virtual Console. Each arcade title has a customized overhead menu with settings like number of continues and multiple control layouts. Sega's Space Harrier even has Wii-exclusive pointer controls for more accurate aiming. What you won't find on VC Arcade is a single Nintendo title. Many older gamers would surely appreciate the original arcade version of Donkey Kong or perhaps Super Mario Bros. VS, both of which have different levels than their NES counterparts. Nintendo could mine its corporate history with Radar Scope or treat nostalgic fans to the original Goonies game, which was never released on home consoles but was followed up with the popular sequel, Goonies II (although licensing issues make either of these games a tricky and unlikely prospect). With Nintendo setting the pace, third-parties might even be inspired to release more of their own arcade titles on the service.

  1. Fully Engage Square Enix

In the early days of Virtual Console, conventional wisdom was that Square Enix would avoid releasing its most popular titles in favor of more profitable remakes on Nintendo DS, a strategy evidenced by $40 portable versions of Final Fantasy IV, Chrono Trigger, and Dragon Quest 4 and 5. Surprisingly, the famed publisher began to release its Final Fantasy games on Virtual Console in 2009 – at least the ones that were originally localized for Western audiences on NES and Super Nintendo. Still, the company has a trove of great, lesser-known games, especially from the 16-bit era, that have never been re-released and will likely never get the remake treatment. Gamers are missing out on interesting gems like Soul Blazer, Secret of Evermore, Illusion of Gaia, Paladin's Quest, Terranigma, Brain Lord, and many more. Any of these RPGs would be a great value for gamers at just $8, and it's not like Square Enix is doing anything else with the IPs. 

There are plenty of other ways to revitalize interest and releases for Virtual Console, but the ones detailed here would have a big impact and really get people's attention. With Nintendo developing a Virtual Console (or is that Virtual Handheld?) service for 3DS, and the possibility of our VC purchases transferring to the Wii successor, it's the perfect time to patch up the existing service and bring some momentum to these new hardware launches. Virtual Console already has a lot to offer, but it has barely scratched the surface of Nintendo's pledge to make Wii a console that is backwards-compatible with the whole history of gaming.

Talkback

Quote:

Classic arcade games first hit the service in March 2009, but the Virtual Console Arcade selection has been sparsely updated since then. Some of the arcade titles are redundant with cheaper (and sometimes superior) home versions already available on VC.

And that's not even mentioning the home versions that are getting taken off VC in favour of their arcade counterparts. Not that I'm mentioning any names or anything *coughghostsandgoblinscough*

BlackNMild2k1January 22, 2011

Adding in Sales and Game Bundles might also help boost some VC sales.
Also maybe just a lower price on most titles, instead of a $5 minimum for NES titles, how about lowering your average NES title to $3-$4 instead and continuing that trend across the board..

MorariJanuary 22, 2011

Lower prices and more games with the guarantee of being able to transfer everything over to the Wii 2. Hell, we should be able to transfer it over to the 3DS as well, given the system's power.

TJ SpykeJanuary 22, 2011

Quote from: Shaymin

Quote:

Classic arcade games first hit the service in March 2009, but the Virtual Console Arcade selection has been sparsely updated since then. Some of the arcade titles are redundant with cheaper (and sometimes superior) home versions already available on VC.

And that's not even mentioning the home versions that are getting taken off VC in favour of their arcade counterparts. Not that I'm mentioning any names or anything *coughghostsandgoblinscough*

Huh? The NES version is still available (I just checked 1 minute ago) and I haven't seen any mention of it going away. At least in North America, Europe has had games removed before.

yoshi1001January 22, 2011

Part of me thinks Nintendo should have released games more slowly (say two instead of three per week) so they could have kept the pace longer.

EasyCureJanuary 22, 2011

Earthbound.

end of thread.

Retro DeckadesJanuary 22, 2011

Maybe Nintendo's absolute lack of software for Wii this year will be a motivating factor in sprucing up Virtual Console.

Kytim89January 22, 2011

Sixth Way to Save Virtual Console:

Nintendo, or some third party, should release an adapter that allows the Virtual Console titiles to be played with their original controller either through the Gamecube or USB port on the Wii. Take it from me who owns an adapter that handles some of the controlles that playing with the original controllers is both satisfying and in some ways encourages me to buy more titles from the service. Nintendo should have had this right out of the bat when the Wii was launched.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/forums/index.php?topic=33081.0

The hardest obstacle to the Virtual Console picking back up is not motivation, but legal tanglements. Sooner or later the service will have to be closed, or more titiles will have to be released to keep it going. Sooner or later Nintendo and third parties are going to have to face the legal issues with some titles and either get them on the service or face stagnation.

One reason why I am looking forward to the Wii successor is the possibility that Dreamcast, Gamecube, and possibly Saturn on the Virtual Console. With the addition of these consoles it could give the service a kick in the pants that it needs to start over again. Of course the Saturn is difficult to emulate, but I noticed before that Radiant Silvergun is going to be on XBLA, so perhaps there is hope after all?

Another reason why Nintendo might have slowed Virtual Console down is hardware limitations. Some of the games available for download  for the consoles on VC are just too big for the Wii's internal memory. So, this presents an obvious issue that has plauged the Wii since day one: Storage. The Wii needs a hard drive of some kind other than flash memory to storethese games. My memory is fuzzy, but I remember reading about a Neo Geo game released in the late 1990s being about 700 MB. If we get a game like that, we will need a hard drive to support it.

Nintendo motivating Square to release their classic titles is over do. Their SNES collection alone is a RPG treasure trove and one that I would be delighted to spend on, but they are too lazy and stupid to put the effort into bringing them over to America. Why have we not seen Chrono Trigger? How about Treasure of the Rudras? This is a truely hurtful situation and there needs to be a solution fast!

Lastly, an over haul of the Wii Shop Channel is not coming for the current home console. An endevour like that would cost too much money effort on Nintendo's part and that is something I see them doing for the Wii 2.


Edit:

The Virtual Console is the best thing to happen to the video game industry since the literal video game technology itself simply because the older titiles will never die thinks to being able to reclaim them easily via emulation.

Just recently SNK and Sony announced a deal to bring Neo Geo games to PSN. This presents a precarious situation in which Nintendo's competitor is getting something similar to wht it has available for the Wii. However, the PS3 is not crippled with hardware limitations, so unless Nintendo picks up the pace then Sony and Microsoft could snatch the silver spoon that is Virtyal Console right out of their mouth.

http://www.theicecave.org/damage_control/2010/12/snk-on-psn.html

TJ SpykeJanuary 22, 2011

Quote from: Kytim89

Another reason why Nintendo might have slowed Virtual Console down is hardware limitations. Some of the games available for download  for the consoles on VC are just too big for the Wii's internal memory. So, this presents an obvious issue that has plauged the Wii since day one: Storage. The Wii needs a hard drive of some kind other than flash memory to storethese games. My memory is fuzzy, but I remember reading about a Neo Geo game released in the late 1990s being about 700 MB. If we get a game like that, we will need a hard drive to support it.

The largest Neo Geo game was 90MB, you may have gotten Megabytes mixed up with Megabits (there were Neo Geo games that were 700 megabits). I couldn't find the largest Neo Geo CD game, but a CD-ROM can only hold up to 600MB.

I don't think there are any games on VC systems that couldn't fit on the Wii's internal memory.

Kytim89January 22, 2011

Quote from: TJ

Quote from: Kytim89

Another reason why Nintendo might have slowed Virtual Console down is hardware limitations. Some of the games available for download  for the consoles on VC are just too big for the Wii's internal memory. So, this presents an obvious issue that has plauged the Wii since day one: Storage. The Wii needs a hard drive of some kind other than flash memory to storethese games. My memory is fuzzy, but I remember reading about a Neo Geo game released in the late 1990s being about 700 MB. If we get a game like that, we will need a hard drive to support it.

The largest Neo Geo game was 90MB, you may have gotten Megabytes mixed up with Megabits (there were Neo Geo games that were 700 megabits). I couldn't find the largest Neo Geo CD game, but a CD-ROM can only hold up to 600MB.

I don't think there are any games on VC systems that couldn't fit on the Wii's internal memory.


I remember reading some where that there was a Neo Geo was too big for the Wii. I want to say Fatal Fury, but King of Fighters comes to mind as well.

Edit:

It was King of Fighters 1998.

TJ SpykeJanuary 22, 2011

Must be the Neo Geo CD version (the game was on many different systems), they could probably get the regular Neo Geo version.

Kytim89January 22, 2011

Quote from: TJ

Must be the Neo Geo CD version (the game was on many different systems), they could probably get the regular Neo Geo version.


One of the writers for Nintendo Power did a article n games that should be on Virtual Console and Neo Geo was one of them and the writer acknowledged that more games are needed if the service is going to survive. He also mentioned that games such as Turtles in Time and Tournament Fighters would be a massive cue for Nintendo if they were to appear on Wii.

I mentioned storage being the biggest obstacle to VC, I would like to reiterate that legal issues is the biggest problem. There are just too many good titles that are either too expensive or too entangled in a web of rights issues that they will never be resolved. This brings the idea that a third party, affiliated or not affiliated with games, should have the soul purpose of buying up titles that will never be on VC and put them on such a service.

Lastly, I apologize for bringing up the "R" word once again, but the Nintendo Power writer that I mentioned said that the N64 portion of Virtual Console may never be fully supported due to Nintendo selling off its rights to Rare's games to Microsoft. Yes, there are many good third party N64 games like Mischief Makers, but the only company that truly supported  the N64 other than Nintendo was Rare and this leaves a giant gaping hole in the Virtual Console's N64 department.

Edit:

The big Neo Geo game that I mentioned was infact not King of Fighters 98 but Garou: Mark of the Wolves, which was released in 1999. KoF 98 is still hefy though.

An import for Snatcher for the TG-16 would be nice. 

Kytim89February 07, 2011

Another way to save Virtual Console is for Nintendo to encourage more third party for the N64 on the service (and I am not talking about Rare ;) ).



http://lvls.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/virtual-console-no-shows-third-party-n64-titles/

Ian SaneFebruary 07, 2011

I suspect part of the problem is that I don't think Nintendo really associates VC and WiiWare as different.  In their mind it's all downloadable content so as long as new content for their online store is released every week, it does not matter so much exactly what the downloadable content is.  They were much more aggressive with VC support prior to WiiWare debuting.

Nintendo has never been particularly good at getting this demographics stuff.  Their release schedule often is spaced out in such a way that it really only works well for someone who buys everything they offer.  They'll put a re-release in the middle of gap, as if that's sufficient to fill the space even though some people who already own the original likely don't want to buy it again.  Remember the whole hub-bub about Wii Music?  The backlash was because Nintendo slotted this into the big Christmas release but it was not a title core gamers were interested in so for that audience it was like Nintendo had nothing in that timeframe at all.

Nintendo does not get that stuff.  They don't get that a game for kids might not interest adults or a game for casuals might not interest more experienced gamers or that a re-release might not interest someone who already has the original version of the game.  They just see it all as content and figure if content is released in the gap, then that gap is filled.  They're all about games for "everyone".  They never realized that that means having many games that appeal to different demographics.  They think that means EVERY game is for EVERYONE which is why they always had a problem with that "kiddy image" thing because they figured 'M' rated games were excluding familes and children.  But adults and teens COULD like a colourful family-friendy game so they went with that.  They struggle with casuals and non-gamers now.  Got to throw in waggle and the Super Guide and make sure that casuals can be included with every game as well.

They don't get that WiiWare and the VC may attract different audiences.  They don't get that someone may care about one and not give a shit about the other, just like how they never got kid-friendly vs. "mature" audiences and struggle with casuals vs. core today.  They, quite logically, probably assume that WiiWare, being new content, is of more importance.  They've always used re-releases to fill gaps.  They don't get the concept of retro games complementing new releases.  So they're probably "saving" future VC releases for a potential WiiWare release gap.  As for third party VC releases, when has Nintendo given two shits about third party support?  They're cool with getting nothing but shovelware on the Wii but care about Square not releasing old Final Fantasy games?  The VC exists for one primary reason: for NINTENDO to sell their old titles.  Third parties are welcome to be involved as well but Nintendo only truly cares about the ability to sell their own titles with the service.  Everything else is just a bonus.

I think how the VC is being treated right now is quite reflective of Nintendo's typical policies and behaviour.  Just like pretty much every other problem they have the key is not in solving the one problem but specifically re-assessing the company's attitude and policies outright.  Nintendo has to change, not just the VC.

Kytim89February 07, 2011

Quote from: Ian

I suspect part of the problem is that I don't think Nintendo really associates VC and WiiWare as different.  In their mind it's all downloadable content so as long as new content for their online store is released every week, it does not matter so much exactly what the downloadable content is.  They were much more aggressive with VC support prior to WiiWare debuting.

Nintendo has never been particularly good at getting this demographics stuff.  Their release schedule often is spaced out in such a way that it really only works well for someone who buys everything they offer.  They'll put a re-release in the middle of gap, as if that's sufficient to fill the space even though some people who already own the original likely don't want to buy it again.  Remember the whole hub-bub about Wii Music?  The backlash was because Nintendo slotted this into the big Christmas release but it was not a title core gamers were interested in so for that audience it was like Nintendo had nothing in that timeframe at all.

Nintendo does not get that stuff.  They don't get that a game for kids might not interest adults or a game for casuals might not interest more experienced gamers or that a re-release might not interest someone who already has the original version of the game.  They just see it all as content and figure if content is released in the gap, then that gap is filled.  They're all about games for "everyone".  They never realized that that means having many games that appeal to different demographics.  They think that means EVERY game is for EVERYONE which is why they always had a problem with that "kiddy image" thing because they figured 'M' rated games were excluding familes and children.  But adults and teens COULD like a colourful family-friendy game so they went with that.  They struggle with casuals and non-gamers now.  Got to throw in waggle and the Super Guide and make sure that casuals can be included with every game as well.

They don't get that WiiWare and the VC may attract different audiences.  They don't get that someone may care about one and not give a **** about the other, just like how they never got kid-friendly vs. "mature" audiences and struggle with casuals vs. core today.  They, quite logically, probably assume that WiiWare, being new content, is of more importance.  They've always used re-releases to fill gaps.  They don't get the concept of retro games complementing new releases.  So they're probably "saving" future VC releases for a potential WiiWare release gap.  As for third party VC releases, when has Nintendo given two shits about third party support?  They're cool with getting nothing but shovelware on the Wii but care about Square not releasing old Final Fantasy games?  The VC exists for one primary reason: for NINTENDO to sell their old titles.  Third parties are welcome to be involved as well but Nintendo only truly cares about the ability to sell their own titles with the service.  Everything else is just a bonus.

I think how the VC is being treated right now is quite reflective of Nintendo's typical policies and behaviour.  Just like pretty much every other problem they have the key is not in solving the one problem but specifically re-assessing the company's attitude and policies outright.  Nintendo has to change, not just the VC.


Wow! I agree with everything you say Ian, but what I do not understand is that the Virtual Console is one easy way for Nintendo to resell us all of their older stuff and we all know how much they love to resell their older titles. What bugs me the most is that something like the VC is very appealing to me since I have never owned many of the games available (and unavailable), but perhaps the handheld VC might reignite their interest in bringing older games back to the public.

One thing that we have never talked about in regards to the Virtual Console not selling well is that the Wii is too casualized and perhaps the casuals do not realize that the Wii must be hooked up to the internet to access the Wii Shop channel. Where as the hard core fans of the console know how to get around in regards to connectivity.

Ian, where do you see the VC service in one year? How about two? What I see is that unless releases pick up then it might flatline before the release of the next home console. Perhaps I am being too pessimistic, but I can not shake this feeling as though it might be finished, or atleast until the Wii 2 arrives on the scenes. 

Ian SaneFebruary 07, 2011

Quote:

Ian, where do you see the VC service in one year? How about two? What I see is that unless releases pick up then it might flatline before the release of the next home console. Perhaps I am being too pessimistic, but I can not shake this feeling as though it might be finished, or atleast until the Wii 2 arrives on the scenes.


Well they've got a handheld VC for the 3DS so I think the service will continue and will be available on the Wii 2.  But Nintendo will use it sparingly, to make up for WiiWare droughts or to tie in with recently released new games (like with they offered SSB when Brawl was released).

Kytim89February 07, 2011

Quote from: Ian

Quote:

Ian, where do you see the VC service in one year? How about two? What I see is that unless releases pick up then it might flatline before the release of the next home console. Perhaps I am being too pessimistic, but I can not shake this feeling as though it might be finished, or atleast until the Wii 2 arrives on the scenes.


Well they've got a handheld VC for the 3DS so I think the service will continue and will be available on the Wii 2.  But Nintendo will use it sparingly, to make up for WiiWare droughts or to tie in with recently released new games (like with they offered SSB when Brawl was released).


SSB was released on VC here in the states long after Brawl was released. As for VC being on the Wii 2, I hope that we get Gamecube and Dreamcast added with some kind of Saturn support as well. I know that Saturn is hard to emulate, but Radiant Silvergun is on XBLA and I am sure that other Saturn titles can be emulated the same way.

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