The opinions stated in this article are representative of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Operation Rainfall.
So, Nintendo promised that the Wii U would be backwards compatible with all WiiWare and Virtual Console titles that were purchased on the Wii. But, it turns out there’s a catch…wait, sorry. I mean catches. First, you can’t access WiiWare and Virtual Console titles straight from the Wii U like you can with DSiWare on the 3DS. You have to go into this Wii emulation program and then select them. Second, if you want to buy more WiiWare and Virtual Console titles, you can’t get them on the brand new Wii U eShop. You have to go through the Wii Shop Channel while in this Wii emulator, navigate that horrible labyrinth of a service, download them, and only THEN will you be able to access them in this Wii emulator. And as if that wasn’t enough, Nintendo also decided to take all three Donkey Kong Country games for the SNES off the Virtual Console without telling anyone.
In short, Nintendo somehow made their Virtual Console service even worse. And Nintendo wonders why people don’t take their digital services seriously.
Now, I love the Virtual Console. I love the idea of buying older titles digitally so that people who didn’t get a chance to play them the first time around can do so now. But I hate the way Nintendo’s been handling it over the past couple of years. The way Nintendo shoved WiiWare and Virtual Console titles in their own little box is the especially perfect example of how little Nintendo cares about its own service. Say what you will about the 3DS. Jonathan and I certainly have. But at least when you transfer your older downloadable titles from your DSi to your 3DS, you can access them on the main menu. You can’t access them from the SD card, but it’s still better than the way it’s handled on the Wii U. Not only that, but you can purchase older DSiWare titles directly from the eShop. Funny how all of this works.
When the Virtual Console was initially available, there were a good number of Virtual Console titles released per week. That number had since dramatically decreased to only a handful of titles per month. Even after six years, there are still many holes in the Virtual Console library that should have been filled by now. I’m not talking about third-party games, either. Several of Nintendo’s own titles are missing from the Virtual Console. Aside from the one game that I shouldn’t even need to mention at this point, we’re missing stuff like Dr. Mario for the NES, the original Star Fox for the SNES, Illusion of Gaia, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Donkey Kong 64, ExciteBike 64, Mario Party 1 and Mario Party 3, and several others. I guess we can count the three Donkey Kong Country games for the SNES now that they’ve been delisted.
The 3DS Virtual Console isn’t much better. As Higgins and I explained, the Virtual Console for that system is falling in the same trap as its Wii counterpart did. The games are being released at a snail’s pace, several of which having been available in Europe months before their North American releases. This was mostly so that Nintendo of America can put them into random promotions, like the 8-Bit Summer earlier this year. Stuff like Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons, Wario Land 3, the Pokemon games, and much more are still absent from the Virtual Console. The Game Boy Advance isn’t represented at all.
This leads me to the Ambassador Program. Back when Nintendo made a major price cut to the 3DS, they gave early adopters ten free NES titles and ten free GBA titles to download. Fast forward one year since then and most of the NES titles that were part of the Ambassador program have been released on the eShop as of this writing. The GBA games have not. …Why?
The only people that lose here are the paying customers who have to wait for Nintendo to slowly let these games become available.
Of course, the Wii U has only just been released. None of us have any idea where it will go from here. Part of me hopes that the Virtual Console will improve and that I’ll be eating my angry paragraphs covered in chocolate syrup for dinner. Part of me is hoping that old Gamecube games and old Game Boy Advance games that I missed out on will be available for me to purchase. But then, the other part of me knows better than that. The other part of me knows that no matter what they do, no matter how good their digital storefront is, they will still treat the Virtual Console the same way they have for the past several years. The same way most other people have been treating it because of Nintendo. Like a big friggin’ joke.