E3 06: Wii Virtual Console Hands-On

A big part of Nintendo's next-gen strategy is its back catalog of N64, SNES, and NES games; GameSpot takes a look at how they'll play on the Wii.


One of the many Wii features touted by Nintendo has been the Virtual Console that allows Wii owners to download and play games from the company's extensive NES, SNES, and N64 game library using system emulation software. The library isn't limited to legacy Nintendo platform games, either. Nintendo has signed deals to bring Sega and Hudson Soft TurboGrafix 16 games over the Wii Virtual Console as well.

Nintendo's Wii Virtual Console demo station featured five signature games from the system's past: Super Mario Bros. from the NES, Super Mario World from the SNES, Super Mario 64 from the Nintendo 64, Sonic the Hedgehog from the Sega Genesis, and Bonk's Adventure from the TurboGrafix 16. The navigation menu only allowed us to scroll through the five title selection pages, so we didn't get a chance to select and download games to run.

The Wii Virtual Console stations used the gamepad Wii classic controller instead of the motion-sensing Wii-mote used with modern Wii games like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption or Super Mario Galaxy. We spent time playing all five games and didn't notice any differences between the Virtual Console versions and the originals, although we must admit that it's been about decade since we last played these games on their native systems. Games played in a letterbox on the widescreen booth display, but screens still looked sharp and vibrant.

The button settings were fairly intuitive for most games since the layout of the Wii classic controller can safely mimic the controllers of past consoles. Super Mario 64 had the least familiar mapping with player movement bound to the left analog stick, camera angle bound to the right analog stick, and the Z button bound to a tiny button stuck on top of the controller, just to the left of the right shoulder button. Hopefully, Nintendo will allow players to set their own button bindings in shipping Wii systems. The select and pause buttons function as expected, and players can press the home button in the center of the controller to open a quit game prompt to go back to the game-selection menu.

After seeing the Wii handle five flagship console games without a problem, it appears that the Virtual Console emulator is poised for a successful launch.

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Avatar image for elozl

oh man, how did i get here? lol, im looking for double dragon!

Avatar image for gigabrowser12

Cow man maybe later... maybe later...

Avatar image for Cowman820

Will you be allowed to download original Super Smash Bros.

Avatar image for townsenda1

The Classic controller is only about $20. I bought one at launch. Definately worth it.

Avatar image for senan

no you can use NGC instead of the CC

Avatar image for Toad2009

to play the games?

Avatar image for Toad2009

also do you have to have the virtual console controller

Avatar image for Toad2009

When will the controller be on sale and how much? I have looked and can't find anything.

Avatar image for jiribe

the wii is going to be amazing, specially for people that still enjoy playing classic games, i can't wait to get my hands on it ;)

Avatar image for Anita_Bath

No Rare games! Then what about Donkey Kong and Banjo?

Avatar image for antispam1994

is it confirmed that there will be no rare ware games on wii

Avatar image for antispam1994

If you already own retro games is there a way that you don't have to pay money to use it on wii.

Avatar image for bubblepaul

This is going to be great Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Secret of Mana here I come

Avatar image for raichu79

Too bad Nintendo let go of their shares of Rare. It would have been nice to see Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark on the Wii. Microsoft has them now and I don't think they would licence them to Nintendo at any price.

Avatar image for bigredman3000

can't wait to play that kirby dreamland3. I always loved that game.

Avatar image for xdumbxjackassx

Chrono Trigger here I come

Avatar image for professorXzaver

A Home button in the middle of the controller ! OMG they're coping off MS ! hehe

Avatar image for TNTales

One of the things that crippled Nintendo in the console wars early on, besides their commitment to family games (Mortal Kombat with Grey Blood??) was the lack of backward compatibility. That's why the ps2 ultimately sunk the big N. But now Nintendo has access to over a DECADE worth of back catalogue with some amazing games. The Zeldas, Metroids, Marios, the games that made the home franchises are going to be available. Yeah, they aren't "high def" and they might be up to 10 bucks each, but it's worth it to relive so many great experiences of my childhood and the awesome gameplay. Nintendo was the home system master for years. Now we can all revist why. Not to mention with a price tag at half that of the 360 or nearly 3 times cheaper than the PS3 (with the launch day assurance of backward compatibility via the virtual console) Nintendo will be hard to beat among families and people who remember the classic games. I was going to get a 360, but I'm leaning very heavily on the WII now, dependent on 2 things: 1) will the Wii-mote end up being gimmicky? 2) The price of retro games (10$ or less is fine, as many of these games are no longer in print). And I know you can use emulators and get games for "free." But I'm not really down with that whole "theft" thing. I'd rather pay a reasonable amount to relive some of the great home game experiences I had as a kid. Now if we can get the Mortal Kombat 2, Super Metroid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade), Battletoads, Sonic, Final Fight, Double Dragon, Bad Dudes, GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Super Mario Bros, aaaah the list goes on, too many games. It's a cinch that I'll buy a whole lot more retro games at 10 bucks a piece than I will 60 dollar next-gen titles. Go big N. TN

Avatar image for jakeboudville

really impressive

Avatar image for eely

"NintendoNinja88: im sad theres not gonna b any diddy kong racing or banjo kazooie or conker. sob " How come?

Avatar image for mat2g

Oddly enough, this is the single most reason I am interested in this system, not entirely sold on the whole Wii-mote concept. The retro games are good, but I hope as time passes they get support from 3rd party companies from these systems libraries, that would be the icing on the cake. Speaking of, do anybody know how big the hard drive on this baby will be? I know most of those games aren't huge in size, I'm still curious

Avatar image for t3KK3n_4ever

wii all love u nintendo, go for it

Avatar image for zerox0409

and yeah, i remember Crystalis... one of my favorite games... good times...good times :P

Avatar image for zerox0409

look, only the 64 games will be $4 to $8 the nes and snes games will be only about $2 to $4 tops.

Avatar image for yugimasa9999

HAHA....This is old...You can at least appreciate this tactic. Homebrew suits my PSP well and it's FREE !!!

Avatar image for dark_phoenix21

$4.50 to $8.99 (if not more) for a retro game? Hmm, now I love my retro gaming, but why would I pay that for a game where I can just download an emulator off the net for free?? I used to have a megadrive with about 20 odd games, now I have an emulator with nearly 100, economics anyone?

Avatar image for likes_harleys

Why pay for games again you probably owned back when these systems were popular? This feature is useless if you have a PC, modded XBOX, or PSP.

Avatar image for LION90

this sounds like awesome dude! i just hope it's not to expensive and doesn't require a credit card.

Avatar image for lotsofgunfire

you know they could make this a whole lot easier and just have a cool customizable controller where you can remove certain parts like taking the D-pad off and moving it to where the right analog stick was, do the same with the stick and you had these spare parts like the long lost C buttons to reattach. no matter where you attached them they would work as what they are. i saw the idea in singapore, some store had a PS2 controller that worked just like that.

Avatar image for dunndeal427

How Nintendo creates it's game console has changed over the years; into a perfected craftsmenship. And this is quite evident in 'Wii', blowing our sights from "within the box" to the stratosphere, and beyond. In having all the old games that kept us coming back for more, in taking time on the software so they follow through with such hype (and we all know the feeling of the exagerated hype that lags on for a way too long). So for that, Nintendo takes the cake with its originality to the old days, exposing the rest of the world to our gamer tome of enjoyment and entertainment. Mad props to Nintendo, for geting the job done right.

Avatar image for WCLord

Iwata announced that the individual virtual console games will be priced between 500 and 1000 yen, which is roughly $4.50 to $8.99 in US Dollars. I can't wait!

Avatar image for ArcadeJunkieGMR

OH how I would like to play super robot wars in english if it even comes on the revolution

Avatar image for darkblade15

this all sounds good, but can someone explain how this thing works? do you download the games off your computer, or somewhere else?

Avatar image for cjmoney1

reliving the glory years! i cant wait. i just hope the downloads arent too expensive. hopefully they will do bundle packs. I think 4 games for $10 is fair. if they are cheaper that would be even better.

Avatar image for Xbox_lvlaniac

i cant wait till the wii comes out ive got a 360 and i cant wait till the wii...4get the ps3 sony sucks

Avatar image for azriaris

Well Done! Now I can play Super Mario Bros 3!

Avatar image for louiedagreat1

O_o u gotta BUY the games for dowmload, How much will games cost anyway?

Avatar image for blackwing837

Awesome!! I hope they will be adding Devi's Crush from NEC and Military Madness.... oh and Neutopia... loved that game too.

Avatar image for nhlagentdark

i have all the other nintendo consoles and now another one will be added to my collection :)

Avatar image for CalvinCoolage

Buy it while it's in shop? I'm going to pre-order it because of this.

Avatar image for jedimastergerco

that is one of the reasons im going to buy the wii as soon as its in the shop

Avatar image for cyprus646

The virtual console is a very cool idea i just hope nintendo dosent over charge the games that can be downloaded.

Avatar image for Dima_06

By adding a virtual console to the Nintendo Wii, nintendo has undoubtably raised the standard of retro gaming for many years to come. Now all we need is a price range for the Nintendo Wii and we are set to experience gaming's most gloriest years of yore. I think that the Wii will probably come in at a hefty msrp of $300 dollars. Oh, and don't buy that less than $250 crap from Nintendo. How else are they going to profit from all those retro games being uploaded at a meager price tag?!!

Avatar image for K-BUB

yay! this is good

Avatar image for snakeyes1282

i love you nintendo!!!! always have..always will

Avatar image for deactivated-5967f36c08c33

Tell us how much the games cost!

Avatar image for skemaal

Me and my girlfriend grew up with the nes and snes. We love the classics, its a no brainer which console we choose. Even if we don`t buy any Wii games the fact that we have that huge library of games lol, was not a hard decision to make.

Avatar image for n3onshark

Neatness every Nintendo console game ever and some form sega etc. I do hope they add some GB or GBC games

Avatar image for wisebandit

Bring it on.

Avatar image for HoffmanSony

I wonder if the color quaulity for the NES games will be better