Virtual Console Emulation

I’m really impressed with the way these classic games run on the Wii.

All too often when I buy any kind of compilation, there’s something wrong with the way a game plays, looks or sounds. The games Microsoft is selling on Xbox Live Marketplace in the classic arcade category are often just totally screwed up in some way. Time Pilot for example is way too easy. In Joust, the first Egg Wave always places the eggs at the same location… which is incorrect based on the arcade original (and easily verified if you have the Midway Collection). Robotron is all kinds of fucked up on Live Arcade.

I bought Super Castlevania IV, Military Madness and Super Star Soldier for the Wii so far. While I never owned a TurboGrafx, I have seen and played the games before and both of those seem perfect. Super Castlevania IV is brilliant. The game was amazing for its time, and it holds up really well now, but the emulation is just outstanding. It seems exact to the SNES original, which totally surprised me, because I expected less given how this stuff often works. The soundtrack especially seems dead on, and that’s a huge win for a game that has one of the best soundtracks ever IMO.

I know I’ll buy some more games to play on Virtual Console. I’m curious if people are finding the rest of the lineup as amazing as me when it comes to the emulation? Even the games on GameTap aren’t always quite right, yet these are. I’m starting to wonder if there’s hardware in there for these systems or something? What do a 65836 and a 6502 cost these days? Ha!

As an aside, I’ve been reading Steve Kent’s The Ultimate History of Video Games and been totally amazed at the parallels between the Wii and the way the industry worked before the 16-bit generation. Before SNES/Genesis, just upping the power of the system wasn’t enough. Looking at that early period, you can easily see how and why DS and Wii have ignited certain people’s interest in games that maybe weren’t interested in them for some time. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a better understanding of how things have evolved in video games from pinball to the present.

I imagine the difference is that the Xbox games are enhanced (even if the enhancements are next to worthless a lot of the time). The Wii games are just straight emulation, aren’t they?. I agree that it’s better the Wii way; the enhanced graphics and sounds in the Xbox games usually suck, and they’re not at all necessary.

Yeah, I’m not even talking about those “enhanced” versions of the arcade games on Live Marketplace. That stuff is awful. I play them in Original mode all the time, and even then the games aren’t right. They often don’t even play right in that original mode and I fully expect them to be perfect.

The Wii games are straight emulation. There are no additions or enhancements. But I’m just super impressed that the straight emulation does such a good job that it’s like playing on the original hardware in a way most compilations never pull off.

I’ve got Mario 64, Gunstar Heroes and Solomon’s Key for VC, and all of them run flawlessly and are absolutely true to the originals as near as I can tell. My only complaint is the snail’s pace at which they’re adding new titles, though I understand why (testing the price structure, desire to highlight new additions, etc.)

If you have 2000 Wii points or whatever they’re called and never played any classic Nintendo games, what should you buy?

Oooh, Solomon’s Key. I remember really wanting to like that game in the arcades, it just looked impressive for it’s time… but kept kicking my ass. Fucking hard. Perhaps I do know some of these titles after all. But suggestions, please.

I look at that as a good thing. I can’t afford to buy them all right now anyway and the more they put on there, the more I want to buy more of them. Ha!

I think it’s especially important that they space them out so that people take a look at the stuff that’s non-Nintendo. I know I’m most interested in the Turbo stuff because it’s a system I never owned. If they had put up the whole catalog, I wouldn’t know where to start.

Great to hear that all three of those run flawlessly, though. I’m definitely going to get Gunstar Heroes (for like the third time I think) just for the convenience of one-click access to the game. I never played Solomon’s Key. That’s on my (long) list.

Are you specifically looking for Nintendo system games or the entire Virtual Console in general?

For the Nintendo systems, I highly recommend the aforementioned Super Castlevania IV. Also, I love F-Zero. Super Mario Bros., if you never played it, is still fantastic. The Legend of Zelda is a little dated, but I think it’s well worth playing too. With any of the NES titles, unless you’ve played them before, I think it helps to have some frame of reference for them (like… these are on a system initially released in Japan in 1983 running on a 6502 processor… the same thing in an Atari 2600).

Donkey Kong, Jr. is a superb home port of the arcade original. It has all the levels and plays great. Super Mario 64 is still one of the greatest platform games ever made, and it’s the first of its 3D kind. Truly a classic. It’s been years since I played SimCity, but I remember that being a great version of the game. Finally, Street Fighter II was just fantastic and is another awesome home version of the great arcade original.

If you want info on the Genesis and TG-16 stuff, I can go there too. :)

Yeah, it’s a very difficult game, and there are no continues which is a bit sadmaking. Still a great puzzler, though. I’m hoping the NES version of Lode Runner gets a VC release.

As for what to buy, Gamespot has reviews of a lot of the games on VC. It might be a good place to start.

It’s notable that every VC game can be “saved” in progress when you pause the game and go to the Wii Menu. It’ll restart right where you left off. Today I got to Level IV of Castlevania IV, paused, went back to the menu and then played something else for awhile. Came back at the same spot and got to Level VII where I stopped for the night.

Also, depending on the game, password saves still work.

That’s a great feature. I wish all console games had it.

Yeah, it’s damn cool to be able to do that. Obviously PC emulation has had save states like that forever, but too many compilations don’t even support it, let alone current console games.

Anyway, Castlevania IV for. the. win. My kids were humming the music within three minutes of hearing it in the first level.

I don’t think this applies to everything. When I tried it with Super Mario 64 it didn’t seem to work.

Excuse my pedantry, but the 2600 was based on a 6507, which is a cut down 6502. The implied comparison of a 2600 to the NES isn’t terribly valid given how gimped the rest of a 2600 was compared to the NES.

Hmmmm… I didn’t turn the console off in between. Does the save state disappear when you power down? Maybe it’s an N64 emulation thing, too?

True, and you are being pedantic ;), but the bottom line is that NES games are running on pretty freaking old hardware.

My family had a PC Engine and I played it on quite a bit (oh, Monster World! oh, Tengai Makyo!) My father and brother were once super duper hardcore shmup fans, I mean more hardcore than I am about RPGs (now you can see where I got it from). Super Star Soldier runs absolutely perfectly, according to them, right down to the response time for the controller (yeah I have no idea how they tell that, but apparently they can, though I suppose it’s like me being able to measure response time in fighters). R-Type retains every single facet of PC Engine version as well, absolutely not one of the other versions of its emulation. According to me, New Adventure Island and Nectaris run flawlessly as well.

This is actually rather impressive because if you think about it, the PC Engine is not Nintendo’s hardware and if they had included it in the Wii, they would have owed some sort of copyright or notice on NEC’s copyrights, right? Megadrive as well, and as I’m sure you can see, that’s perfect as well. But just in case, Gain Ground and Puyo Puyo are exactly as I remember them (and I played most Mega Drive games in around 2002/3 for the first time, so my memory is pretty fresh). There are also some minor changes to the graphics of Sonic the Hedgehog in the Sonic Mega Collection for the GC that don’t appear in the Virtual Console game, meaning it’s the more accurate version. It’s small things like the proportion of the logo at the start of the game and the transparency effects that the Genesis faked in the bonus round, but they’re there and they’re accurate.

The only complaint I have is that it’s a shame you can’t get other region’s games, Super Aleste (Space Megaforce) for instance has quite a few differences from its Japanese and it’s always interesting to collect them like that.

It’s funny, none of my friends downloaded the game I’d absolutely be an expert on (Street Fighter II), mostly because we all own superior versions over the SFC version, but I’m pretty sure it would actually be.


Yeah, that first paragraph Kitsune, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Graphics are easier to see, but the timing of the games just seems to be dead on and that’s something I rarely see in emulation. I’m really glad to hear that someone with hardcore experience with Super Star Soldier can confirm that.

I don’t know what they’re doing outside of testing the living shit out of this stuff, but it’s just amazing how perfect these games are. I fully expected less and got so much more!

The save states do not disappear, but VC doesn’t create them if the game supports saving (which SM64 does.)

I don’t know about that. I was able to have a save state on the NES version of Zelda, and it supports saving.

As for VC, I really wish they deliver goods in more than a meager trickle. Especially with Reggie’s comment that future VC releases would be used as a way to combat long periods without physical disc games.

I’d also like just a bit more transparency in what games will be released. Anyone know what’s going to hit on Monday? Didn’t think so. For all of the talk about spacing out releases so that they get more exposure, they aren’t providing said exposure. When I have to rely on forum posts or Kotaku to know what games are released, it’s a sign that Nintendo needs more advertisement. I hate to say, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more advertisement on the console itself, XBLA style.

Given my primary interest in SNES RPGs, the lack of non-Nintendo properties, and the lack of cross region downloads are also annoying. So, technically stunning, but structurally lacking.

Admittedly that was inference on my part based on my experience, but it seemed logical. Maybe it’s just by platform then.