Nintendo’s Wii U Virtual Console to Play Old Wii Games, Company Says at E3

Jun 5, 2012 5:02pm

LOS ANGELES — Have a ton of Wii Virtual Console games? No need to purchase new versions for the new Wii U.

Nintendo’s Wii U, successor to the groundbreaking Wii, has been confirmed for release this holiday season, with plenty of bells and whistles — both to set it apart from the competition and attempt to change the world of gaming all over again. We’ve touched upon some of the new system’s specs, but more information has been revealed after today’s Nintendo E3 conference here.

In an interview with ABC News, Scott Moffitt, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Nintendo, said that in addition to Wii discs being backwards-compatible on the new Wii U, digital game collections purchased over the Wii Virtual Console will also be transferable over to the Wii U, likely remaining at standard definition.

Fans who have purchased libraries of old games will not lose their downloaded game titles when they decide to upgrade to the new system, a decision in line with how Apple’s iTunes store operates regarding digital downloads of game apps. Moffitt said that there will be a bit of restructuring of how their login IDs/accounts work with the Wii U; he told us, “You will have an individual account based system. Each member of your family might have their own account.”

Each player will have saved gaming preferences, but it is unclear how Wii Virtual Console collections will be assigned to an account for ownership transfers on the Wii U eShop at this point.  If this backwards compatibility continues through the next generation of systems, fans may never have to repurchase old games again. That may change if games are reintroduced in high definition (Wii, unlike its competitors, produced standard-definition video), but Nintendo has said nothing on that yet.

Also announced today: The Wii U will feature stereo sound and allow up to two controllers to connect to and interact with the console at once for a dual GamePad experience.

ABC News has learned that there are no brightness controls for the touch screen Wii U GamePad controller, which might have been a good option for saving batteries. Players will have the ability to charge their wireless GamePad controllers using a GamePad cradle that will come with the system, according to Moffitt, so anyone worried about running low on juice during extended gameplay can rest easy.

We could also get no confirmation on the camera quality on the Wii U, so whether it is HD capable or standard definition like the cameras aboard the Nintendo 3DS remains to be seen.

Of the 23 upcoming game titles featured in today’s presentation, some standouts included the very high definition “Pikmin 3,” “New Super Mario Bros. U” with a focus on co-op improvements, and third party franchises long missing from Nintendo systems, including “Mass Effect 3,” “Batman: Arkham City” and “Assassin’s Creed 3.”

Nintendo also introduced “Nintendo Land,” a mini-game theme park of Nintendo properties that will be a “Wii Sports” style introduction to the new Wii U system.

Stay tuned to Tech This Out for more breaking game news as it is announced at this week’s E3 conference in Los Angeles.

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