Part One: Wii U Virtual Console Can’t load Wii Saves for Older Games?

Friday, February 1st, 2013

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By


Nintendo Direct

Reggie Fils-Amie and the Wii-U Virtual Console…

Note: This is the first half of a two-part cooperative editorial written by two separate authors about the recent Wii U news involving the Virtual Console. Part Two is titled: Wii U Virtual Console Upgrades and Backward Compatibility

When launching its newest console, primed for the deeper needs of the “hardcore” gaming audience, Nintendo spoke repeatedly about how this new system was all about how you played the game. How you wanted to play on your time, the way you wanted to; in fact, this concept was even ascribed as part of the console’s name. Yes, according to Nintendo, the Wii U was going to be the high-definition system for you. Even at the original unveiling of the system, Reggie Fils-Amie said, “Yes, the game could still be for all of us, but could it also be a perfect fit, just for you? … In fact, we’re so convinced of it, we’re putting that pronoun right in the name.”

And recently, with other announcements regarding the “upgrades” to the newer version of the Virtual Console, Nintendo has remarked that save files from the original version of your favorite digital titles will not be recognized under the new system. Not only that, but to receive this upgrade, to make use of the entire functionality of the GamePad and other minutiae, an additional fee and re-download will be required. Otherwise, those older digital distributions will be imprisoned in the ‘secondary’ functions of the Wii-emulation menu… One is left to wonder; is this how I wanted to play my Virtual Console game? A game that I have already paid for, a game that I already have spent hours on? Is this really the way I want to play?

Furthermore, is all this really necessary? It would be obvious that certain systems within Nintendo’s servers would require adjustments to make alterations for this new hardware, especially with the range of functionality that the GamePad is capable of. And as their own systems transfer and evolve from the older ways into new ideas like the Nintendo Network and Miiverse, programming upgrades are obviously a necessary step. However, is this additional fee for an ‘upgrade’ of previously purchased V.C. titles one of those that we must grin and bear?

According to a second-year gaming design student with experience in a range of Nintendo’s own operating systems, that is not the case. In fact, this could be little more than a monetization attempt on-par with Capcom’s on-disk DLC fiasco. “Save files and save states are nothing more than snapshots of where you are in a game. Making these kind of changes shouldn’t affect the ability to read that data and use it in-game at all,” said the young designer. And then there is the upgrade fee itself to consider. On its’ own, $1.50 US is not a large amount, by any stretch of the imagination… but that is per-capita for every V.C. title you want transferred.  How many Virtual Console games did you have on your Wii? Five? Ten? Even more, perhaps? Added up, even among a small minority of customers, that equals tens of thousands of dollars of free profit for Nintendo. And then, you have to replay all of your games from scratch, destroying hours of work in the past…

Hopefully, this situation is not a permanent solution to this problem. Hopefully, Nintendo will learn from not only their own past, but from the history of other gaming companies and their struggle with making backwards compatibility more of an asset than an issue. Because that is what this is really about; with the promised complete backwards compatibility with everything on the Wii, this news regarding the Virtual Console on the Wii-U feels like a slap in the face to most gamers. Is Nintendo really trying to say that they can’t keep their promises? Perhaps a complete historical outlook on how this now-vital component of gaming culture has been used in the past can shed more light on what this really means for the future of the Wii-U, as well as what our reaction to this news should really be…

My fellow writer Brad Williams has amassed and assimilated that same history for a shocking look at how rare true backwards compatibility has really been in the gaming world, and why this recent announcement should not ruffle as many feathers as it seems.

Click here to read Brad’s article titled: Wii U Virtual Console Upgrades and Backward Compatibility

SOURCEThanks to Timothy M. for consultation

About Joel McCabe

Former Staff- Joel McCabe's first personal gaming experience was PITFALL for the Atari 2600 in 1984. Having owned or played on every US-released game console gives a wide history, ranging from fighters, to shooters, to strategy, to plaformers, to JRPG and beyond. Starting with Jumpman for the C-64, he has played games on PC occasionally for nearly 20 years. He currently owns a 360 and a 3DS.




  • I always wondered how Nintendo would deal with Virtual console games when it came to transferring to a new system. I brought quite a few digital copies of my favourite SNES and N64 games for the Wii a long time ago not even realising they were console locked and not account locked. It was only after I started buying digital content with Sony and Microsoft that I realised how backwards Nintendo are. Even with the 3DS its the same story. I do my best to avoid Nintendo digital content at all costs these days as I just can’t be guaranteed it’ll be compatiable with future hardware. It’s really sad because I do love classic Nintendo games but I should be able to buy it once and it should be compatiable with all my devices: Wii, Wii U and 3DS (within reason – at least the NES, SNES and GBA on the 3DS anyway, I understand N64 would be pushing it)

    • Guest

      Um, I’m not sure you realize this – your Wii games are not console locked. Nintendo gives a tool to allow you to transfer all of your Wii purchases to the Wii U for no charge (there is no fee to transfer all of your game purchases and save data).

      The ONLY thing you *pay* for is downloading the Wii U-enhanced versions of the games, which offer Miiverse and Gamepad support. Yes, there will be a small fee for this, but it is entirely optional and by no means necessary.

      You can continue to enjoy every single Virtual Console and WiiWare purchase made within the Wii menu built into the Wii U.

    • Guest

      For free.

    • Oh yes, I am aware of that. I didn’t make myself very clear. I don’t like how they charge to be able to use the ‘enhanced’ versions. Did I have to pay a premium to play my PS1 or PSP games on my Vita? No. I don’t like how I have to keep rebuying digital copies with Nintendo. Can I play my NES games which I’ve purchased on my Wii on my 3DS? Again, no. It’s just a killer for me with Nintendo. I don’t mind them needing time to set up the software for it to work but I do object to rebuying again and again, hence why I no longer bother with digital content with Nintendo.

    • Alexandre Bourque

      N64 wouldnt be pushing it at all, the 3ds is far stronger than a n64, they made an enhanced version of Ocarina of Time on it

    • I do understand your point but I was being reasonable to Nintendo on that one. A few of their top titles are remastered N64 games so I see why they wouldn’t want the originals on the 3DS (for the moment anyway) and I imagine it would not be easy to play N64 through 3DS. I don’t know much about hardware but I’ll make the assumption they aren’t very compatible, and thus will need more power to run emulated copies than it would a remastered 3DS copy. I’m assuming that anyway, like I said I don’t know annything about the differences between hardware myself. I just know a lot of things aren’t backwards compatible anymore ^^;;

  • I didn’t have many Virtual Console games on the Wii, so I’m not awfully mad about NIntendo charging extra to port them over to the Wii U.

  • I have USB’s for my Wii so it won’t work regardless, but if I didn’t I could imagine I’d be extremely pissed. Hopefully, Nintendo stops doing this crap

  • Joe

    This is my struggle… Do I put out the cash for the Wii U just so I can play the new Xeno game (nothing else really appeals to me on the console) and, in the process, get asked to pay a small fee for “enhanced” Virtual Console content that I have on my Wii? Or, do I just wait for another year or two and hope that Nintendo does right by its gamers and gives us true backward compatibility with the Virtual Console?

    What are you all doing about this issue?

  • dbclick

    My gripe is they are charging per game for work that should only be done once for them. Insult to injury: they are charging more for newer platforms (which I assume will be even more for N64 games). I don’t view this as a backwards compatibility issue (the backwards compatibility on Wii U is taken care of and works, even if parts of it are clunky), but as a system service issue.

    All the work of reviewing the content and licensing, creating the digital manuals, fixing the emulation, patching, rating, etc. for existing VC titles has already been done for Wii. The work to get the game running on the enhanced Wii U emulator should be identical for each game now that the emulation kinks have been worked out. if it isn’t, then Nintendo is re-doing the work they’ve already done.

    The enhanced emulation system should be implemented once and applied unilaterally
    across all the ROMs they are baking into the Wii VC games. The only “substantial” work that should need to be done per game is to reformat the digital manual for the GamePad’s buttons instead of the Wii Remote (which I could honestly do without since the Wii VC manuals are rarely complete enough to be very useful).

    The lack of save transfer I could understand more since they may have coded themselves into a hole on the way saves are stored in each Wii VC game and might have to do work individually per game for the code to to dig out those saves.

    I figured something like this would happen, so I have purposely held off on buying many VC titles on the Wii. If Nintendo can get their game together on emulated games (as much as I hate to say it, like Sony) then I will happily buy more. Emulation should be a system feature, and supported the same way other system features are (and on any system that is technically feasible to emulate a prior system – e.g. GBA and maybe even DS(i) titles on Wii U). If they want to charge for upgrading, it should be a one-time flat fee.

  • Alexandre Bourque

    I love how everytime a company do something about a console, it’s exactly the thing people do not want