Blog

Wii U Virtual Console: Our pick of the best games to play

Nintendo's classic games service is now live, but which games are worth your time?

After a five-month delay the Wii U's Virtual Console service has finally gone live, with seven games on offer in Europe and eight in North America.

Hardcore Retro gamers will know these games like their siblings, but for everyone else here is our rundown of every launch title and our verdict on whether you should pay up for them.

For reference - in Europe, each NES game costs £3.49 / €4.99 and each SNES game costs £5.49 / €7.99. Prices in the US are $4.99 or $5.99 for NES games (depending on game), and $7.99 or $8.99 for SNES games. At the time of writing, it's yet to be confirmed exactly what each US game will cost.

If you previously bought any of these games on the Wii Virtual Console service and linked both your Wii and your Wii U to your Club Nintendo account, you can buy the Wii U versions (with off-TV GamePad play) of NES games for €/£0.99 and SNES games for €/£1.49 ($1 and $1.50 in the US respectively).

Finally, all European releases are the 60Hz US versions, meaning the slowdown problems of the Wii Virtual Console are a thing of the past.


Super Mario World

SNES / Available in EU and US
Many claim Super Mario World is still the best 2D Mario platformer to date. If somehow you've managed to go all this time without playing it, then this should be considered the only true essential game on day one. Is was a magnificent achievement in its day and, as the years passed with no 2D platform game ever matching its standards, remains a special and unique accomplishment.

Close Close


Ice Climber

NES / Available in EU and US
Help Nana and Popo, the ice climbers, reach the top of 32 slippery mountains to retain their vegetables, which have been stolen from a large bird. This platformer's showing its age, and while it's entertaining enough for a while we don't reckon you'll be so enthusiastic by the time you reach the final stage. This is only really a game for Nintendo retroheads who want to see how these Smash Bros stars started out.

Close Close


Mario's Super Picross

SNES / Available in EU only
The hidden gem of the launch line-up. Mario's Super Picross was only ever released in Japan (this still contains Japanese text). Those familiar with Picross will already consider this a must-have, but if you aren't, then try to picture a cross between Sudoku, Minesweeper and pixel art, as you use numerical clues to fill in squares in a grid and create pictures. It's wonderful stuff and with 300 puzzles it'll last you a long time.

Close Close


Donkey Kong Jr

NES / Available in EU and US
Donkey Kong Jr's reputation is bigger than the game these days, with a measly four levels on offer and frustrating climbing controls. We'd only really recommend this if you long for the days of arcade gaming, when repetition and high scores were the order of the day. Otherwise, steer clear. Music's ace, though.

Close Close


Excitebike

NES / Available in EU and US
Surprisingly difficult for those who don't take the time to figure out how it works (you have to tilt the bike in the air to land properly and retain speed). Excitebike is nearly 30 years old but is still a fun little racer. That said, it's a bit limited and as such we'd recommend you get the 3D Classics version on 3DS instead, since it has a nifty 3D effect and lets you store custom tracks. Sharing best times on Miiverse could be fun, mind.

Close Close


Punch-Out!!

NES / Available in EU and US
Featuring some of the most impressive sprites seen on the NES, Punch-Out!! isn't so much a boxing game as a series of boss battles, where learning your opponent's moves and looking for their weak points is the order of the day. That the Wii remake a few years back featured essentially the same gameplay speaks volumes for its quality. Well worth getting.

Close Close


F-Zero

SNES / Available in EU and US
This Mode 7 racer was a revelation when it launched alongside the SNES back in the day, but (and some disagree with us) it's aged a little these days, with fairly poor handling and slippery-slidey moments. Save your cash for the inevitable release of the much better F-Zero X on Nintendo 64.

Close Close


Kirby's Adventure

NES / Available in EU and US
An easy but cheerful platformer which was also Kirby's first console game (after Kirby's Dream Land on the Game Boy). It's a decent enough game, but for now there's really no excuse not to get it because it's only 30p / 30c in both Europe and the US until May 16. It may be fairly basic, but at that price you really can't complain.

Close Close


Balloon Fight

NES / Available in US only
Many Wii U owners will already have this since it was previously part of Nintendo's 30p / 30c Virtual Console trial promotion (of which Super Metroid, Mario & Yoshi and Donkey Kong are still to come). If you missed out, we wouldn't really recommend paying full whack for it because while the endless Balloon Trip mode does enter one-more-go territory at times, it's still fairly pricey for what it offers.

Close Close

Comments