I shouldn't have to import a system to get an equivalent experience.
Virtual Console on Wii U, what a great idea! Last week, Nintendo announced and then released the first Virtual Console game for Wii U. Many were excited at both the announcement and the forth-coming games that have been promised. Nintendo pleased all of their fans, right? This announcement was a great surprise, right? Well, it was great for the Japanese and American regions, but European countries, Australia and New Zealand were once again treated to an inferior version of the released VC game, Balloon Fight.
What? Inferior? How, you say? Well, Nintendo has decided to give us the original 50Hz versions of these classic games. You see, the TV’s that were sold across Europe in the 80’s and 90’s used the PAL video standard. This meant that the resolution and refresh rate of the screen differed from the Japanese and American standard, NTSC. The PAL refresh rate (50 Hz) is slower than NTSC (60 Hz), and when video games were first sold in countries that use the PAL standard, they had to conform. The conversions were almost always done badly – games ran 17.5% slower than they were supposed to – and because PAL has a greater image resolution, games had large borders on the top and bottom of the screen to fill the dead space. A lot of games even featured slower music.
When the original Wii Virtual Console started, Nintendo unwisely chose to continue using these converted versions instead of the originals, even though the vast majority of people would no longer be affected due to newer TV’s supporting the NTSC standard.
We are now on the precipice of a new Virtual Console service, and it seems that Nintendo will still be using the slow, bordered, PAL-conversion messes. There is absolutely no good reason why we should endure these inferior versions of the games anymore. Nintendo has to recode the emulation for these VC releases, so why not include both a PAL and an NTSC version? I say they should either provide the choice of version on the eShop or include both ROMs in a single package with a menu option to switch between PAL and NTSC. The former option is probably necessary, because otherwise Nintendo would only be speeding up the PAL version, which could be an even greater mess. If the game originally had PAL optimizations, speeding it back up could make it really wonky.
Nintendo is charging people in PAL territories the same as people in NTSC territories, for worse versions of VC games. We should be angry, we shouldn’t have to put up with it, and we most definitely should not have to import the better releases from America. Frustratingly, the 3DS eShop versions of NES games (yes, even Balloon Fight) were NTSC across every region.
People have taken to the Balloon Fight Miiverse community to express their disdain for this issue. If you live in a country where you receive the PAL version, get on the Miiverse, Yeah! all of the posts complaining about it, and contribute to the awareness in any way that you can. Nintendo ignored this problem on Wii, and I hope that they reconsider and address this problem on Wii U. I advise people in these affected regions to not buy any of these releases if they can help it. Don’t put up with mediocre products.
Thanks to Daan Koopman for editing the Miiverse video.