What is the Virtual Console?

March 11, 2010

This week, the Wii Blog For You will explain one of the Wii’s most popular online features, the Virtual Console. Simply put, the Virtual Console is a huge library of downloadable games that were originally released on the old video game consoles from the 1980s and 1990s. Happily, to access the Virtual Console games, there is no need to purchase any additional peripherals or hardware for your Wii. Instead, all of the games were programmed to be purchased on the online Wii Shop Channel and immediately playable on your Wii upon download.

The Virtual Console is great if you are feeling nostalgic and want to play a game that you remember from when you were younger. It is also good for revisiting the original versions of games that have been remade for the Wii. For example, if you liked 2009’s New Super Mario Bros. Wii and are curious about the game that inspired it, you might think about heading over to the Virtual Console and purchasing the original 1985 Super Mario Bros., which was made for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It also acts as an impressive demonstration of just how far videogames have come over the past 30 years! For comparison, here are screen shots from both games:

Super Mario Bros. (1985)

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009)

I get a big kick out of how games I thought looked amazing as a kid now look simply archaic.

Here is the complete list of old video game systems on the Virtual Console, along with the number of games currently available on each platform:

  • Nintendo Entertainment System – 86
    Super Nintendo – 55
    Nintendo 64 – 17
    Sega Mater System – 16
    Sega Genesis – 17
    TurboGrafx 16
    Neo Geo – 20
    Virtual Console Arcade – 12 (these are old arcade games from the 80s and 90s)
    Commodore 64 – 9
  • It is interesting to note that almost all of those were direct competitors of Nintendo when they were originally on the market, so it is somewhat amusing that 20 years down the road, their games are now playable on a Nintendo console. Obviously, Nintendo outlasted them all because none of those companies are making consoles anymore, and Microsoft (XBox 360) and Sony (PlayStation 3) are Nintendo’s main competition today. Perhaps 20 years from now, we will be downloading XBox and PlayStation games on a future Nintendo product.

    If you would like to explore the Virtual Console, here are the steps to find it:

    1. Once your Wii is powered on, click on the Wii Shop Channel.

    2. You will then be given the choice to return to the main Wii Menu or to continue on to the Wii Shop Channel by clicking “Start.” We want to do the latter, so click the “Start” button.

    3. After the Wii connects to the Wii Shop Channel, click the “Start Shopping” Button.

    4. You will then be presented with a screen that looks like this:

    If you have never made an online purchase on your Wii and would like to buy a Virtual Console game, you will need to add Wii Points to your account using a Visa or Mastercard. Wii Points are the currency you use to purchase the Virtual Console games, and one dollar equals 100 Wii Points. Virtual Console games, on average, range between 500 and 1,000 Wii Points.

    To add Wii Points to your account, click the “Add Wii Points” button in the center of the screen. The Wii will then guide you through the steps of making the purchase.

    5. Once you have added Wii Points to your account, return to the Wii Shop Channel screen shown above.

    6. Click on the “Virtual Console” button on the upper left side of the screen.

    You can now browse through the catalog and see if anything catches your eye and then make your purchase from there!

    Whether your feeling nostalgic for the games of yesteryear or want explore classic games you may have missed the first go around, the Wii Shop Channel is a great feature to have and one that is unique to the Wii. Nintendo adds games to the Wii Shop Channel every Monday, so check back regularly to see what is made available.

    That’s it for this week. Happy gaming!