Welcome to Wii U week, where Dan and Nate wax poetic about their favorite failure of a console.
Waiting to find out what the next batch of Wii U Virtual Console releases were going to be and when they were coming out was an exercise in frustration. I remember, when the Virtual Console was in full swing a few years ago, scanning various websites to see which games trickled into the service weekly with yearning. The lack of any solid information on these releases from Nintendo and the measly amount them was annoying, but even more frustrating was the fact that an immense catalog of these were already available on the Wii, but, for some reason, not on the Wii U. Couldn’t they just bring the previous generation’s games over? You could even access them on your Wii U by going to the Wii menu, but it was bound in the Wii’s terrible “eshop” app in which you would have to buy blocks of the apps shitty currency, “Points”, to make a purchase. This was compounded by the fact that if you didn’t own a Wiimote, you couldn’t even participate. But I still sat weekly at my computer, browsing those sites, scouring for that ever so elusive VC information. Want to know why? It’s a secret. Ready?
It’s because the Wii U’s Virtual Console was actually fucking awesome.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “But Nate!” you exclaim, “You’ve been griping about this shit for a paragraph!” “WTF,” you might add, and, “Why do you smell like onions!?” I know, I know, but believe me when I tell you, if you like classic gaming, this is the best thing on the market. That’s especially true when you consider what the competition is doing for the classic gamer: nothing. The PS4 has ten PS2 games available (and they’re a wintery mix [Oh wow! I can finally play Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter and Racer Revenge…]) and the Xbox isn’t even trying. Besides the PS Vita (and who the fuck is playing that? *), the Wii U is the best way to experience nostalgia.
With the addition of DS, Gameboy Advance, and Wii exclusives, the VC blew up in its potential to fill you in on the brilliance of previous console generations.
Let’s start with something recent: Wii ports. You can already play last gen games on the Wii U, but as Wii games become harder to find, I found their addition to the VC comforting. Take the quirky RPG Pandora’s Tower, which became something of a collector’s item almost as soon as it hit shelves. I’d been searching my local GameStop’s for this gem for years to no avail. It was only because of its release on the VC that I was finally able to play it. Same goes for the excellent shooter Sin & Punishment 2 (it was only released in Japan).
The DS section of the VC store is filled with major titles I had overlooked like Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time and Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. Even the inexplicably popular Brain Age is available.
For my money, though, the Gameboy Advance section is the crème de la crème. Golden Sun, FF Tactics Advance, Advance Wars, the excellent Castlevania offerings; first and third party games that I missed even though I had a Gameboy Advance. There are two or three junky titles on there, the rest are worth your time (yes, even the overwhelming amount of Mega Man Battle Networks on there).
This isn’t even to mention the bevy of NES and SNES games available.
The future of Nintendo VC is rocky with release of the Switch on Friday, but I think it could make a turn for the better if they learn from the Wii U. The amount of games and the pace Nintendo released them was disappointing, but the bedrock is there. Wii U’s Virtual Console is one of the main reasons the Wii U is one of my favorite systems.
*I happen to love my Vita, too…