|Platform(s)||Wii, 3DS, Wii U|
|Source code||Nintendo OSS (Partial)|
Virtual Console is a service created by Nintendo that allows users to purchase and emulate games.
Games played through Virtual Console are usually free of accuracy issues.
In terms of functionality, the Virtual Console emulator is very bare-bones compared to unofficial emulators, but the 3DS version has restore points (save states) and screenshot saving. The Wii U version has both plus controller customization (Game Gear on 3DS also has it), Off-TV Play, Pixel smoothing and scaling changing. Despite this, usually only the bare functionality is emulated: there is no way to save ghost data in Mario Kart 64 due to a lack of a Memory Pak emulated.
The different regions of Virtual Console (Japan, North America, Europe/Australia, and South Korea) have different games and update them on different schedules. At times, North America gets games that were exclusive to Japan while Europe/Australia gets games that were exclusive to the previous two regions. These imported games are priced a little higher than normal and tend to be straight ports with no translation. (Exceptions include Monster World IV and Sin & Punishment.) Other games that can be priced higher than normal are games based on externally-licensed properties, one example being the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games.
Virtual Console games can be retired from the shop, though purchased games can be redownloaded.
Some GameBoy Advance games from the 3DS Virtual Console were available to Ambassadors only, that is, buyers of the Nintendo 3DS before Nintendo announced a price drop.
Pricing of Virtual Console games can be ludicrous. If you don't want to pay for VC ROMs on your Wii, you can just install them as .wad files through WAD Manager. You can even install .wads from other regions, though you need to watch the PAL/NTSC divide.
|Nintendo Entertainment System (Famicom)||✓||✓||✓||Supports the Famicom Disk System and the first-party Nintendo mappers.|
|Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super Famicom)||✓||✓||✓*||Supports normal cartridges up to 4MB, DSP-1, Cx4, and SA-1. Super-FX support is exclusive to the SNES Classic.|
|Nintendo 64||✓||✓||Recommended. Wii U has input delay but later revisions are more compatible (Harvest Moon 64).|
|Sega Master System||✓||Includes FM emulation.|
|Sega Mega Drive / Genesis||✓||Regular Genesis/MD emulation. No Sega-CD or 32X. Also on 3DS as game compilations.|
|PC Engine||✓||✓||HuCard cartridge emulation, and PCE-CD emulation with separate Audio CD tracks.|
|Neo Geo||✓||Arcade mode. Also on the Switch.|
|MSX||✓||Japan-only. Emulates a Japanese MSX2.|
|Game Boy||✗||✓||No SGB borders or GBC palettes. Link emulation added with Pokemon VC releases. Only used on Wii in Kirby Collection.|
|Game Boy Color||✗||✓||In addition to the above, no IR or GBA mode emulation.|
|Game Boy Advance||✗||✓||✓**||Hardware emulation on 3DS. No link features. Some e-Reader or rumble features restored as game-specific hacks.|
|Nintendo DS||✗||✓||✓***||No link, online, or DSi support.|
|Arcade||✓||Various Namco, Capcom, Sega and Tecmo boards.|
*A *New* 3DS is necessary if you want to play SNES games through the 3DS Virtual Console. Technically, some have managed to get it to boot in normal 3DS mode, but its emulation suffers from huge slowdowns.
**Ten GBA games were released exclusively to 3DS "ambassadors", who bought the system before its price was dropped. They are unavailable to those who did not purchase the system before its price drop.
***3DS is fully backward compatible with DS and DSi games and cartriges
VC releases consist of the emulator and the included ROM image, but it's possible to replace that ROM image with another one and load it using various homebrew tools out there. Of course, compatibility isn't that high, especially for games with custom hardware, but it's a start.
- DS VC: The roms are stored in regular DS ROM format (.nds), in a zip archive. There's also a config file with a brightness setting, and an option to change internal 3D resolution that Nintendo didn't use for some reason. Just change the line "RenderScale": 1 to have the value 2 instead.
- Main article: Virtual Console/Compatibility List
Virtual Console games come from many different systems and have to be mapped to those on the supported console, sometimes having to be mapped to different controllers. Even then, at times (notably emulated Nintendo 64 games), mappings may not be consistent.
Wii games in the Virtual Console support the Classic Controllers (which were made with the purpose of the Virtual Console) and GameCube controllers. Some games also support the lone Wii Remote. PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 games that support 5-player mode require that the users connect a combination of GameCube controllers and Wii Remotes (with or without Classic Controllers attached to the Wii Remotes).