With the Wii, Nintendo reinvigorated the gaming landscape and managed to make gaming appealing to a much wider demographic than ever before.
And in this newfound audience were a lot of people who had never been introduced to Nintendo’s huge backlog of masterpieces from the classic days. Luckily for everyone, Nintendo created a download service called Virtual Console that allowed these classics to be available for purchase again for a new audience. It was pretty successful, and many people were introduced to the magic of classic gaming from NES, Super NES, N64, Master System, Mega Drive, Neo Geo and Turbografx-16 games through their Wii.
The success of the Wii’s downloadable service also led to WiiWare – original games for Wii also available from the Shop Channel.
But the Wii is old and outdated now, and the Wii Shop Channel has been open for 11 years. Its time is coming to an end – Nintendo have stated that the ability to purchase Wii Points used to buy games will cease next month on March 26, and the shop itself will go offline permanently some time in 2019.
So time is running out if you want any VC or WiiWare games downloaded to your Wii. After March, you’ll be out of luck.
Here are my recommendations.
The Obvious Ones
Some video games should be experienced by anyone with an interest in keeping up with the industry. Even though these titles are available on multiple different systems already, if you haven’t already played them before and don’t have a better way of playing them already, it’s probably worth it to pick these classics up before they’re gone from this service:
– Super Mario Bros.
– Super Mario Bros. 3
– Super Mario World
– Super Mario 64
– The Legend of Zelda
– The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
– The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
– Super Metroid
– Super Mario Bros. 2
– The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
– Donkey Kong Country
– Kirby’s Adventure
– Kirby Super Star
Okay, with the obvious ones out of the way, let’s dive right into the obscure stuff.
Go to the Wii Shop Channel, select “Search by Category”, select “Genre”, and then select “Import”. You’ll see a list of games that were never released in your region. I recommend looking at these first, because they’re often difficult to find by other means.
If something in this section catches your eye, you might want to check it out. My Wii Shop is the European one, so some interesting import titles I could get are:
A cute-looking platformer.
A cool-looking platformer.
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
The game was remade as part of Super Mario All-Stars, but the version on Wii VC is actually the original 8-Bit release, which is otherwise hard to obtain. Only play this if you feel like you’re already a master at Super Mario Bros., because it’s much harder.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
Rondo of Blood is one the absolute best ‘classic-style’ Castlevania games. It’s unfortunately not easy to find, though, as the original PCE-CD disc is very rare and expensive nowadays. The Wii VC is by far the best way to play this one. If you’re a fan of Castlevania, this one is a must-buy.
Kirby’s Dream Land 3
This one is simply adorable. It’s more laid-back compared to the more frantic Kirby Super Star, but this one is definitely a fun game in its own right.
It’s one of the most beloved SNES RPGs out there, however the original SNES cartridge is extremely rare nowadays, especially since it wasn’t even released worldwide. There does exist a DS remake, but if you’re after the original version with the original script, the Wii VC is your best bet.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
A fun and fast-paced RPG adventure featuring Mario! What’s not to love? This one wasn’t originally released worldwide, so the Wii VC is a good option for many people.
A cult-classic shmup with a lot of very strange, rather campy homoerotic visuals. Good for a laugh!
Any of the N64 games
There are twenty-one N64 games available on the Wii Shop, and if you like the look of any of them, it’s worthwhile to get the Wii VC version. The reason for this is simply that it’s really hard to get the N64 console to output a decent image on a modern TV, so these Wii versions are actually the best-looking versions available. The Virtual Console runs all N64 games at a higher resolution than the N64 did originally, making them look sharper than they ever could on original hardware.
That said, special recommendation goes to:
Super Smash Bros.
If you’re used to playing Smash games with a GameCube controller, the Wii VC version is the only way to play Smash 64 with that same controller. That alone is a good enough reason to get this version in my opinion.
Sin & Punishment
This was a Japan-only title on the N64, but they actually went to the trouble of translating the main menu options into English for the Wii VC version. Wasn’t that nice of them? The voice acting was always in English, though…for some reason.
An excellent RPG set in the world of the Mushroom Kingdom. The original cartridges are getting quite pricey, so the ability to get the VC version is much appreciated.
This is a quirky on-rails photography game featuring Gen 1 Pokémon, and it’s actually pretty fun despite the unusual premise.
Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3
Get these if you like Donkey Kong Country!
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
If you felt Castlevania 1 wasn’t hard enough, try 3!
‘Metroidvania’ games have become pretty popular as of late. Faxanadu has spells and armor and dungeons, it’s pretty cool, though the graphics are definitely a bit muddy.
Ufouria: The Saga
Another Metroidvania, this one has silly characters and a colourful, fun world to wander around in. I liked it a lot.
It’s kind of like Zelda, but you have a yo-yo and the dungeons involve a lot of hopping around.
This one’s even more like Zelda. Might be fun to give it a try if you really like Zelda.
Ys Book I & II
The Ys series is kind of difficult to get into, as it’s had haphazard releases all over the place. This Wii VC release is not a bad place to start, as it contains enhanced versions of the first two games.
For fans of really old-school RPGs. It’s got first-person dungeons which can take a while to get your head around.
It’s half sidescroller, half city building sim. Such a strange combination. I personally haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard great things about it.
What to avoid
Mega Man and Street Fighter
Capcom have announced that they are releasing Mega Man, Mega Man X, and Street Fighter collections for Switch. There is no real reason to get the Wii VC versions, especially as the Switch release of Street Fighter will include online play.
Most SEGA-published Mega Drive games
Sega have been very prolific in releasing their old catalogue of Mega Drive games. The Mega Drive Ultimate Collection for PS3 and XB360 has most of them already, and many are also available on XBLA / PSN / Steam, and some are even on 3DS. If you’re thinking of getting a Mega Drive game, have a look to see if it’s on any of these other platforms first – if so, it’s not exactly priority for your Wii Points.
Some Neo Geo Games
For some reason, the Switch is getting a bunch of Neo Geo games, but no other Virtual Console of any sort just yet. So before buying a Neo Geo game on the Wii VC, check to see if it’s on Switch first. It’s also worth noting that all six Metal Slug games were compiled into a Wii disc release called Metal Slug Anthology – it might be better to track this down than to buy the games separately on VC.
Unlike the Virtual Console, the WiiWare games were developed specifically for Wii and will be lost entirely for the most part when the service shuts down. Is it sad that some things are destined to be lost and forgotten about forever?
It should be pointed out that the majority of WiiWare was low-quality shovelware, so is it really that much of a loss anyway?
However, here are the ones worth considering:
Konami’s “Rebirth” series
– Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth
– Contra Rebirth
– Gradius Rebirth
If you’re a fan of Castlevania, Contra or Gradius, these three titles are a must. They’re not ports or remakes, but instead are entirely unqiue entries in the series that will unfortunately be unavailable elsewhere once the Wii Shop service ends. Get them while you can!
Final Fantasy games
– Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
– Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King
– Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord
If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, you may be interested in these spin-off releases.
The two Crystal Chronicles games are only available as WiiWare, and provide an interesting take on the Final Fantasy universe.
All three of these Final Fantasy games have DLC, though, so make sure you open the games and use the in-game menus to buy it if you want the full experience…though the DLC is admittedly quite pricey, so be mindful.
– Pokémon Rumble
– My Pokémon Ranch
Pokémon Rumble is a unique game where you control little wind-up doll Pokémon and use them to battle. There are two sequels on the 3DS and another sequel on Wii U, but the original was only available here as a WiiWare game.
My Pokémon Ranch is completely worthless unless you’re a crazy Pokémaniac – it’s a storage app that’s only compatible with Diamond and Pearl versions. However, if you manage to deposit 1000 monsters into the ranch, you get rewarded with an elusive Mew. So if you want to be able to get a free Gen 4 Mew in the future, you’ll need to buy this thing now.
WarioWare: DIY Showcase
Only get this if you plan on using it with WarioWare DIY for the DS. It’s not useful on its own.
Blaster Master Overdrive
If you like Blaster Master for NES (or even the new Blaster Master Zero for Switch), you might want this. Who even knew they made one of these for WiiWare?
Adventure Island: The Beginning
Adventure Island is definitely a classic game for pure platforming fans. The WiiWare entry isn’t overly exciting, but it is a unique entry in a classic series that will be lost once the service stops.
Excitebike: World Challenge
Honestly, this is almost the exact same thing as the NES Excitebike. It’s kind of cool to see an updated version though. Might be worth getting for the novelty factor alone.
A cool little platformer that’s only available on WiiWare. Get it while you can if it looks like your sort of thing.
A cool 2D adventure/puzzle game where you control a pool of water with the Wii’s motion controls. It’s worth getting for its uniqueness.
If you want ridiculous, Wiimote-waving party antics, this one is a good choice. It’s very, very silly.
World of Goo
This is probably the best game on the entire WiiWare service.
This does exist on Switch, but it uses pointer controls that overall just work better with a real Wii Remote. It’s available on Steam, too, so don’t get too upset if you don’t get it here.
Not worth getting
Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10
They’re both in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, and the DLC is all included there too. It doesn’t make sense to buy them on WiiWare anymore because you’d have to buy the DLC as well.
These are great and interesting games, especially BIT.TRIP RUNNER, but you shouldn’t get them here. There’s actually a compilation disc for Wii called BIT.TRIP COMPLETE you should track down instead of buying any of these games individually on WiiWare. Failing that, just get them on Steam.
Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People episodes 1-5
If you love Homestar Runner like I do, these games are definitely worth experiencing. But the whole collection is available on Steam and GOG now, both of which are better options for this game than WiiWare.
This is a great version of the game, but it’s been released on so many other platforms, you can easily get it elsewhere. I recommend Cave Story + for Switch which adds new content and fixes some minor issues.
If you really want this one, enhanced versions are available on GOG and Steam.
Sonic 4 Episode 1
Don’t be fooled, Sonic 4 is one of the worst Sonic games. The WiiWare version also happens to be the worst version of Sonic 4. Get it on Steam or XBLA if you absolutely need to experience this horrible mess for some reason.
This isn’t even a unique game, it’s just a feature taken from Rabbids Go Home, stripped down, and then shoved into the WiiWare service. Don’t get this even if you like Rabbids. Just get the actual game disc Rabbids Go Home on Wii.
Don’t buy any of the shovelware unless you find it particularly funny.
So that’s it for my recommendations list. What have been your favourite Virtual Console or WiiWare releases? Is there anything I missed?
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