*Grumble Grumble*

The Virtual Console is one of the more insidious features of the Nintendo Wii (about which I will post more once I no longer have 5 finals to take in the span of a week and a half). The VC, as it is known on the street, is a very sophisticated complex of emulators built into the firmware of the Wii, coupled with user-friendly front-end for purchasing and downloading content from Nintendo.

Which is to say: The Wii can play absolutely perfect renditions of games for the NES, the SNES, the N64, the Sega Genesis, and the TurboGrafx16. You can purchase games for the Virtual Console through Nintendo's on-line store, which you access directly from your Wii. You easily click through a couple of menus, select a game, and download it to your system. From them on, the game is available right on the front page when you boot up the Wii; no need to insert or remove discs, just turn on the Wii, point to the game you want to play, hit the A button, and suddenly you're playing a rendition of the game that is essentially indistinguishable from playing the game on the original console. The only way it differs from the original experience is that, first, you'll be playing on a Wii-compatible controller (the Wii remote, the Wii classic controller (looks like an SNES pad with a pair of analog sticks on the bottom), or a Gamecube controller) and second the graphics have been altered to actually work on a modern television set. If you've tried hooking up an old console to an HDTV (and who among us hasn't?) you'll discover that the results are quite gruesome. VC-emulated games are modified to look the same on a High Definition television as they did on an analog TV coming out of the original console. So, the only alterations are designed to make the experience more authentic than it would be with direct emulation.

What's insidious about the system is that you now have a library of classic games available through your Wii, ready to be purchased at any time, day or night. You can wake up at 3 in the morning, decide you feel like playing Mario 64, stagger to the living room in your underpants, and five minutes later (and $10 poorer), you can be playing the game. Normally, when making a purchse, you're faced with a trade-off between physical effort and instant gratification. If you want a game/book/whatever right now, you have to throw on clothes and trek to a store during normal business hours. If you want the convenience of internet shopping, you have to wait for the item to ship to you. The VC provides easy access and instant gratification. The only reason I still have money for rent is that the library is currently fairly modest; only 25 games are available, and not many of them are A-grade. Still, Nintendo has promised to add at least 4 new games for download every Monday at noon, and thus far they've kept that promise. By this time next year, the Virtual Console will have at least 200 games available for download.

With this as background, Friday night at 4 AM I found myself entering my credit card number into the Wii to purchase $20-worth of games. The next day I found myself at the post office shipping a package, only to discover that my credit card no longer resided in my wallet. Apparently I'd left it in the living room after making my purchase, even though I explicitly told myself to remember to put it back as I took it out the night before.

I spent the last couple of hours scouring my room and the living room for my card, but no success so far. Unfortunately, between when I lost it and when I began searching for it in earnest both my roommate and I have independently taken stabs at cleaning up the living room. I haven't seen my roommate since he did his part of the clean-up, so I haven't been able to ask if he saw the card and put it anywhere. I just hope that neither of us unwittingly threw it out.

It isn't the end of the world; I still have my debit card, and prefer to pay in cash in any case. One practicaly upshot, though: So long as I don't have my credit card, I can't blow any more money on Virtual Console games.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on December 11, 2006 7:54 PM.

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