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The Virtual Console logo.

Virtual Console (バーチャルコンソール Bācharu Konsōru?), sometimes abbreviated as VC, is a specialized section of the Wii Shop Channel for the Wii, and the Nintendo eShop service for the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U. The Virtual Console emulates older home and handheld video game consoles, and allows players to play games originally released for those consoles. Its library of past games currently consists of titles originating from the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Nintendo 64, as well as Sega's Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis and Game Gear, NEC's TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine and SNK's Neo Geo AES.[1] The service also includes games for systems that were known only in select regions, such as the Commodore 64 (Europe and North America only)[2] and MSX (Japan only) home computers.[1]

Library history[]


Virtual Console channel preview for Metroid.

Super Metroid channel preview.

While the gameplay remains unchanged for all of the classic titles offered for the Virtual Console, Nintendo has stated that some games may be improved with sharper graphics or better frame rates.[3] While the company has stated that the Wii Shop will not be used exclusively for retro games, no original games have yet been made available through the service.[4] As with disc-based games, the Virtual Console service is region-locked - that is, different versions of games are provided to different regions, and game availability may vary from region to region.[5]

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated in a speech on March 23, 2006, that Nintendo, Sega, and Hudson Soft are working in collaboration to bring a "best of" series of games to the Wii.[6] At E3, Hudson also declared it would bring upwards of 100 titles to the Wii's Virtual Console. Additionally, Hudson mentioned that its lawyers are working on acquiring the licenses to games from now defunct companies.[7] Nintendo announced MSX compatibility on September 19, 2006,[8] announcing on February 23, 2007 that the MSX titles Eggy and Aleste will be released in Japan.[9] Added to the Japanese Virtual Console page was a heading for Neo Geo games. They will appear in late 2007 to all regions.[10]

On June 1 2007, Nintendo of America issued a press release to announce the upcoming release of its 100th Virtual Console title. Within this press release, Nintendo stated that more than 4.7 million Virtual Console games had been downloaded, at a rate of more than 1,000 titles an hour.[11]

On January 2019, all Wii Virtual Console releases including both Metroid and Super Metroid will officially be discontinued due to the closure of the Wii Shop Channel.[12]

Nintendo 3DS[]

3DS Virtual Console HOME Menu icon for the Japanese version of Metroid.

The Virtual Console service for the Nintendo 3DS on the Nintendo eShop was launched on June 6, 2011. Games released for the service include titles for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Sega Game Gear, and NES, and Family Computer Disk System (Marketed as NES import games in other regions) SNES (new Nintendo 3DS only) with announced plans for games from TurboGrafx-16, NEO GEO, in the future. The sound effects that play when selecting one of the various system titles vary depending on the system the title was emulated from. For the Game Boy and Game Boy Color systems, the sound used for a successful boot up for the Game Boy/Color games plays upon selection. For the NES/Family Computer Disk System games, it is depicted as the sound effect that plays when a player collects a coin in Super Mario Bros.. For the SNES games, it is depicted as the sound effect that plays when the player collects a coin in Super Mario World. There are also special features available while playing Virtual Console games, such as viewing classic Game Boy titles with the traditional green screen or viewing them in an emulated border. A separate but related set of games are "3D Classics", which are remakes of classic titles, that make use of the 3DS's 3D capabilities.

When asked if Virtual Boy games were going to be available for download on the Virtual Console for the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told Kotaku that he couldn't answer, as he was unfamiliar with the platform: "As a consumer, I have experience with every Nintendo platform and, I think every accessory, including the Superscope, with the exception of the Virtual Boy... so it's difficult for me to articulate a point of view back to our parent company [in Japan] why we absolutely have to have a Virtual Boy store." Kotaku's Stephen Totilo called upon readers to "argue for a Virtual Boy store on the Nintendo 3DS, if you can."[13]

Upon the announcement of a significant price reduction of the Nintendo 3DS on July 28, 2011, Nintendo offered ten free NES games and ten free Game Boy Advance games from the Nintendo eShop to consumers who bought the system at the original launch price.[14]

Wii U[]

Wii U Virtual Console preview screen for Super Metroid.

In a July 2011 interview, Amber McCollum of Nintendo stated that select Nintendo GameCube titles would be made available for download on the Wii U console via the Wii U's own Nintendo eShop.[15] Current Virtual Console titles, however, are not available directly from the Nintendo eShop, and cannot be played natively. At this time, Wii U users are required to purchase or download Virtual Console titles via the "Wii Mode" app using the Wii Shop Channel.

In January 2013, Nintendo announced that NES and Super NES titles will be made availible for the Virtual Console on the Wii U in Spring 2013, which will include the option to use Off TV Play on the Wii U GamePad and the ability to post on Miiverse. Those who own the Wii Virtual Console version of a game that is on the Wii U eShop will be able to get the Wii U Virtual Console version for a reduced price.[16] While the official launch was scheduled for Spring 2013, Nintendo announced some individual games would be released prior to the full Virtual Console launch as part of a special promotion celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of the Famicom.[16]

Third party support[]

Unnamed Nintendo employees have reportedly speculated that licensing issues will be a predominant factor in determining whether a game is available for Virtual Console,[17] giving the examples of GoldenEye 007 and Tetris as games that might be too expensive to license for the Virtual Console. Tecmo has announced it plans to "aggressively" support Virtual Console by re-releasing classic games such as Ninja Gaiden, Rygar, and Tecmo Bowl.[18] Tecmo was the first third-party game developer to release a game on the Virtual Console: Solomon's Key from the NES. Since then, Capcom and Konami, among others, have also released titles.

Matt Casamassina of IGN reported that Rare titles absent of Nintendo-owned characters would be unavailable for purchase due to Microsoft's acquisition of Rare,[19] but none of the three companies has announced this. SNK Playmore has recently announced intentions to help support the Virtual Console by releasing the Samurai Shodown series and a few other games to the Virtual Console.[20] Midway also plans to bring classic Mortal Kombat games to the Virtual Console.[21]

Confirmed third-party companies supporting Virtual Console include: Atlus, Namco Bandai, Banpresto, Capcom, Chunsoft, D4 Enterprise, Enterbrain, G-mode, Irem, Jaleco, KEMCO, Koei, Midway Games, Natsume, NCS Masaya, Netfarm, Paon, Rocket Company, Konami, Spike, Square Enix, Sunsoft, SNK Playmore, Taito, Tecmo, Takara, and TOMY.[22]


The Wii Shop Channel has functionality to allow games to be updated. This has been used three times so far to update Military Madness and Star Fox 64 in North America and Europe[23] and Mario Kart 64 in Europe and Australia. The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Country and Super Castlevania IV have also been given updates in Europe and Australia to fix previous problems with the Wii Component Cables. These updates are free of charge to those who have downloaded a previous version of the game.


On September 14, 2006, Nintendo revealed that Virtual Console games in Japan would be priced starting at JP¥500 for NES titles, JP¥800 for Super NES titles, and JP¥1000 for Nintendo 64 titles, with points purchasable via credit card or a "Wii Points" card. In the United States, Wii Points are priced at one cent per point, with the ability to buy in denominations of $10, $20, $30 and $50, with game prices of US$5, US$8, and US$10, respectively.[24][25]

Satoru Iwata has indicated that new small-scale titles could be developed and sold through the Wii Shop Channel at a price of between JP¥500 and ¥1000 (approximately US$4-$9, GB£2-£5),[26][27] and that free downloads may be offered as a bonus with the purchase of specific Wii titles, similar to Nintendo Europe's VIP 24:7 incentives.[28]

Country NES SNES N64 Mega Drive/Genesis TurboGrafx-16 MSX Neo Geo
Wii Points 500+ 800+ 1000+ 800+ (600+ in Japan) 600+ 700+ -
Australia $7.50 $12 $15 $12 $9 - -
Canada $6.25 $10 $12.50 $10 $7.50 - -
Eurozone €5 €8 €10 €8 €6 - -
(with points bought on point cards)
$9.50 $15.20 $19 $15.20 $11.40 - -
Sweden (approximately) 46 SEK 74 SEK 92 SEK 74 SEK 55 SEK - -
Japan ¥500 ¥800 ¥1000 ¥600 ¥600 ¥700 -
New Zealand $9 $14.40 $18 $14.40 $10.80 - -
United Kingdom (with points bought online) £3.50 £5.60 £7.00 £5.60 £4.20 - -
United Kingdom (with points bought on point cards) £3.75 £6.00 £7.50 £6.00 £4.50 - -
United States $5 $8 $10 $8 $6 - -
Saudi Arabia
(with points bought on point cards)
$8.4 $13.4 $17 $13.4 $10 - -


Games downloaded from the Virtual Console library are stored in the Wii's built-in 512 MB flash memory, though only less than 400 MB is actually available to the user. Games can be transferred to a removable SD card but they cannot be played from this external memory. If the internal memory is filled, Virtual Console games can be deleted to create more room, and the games can be downloaded again at a later date at no additional cost. Virtual Console games are locked to the Wii on which they were purchased — they cannot be transferred to another Wii via an SD card. In the event that a Wii is damaged and the Virtual Console games can no longer be played, Nintendo provides support.[29]


The Classic Controller can be used to play games from the Virtual Console.

Games on the Virtual Console can be played using three different controllers. The Wii Remote itself, turned on its side, can be used for NES, TurboGrafx-16, and some Sega Mega Drive/Genesis games, and the Classic Controller can be used for all games. The controllers from the Nintendo GameCube can also be used, causing the wireless controller, the WaveBird, to have an increased popularity.[30] The Nintendo Gamecube controller can be used for all Nintendo systems' games, however Nintendo's site claims that it cannot be used with some TurboGrafx-16 and Genesis/Mega Drive titles.[31]

All Virtual Console games have their buttons mapped to the respective buttons on the controllers, however, in certain circumstances you can use X and Y instead of A and B, if the original controller does not have X and Y buttons, like the NES.[29]

With the release of Bomberman'93, it was revealed that TurboGrafx-16 games can support full 5 player games. Since a single Wii can only have four Wii Remotes and four GameCube Controllers connected at the same time, a combination of the two is needed for 5 player games. At least one player has to use a Remote or Classic controller, and at least one player has to use a GameCube Controller. The other three can use either one.

Platform Wii Remote Classic Controller GameCube Controller
NES Yes Yes Yes
SNES No Yes Yes
N64 No Yes Yes
Mega Drive/Genesis Some Yes Some
TurboGrafx-16 Yes Yes Some

Metroid titles[]

Despite no Metroid titles for a long period of time, Nintendo finally revealed Super Metroid and Metroid would be released on the Virtual Console in August, to coincide with the release of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Metroid was released on August 13, 2007, while Super Metroid was released on August 20.[32][33]

In 2009, Nintendo of Europe offered a free copy of the Virtual Console Metroid to 5,000 Club Nintendo members for registering Metroid Prime Trilogy if they had also previously registered one of the three Prime console games. Club Nintendo has also offered several games for coins.

The Nintendo 3DS released Metroid II: Return of Samus on its Virtual Console.[34] Metroid Fusion was available for free, by the end of 2011, to anyone who purchased a Nintendo 3DS and connected to Nintendo eShop before it's price reduction on August 12.[14]

Super Metroid was available as part of the Wii U Virtual Console Trial Campaign from May 15, 2013 to June 13, 2013. It was later added at its normal price, followed by Metroid, Metroid Fusion, Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid Prime Hunters. Each allows for GamePad-only play, Miiverse functionality, and customizable controls.[35]

In addition to the save systems already present in each game, Virtual Console adds Suspend Points, which function like save states on a conventional emulator and save the player's exact position.


Chris Kohler of the magazine Wired has criticized the overall release strategy of games on the Virtual Console as a handful of games were released at the launch of the Wii, though now only two or three games are released each week. Kohler also took issue with the Virtual Console's aspect ratio which stretches the 4:3 games when the Wii's system settings are set for a 16:9 television.[36] The prices for the games have been criticized as too high, especially for the NES games,[37] given the prices of many of the games on eBay and the near-zero costs of manufacture and distribution.


  1. ^ a b "Nintendo Japan Virtual Console overview", Nintendo. Retrieved on 2007-02-25. (in Japanese) 
  2. ^ Commodore 64 Games Hit Virtual Console. MCV UK. Retrieved on 2013-01-11.
  3. ^ Patrick Klepek. "Nintendo Remaking Classics",, 2005-06-21. 
  4. ^ "Virtual Console Launch List",, 2006-09-09. Retrieved on 2006-11-15. 
  5. ^ "Wii upholds Cube region lock", Eurogamer.Com, 2006-11-10. 
  6. ^ Tor Thorsen. "GDC 06: Revolution to play Genesis, TurboGrafx-16 games", GameSpot, 2006-03-23. 
  7. ^ Matt Casamassina. "E3 2006: Hudson Declares 100 Games for Wii", IGN, 2006-05-11. Retrieved on 2006-11-13. 
  8. ^ Matt Casamassina. "IGN's Nintendo Wii FAQ", IGN, 2006-09-19. Retrieved on 2006-11-13. 
  9. ^ "Nintendo of Japan's Virtual Console Index", Nintendo, 2007-02-23. Retrieved on 2007-02-23. (in Japanese) 
  10. ^ "The Return of the NeoGeo", 2007-04-17. Retrieved on 2007-07-10. 
  11. ^ [1]. Nintendo Pressroom. June 1, 2007.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Argue For A Virtual Boy Store On the Nintendo 3DS, If You Can. Kotaku (2010-11-15). Retrieved on 2013-01-23.
  14. ^ a b What Do You Think About Nintendo's Big 3DS Announcement?. IGN DS. IGN (July 28, 2011). Retrieved on 2013-01-11.
  15. ^ Start/Select - GameCube on the Wii U, Download Update. Retrieved on 2013-01-23.
  16. ^ a b Goldfarb, Andrew. "Wii U Virtual Console, OS Upgrades Announced", IGN, 2013-01-23. Retrieved on 2013-01-23. 
  17. ^ Cardinal, Chris. "Live From E3: Fun Wii Facts Confirmed",, 2006-05-11. Retrieved on 2006-11-15. 
  18. ^ Shawn White. "Tecmo to Aggressively Support Virtual Console",, 2006-08-29. 
  19. ^ Glen Bayer. "Rare games for Nintendo Virtual Console?",, 2006-03-27. 
  20. ^ Ron Kimberly. "Various new SNK tidbits - Virtual Console support + more",, 2006-05-15. 
  21. ^ Captain. "Mortal Kombat creator discusses Wii development",, 2006-09-09. 
  22. ^ Niizumi, Hirohiko, Brendan Sinclair. "24 Wii VC devs ID'd", GameSpot, 2006-09-14, pp. 1. Retrieved on 2006-11-16. 
  23. ^ "Virtual Consolation Prize: Military Madness Fixed",, 2007-02-11. Retrieved on 2007-02-12. 
  24. ^ Kyle Orland. "Nintendo Japan Conference Not so Liveblogging",, 2006-09-14. 
  25. ^ "Fils-Aime Talks American Launch and More", 2006-09-14. 
  26. ^ "Wiiの発売日、価格の発表は9月。WiiとDSの連動は『ポケモン』から", Famitsu. Retrieved on 2006-06-07 (Japanese). 
  27. ^ Matt Casamassina (2006-06-07). Virtual Console Prices Revealed. IGN. Retrieved on 2006-06-08.
  28. ^ "Iwata: Revolution downloads not free", CNET, 2006-06-08. Retrieved on 2006-11-14. 
  29. ^ a b "Interview: Virtual Console: Secrets exposed", ComputerAndVideoGames.Com, 2006-11-03. 
  30. ^ Like a WaveBird from the Ashes (HTML). GamePeople. Retrieved on 2007-01-28.
  31. ^ In-Depth Regional Wii Coverage. Nintendo. Retrieved on 2007-08-11.
  32. ^ Metroid Mania - Metroid Prime 3: Corruption preview channel, Metroid, Super Metroid VC dated - Update. Go Nintendo (2007-08-10). Retrieved on 2007-08-11.
  33. ^ Metroid, Super Metroid Coming to Wii Virtual Console for "Month of Metroid". Shacknews (2007-08-10). Retrieved on 2007-08-11.
  34. ^ Elston, Brett (2011-08-17). Metroid II, Mario Land 2, Mega Man and more coming to 3DS eShop this year. GamesRadar. Retrieved on 2013-01-11.
  35. ^ Green, Andy (2013-01-26). Nintendo Reveals Specific Dates For Wii U Virtual Console Trial Campaign. Nintendo Life. Retrieved on 2013-02-03.
  36. ^ Kohler, Chris (2006-12-05). The Wii 4:3 Hall Of Shame. Game | Life. Retrieved on 2007-08-11.
  37. ^ Kolan, Patrick (2006-12-12). Virtual Console Up Close. IGN. Retrieved on 2007-08-11.

External links[]