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Posted by: jkdmedia

E3 2006 Hands On Preview

Tucked in the back of Nintendo’s Wii exhibit were two kiosks housing demos of the Wii Virtual Console. The Virtual Console is a Nintendo-designed emulator that will allow titles from past generations to be played on the new console. It’s a “virtual” console because none of these titles will be stored on the machine itself – they’ll be played while connected to whatever online game service Nintendo provides.
 
Exact details of how and when we’ll get our hands on the Virtual Console have yet to be announced, but that didn’t stop Nintendo from letting attendees play five of the thousands of classic titles that will be offered: Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario World, Mario 64, and Bonk’s Adventure.
 
All Virtual Console games are compatible with the newly announced Wii Classic Controller:


 
 

 

 
The Classic Controller, which looks and feels like the lovechild of the SNES and PSone Dual-Shock controllers, is light, comfortable, and easy to use. Face buttons are thick and sturdy, with just the right amount of resistance needed for the arcade-oriented gameplay of the 16-bit era. Three shoulder buttons have been placed on top of the controller, the first two functioning as L and R. The third is smaller and is just left of the R button, and will work as the Z button for games like Mario 64.
 
Both analog sticks have the same rubberized feeling of the Wii analog attachment, which is only slightly different from the GameCube thumbstick. It’s smooth and rounded on top with a raised circle to help keep your thumb from slipping. Though only the left analog stick was functional (none of the games available utilized two sticks), the controller was reliable and very fun to use, taking myself and other attendees back to our gaming roots.
 
The games themselves were great. Each one is an exact port of the original, with zero changes in gameplay, sound, graphics, etc. Super Mario Bros. looked a little strange running on a high-def television – the picture was crystal clear, but the red tones were a tad too intense. That was likely the TV’s fault and not the fault of the game, as Mario 64 and Sonic the Hedgehog looked perfect.
 
Each game played exactly as you’ll remember. I ran through the original Mario and instantly started hopping on Goombas, punching bricks, and collected a few coins. The same goes for Mario 64 – I was just about to collect my first star when I realized that I was still at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. I didn’t have enough time to relive the past.
 
Sonic ran as smooth as ever, and while I haven’t played the original Bonk’s, I’m willing to bet that it isn’t any different either.
 
In addition to the five games available at the show, Nintendo has previously announced that over 1,000 Genesis titles will (eventually) become available on the Wii Virtual Console. Several Turbo-Grafx games will also be playable on Wii, giving millions of players access to a classic system they’ve never experienced before (myself included).
 
Nintendo has not announced how many of their own titles will be available, but they did confirm a lineup spanning across the NES, SNES and Nintendo 64.

 

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