A lot of people talk about their Wii consoles collecting dust, but I’ve played more than 20 games on my Wii since the beginning of the year. My favorite thing about the Wii is its Virtual Console, which allows me to revisit somewhat forgotten classics like Blades of Steel and to discover the awesome shooter library of the TurboGrafx-16, a console I’ve never seen in person. I was very excited when I heard the Wii U would be getting its own Virtual Console in the spring. I kept thinking that a new Virtual Console, upon or shortly after its launch, would have new games – in this case, games that you can’t already buy on the Wii’s Virtual Console.
Well, I was clearly having an idiot’s dream. The Wii U Virtual Console officially launched on April 26, and we still haven’t seen a single damn game on it that you can’t already find on the Wii Virtual Console.
Fellow Nintendo fans might respond in one of three ways. First, they might point out that the Wii U has some neat promotional deals on retro games. Alright, I’ll give you that. At the same time, why should I care if I’ve already played these games (F-Zero, Punch-Out!!, Kirby’s Adventure, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong) or if I have no interest in ever playing them (Balloon Fight, Yoshi)? Sure, you can’t complain about paying 30 cents for Yoshi (NES) as far as price is concerned, but it’s Yoshi on the NES! That game made people snore back in the 1990s. OK, so last month’s 30-cent deal was Super Metroid. Great game. But it’s not like everyone was having a tremendous amount of trouble attaining it in the first place. “Oh, but you can play this version of Super Metroid on the Wii U Gamepad.” Why the hell would I do that? Wouldn’t I rather play it with the Pro Controller? “Oh, but you can share your Super Metroid experiences in the Miiverse.” Like if I want to brag about how good I am at the game? Or if I can’t remember how to get past a certain part? On my computer, I can already talk to a wide variety of people about video games. And I’m sure there is another new feature about this version of Super Metroid that I’m forgetting … like one that erases my memory of (a) ever having played the son of a bitch or (b) the fact that it’s already available on the Wii Virtual Console.
Another way that people might try to piss on the fire of my disappointment is by pointing out that it takes time to reprogram retro games on the Wii U, given all the new handy-dandy features that they will have. OK, I’m fine with that, but is there a rule that says we first have to wait for games that are already available on the Wii Virtual Console? Thus far, I have found only one announcement for a Wii U Virtual Console game that hasn’t already appeared on the Wii Virtual Console: Earthbound. But a lot of good that does me, waiting for an SNES RPG that I’ve already beaten like a redheaded stepchild (speaking as a stepfather, I would never actually beat a stepchild with red hair, but that’s beside the point). Granted, it is difficult to find an SNES cartridge of Earthbound for a reasonable price. So wouldn’t it have been great if it had already been released on the Wii U Virtual Console, as opposed to Xevious and Super Mario Bros. 2? Do we really need the new Virtual Console to play Super Mario Bros. 2? I mean, placing aside the fact that it’s already on the Wii Virtual Console, why release that gonzo Mario title on the Wii U before you release Super Mario Bros. 3, the greatest platformer of all time? Even when I try to understand Nintendo’s demented logic with retro gaming, I wind up with more questions.
Finally, super-spiffy Nintendo fans – or maybe just douchebags who like to play online devil’s advocate – might argue that I simply need to be patient. Well, how much patience does one need to have? The Wii U launched last year, so we already had to wait several months before the launch of its Virtual Console. And we’re almost halfway through the year with, to my knowledge, only one announced, but unreleased, game (Earthbound) that I can’t already download on the Wii. Not to mention that the regular Wii U library is about as potent as a 180-year-old man whose last orgasm occurred during the Reconstruction Period.
Patience? Screw that. I don’t even own a Wii U. As a retro gamer alone, I could have very easily bought a Wii U by now if Nintendo had a clue about nostalgia and discovery. That is, how can I be nostalgic about games that are already at my fingertips? And I logically can’t discover a gem on the Wii U Virtual Console if a gem doesn’t appear on it.
Nintendo could release a game on the Wii U Virtual Console next week that some of us haven’t thought about in a while – or ever heard of, for that matter. And good for Nintendo if it does that. But I would put money on the table that it’s not going to happen. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Earthbound is the first “new” game on the Wii U Virtual Console. By then, perhaps Nintendo will have lowered the price of the Wii like it should, and Activision will have announced that Call of Duty: Ghosts will indeed be released for the Wii U, and bro, retro, and Nintendo gamers alike will clap in unison, trumpeting the return of the king.
The best part of being a lifelong Nintendo fan, at my age anyway, is remembering how awesome the SNES was in almost every way. But judging by the current line-up of the Wii U Virtual Console, you’ve already heard about every great game on that system. At its worst, the new Virtual Console promotes ignorance of video game history. At its best, it allows you to buy a digital game for 30 cents – a digital game that you could lose forever if your Wii U gets toasted by lightning.
Or maybe it would still play after the lightning strikes; after all, about the only good thing you can consistently say about a new Nintendo home console these days is that the bastard is hard to break. Clever Nintendo, planning for the frustrated gamer like that.