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Beginner's Guide To Virtual Console

Hello and welcome to our explanation of Virtual Console. Here, we touch upon many subjects and we hope that we can answer your question. If we can't, e-mail your question to us and we will add it to our page (with a reply) shortly after.

What is Virtual Console?

The Virtual Console is a feature on the Wii Shop Channel that allows you to download classic games to your Wii to play back through again at cheap prices.

What kind of games are available?

There is a variety of games available, from arcade style games and platforming titles to multi-player favourites and top down shooters.

How do I control the games then?

All Virtual Console games can be controlled by a Classic Controller (sold separately from the Wii console). Some older games such as NES titles also work by holding the Wii remote sideways, and most games also work well on a GameCube controller.

How do I know which controllers work with different games?

When you are about to buy a game, a notice will appear on the screen telling you how many of and which of the control methods can be used. From the game's menu, there is also an icon titled "compatible controllers", which let's you know beforehand with a quick click.

What do I need to buy a game?

You'll need a Wii with a compatible internet connection so that you can access the Wii Shop Channel (where games are bought), as well as a credit card or Wii Points Card.

What are Wii Points?

Wii Points are what you use to buy games from the Wii Shop Channel. You can buy them on a 2000 Points Card in stores for about £15 (UK) or $20 (US), or if you have a compatible credit card then you can buy them directly from the Wii Shop Channel for £7.00/$10 for every 1000 points. To add Wii Points to your console (via a Points Card or Credit Card), click on the icon at the bottom of the screen which reads "0 Points" (if you already have some points on your system, then you can view how many are left on this icon).

Which retro gaming systems are currently on the Virtual Console?

There are several different systems currently available, all of which have games from different times and at different prices. Systems currently available include: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES); Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES); Nintendo 64 (N64); Commodore 64 (C64)*; TurboGrafx (AKA TurboGrafx-16 or PC Engine ); Sega Master System; Sega Mega Drive; NeoGeo. There are different amounts of games available for each console, with the Commodore 64 only currently featured on European Wii's (not including Australia / other PAL regions).

How many points do I need to purchase a game?

Depending on which system the game originated on, Virtual Console games will be priced differently. Below, you can see a list of how much the average game costs on a specific console.

System Price (points)
 NES 500 
 SNES 800
 N64 1000 
 C64 500
 TurboGrafx 600 - 800
 Master System 500
 Mega Drive 800
 NeoGeo 900

How do I choose a game?

First of all, open the Wii Shop Channel from your Wii Menu. When it opens, select "Start Shopping" and click on the Virtual Console icon. From here, you can choose which games you would like to browse by choosing whether you want to view the games by the most popular titles, the most recent titles, the original system or the genre of game you are looking for. Click on the arrows to view more titles and when you see one you like the look of, click it to view more information or to purchase it.

Why are certain games more expensive?

Some games may have originated in other regions and required extra translation work, or some games may have originally been released as special sets, with a larger amount of memory required. These games may cost up to 300 extra points. Always check the price of a game before you purchase it.

What's the Hanabi Festival?

The Hanabi Festival occurs from time to time in Europe, and is a special event Nintendo hold, which brings games previously unreleased in this particular region for the first time. These games are stamped with an extra 100 to 300 Wii Points, and are found by looking out for the yellow sun logo when browsing the games index.

Can Wii Points be transferred or exchanged?

Once on your system, Wii Points cannot be refunded, sent to another system or exchanged for cash. You can, however, send a game to another person's system. All you need to do is make sure you have a friend in your address book and make sure that they have an internet connection.

How do I send gifts to other people?

To send a gift to a Wii friend, you must pay for it out of your own points. Simply choose the game you wish to send and click on the "gift" icon. Once you have sent a gift to a friend, they can then accept or reject the game. If they reject the game, they cannot download it and the points will be refunded to the sender.

How many blocks on my Wii system memory do Virtual Console games use?

Different games use different amounts of storage space on your Wii system. Earlier games, such as those featured on the NES, only tend to take around 25-30 blocks on your system (which can store over 2000 blocks altogether), whereas some games released more recently (like those on the Nintendo 64) can take up to around 290!

I have no room left on my Wii system, what do I do?

If you have no more disk space (blocks) on your Wii, then you can free some of them up by going to the options menu and selecting Wii Channels under the Data Management section. Here, you can copy games to a memory card (SD cards only - not a GameCube memory card) and then erase the original from your system, or you can just delete the original and download it again later from the Wii Shop Channel at no extra cost. If you copy a game to a memory card, you can then copy it back onto your console at any point. You cannot, however, copy the game to another console, or play the game straight from the memory card. Game saves and records will be saved on your Wii for you to continue playing where you left off before removing the original.

How do I save my progress in Virtual Console games?

As with disc releases, game progress will be saved onto your Wii's system memory. Some games save automatically, though we recommend you check this in the operations guide beforehand. Always leave several blocks on your memory spare in case game saves grow without your prior knowledge. Some games are able to be "suspended" mid-game (in particular, older games which may not have originally featured save features), which means that you can go to the home menu, click the "Wii Menu" icon and then continue play from the EXACT same spot next time. Switching your Wii off mid-game will not herald the same feature - game suspension only works by clicking the Wii Menu icon.

Can I view instructions for Virtual Console games?

Yes you can. If you need any help, all you have to do is press the Home button on your controller whilst playing the game. From the menu that will appear, select the "Operations Guide" key with the A button and you can view the full instructions manual, with help for button mapping if certain controllers have different button placement to certain systems.

How often are Virtual Console games released?

In the US, VC games are released on a Monday at 9am Pacific Time. Games are usually released on a weekly basis (along with WiIWare releases).
In the UK and Europe, VC games are released on a Friday morning at 0:00 GMT. Games are now usually released on a fortnightly basis, with WiiWare games being released every other week.

View our complete games index which includes a handful of Virtual Console titles, to see which games are for you.