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Virtual Console Could Help Wiisuscitate U

by Andrew Brown - May 7, 2014, 5:59 pm EDT
Total comments: 8

If Nintendo made these changes, the Wii U eShop could really help the system out.

We all know that the Wii U could really do with a shot in the arm right about now. Even with some solid first party titles like Wind Waker HD, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze and arguably the two greatest Mario games since the NES, it's no secret that Nintendo's latest system is failing to capture the same audience that the Wii did. It needs all the help it can get.

For many players, myself included, Virtual Console was one of the biggest draws for the Wii: instant access to a rich collection of all-time Nintendo greats that could be loaded up and played any time. In the Wii's early years, we were seeing around five classic games get added each week. Sure, it had some issues, and even though the service dwindled towards the end of the console's life, it remained a strong presence for avid retro gamers. When Nintendo announced that Virtual Console would be continuing into the next generation of their systems, it was cause for rejoice. “Was” being the key word, unfortunately.

While it pains me to admit it, Wii U's Virtual Console is a jumbled mess that perpetuates issues from its last-gen counterpart service and gives us a slew of new problems and inconsistencies to deal with. I want to be completely in love with Virtual Console all over again, but it's going to take some major changes in execution before it can even match the success of the Wii's lineup of classic games. If even some of these changes are made, it could go a long way to boosting the Wii U's eShop status and thus greasing the wheels for the system's sluggish grind.

Stop playing catch-up!

It's understandable that releases slowed to a mere trickle on the Wii Shop Channel's Virtual Console, as they were starting to simply run out of games to release. What makes absolutely no sense is that Wii U is repeating this spotty release schedule all over again. I understand that these games are being updated to a new format (more on that later) with added functionality for the GamePad, Restore Points and such, and that's fine. It still shouldn't take such a long time for games like Super Mario Bros. 3 to get released, again. The entire list of Virtual Console games that were available on the Wii needs to be released on the Wii U. It needs to be released yesterday. If there are licensing issues that have cropped up since the games' Wii releases, such as the mysterious disappearance of the Donkey Kong Country SNES trilogy – nobody ever confirmed the official reasoning behind that, by the way – then draw up new contracts to release these games again, or at least tell the public that these negotiations are at least being attempted. Red tape can be such a pain...

The only fathomable reasoning I can think of to explain the persistence in trickling out titles is that Nintendo wishes to drum up nostalgic hype for specific games, like the aforementioned Super Mario Bros. 3, which was announced months before its eventual release. We don't want to be hyped up, Nintendo! We love these old games and months of waiting isn't going to make us love them any more than we do. Just give us the games we already had, so you can continue to expand the library and give us those classic games we didn't get to see back on Wii. On that note...

Where are the Nintendo 64 games?

What happened to Super Mario 64, Yoshi's Story, Majora's Mask and all the other 3D classics we had on the Wii? What about all the great N64 games that the Wii never saw a Virtual Console release of, such as Donkey Kong 64, the stellar Ganbare Goemon games, or even obscure titles like Chameleon Twist or Mischief Makers? I find it very hard to believe that the Wii U isn't capable of running these games, on the GamePad or otherwise. It's equally hard to believe that Nintendo can't come up with some kind of virtual solution to the Controller Pak issue that plagued games like Mario Kart 64 when emulated on the Wii. We paid for these games last gen, Nintendo! Please let us play them from our Wii U menu! Speaking of paying...

We need cross-platform purchases.

This is such a simple concept that Nintendo's reluctance to incorporate it into their eShop system just comes across as greedy. I get that the Wii U Virtual Console games are entirely new iterations of their Wii library counterparts and a significant amount of programming is involved to update them. Paying a little extra for the added features is reasonable, considering the discount you get. People who bought Jurassic Park on VHS, then DVD and then Blu-Ray don't expect Universal Studios to refund their first two purchases.

That said, having Virtual Console games being re-released simultaneously on Wii U and 3DS and requiring multiple purchases to access them on both devices is becoming an insult to fans. Any new Virtual Console games released in the future should be immediately accessible on all current and future Nintendo systems for the one purchase price. The Nintendo Network ID system is a nice step in the right direction and one can hope that Nintendo is considering the ability to, say, buy Super Metroid on my Wii U and then be able to download it on my 3DS. The newly-released GBA games would be much better suited to the 3DS Virtual Console as well. By the way...

GameCube would be cool. Just sayin'...

This has been a topic of discussion for some time. I personally keep my Wii around for the GameCube disc compatibility as I still have a decent library of great games that I want to keep playing. That said though, the option to download and play them on my Wii U would be pretty damn cool. Why not take a page from Sony's book and start releasing these games in HD collections on the eShop? They need not be revamped special editions like Wind Waker HD, but I'd love to see more releases like the Metroid Prime Trilogy or the New Play Control Pikmin games. Mario Sunshine, Wario World and Luigi's Mansion in an HD Triple Treat Pack? Double Dash, Toadstool Tour and Power Tennis rolled up into a Super Sports Bros. Series? Resident Evil 0 and REmake in true HD? Yes please! While I'm making crazy requests...

Please pull some strings to get some licensed games.

Love them or hate them, there's a ton of these retro tie-in classics that need to be seen again, despite their licensing situations in the nightmarish state that they are. The original NES DuckTales and Chip 'n' Dale games, the wonderful GameCube Spider-Man games, how about Turtles In Time for SNES, hands-down the best version of the game? Imported titles could also be an awesome feature, like the One Piece Grand Battle series seen only in Japan. Also, am I the only one who wants to play Road Runner: Death Valley Rally for the SNES again? …Really, nobody else? Okay, moving on...

Fix your pixels!

I've mentioned this on the site before, but NES games on Wii U look terrible. I won't go into all the details again, but NES games are heavily anti-aliased when displayed on Wii U, and end up looking blurry and washed out compared to their original versions, or even their Wii Virtual Console counterparts. One awesome feature I've noticed on the new GBA titles is the addition of “Perfect Pixel” mode, which shows the game in its true resolution. The option to display in full-screen is still there, but the fact we're given a choice is very nice. The settings also allow you to select “Screen Smoothing”, a kind of anti-aliasing that seems to be similar to what's happening with the NES games, or you can choose to see the game in its original format with all its jagged, pixel-edged glory. I sincerely hope that NES and SNES Virtual Console games are going to be updated to include these options in the near future. I really, really do. While we're talking about new features...

Retro manuals? That's the coolest addition yet! Put it in ALL Virtual Console games!

Yep, that's right. The GBA Virtual Console games on Wii U feature the built-in software manuals like all other games on the eShop, but they also include the option to read the game's original paper manual in full color, high-definition PDF splendour. Why? I dunno, for posterity or something? Either way, it's really freakin' cool that we're given the option because back in those classic days, Nintendo's instruction manuals were things to be treasured. I am willing to get on my knees and beg for this feature to be added to all NES and SNES (and hopefully N64?) games as well, because there's a treasure trove of character artwork, charming stories, bonus comics and maps and neat little in-jokes just waiting for players to rediscover them.

Anyway, that's just about the end of my list, except for one more noteworthy mention...

More games!

This applies to both Wii U and 3DS. There are still dozens of classic titles that deserve the Virtual Console treatment. Metroid Zero Mission. The rest of the Final Fantasy series from the NES and SNES (or even the GBA remakes thereof). The aforementioned return of the DKC SNES trilogy, or their Game Boy Donkey Kong Land spinoffs. The remaining Castlevania games on NES, Game Boy and SNES. Or maybe if we're lucky, the TurboGrafX games including the super-rare Castlevania Rondo of Blood – Wii eventually got that one! How about the few memorable SNES Super Scope games, like Yoshi's Safari? Rig up the GamePad screen to work like the mouse pad in Mario Paint? The long-awaited Harvest Moon 64! E.V.O. Search for Eden! Some of my personal favorites, the Pocky and Rocky games on SNES. Kid Dracula, Tetris Attack, Parodius, the list goes on. I'd even ask for a Virtual Boy emulator on 3DS Virtual Console just so we can all legitimately get that one Wario Land game we never got to play.


jglonekMay 08, 2014

Absolutely agree with this post 100%. If Nintendo was treating it's gold mine of a Virtual Console right it could have marketed the Wii U as a retro gaming haven, which would have sold systems even in the driest of new release times. The GamePad is perfect for playing most of the older games! I just wish it had a longer range from the system. I guess that would be what the 3DS is for, if cross-buys were actually a thing.

As you mentioned, I can survive paying $1/$1.50 to 'upgrade' my games from the Wii to the Wii U VC. But having to double-buy them on the Wii U and 3DS makes no sense at all. Neither does releasing GBA games on the Wii U but not 3DS - even though they already exist for the 3DS since Ambassador players have them!

Leo13May 08, 2014

This article is for ME. The Wii was big while I was still in college. Now that I've finished and have a full-time paying job I can afford all these games. I purchased a Wii U and 4 pro controllers, but the Wii VC doesn't work with the Pro controllers and I'm not excited about the idea of buying classic controllers right now. (I know this is a me problem, but it could be fixed) so if Nintendo would open the floodgates on SNES, N64 and Gamecube VC games I could use my pro controllers and I would be willing to buy VC games (as seen by the number of NES, SNES and GBA games I've already purchased on my Wii U while I've still not spent a dime on the Wii shopping channel).
Part of me is hoping that the reason we don't have any N64 of Gamecube VC is because next month at E3 they will unveil their plan for a PILE of HD releases for those games. I'm cool with paying a little more for some of them if they are HD and look nicer even if they don't get the full makeover the WWHD got.

I wish Nintendo would do all that you list, but I sincerely doubt it would be a selling-feature large enough to be the tipping point of a console purchase. 

Leo13May 08, 2014

Quote from: lolmonade

I wish Nintendo would do all that you list, but I sincerely doubt it would be a selling-feature large enough to be the tipping point of a console purchase. 

I agree with you, however it could help them financially. At least as far as I'm concerned it would cause more of my money to be sent to Nintendo and after the financials they released yesterday they can certainly use the money.

Quote from: Leo13

Quote from: lolmonade

I wish Nintendo would do all that you list, but I sincerely doubt it would be a selling-feature large enough to be the tipping point of a console purchase. 

I agree with you, however it could help them financially. At least as far as I'm concerned it would cause more of my money to be sent to Nintendo and after the financials they released yesterday they can certainly use the money.

Agreed.  I know i'd buy some gamecube vc games.

broodwarsMay 08, 2014

Geez, how many years now have we been telling Nintendo to actually embrace the Virtual Console service since they abandoned it upon Wiiware's release?  Having GBA games on the thing is great, but we're still back to the at best once-a-week release trickle, and I doubt even that will continue for much longer. GCN, N64, (more) SNES and hell...even Virtual Boy support probably wouldn't contribute much in terms of sales considering the Wii U's pitifully-small install base, but man it would go a long way towards keeping Nintendo's name relevant in the gaming sphere, as well as filling in very critical gaps between major releases. Sadly, Nintendo clearly doesn't seem to have any idea what they're doing with VC.

And yes, cross-buy needs to happen. It's a colossal joke that Nintendo's still insisting upon individual purchases after all these years where Sony's offered cross-buy support across the PS3, PSP, PS4, and Vita.

Leo13May 08, 2014

broodwars is right. having these things probably would make a huge financial difference now, but it would help keep us loyal fans happy (or at least less frustrated)

I disagree with the notion Virtual Console won't sell systems, despite my initial reservations about motion controls I still had no problem buying and loving my Wii for the first couple of years based nearly solely on the virtual console. From what I have read the Wii U VC is worse than Wii was and that is a point holding me back. Especially if they get some Game Cube games on there and a good selection too. The problem is with older classics it made sense because they were oddities, the Game Cube games are basically just non-HD versions of the same games they are struggling to sell on Wii U anyways.

I see it like this, if they are going to release say Luigi's mansion for virtual console at the very least they need to upscale it for HD, rather than do that most people would prefer they just make a brand new full HD Luigi's Mansion game. I personally would be okay with both, a full HD remake or upscale of the GC games on Virtual Console, and more full HD sequels for the Wii U, but since Wind Waker HD kind of set the bar consumers are going to want that level not just 480i GC games with some AA tacked on.

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