Wii U eShop Advance!

Very recently Nintendo announced that it would be bringing a bunch of Game Boy Advance titles to the Wii U Virtual Console throughout April. The announcement video is above. Here’s why I think the move is a good idea:


It’s no secret that the Wii U is struggling to provide a steady stream of games for its audience, especially given the constantly shrinking pool of third party developers interested in supporting the console. The Wii U has very quickly become a console that people buy for Nintendo releases and Nintendo releases only. The company has stood up and answered the call for high quality exclusives, delivering highly polished gems like Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and Super Mario 3D World alongside surprises like The Wonderful 101, NES Remix and LEGO City Undercover. But these highlights simply aren’t arriving often enough for people to stay interested in their Wii Us for too long. This deluge of GBA goodness is very, very welcome right now.




The initial eight releases promised for April are hardly weak offerings. With the arguable exception of F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, the visuals and gameplay of these eight shining lights in the GBA’s memorable back catalogue have aged remarkably well. Djinn customising in Golden Sun (one of my favourite console launch games of all time), agonising over simple tactical decisions in Advance Wars and appreciating the genius that is Fawful in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga are all essentially timeless activities. Nintendo has never before sold any of these games for download, so pricing will be critical to their appeal, but I don’t see them selling for any more than $10 a pop in Australia. Honestly, that’s pretty damn good value for what you get from most of these games. And for what it’s worth, even those who received ten free GBA games on their 3DS’ as part of Nintendo’s “Ambassador Program” a couple of years ago haven’t had access to the three amazing games I just mentioned (though the other five do overlap).




One of the major complaints with the treatment of the Wii U’s Virtual Console thus far has been the agonisingly slow trickle of NES and especially SNES games hitting the service. Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Earthbound and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past all came out over a period of eight months, a fact that was made to look all the more ridiculous by the lengthy list of games already available to download on the original Wii. The rapid-fire release of these GBA games will go some way towards remedying that stigma, particularly if GBA games continue to release regularly afterwards. Even if it isn’t realistic to expect excellent third party games like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance or the Castlevania titles anytime soon, there are still a host of Nintendo-published highlights waiting in the wings. The (arguably even better) Golden Sun, WarioWare and Advance Wars sequels come to mind, as well as The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, Metroid Zero Mission and five Pokemon games. There is just so much goodness for Nintendo to mine here.




All of the things I wrote back in my Super Nintendo game discovery article last year apply here as well. I genuinely believe that the overwhelmingly positive Miiverse online community is a real selling point for playing older games, as it allows veterans and newcomers to the games to connect in an instantly rewarding way. Ditto for the extensive control modification options, off-TV gamepad play and the completely optional ability to suspend and load game progress at any time. Sure, the latter can be used for “cheating” (Re-rolling turns with Nell in Advance Wars, anyone?) but if that means first timers can enjoy a game that otherwise may have frustrated them, I’m all for it.


So April is going to be a pretty good month for the Wii U eShop, then. Coupled with the release of Child of Light, NES Remix 2 and possibly Shovel Knight (which may slip into May), Wii U owners will have quite a bit to chew on before the impending mid-year release of Mario Kart 8.
And that’s wonderful.

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