So the Wii Shop Channel is Gonna Close Down…

I Loved the Wii Shop Channel.

I’ve owned a Nintendo Wii for nearly ten years now. I love my Wii, and I still play my Wii games all the time. New Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Metroid Prime Trilogy, and Super Mario Galaxy are all favorites of mine. However, no Wii owner neglected the system’s usefulness as a classic game machine. In fact, the main reason I got interested in retro games in the first place was from the classic titles I downloaded from the Wii Shop Channel.

The Wii shop channel had a lot of fun content on it, such as the Virtual Console, Wiiware, and video streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. Me and my family played the Virtual Console titles all the time, and we used the Wii to watch Netflix and Hulu on it. The Wii introduced me to retro gaming, and I am ever grateful for the console’s significance upon our generation.

Now the Wii Shop Channel is closin’ down, and I can legitimately say that I’m kinda sad about it. It truly is a bittersweet time for me. It was a good ride.

But as of this writing, the fun isn’t over yet!

If the Shop Channel cannot transact any more Wii Points on March 26, 2018,  and if the service shuts down completely in 2019, then that means that I, as well as you, might still be able to seize this opportunity to get one last hurrah out of the Wii Shop Channel! Yes, the Shop Channel still has some great content worth checking out to this day, and in this article, I will show you how to get the most fun out of it before time runs out.

However, if you’re reading this after the deadline, then consider this article at least partially relevant, because there is still some things you can do with your downloaded games that you might enjoy.

Wii Virtual Console is AWESOME.

The Wii VC (I’m calling Virtual Console ‘VC’ now,) may not seem like a great way to play retro games. After all, nowadays you can get far superior emulation quality out of a PC emulator than the outdated Wii VC. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not still useful. Here are the reasons why:

1. The Wii VC contains many great classic games on it.

When the VC service launched with the system on November 19, 2006, people were intrigued to know that you could download classic game titles to your Wii. The original Super Mario Bros still remains the bestselling game on the Wii VC, mainly because its an identifiable classic game that many people love. Legend of Zelda, Megaman, and Sonic the Hedgehog are each classic titles that a lot of people still recognize. However, VC also has some more obscure, fun titles that people are interested in. Metal Slug, Axelay, and Phantasy Star are just a fraction of the many “hidden gems” on the Wii VC. Some of these games are more affordable on the Wii than on original hardware, which leads me to my next point—

2. The Wii VC contains many rare games that, on today’s market, are sometimes just too expensive to get on their original hardware.

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The VC is a boon to retro gamers who want to play classic games that are too expensive to buy in their original form. Certain games like M.U.S.H.A., Splatterhouse 2, and Wild Guns are crazy expensive to buy physically. There are even certain systems that  have whole game libraries of rare games on the VC, such as the Turbografx-16, and the Neo Geo. Some people would actually want to buy the original copies of sought-after games, but on the Wii VC, you’d probably want to give it a look. Games that would usually cost hundreds of dollars are usually less than a dozen on the VC, which is so convenient, that, as a kid who is not particularly well off, I find it to be an excellent alternative.

3. Wii VC has a handful of ‘imports’ (Japan-only retro games that have previously never been released in the west.)

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It’s disappointing to imagine how so many games were not released in the states, some of them being great gems. The Wii has a few great imports on its selection, such as Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, DoReMi Fantasy: Milon’s DokiDoki Adventure, and Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa. Most of them are games that don’t entirely need to be in english to be fun, as they are playable without a translation. However, two games, Monster World IV, and Sin and Punishment, have all the text in them translated, which in their case, makes them more accessible to play!

5. The Wii has Wiiware games, titles that are exclusively downloadable to the Wii.

Although admittedly, most of the games on Wiiware are shovelware, there are a few great titles on it. Konami made three games that revamped classic series, and Mega man 9 and 10 are available on there too! Check it out before it disappears!

4. You have multiple controller options, including being able to use original controllers pertaining to their respective classic consoles on the VC by using special adapters.

The Wii has many controller options. You can play NES games with a sideways Wiimote, and play more advanced systems like the SNES with the Classic Controller. (If you have an older Wii, you can even hook up old Gamecube controllers to use on it!)

Sites such as Mayflash and Raphnet-tech (Raphnet especially) sell these special, custom adapters that allow you to hook up a controller from a classic game console to the Wii. It enables you to play the classic games with an original controller! For instance, Raphnet-tech sells a Sega-Genesis-Controller-to-Wiimote-Adapter to be used to play Genesis games on the VC. The adapter attaches a Genesis controller on one end, and the other end is plugged into the port of a Wiimote. Once plugged in, you can play Genesis games (as well as other NON-Genesis games) on the Wii VC, resulting in more authentic-feeling experience. The adapters aren’t too expensive, and I recommend you using adapters like this if you truly are hardcore about it. (If you otherwise don’t want to invest in such adapters, then a normal Classic Controller will be sufficient).

5. The Wii’s video output options are better than what was had on the original game consoles.

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Component Cables

Back then, people usually didn’t have great video quality on their Cathode-Ray-Tube (CRT) TV sets when hooking up a classic game console. Video quality was usually either RF or Composite, which resulted in a crummy-looking picture. In retrospect, this was all people had back then, and they all didn’t seem to care, as they just wanted to play the games and not bother with ‘video-quality’.

Nowadays its a different story. No person hooks up a PS4 or an Xbox One to an old CRT TV. Rather, they hook up to an HDTV or a 4K monitor using an HDMI or VGA cable. People are much more concerned about video quality because we have so much more opportunity to improve our experience. Everything is digital now, and the Wii can fortunately go multiple ways to achieve a great picture, resulting in video quality that is better than what we could get out of our old TVs.

The best cables for the Wii are component cables which display under the YPbPr color space. YPbPr is an analog video format, basically meaning its a non-lossless, old-fashioned graphical standard. Component looks good on an HDTV, but unfortunately, the Wii’s low resolution is usually not scaled well to an HD screen. You see, the Wii’s highest resolution is 480p, a standard definition video quality. 480p is scaled by an HDTV to fit the screen, but since the Wii’s video output is low-res and analog only, the results on an HDTV are not always great. The video quality may not be scaled well, looking flat, soft, and the colors don’t ‘pop’. If you want my opinion, the Wii looks far better on a CRT TV than an HDTV.

“But wait!” you might be asking. “Didn’t you say that people didn’t have great video quality on their CRT TVs back in the day?!” Well, that’s because old game consoles like the NES and the Sega Genesis came out back in the 90’s when high-quality displays were hard to come by. In fact, component inputs didn’t show up on consumer CRTs until the early 2000s, around the release of the Wii. Old game consoles can be hooked up with better cables to newer CRTs to look better than they did back then. Component video cables were never made for old game consoles unfortunately.

(Technically you can still get astounding quality out of old game consoles by purchasing special cables and adapters, but these are usually expensive, and they are intended for hardcore gamers.)

The Wii’s component cables are cheap, and since it’s standard definition, a newer CRT will handle the lower-quality signal like a champ. The onscreen colors pop, and image on screen has a lot more depth to it. It looks great! However, if you don’t own a mid 2000’s CRT TV with component inputs, then buy one from Goodwill. They’re dirt cheap! If you want a good alternative to Component cables, than use S-video cables. The quality isn’t as sharp or vibrant, but you might want to try them if you have a display that supports S-video only.

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S-video Cable

Simply put, the Wii is a perfect way to get great video quality to display old game consoles in better signals than what was originally intended. However, the situation gets a whole lot better!—

6. Most VC games are capable of running in 240p, the original display resolution of all retro games.

What is 240p exactly? Quick description: CRTs back in the day had a resolution of 640x480i. When the first game consoles were made, developers decided to use a lower resolution within the 480i standard to display game graphics on screen. Out of 480 vertical pixels, 240 of them, (literally half,) were used to display the system’s signal. Since half of the screen estate is unused, every other horizontal line of pixels is skipped over, and in between those lines a ‘scanline’ of video signal is drawn across the screen 60 times a second. This low-definition signal defined the blocky, low-res appearance for many game generations.

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CRT TV Scanlines

On a CRT the Wii can display two resolutions: 480i, (Not the same as 480p,) and 240p. Mid-2000s CRTs usually do not support 480p. (Some high-quality consumer CRTs support 480p, 720p, and 1080i, but they aren’t easy to find.) If you have cables that are lower in quality than component, then you can’t display 480p on any TV.

240p cannot be displayed properly on an HDTV, because the scaler in the TV misinterprets the signal as 480i, resulting in a truly awful looking image!

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Bleagh!!!

Only VC games are capable of running in 240p. 240p over component video on a CRT looks incredible. 240p mode for VC games has to be engaged by performing a simple process:

1. Set your Wii to 480i mode (I had mine set to 4:3 as well…I’m not sure if that matters). This will not work in 480p mode.
2. Start a Virtual Console game.
2. Press the Home button to bring up the Home menu, and then click on Operations Guide.
3. Attach a Nunchuk controller to your Wii remote (if the classic controller is plugged in, you’ll have to remove it to do this).
4. Press A+1+Z simultaneously (A and 1 are on your Wii remote, Z on your Nunchuk).
5. You should hear a sound confirming that you’ve done this correctly. This should activate 240p mode for all VC games that are 240p-compatible.
6. To switch to 480i mode for VC, follow the same steps as above, but press A+2+Z instead.

That’s it! If you want an authentic looking experience, then 240p on a CRT over component video is a perfect way to get beautiful results!

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Here is a list of VC games on the Wii that support 240p (some of which was filled in by yours truly):

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tOGfGwGbIwEkyXMcnSueRjYcRlV2X1v–XvVSY52hoA

In reference to the list, if a game title is not confirmed to run in 240p, (being left blank) that means that the game’s support for the resolution is unknown. Even though most of the blanks are not filled in with “yes” or “nos”, I speculate that pretty much all NES, SNES, Master System, Genesis, and Neo Geo games support 240p. I mean, every game I’ve downloaded from the aforementioned systems support it.

However, all N64 games and most Turbografx-16 games only output 480i, regardless if you engage 240p mode or not. In my opinion, N64 games look better in the higher resolution than in their original 240p.

Turbografx-16 games don’t look quite as good in 480i. In 480i mode, TG-16 games have a video filter running on them and no scanlines. The few TG-16 games that do support 240p look great.

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Note: All 480i-locked VC games can be hacked to run in 240p. It is a tricky process to enable, and I don’t particularly recommend it unless you REALLY know how to do it.

Simply put, Wii VC games in 240p mode on a CRT is an authentic, official, and beautiful experience that any retro game fan must try!

The Wii Shop Channel Isn’t Perfect…

Many game fans have expressed their discontent with the Wii shop channel to Nintendo. They say that the VC doesn’t have enough games, or are upset that certain video services are not supported. I know how that feels. There are a few reasons why the Wii Shop Channel is flawed in the eyes of gamers:

1. The emulation of certain systems on the VC is not 100% accurate.

NES emulation has gotten a less-than-stellar reputation on the Wii VC. The video output is slightly dark, and some NES games will output in 240p only! Strange to know, and inconvenient if you want 480i on an HDTV. Certain sound channels sound slightly incorrect on NES VC games because of the spotty sound emulation.

But… Most Wii VC games look, sound, and play just fine. No emulator is flawless, and the Wii, for its time, and even today, was and still is a great way to play classic games.

Warning: DO NOT EVER transfer your games to the Wii U. The Wii U’s emulation is actually kinda bad compared to the original Wii’s. The VC games don’t look as sharp, nor have 240p support! In their place are awful video filters. Bleagh!!!

2. The selection of games may not quite be up to every gamer’s standards.

Imagine, you want to buy a game off the original VC, only to find that the library of downloadable titles does not contain the game you’re looking for. I’ve been there. Many Nintendo fans are upset that certain game titles are still unavailable on the Wii VC. Nintendo didn’t just simply keep adding titles to the Wii VC and shop channel after the release of the Wii U. Instead, they stopped adding new titles completely to the Wii, and moved on to the Wii U with new games. In my opinion, Nintendo should have continued adding VC titles that would be compatible with both the Wii and U. That way, more people could get the new titles of games and not be left out to buy a new system. 

Also, quite a few games from the Japanese VC were not released over here! What a shame.

Regardless of this, the Wii VC’s library may not be the largest, but sometimes you have to consider the circumstances. I mean, we did receive 400 titles from nine different libraries, which I gotta say, for six years that’s a big number for a ton of great games to choose from. Besides, now that the Shop Channel is kicking the bucket soon, You’d probably want to settle for less games in general. Simply narrow down the list the games you want, and buy them!

So What Games Do I Recommend?

With such a (relatively) large library of games filled with well-known classics, hidden gems, and spruced-up imports, the Wii Shop Channel’s VC is a must try for serious gamers. With multiple controller options, (including special adapters) you can greatly authenticate the experience of playing retro games on the Wii VC. 240p mode looks amazing on a CRT over component video. To get you started on this “last-hurrah” of Wii VC, here are a list of a bunch o’ games I recommend:

From Wii Virtual Console Arcade:

1. Shinobi

2. Space Harrier

3. Super Hang-on

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4. Ghosts ‘n Goblins

5. Golden Axe

6. The Tower of Druaga

7. Wonder Boy in Monster Land

8. Black Tiger

From the NES:

1. Super Mario Bros 3

2. Kirby’s Adventure

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3. Castlevania 3

4. Mega man 2

5. S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team

6. Super C

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7. Zanac

8. Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa

9. Blaster Master

10. Life Force

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11. Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos

12. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom

13. Punch-Out!!

14. Shadow of the Ninja

15. StarTropics

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16. Super Dodge Ball

17. Zoda’s Revenge: StarTropics II

18. The Legend of Zelda

From the SNES:

1. ActRaiser

2. Contra III: The Alien Wars

3. Cybernator

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4. Donkey Kong Country 2

5. DoReMi Fantasy: Milon’s DokiDoki Adventure

6. Kirby Super Star

7. Mega Man X2

8. Super Castlevania IV

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9. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

10. Super Mario World

11. Super Metroid

12. The Legend of the Mystical Ninja

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13. Super Mario World

14. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

15. Zombies Ate My Neighbors

16. Breath of Fire II

17. Chrono Trigger

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18. Final Fantasy III

19. Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen

20. Secret of Mana

21. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

22. Axelay

23. Gradius III

24. Wild Guns

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From the Sega Genesis:

1. Alien Soldier

2. Beyond Oasis

4. Dynamite Headdy

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5. Gunstar Heroes

6. Ristar

7. Rolling Thunder 2

8. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

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9. Sonic the Hedgehog 3—

10. AND Knuckles

11. Strider

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12. Gain Ground

13. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

14. Splatterhouse 2

15. Beyond Oasis

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16. Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole

17. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium

18. Shining Force II: Ancient Sealing

19. Gley Lancer

20. M.U.S.H.A.

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21. Super Fantasy Zone

22. Rolling Thunder 2

23. Mercs

24. Bio-Hazard Battle

From the Neo Geo:

1. Magician Lord

2. Metal Slug

3. Metal Slug X

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4. Metal Slug 3

5. Neo Turf Masters

6. Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers

7. Shock Troopers

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8. The King of Fighters ’98

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9. The Last Blade 2

From the Turbografx-16:

1. Air Zonk

2. Blazing Lazers

3. Bomberman ’94

4. Bomberman ’94

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5. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

6. Devil’s Crush

7. Dragon Spirit

8. Dungeon Explorer

9. Final Soldier

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10. Gate of Thunder

11. Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou

12. Lords of Thunder

13. Ninja Spirit (not available from March 30, 2012 to September 19, 2013)

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14. R-Type (not available from March 30, 2012 to September 19, 2013)

15. Splatterhouse

16. Ys Book I & II

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From N64:

1. F-Zero X

2. Mario Kart 64

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3. Mario Party 2

4. Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber

5. Paper Mario

6. Sin and Punishment

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7. Star Fox 64

8. Super Mario 64

9. Super Smash Bros.

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10. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

11. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

From Wiiware:

1. Mega man 9

2. Mega man 10

3. Gradius Rebirth

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4. Castlevania Rebirth

5. Contra Rebirth

In Conclusion…

There you have it. By now you can see why I loved the Wii shop channel. I want people to enjoy retro games, and the Wii Shop Channel is a great way to experience that. If you have the resources, do yourself a favor and check out the Wii Shop Channel for a last hurrah. You will NOT be disappointed!