Virtual Console: Secrets exposed

Nintendo tells CVG the ins and outs of Wii's retro download service

The launch of the Wii console is little over a month away now, and although we've analysed every aspect of the innovative new console under the world's most powerful magnifying glass, it still conceals a few mysteries - particularly in the Virtual Console.

With the full list of launch-day Virtual Console games having been released earlier this week, we thought it the perfect time to focus on the retro download service and uncover some of those mysteries.

So we threw a barrage of questions at Nintendo and got back some interesting information - how the games are stored, how much they'll cost and more. Check it out below and, if you have any more questions of your own, throw them down in the comments section and we'll put them to Nintendo for answers.

Can games be stored on external media such as SD cards, and what happens if you run out of storage space?

Nintendo: Games that are downloaded can be stored either to the Wii's internal memory (512MB) or onto SD cards, which plug into the SD slot on the front of the Wii. In addition the console also stores a history of all of your downloads so that if you have to delete any VC games for any reason you could re-download them for free at a later date.

Will you be able to take your VC games to a mate's house, say, on an SD card?

Nintendo: No. All VC games will be locked to the console they are downloaded on so even if they are on an SD card they can't be used on other machines. You will have to take your Wii with you.

Does that mean that if your console breaks you lose your VC games forever?

Nintendo: No. Nintendo will offer support to help Wii owners with problems to recover their games.

GameCube games are played with GameCube pads. Can they be played with the Classic controller too, for those who don't actually have any GC pads?

Nintendo: Nintendo GameCube games can only be played using Nintendo GameCube controllers. The Classic Controller will not work on these games.

Can you specify which controllers it will be possible to use for each of the VC games types (NES, SNES, PC Engine, N64)?

Nintendo: All virtual console games can be played using the Classic Controller or Nintendo GameCube pads. The Wii Remote can also be turned on its side and used as a traditional controller to play NES games. However, a game will only be playable with the control mechanism it was designed for. So, for example, you will play NES games with the D-pad, not an analogue stick or motion-sensitive functionality.

When using a mixture of Wii and GameCube controllers, the Wii Remote or Classic Controller will take priority. So if you have two Classic Controllers plugged in they instantly become player one and two regardless of how many GameCube pads are inserted.

What about game manuals?

Nintendo: Each Virtual Console game downloaded will come with a digital instruction manual.

We are already aware that you won't be able to gain access to the Japanese or American VC in UK with a UK console. But if you import a US or Japanese Wii into UK, will that machine be capable of accessing the UK VC servers to download and play games made available to us Brits?

Nintendo: No. The European Virtual Console will be available only to European machines. If you import an American machine they would have to connect to the American service and use American Wii Points cards to buy content. Their warranty would also be void so this is not recommended.

Will there be a range of Wii Points cards available? How much will they cost?

Nintendo: At first, only 2000-point cards will be available. These will retail for £14.99.

Will you be able to buy VC Points via the internet through Wii using a credit card, like you can with Xbox 360's Marketplace?

Nintendo: Yes. Wii points can also be bought online via the Wii Shop using all major credit cards and will be credited to your account. A total of 10,000 points can be stored on your Wii account at any one time.