The Wii Shop Channel is beginning it’s operations to shut down the service on the 30th of January in 2019. Nintendo put out a reminder that the service will prevent you from being able to add points to purchase games from their service March 26th.
Not only will you be unable to redownload games you purchased from the service after the shutdown date, this will take away several games that include titles that are very difficult to find in the after market. Leading up to the closure of the service we will be posting articles featuring games that SEGA fans will want to keep their eyes on. SEGA has been a major supporter for the service since the beginning of Nintendo’s foray into the digital market. Starting off with titles from the Mega Drive and the Genesis, the service grew to provide cult favorites, rare and valuable titles and even imports from Japan. There are also a few WiiWare titles to consider, exclusive games that were hampered by small file size limits for developers and lack of advertising. We won’t exactly be recommending recommend Sonic 4 Episode 1, but it is worth mentioning since it will no longer be on sale.
Wii Shop Precautions
You will need to back up these games yourself once the shop closes up. You can store these games on an SD card which you may need since the internal storage is limited to 512MB. This is shared with Wii Shop purchases and game saves from retail Wii games which can fill up quick. Wii Points must be purchased from the Wii Shop Channel which is separate from the Nintendo eShop currency used on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS family of systems.
Speaking of the Wii U you can purchase these games through it’s virtualized Wii mode. Because the system does not feature any GameCube accessory inputs you are limited to using Wii accessories as well as limited video output options. You can’t use the GamePad as a controller itself, but it does allow you to display video on it with the benefit of reduced input lag over most HDTVs. Think of it as a portable TV making it ready to play some two player classics like Streets of Rage so long as you can feed power to the main console.
European shoppers may be in for disappointment that the majority of the games on the service retain the PAL versions which include games running at 50Hz. This means a lower framerate, added borders and improper sound conversion compared to releases in NTSC regions. This has especially plagued Mega Drive titles on the service and does affect all import titles as well– even if they include ROMs that normally run at 60Hz. You will NOT be able to force 60Hz on Virtual Console games even if you set your Wii console to run at 60Hz, use component video or use HDMI on the Wii U.
Each article in this series will not only feature a list of games for you to consider we’ll also be sharing additional tips for enhancing the gameplay experience. Thanks to M2, the developer who brought several classic SEGA games to other platforms, gives us the closest you can get to real hardware in a no-frills package. The Wii was the cross point between standard definition CRTs to widescreen HDTVs. The console sports a wealth of controller and video options that can bring you as close to the original experience as possible while taking away the inconveniences of these older machines. This means no multitaps and not having to worry about battery saves to keep your progress that can be copied from the internal storage to your SD card.
SEGA Genesis and Mega Drive Games
This week we’ll cover the obvious system choice with the not-so obvious games to look out for. One of the Wii Shop’s criticisms is the lack of sale prices as each game on these consoles are at a flat price of 800 Wii Points except for the Japanese Wii Shop where Mega Drive games run for 600 Wii Points. You can buy most of the games that are available on this service through Steam for much lower prices, especially since these games go on sale constantly. SEGA has also released several compilations that collected notable titles that made it tough to consider buying games from the Wii Shop. That said there are a few games that haven’t seen the light of day on any other digital platform or collection. Some of these games if you were to buy them in the aftermarket for an actual Mega Drive or Genesis console, you’d be spending hundreds of dollars just to get a real cartridge.
The following images are captured using a separate emulator due to restrictions of time to make this article. If you are curious about how games look on Wii hardware, you can compare this screenshot of Monster World IV to give a better idea on how these games look. On the left is a Wii U outputting Wii Mode at 480p upscaled to 720p and on the right is Genesis Plus GX through RetroArch on a PC.
While Compile was mainly known initially for the Puyo Puyo series, M.U.S.H.A. is regarded as not just one of their best shooters, but also one of the best shooters on the Mega Drive and the Genesis. It remains part of the Aleste series of shooters despite dropping the Aleste name when the game was released outside of Japan. The game’s story involves a futuristic take on Japanese lore. You pilot a mecha flying over floating pagodas while shooting down giant ships donning Noh masks and samurai robots. The main gun can be upgraded with power icons to upgrade shot power, two options known as “Arms” can change formation around your craft on demand to trail behind your input, form a 3-way shot, or shoot from behind. You can also obtain upgrades that let you make use of other weapons such as shield-piercing lasers and missiles that also acts as a one-hit shield. It’s a game that was underappreciated upon its release in the early nineties which explains why its become uncommon and expensive in the aftermarket. The game makes a nice middle ground for those who care for a shooter that’s not overly difficult, but fast paced and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The action keeps you engaged with amazing graphical techniques that give the illusion of depth as enemies fly in from below and chasms formed with great use of parallax scrolling.
Monster World IV
The Wonder Boy series saw a real resurgence thanks to digital distribution. Not only does Virtual Console host nearly every version of each game, this allowed for the release of an English version of Monster World IV made for digital services on the Wii, PS3 and 360. Who can say what caused the game to avoid a release outside Japan. Whether it was the Genesis on its way out, not having a cross promotion release such as SEGA Channel or having doubt in the game’s female main character during a dark period of Radditude Mascot Platformers™, Monster World IV features Asha in a more linear adventure, compared to Wonder Boy in Monster World, that sees her befriending a helper animal named Pepelogoo to mix up puzzle solving while exploring towns and dungeons. The linear stage design allows for more action and cuts down on aimlessly wandering around. The vibrant environments and the game’s animated characters makes for a charming adventure that wont necessarily disappear forever, especially thanks to its release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. However the Virtual Console release benefits from native 240p video output and more suitable controller options over the other two console releases despite the higher price.
Super Fantasy Zone
Developer Sunsoft handled development of this Mega Drive exclusive. Super Fantasy Zone’s is the last title in the Fantasy Zone series that comes closer to the arcade original presentation wise. Unlike the previous Master System entries it never saw release in the US. The game is largely similar to the original Fantasy Zone featuring more weapons and brand new stages while taking advantage of being a home console game by utilizing the three action buttons on a Mega Drive controller along with a rapid fire option. You’re free to fly left to right shooting down enemy pods to reveal the stage’s boss that takes up the entire screen. Enemies drop coins that can be used in the Parts Shop to buy upgrades and temporary weapons such as a 7-way shot and a megaton weight. Despite the slower pace from a typical shooter and colorful environments, it still maintains a tough-but-fair difficulty curve as you dodge large clusters of bullets and drones with tricky flying patterns. The game’s deceivingly adorable nature starts off with a dark tone. The Fantasy Zone becomes under attack by the Dark Menon Force. After the game’s lead character Opa-Opa learns of his O-Papa’s death, he sets out to avenge him.
Remember when Game Freak produced games besides Pokémon? Well if you answered Tembo the Bad-Ass Elephant, you SEGA fans reading this will have to try harder to catch me off guard. Pulseman is special to me since I last experienced this game on SEGA Channel years ago. A younger me was impressed at the ambition the game presented with it’s characters, the platforming mechanics that revolved around electrical currents you can latch onto for quick travel and the English voice acting they were pushing out of the Mega Drive hardware. You can definitely tell it’s a Game Freak game thanks to the game’s art style being very reminiscent of human characters in the Pokémon series. The spoken dialogue didn’t sound great but the cutscenes had a certain ambition to tell the story that pantomiming can’t express on it’s own even if I couldn’t read the text. I also didn’t get to read the part where Pulseman was the offspring of a human scientist named Dr. Yoshiyama and an artificial intelligence of his creation known as C-Life that lives in the computer world. This world caused the scientist to lose his mind and descend to evil and become known as Dr. Waruyama, leader of the Galaxy Gang who emerged from the computer world and into the human world. It’s up to Pulseman to fight his father and bring peace to both worlds. Pulseman travels between levels you are free to choose from including a TV studio, watery jungles and deserts along with the cyber worlds within them to defeat the cyber-terrorists. The game weighs on the easy side thanks to the Voltteccer ability that allows you to conduct energy to bounce against walls, latch onto energy currents for extra height and shoot bursts of electricity at enemies. Despite it’s absurd premise it’s a unique platformer that gets little attention, even more surprising that Nintendo nor SEGA made a major push advertising wise since it’s re-release on Virtual Console.
The Wii Shop didn’t see too many western developed games on the service. What few it did feature aren’t really worth going back to such as InterPlay’s ClayFighter or Activision’s Pitfall The Mayan Adventure which has already been removed from the store. What it does have is one of the toughest technical marvels that was a huge hit on SEGA’s console. Earthworm Jim provides a unique flare of the run and gun platformer genre with fluid animation and varied level environments. Even though this was a game that appeared on the Super NES, the Shop Channel only provides the SEGA version of the game which is arguably the best of the two. The difficulty can be overwhelming due to level design appearing obtuse at points. Such as the under water “Pod Race” levels that demands you to navigate your pod around the rocky formations under the ocean while managing your oxygen timer before it runs out or having to use Jim’s head to swing on hooks to gain higher ground or the freefalling section of Queen-Slug-For-a-Butt’s Lair by using Jim’s helicopter ability to navigate the tight spiky tunnels without losing control and taking a lot of damage. Still if you can get a hold of the platforming the game is a real visual treat and there’s no game that looks or plays like it.
If you’re a fan of the game’s animation style or high degree of difficulty this is currently the most accurate and best version you can get on digital services. The version sold on digital storefronts such as Steam or GOG provide the inferior DOS version which controls poorly and looks worse. The HD version of Earthworm Jim you can find on Xbox 360 or PS3 does a not so great job of upscaling the game’s graphics and features audio that doesn’t match the original game. You can also buy Earthworm Jim 2 on the Wii Shop but it’s over reliance on gimmicks makes it harder to recommend. There’s a total of three normal platformer levels in the entire game!
This game is available on other services such as Steam allowing up to two players to play at once. The Wii Virtual Console version allows you to map up to five players (or four on Wii U due to lack of GameCube controller ports) for the game’s multiplayer modes. At the time of this writing SEGA does provide an uncompressed ROM through Steam that can be used in other emulators that can provide the full feature set which is a nice gesture. Columns III can provide an interesting time with friends but lends itself more as an endless gem matching game for one player than something you’d get out of several rounds of Puyo. A good game to have but it can be had for cheaper elsewhere. If you want the five player mode but don’t want to deal with emulators on PC, the Virtual Console version is not a bad option.
SEGA Controller Adapter for Wii
The Wii provides several controller options that makes it easy to work with any game you purchase from the Wii Shop Channel. While the Wii Classic Controller does a good job of being a solidly built controller for playing games, it’s not exactly the three to six button controller we’ve grown up with on our SEGA platforms. Luckily there do exist adapters that lets you use your old controllers on the system which provide a more familiar controller layout. These adapters treat your controller as a Classic Controller which means it can be used for more than just Virtual Console games.
RaphNet Technologies Wiimote and GameCube Adapters
This is not an endorsement and while I do not own the adapters mentioned in this article I do own other adapters made by RaphNet.
RaphNet is home to several controller adapters made by a Canadian individual that develops adapters for several platforms which is good to have an active support line should things go wrong. Luckily the build quality on his adapters are well done and can be shipped worldwide. For the SEGA enthusiast he has developed adapters that work with both Wii and GameCube controller ports that will recognize 3 and 6 button Genesis and Mega Drive controllers as well as SEGA Master System controllers if you so choose. Button mapping corresponds to the layout normally made for a Wii Classic Controller and Nintendo GameCube controllers that correctly matches a real controller. So not only will this work with the X, Y and Z buttons on a 6-button controller, the mapping also covers the mode button for the games that support it. Unfortunately Master System controllers are less ideal to use since there’s no pause button since the system was designed with a pause function on the console itself. To use the pause button you must disconnect the controller adapter then hit start on a Wii Remote. Luckily every other controller in existence is far superior to the Master System controller’s D-pad.
If you have a Wii U you’ll want to go with an adapter that works with a Wii Remote. According to the storefront these adapters face an input delay of less than 3 milliseconds meaning input delay will be unnoticeable as far as the Wii Remote is concerned. Just don’t expect the Wii Remote adapters to work on your NES or SNES mini. If you have a Wii with GameCube controller ports or if you want a direct connection to the system you can go for a GameCube controller adapter. These also work on Nintendo GameCube systems that can work on collections such as Sonic Mega Collection and Sonic Gems Collection. The price is just cheap enough that you get an adapter with good build quality and large compatibility.
If you want to see this adapter in action you can check out the YouTube Channel My Life in Gaming’s episode on controller adapters which goes in-depth on the versatility of the Wiimote adapter.
Next week we’ll be taking a look at video options on the Wii and Wii U along with a set of Master System and arcade games to look out for. Got any game recommendations or controller options you like to use with your games? Be sure to sound off in the comments below your thoughts on your gaming setups.Ad: