Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console: vault of video game classics about to vanish – Half Moon Bay Review
The Wii’s Virtual Console was amazing.
Scratch that. The Wii’s Virtual Console is amazing. And it’s still waiting for you.
The Wii Shop Channel, which lets you purchase and download games to play on the Virtual Console, is shutting down. Nintendo announced in September that it will close the service and all its functions on Jan. 30, 2019. Wii owners will have until March 25 to buy Wii Points online or redeem them from long-sold-out physical cards, but Jan. 29, 2019, will be the final day anyone can buy software or download it from the Wii Shop. It will also be the last chance to re-download any previously purchased content that you might have erased from your Wii system to make room for other things. Nintendo also recommends that if you wish to transfer content from a Wii system to its successor, the Wii U, you should do so while these services remain in operation.
But once you’ve downloaded the games you want, no one is going to prevent you from playing them as long as your Wii hardware remains functional. And there’s still time to fill the old thing up with classic games you may not find anywhere else! Nintendo started the Virtual Console on the Wii in 2006, and it steadily accumulated nearly 200 games from many publishers over the next seven years.
Why does a nearly obsolete video game system more than a decade old matter? With many of these digital re-releases coming from third-party publishers, Nintendo just can’t unilaterally decide to make them available on other platforms like the Wii U and 3DS eShops or the new Switch, which doesn’t even have a proper Virtual Console yet — and isn’t likely to for some time. These couple-hundred games represent a significant chunk of video game history going back to the ’80s, or earlier, in some cases. So, let’s hoard some games, for posterity! With a little planning, the Wii Virtual Console can still help fill any holes in your gaming library — but the Shop Channel’s planned closing means you don’t have all the time in the world to do so.
Here’s how to make the most of the Wii’s extensive digital game selection — while you still can.
The Wii U, a successor to Nintendo’s Wii, may not have been as innovative or popular, but it contains the Wii Menu, a legacy Wii emulator that lets you run old Wii software, disc-based and digital — including the Wii Shop Channel, which stands apart from the Wii U’s eShop. So if you don’t have access to an original Wii, the Wii U is the next best thing. Whether you are playing on a Wii or Wii U, you’ll need the proper controllers. You must have a wandlike Wii Remote to control the Wii U when it’s in Wii mode. If the game requires the Wii Classic Controller (or the upgraded Classic Controller Pro), you’ll have to have one of those plugged into the Wiimote as well — the Wii U’s Pro Controllers, nice as they are, won’t work here. You also can’t use the Wii U’s signature GamePad tablet to play Wii games, although you can use Wii controllers to operate the Wii Menu displayed on the GamePad instead of a TV screen (if you really want to). For anything newer than the NES, you’ll find most games need more than just the simple Wiimote turned sideways. A Classic Controller or two is therefore a must.
Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch, doesn’t run any Wii or Wii U software, although some titles may get get ported over to the Switch over time (like the recent “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” from the Wii U’s “Mario Kart 8”). The portable 3DS and 2DS systems have a different Virtual Console service with its own selection of games, separate even from the Wii U Virtual Console service — and only New 3DS systems will play Super NES titles, but the selection doesn’t compare to the Wii’s service.
To buy anything from the Wii Shop Channel, don’t pick up the Nintendo eShop cards that you may find in stores now — you’ll need some Wii Points. If you don’t remember, those have no cash value (and won’t be refunded), but you can still use a credit card in the Wii Shop to buy 1,000 points for $10, 2,000 for $20, 3,000 for $30 and 5,000 for $50. If you bought a Wii Points card when those were available at video game retailers, you can still redeem its points through March 25. These were also sold as Nintendo Points cards and DSi Points cards, but they were all the same thing.
NES and Sega Master System games, along with Virtual Console Arcade titles, are priced at 500 points (600 points if they were originally just for the Famicom, Japan’s NES). TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine games are priced at 600 points. TurboGrafx-CD/PC-Engine CD-ROM games and Sega Genesis games are 800 points, as are Super NES/Super Famicom titles. Neo Geo games run 900 points, while N64 games are a whopping 1,000. WiiWare — original and independent titles published first as Wii downloads — can cost between 500 and 1,500 points.
You’ll have to store your Virtual game haul somewhere. The Wii only holds 512Â MB total, but the console uses SD cards for expanded “external” storage. SD cards up to 2Â GB in capacity are supported, as well as high-capacity SDHC cards up to 32Â GB. If you kept your Wii updated as Nintendo made system tweaks, you’ll be able to play games directly off of a slotted SDÂ card. SDÂ cards also will work for playing games from the Wii U’s Wii Menu.
If you have a Wii and want to transfer its content to a Wii U, Nintendo has outlined a process for doing so — but before doing this, you should be warned that it’s a one-way, permanent procedure. Also, the option will no longer be available once the Wii Shop Channel shuts down in 2019, partly because there’s a transfer utility that must be downloaded from the Wii Shop Channel.
An earlier version of this article originally appeared on the blog NerdvanaMedia.com