The Virtual Console is a service available on the Wii, the Nintendo 3DS, and the Wii U. It allows players to download games that were originally for older consoles, such as Nintendo's own NES (all models), SNES (Wii, Wii U, and New Nintendo 3DS), Nintendo 64 (Wii and Wii U), Game Boy Advance (Nintendo 3DS ambassadors and Wii U), Nintendo DS (Wii U), Game Boy, and Game Boy Color (Nintendo 3DS). Sega has provided the Wii and Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console with Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega Master System, and Sega Game Gear games.
A preliminary version of the Wii's Virtual Console was demonstrated at E3 2006, and it was the only one that also showed the Classic Controller. Participants could play demos of five classic games on it, each game being for a different console. Three of them are Super Mario series games: Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo Entertainment System), Super Mario World (Super Nintendo Entertainment System), and Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64). The other two are from non-Nintendo systems, Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis) and Bonk's Adventure (Turbografx-16). The game selection menu has a selection screen for each game. Each screen shows a large banner of the game's name, a side view of the game's original box art, and a faint image of the console it was created for. During gameplay, once the player has progressed up to a certain point, the gameplay would stop and display a thank you notice, allowing the next attendee to try out the Virtual Console kiosk.
Wii Virtual Console games were bought with Wii Points via the Wii Shop Channel. Wii Points Cards, which were once sold at most game retailers, each came with 2,000 redeemable Points on them. However, in Japan, cards were worth either 1,000, 3,000, or 5,000 Wii Points. Wii Points could also be purchased directly through the Wii Shop Channel with a credit card in blocks of either 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, or 5,000 Points.
As of March 26, 2018, Wii Points are no longer redeemable on the Wii Shop Channel. However, leftover points could be used to purchase software until January 31, 2019.
Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console games are bought with eShop credits via the Nintendo eShop. Nintendo eShop cards are sold at most retailers with the following values; $10*, $20, $35, and $50. In Australia and New Zealand, there are $15, $30 and $60 cards.
*Note: $10 eShop cards are only available at Wal-Mart, GameStop, Best Buy, and Target in the United States only.
While this pricing is true for most games, a few select games have been priced differently. Imported games such as Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Mario's Super Picross in Europe and Oceania, and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels outside Japan cost 100 Wii Points more than usual.
In the United States, retailers once sold 2,000 points cards for $20 apiece, at a price of one cent per point.
Similarly, in Australia, retailers only sold 1,000 points cards for $20 apiece.
*Note: Games released on the Virtual Console Arcade are automatically set to 500 points. However, most Virtual Console Arcade games are priced higher than 500 points.
*Note: Discounted price if originally purchased on the Wii Shop Channel via Wii Mode.
Various controllers are needed used to play Virtual Console games.
List of Mario games for the Virtual Console
Note: The Donkey Kong Country series has been delisted shortly before the Wii U's release (except in South Korea), likely due to Microsoft's desire to renegotiate licensing agreements with Nintendo before re-releasing it. Yoshi's Cookie for the NES had been delisted in October 2013 (except in South Korea). Panel de Pon is the original Japanese version of Tetris Attack, which was released as a Yoshi game for the Super NES outside of Japan.
Games on the Virtual Console of the Nintendo 3DS do not have 3D capabilities, except for 3D Classics. They are sold via Nintendo eShop. They have various sound effects that play upon selecting a game depending on their originating game system. The Game Boy and Game Boy Color games have the standard Game Boy boot-up screen sound effect play. The Game Boy Advance games have the Game Boy Advance bootup screen occur. The NES/Famicom Disk System games have a coin sound effect from Super Mario Bros. playing in the background. Finally, the Super NES games have the coin sound effect from Super Mario World playing in the background.
The following Mario games have been released on the Virtual Console of the Nintendo 3DS:
a. Available for free to participants who purchase Mario Golf: World Tour from the Nintendo eShop from May 2, 2014 to May 29, 2014.
Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program
All of these games are available as free downloads for consumers who purchased a Nintendo 3DS prior to the August 12, 2011 price drop. The NES titles were first available in Japan on August 31, 2011 for these ambassadors, and available worldwide on September 1, 2011. The Game Boy Advance games were released in Australia on December 15, 2011, and worldwide on December 16, 2011. The Legend of Zelda became available in the Japanese eShop on December 22, 2011, making it the first Ambassador game released to the public. Currently, all NES titles offered by the Ambassador Program are available worldwide on the eShop. Nintendo has announced that GBA games will remain exclusive to 3DS ambassadors. GBA games have been released on the Wii U instead, and there are currently no plans for Nintendo 3DS Virtual releases.
Mario NES games
Mario Game Boy Advance games
Games on the Virtual Console of the Wii U can be played on the Wii U GamePad and Wii U Pro Controller. As with the Nintendo 3DS, they are also sold via Nintendo eShop.
a. Panel de Pon is the original Japanese version of Tetris Attack, which was released as a Yoshi game for the Super NES outside of Japan.
Although Virtual Console games are mostly faithful to the originals, some games have received slight changes:
Names in other languages