Editorial: The Wii U’s Virtual Nightmare

Just let him play SNES games in his car!
A mind-boggled consumer.

When asked, most people on the planet, gamers or not, would openly admit that Nintendo is no stranger to weird business decisions. While some would defend Nintendo as a “creative” or “innovative” strategist, others would rather just come out and say that some times it seems like they are throwing darts on words and praying for a Hail Mary.

The Virtual Console on the Nintendo 3DS currently has a little over 150 games, not including approximately ten or so more for Ambassadors. Now, while this may seem as a large amount of games because 150 in some cases is a pretty big number, it pales in comparison to the library the NES has alone with over 700 licensed games released. Especially considering the fact that the 3DS’ Virtual Console is a mixture of NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and SEGA Game Gear titles. Even stranger, is the fact that even though a game such as Super Mario Bros. is $5 both on the Wii U and the 3DS, the consumer would still have to pay $5 for each, even if it is the exact same game, for the exact same price, with the exact same Nintendo Network account.

It is not worth it.
Yes, you too can spend five dollars and play this game on your 3DS.

Recently, Nintendo has been allowing cross-buy for some titles, not all, but some new releases such as OlliOlli and Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. However, this has not extended towards the Virtual Console, and it is hard to determine whether or not it will be a feature on Virtual Consoles in the future. At this point if Nintendo were to do so, it would come down to the decision to either start implementing cross-buy at a specific date and forget about past purchases, or to be find some way to reimburse those who shelled out money for the privilege to play the exact same game on the Wii U and 3DS without being able to transfer save files between the two.

Interestingly enough, some on the internet have actually started to come up with their own ideas as to how Nintendo should handle their Virtual Console. One of the most notable ideas is a Playstation Now-esque streaming service which would in theory work because of the game’s small file size and potentially low CPU demand. This theoretical streaming service would cost a certain fee every month, and feature temporary saves that would delete themselves once a subscriber ceased payment. Meanwhile, others argue that Virtual Console titles should just cost less as they have already been developed and there is not too much extra work being put into them aside from constructing a Miiverse page, unless they are a 3D Classic.

The best part is that it is an extra two dollars on top of a normal SNES title's price.
Now unavailable at your local 3DS Virtual Console!

Lastly, one of the largest complaints with the 3DS’ Virtual Console is that SNES titles are still nowhere to be found. There do not seem to be any performance problems holding them back from performing such an action, but it could just be possible rarer SNES games like Earthbound are the real system seller the Wii U has been waiting for all along.

What do you think of Nintendo’s Virtual Console Service? Should it be drastically transformed, or is the addition of SNES titles and cross-buy good enough? Make sure to leave a comment below!


  1. How dare you cite both Earthbound and Ghosts ‘n Goblins in the same post, you villain.

  2. I have purchased a fair number of Virtual Console titles for the Wii, and just a couple for the Wii U. More cross-buy between Wii and Wii U systems would be very much welcome. I doubt this will happen, seeing as there are so many VC releases on the Wii that aren’t even compatible for the Wii U. As to why this is the case, who knows…

  3. Each virtual console game includes its own dedicated emulator wrapper. So, every time they release a game, they program the wrapper, and release it whole and entire. In effect, it is a dedicated app for one rom.

    The reason the Wii VC games don’t work natively on the Wii U (except in Wii mode) is because the Wii VC emulator is not natively compatible with the Wii U, so they have to program a NEW emulator wrapper for each and every ROM, one by one. Of course, most of them can just be replicated, but Nintendo doubtless finds a way to make the process as slow and cumbersome and inefficient as possible.

    They could use the help of Quick Man.

  4. It’s actually inventive on their part to pioneer such inefficiency!

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