Where we find hype beats nostalgia.
Like the other two current generation console systems, the Wii has an interface to let you purchase games for you system over your network connection to the internet.
The Wii version of this feature, called the Virtual Console, is focused on the past. It is an emulator that lets you play games from the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), and the Nintendo 64 system (N64) as well as from Sega Genesis and NEC TurboGrafx-16.
It is a nostalgia machine.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I do not have much in the way of longing for these old console games. Of the systems supported, I have only owned the Sega Genesis, and I did not play that very much.
Still, there is always room for a little nostalgia… even that false nostalgia for things you never experienced in the first place… like the 1950s… well, I never experienced the 1950s.
So, between bouts of Wii Tennis and Mario Party 8, I bought some Wii Points (the unit of currency in the land of Wii) and picked out four games available on the virtual console.
Three of my picks were based on nostalgia.
The first game I got was Elevator Action. In the arcades of my youth, this was probably the last game I was any good at playing. It came along at about the time I decided to save my quarters to buy Apple II software.
In the arcade it was really fun. Even on the MAME system at the office, it is still a blast so many years later. I also remember playing a pretty good version of it on my youngest cousin’s GameBoy a few years back.
Unfortunately, the version on the Virtual Console is from the NES, which is a pretty old system. The game play isn’t quite the same, and it isn’t just the Wii controller that gets in the way. It is obviously a port from the time when there was a serious performance gap between the arcade and the home console. I would rather play the MAME version on my PC.
Nostalgia: 0 for 1
My next buy was Sonic the Hedgehog. This was the game that came with my Sega Gensis 15 years back. In my mind, this was a safe choice. I had played and enjoyed this game before. The graphics, if out of date, would still be decent, and the sound would be good.
And so they were. It looked and played just like I remembered. The only part I did not remember was how bad I was at the game back then. And I have not gotten any better since 1992. I have not made it past the second level. Ouch.
Still, my daughter enjoys watching the demo that plays when the game sits idle. She picks up the controller and thinks she’s playing.
Nostalgia: 0 for 2
The third nostalgia purchase I made was Excite Bike. While a bit wary of another NES game, I had actually seen this one reviewed on one of the gaming site who gave it a thumbs up for retro gaming.
And it is pretty good. It made the transition from the arcade to the NES intact and actually improved. It is simple, fun, and seriously worth the $5 in Wii Points for the retro experience. I remember playing this in the arcade.
This game was a double bonus as my daughter latched onto it right away and we spent a Saturday afternoon racing blocky dirt bikes.
Nostalgia: 1 for 3
The fourth purchase I made for the Virtual Console was Mario Kart 64. Not being indoctrinated in Nintendo, I am not very familiar with the Mario Kart series. Sure, I have heard of Mario Kart, but I have also had a couple of people tell me that Mario Kart was over rated. I was looking for something else to play one afternoon and figured where there was smoke (hype), there might also be fire (fun).
Mario Kart 64 is fun. A lot of fun. It lived up to the hype as far as I am concerned. I have easily played Mario Kart 64 ten times as much as my other Virtual Console purchases combined.
The only down side to the game is that it requires a somewhat delicate touch to steer, more so than my daughter can manage. So she is not enthusiastic about the game, though she likes to sit an tell me what to do while I play. And when my youngest cousin comes by (21 year age difference between us) she plays with me because she actually had a Nintendo 64 system at her house when she was younger. She is pretty good too.
Hype: 1 for 1
Nintendo releases three titles to the Virtual Console library every week. So far though, only these four titles have caught my eye and been worthy of my Wii Points. I understand that, some day, you will be able to buy and download new games in addition to the retro fare from Nintendo, but right now we’re stuck reliving the past.
Have you bought any Virtual Console games?