Nintendo’s Virtual Console service, offering downloadable vintage console games on the Nintendo Wii and 3DS, is now six years old. Not much has changed since when it first opened for business. Nintendo Entertainment System games are still wildly expensive at $5 a pop and Nintendo still only releases a paltry few retro games every year. The Nintendo 3DS has at least introduced one vital change, hosting formerly home console-only games on a handheld, but even then, only a scant few games are offered between both. The big question about the Virtual Console’s future: When will it come to Wii U?
“We do not have any specifics to share at this time,” Nintendo told Kotaku on Wednesday, “However, we are moving ahead with development of Vitrual Console for Wii U, and we plan to make it so you can play it on the Wii U GamePad alone.”
That’s certainly promising news to retro game fans frustrated by the limited options currently available on the Wii U. Much like regular disc-based Wii games, previously purchased Virtual Console games can be downloaded and played through the Wii U’s Wii Mode, but it’s hardly ideal. The Wii mode doesn’t support the Wii U’s Pro Controller nor does it support play on the Wii U GamePad.
While it’s heartening to hear that Nintendo plans to allow Virtual Console games to be played on the GamePad screen, the company has yet to confirm if it will support cross-platform purchases. Nintendo’s many competitors offer many games that only need to be purchased a single time but can be played on multiple devices. Apple will automatically download an iOS game puchased on the iPad to your iPhone provided you have the settings turned on. Even Sony offers cross-platform purchases with PS Vita games as well as PSOne classics on PS3 and Vita. Some PlayStation 3 retail games like Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time come with a free Vita edition as well. Will Nintendo let customers who have downloaded Virtual Console games on Wii and 3DS download them free of charge on Wii U?
We reached out to Nintendo for clarification on how it will accomodate previous Virtual Console customers, but after speaking with the company’s public relations representatives, it refused to comment.