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This article is about the Virtual Console component of Nintendo's game download services. For the computer user-interface concept, see Virtual console.

Virtual Console (バーチャルコンソール, Bācharu Konsōru), also abbreviated as VC, is a line of downloadable video games (mostly unaltered) for Nintendo's Wii and Wii Uhome video game consoles and the Nintendo 3DShandheld game console.

The Virtual Console lineup consists of titles originally released on past home and handheld consoles.

These titles are run in their original forms through software emulation (excluding GBA titles on 3DS), and can be purchased from the Wii Shop Channel or Nintendo eShop for between 500 and 1200 Wii Points (Wii), US$2.99 and US$6.99 (3DS) and US$4.99 and US$9.99 (Wii U) depending on system, rarity, and/or demand.[1][2] Virtual Console's library of past games currently consists of titles originating from the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS, as well as Sega's Master System and Genesis/Mega Drive, NEC's TurboGrafx-16, and SNK's Neo Geo AES.

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The service for the Wii also included games for platforms that were known only in select regions, such as the Commodore 64 (Europe and North America) and MSX (Japan),[3] as well as Virtual Console Arcade, which allowed players to download video arcade games.

Virtual Console titles have been downloaded over ten million times.[4] The sale of past games through the Virtual Console is one of Nintendo's reasons for opposing software piracy of old console games.[5]

List of Virtual Console games[edit]

Main article: Lists of Virtual Console games

Platform Wii Shop Channel
(discontinued)
Nintendo eShop
WiiWii UNintendo 3DS family
Arcade
Virtual Console ArcadeDiscontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Was available in Wii Mode only, now discontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
No
Home systems
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)/
Famicom (FC)
Discontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Yes Yes
Super NES (SNES)/
Super Famicom (SFC)
Discontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Yes Available on the New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 2DS XL models only[6]
Nintendo 64Discontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Yes No
PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16Discontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Yes Available on Japanese 3DS Systems only
Master SystemDiscontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Was available in Wii Mode only, now discontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
No
Mega Drive / GenesisDiscontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Was available in Wii Mode only, now discontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
No
Neo Geo AESDiscontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Was available in Wii Mode only, now discontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
No
Commodore 64
(North America and PAL regions only)
Removed from Wii Shop Channel in August 2013[7]
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Originally available in Wii Mode only
(removed from Wii Shop Channel in August 2013,
but games already purchased can be redownloaded)
No
MSX
(Japan only)
Discontinued
(games already purchased can be redownloaded)
Yes No
Handheld systems
Game BoyNo No Yes
Game Boy ColorNo No Yes
Game Boy AdvanceNo Yes Available through the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program only
Nintendo DSNo Yes No
Game GearNo No Yes

Japan[edit]

Main articles: List of Virtual Console games for Wii (Japan), List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (Japan), and List of Virtual Console games for Wii U (Japan)

There were 38 titles of Famicom, Super Famicom, N64, Mega Drive, and PC Engine games available at launch on the Wii Virtual Console for the Japanese region.

The Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console launched with 7 titles of Game Boy and Game Boy Color. New Virtual Console software is added on Tuesdays (Wii) and Wednesdays (Nintendo 3DS, Wii U) at 2:00PM JST and there are currently 659 titles for Wii, 244 (256 for Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors) titles for Nintendo 3DS and 466 titles for Wii U available.

North America[edit]

Main articles: List of Virtual Console games for Wii (North America), List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (North America), and List of Virtual Console games for Wii U (North America)

There were 12 titles total of NES, SNES, N64, and Genesis games available at launch on the Wii Virtual Console for the North American region.

Two TurboGrafx-16 titles were added two days later on November 21, 2006. The Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console launched with 4 titles of Game Boy and Game Boy Color. New releases are added to the Wii Shop Channel and/or Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS at around 12:00 PM EST/9:00 AM PST currently on Thursdays.[8][9] North America saw its first release of Commodore 64 games on the service on February 23, 2009, and its first Virtual Console Arcade games on March 25, 2009.

As of January 26, 2017, there are 398 titles for Wii, 172 (184 including those available for Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors and Donkey Kong: Original Edition) titles for Nintendo 3DS and 267 titles for Wii U available.

Though the Virtual Console lineup initially only covered games that had been released in North America, first George Harrison indicated in an interview that there was a possibility that Nintendo or other Virtual Console providers would localize Japanese games that have never been released in English.[10] This later came to reality, and former Japan-only games have appeared on the North American Virtual Console.

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The first game to be added with such localization was Sin and Punishment from the Nintendo 64. While other previous Japan-only titles had been released through Virtual Console prior to this, the first being Battle Lode Runner from the TurboGrafx-16, added on April 23, 2007, this and all others were originally written in English and required no localization.

Despite the fact others fit the category, there are currently 25 titles listed under the "Import" genre with 1 removed: Sin and Punishment, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (previously available in North America as part of Super Mario All-Stars), Ninja JaJaMaru-kun, Alien Soldier (although the game was previously available in North America through the Sega Channel), DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's DokiDoki Adventure, Puyo Puyo 2, Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa, Dig Dug, Gley Lancer, Super Fantasy Zone, Break In, Star Parodier (Removed), Cho Aniki, Final Soldier, Digital Champ: Battle Boxing, Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou, Bomberman '94, Detana!!

TwinBee, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, Pulseman, Secret Command, Street Fighter II': Champion Edition, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Ironclad, Ufouria: The Saga and Monster World IV.

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Furthermore, at least two import titles (DoReMi Fantasy[11] and Puyo Puyo 2[12]) were released without any English translation, and thus only Japanese text is available in these games while Monster World IV was fully translated to English.

PAL region[edit]

Main articles: List of Virtual Console games for Wii (PAL region), List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (PAL region), and List of Virtual Console games for Wii U (PAL region)

A total of 17 NES, SNES, N64, Mega Drive and TurboGrafx titles were available at launch on the Virtual Console in Europe and 11 titles for the Oceanic region (TurboGrafx games were first added there from July 6, 2007[13][14]).

The store updates every Thursday at 12:00AM CET,[15] in Australia at 9:00AM and in New Zealand at 11:00AM AEST.[16] The number of games per update has varied, but is usually 1 or 2.

As of December 8, 2016, there are 385 titles in Europe and 384 titles in Australia and New Zealand for the Wii, 168 (178 for Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors) titles for Nintendo 3DS and 258 titles for Wii U available.

Though the Virtual Console titles primarily cover only the games that have been released in Europe, Nintendo UK has commented that there is a possibility that in the future, Nintendo will localize Japanese and North American games that have never been released in Europe such as Super Mario RPG, which was released on the European Virtual Console on August 22, 2008 after being unreleased in that region for 12 years.[17] In March 2007, Hudson released three TurboGrafx games which were not originally released in Europe: Double Dungeons, Dragon's Curse,[18] and Battle Lode Runner.

Five Hanabi Festivals have been held since, releasing former Japanese and/or North American exclusive titles. There are currently 43 titles listed under the "Import" genre, in which most of them were released during the campaigns.

Wii[edit]

Library history[edit]

The first few Virtual Console games were released to the Wii Shop Channel on November 19, 2006, alongside the launch of the Wii.[19]

While the gameplay remains unchanged for all of the classic titles offered for the Virtual Console, Nintendo has stated that some games may be improved with sharper graphics or better frame rates.[20] In reality, however, many games suffer from drops in frame rate or have graphical glitches not present in the original, and many PAL SNES games run with significantly reduced borders compared to the original cartridge releases.

As with disc-based games, the Virtual Console service is region-locked—that is, different versions of games are provided to different regions, and game availability may vary from region to region.[21]

Nintendo had stated that the Wii Shop Channel would not be used exclusively for retro games, and WiiWare games have appeared in North America as of May 12, 2008.[22] These original games are made available through the WiiWare part of the Wii Shop Channel, as opposed to through the Virtual Console.

Satoru Iwata stated in a speech on March 23, 2006, that Nintendo, Sega, and Hudson Soft were working in collaboration to bring a "best of" series of games to the Wii.[23] At E3 2006, Hudson also declared it would bring upwards of 100 titles to the Wii's Virtual Console. Additionally, Hudson mentioned that its lawyers were working on acquiring the licenses to games from now defunct companies.[24] Nintendo announced MSX compatibility on September 19, 2006,[25] announcing on February 23, 2007 that the MSX titles Eggy and Aleste would be released in Japan.[26] In February 2007, a heading for Neo Geo AES games was added to the Japanese Virtual Console page,[27][28] and in September of that same year, games for that system appeared on the list of future releases, priced at 900 points each.[29][30] Also in September Hudson announced that games made for the TurboGrafx-CD format would also join the Virtual Console beginning in October 2007, with five titles to be released for the remainder of 2007 and ten titles for 2008, each priced at 800 points.[31]

On June 1, 2007, Nintendo of America issued a press release to announce the upcoming release of its 100th Virtual Console title, which was Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

Within this press release, Nintendo stated that more than 4.7 million Virtual Console games had been downloaded, at a rate of more than 1,000 titles an hour.[32]

Neo Geo AES support was added on September 18, 2007 for the Japanese Virtual Console, becoming the first addition to the list of consoles since the TurboGrafx-16 was added two days after the U.S. launch.[33][34]

On October 9, 2007, Nintendo announced that 7.8 million Virtual Console titles had been downloaded,[35] and as of December 2007, this number topped ten million.[4]

Games from several new past consoles were added during 2008: Master System on February 26, 2008 for Japan's Virtual Console;[36]Commodore 64 support was added on March 28, 2008 for Europe's Virtual Console.[37] and MSX support was added on May 27, 2008 for Japan's Virtual Console.

On February 23, 2009, the first three Commodore 64 titles (International Karate, The Last Ninja and Pitstop II) were added to the North America Virtual Console for the first time.

On March 25, 2009, simultaneously with Nintendo's Keynote Speech at Game Developers Conference, Nintendo launched 'Virtual Console Arcade', launching with four titles, Mappy, The Tower of Druaga, Star Force and Gaplus.

On February 4, 2011, Sega announced that a Virtual Console release of Puyo Puyo, released in Japan in Spring 2011, is the first Virtual Console to feature Wi-Fi support for online multiplayer.[38]

The Wii Shop Channel has functionality to allow games to be updated.

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This has been used four times so far to update Military Madness, Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (in North America and Europe),[39] and Mario Kart 64 (in Europe and Australia).

Several NES and SNES games released before March 30, 2007 have also been given updates in Europe and Australia to fix previous problems with the Wii component cables. These updates are free of charge to those who have downloaded a previous version of the game.

In later years, some games have been removed from the service due to their licenses expiring, namely R-Type and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others.

List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (North America)

The three Donkey Kong Country SNES games produced by Rare were unknowingly withdrawn. Since Nintendo retains the rights to these games, the reason for their removal remained unknown, however they have since been released on the Wii U eShop and were also added back to the Wii Shop Channel as well. Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequel Sonic the Hedgehog 2 were both removed in Japan in 2012.

While the games returned to the Wii Shop Channel in 2013, they were removed yet again on October 30, 2015 on the Japanese Wii Shop Channel and Xbox Live Arcade in that region while the 3D Classics versions ported by M2 are still available on the Nintendo 3DS for download via the 3DS eShop. However, both North America and Europe still have both games available to download on the Wii Shop Channel and Xbox Live Arcade.

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While these and other removed titles can no longer be found or purchased from the Shop Channel, they remain available to those who have purchased them prior to their removal.

Such users may still re-download them on their Wii consoles and even transfer them to a Wii U system using the "system transfer" tool. Any Wii Virtual Console titles can be transferred to the Wii U and played via its Wii Mode.

Control[edit]

Virtual Console games can be played using the different controllers. The Wii Remote itself (turned on its side) can be used for NES, Master System, TurboGrafx-16, and some Mega Drive/Genesis and Neo Geo AES games.

The original and the pro versions of Classic Controller (sold separately from the console) can be used for all Virtual Console games.

Virtual Console Games

The controllers from the GameCube can also be used for all games on the Virtual Console, except for some multiplayer TurboGrafx-16 games that use the GameCube controller for the fifth player. As a result of this, the wireless GameCube controller (the WaveBird) has seen increased popularity.[40]

All Virtual Console games have their buttons mapped to the respective buttons on the controllers, however, in certain circumstances users can use X and Y instead of A and B, if the original controller does not have X and Y buttons (for example the NES).[41] In certain titles, such as Nintendo 64 games, there may be specific controls tailored to the Classic Controller or GameCube Controller.

Nintendo 64 titles that originally provided force feedback via the Nintendo 64 controller's Rumble Pak peripheral however, are not supported by the built-in "Rumble" feature of the GameCube controller.

The button mapping has become the cause of problem and concern, however.

The button mapping is rigid and is not customizable. Because of this, many games are difficult to play. All Neo Geo AES fighting games have very awkward control schemes and glitches when changed to GameCube controllers. Nintendo has acknowledged this issue but has not put any efforts towards fixing it on the Wii.

Currently, all Wii U Virtual Console games support customizable button mappings.

With the release of Bomberman '93, it was revealed that TurboGrafx-16 games can support full five player games.

Since a single Wii can only have four Wii Remotes and four GameCube controllers connected at the same time, a combination of the two are needed for five player games.

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The same issue is found in 5-8 player Commodore 64 games as well. Because the Wii U doesn't have GameCube controller ports, only up to four player games can be played on the system.

^a The NES Classic Controller, the SNES Classic Edition Controller and Club Nintendo's SNES Classic Controller have at least partial functionality with all Wii Virtual Console releases, but may require button remapping to accommodate for the lack of buttons.

MSX games also support USB keyboards, as the original system featured their input.[42] However, Commodore 64 titles use a pop-up "virtual" keyboard, which can be toggled on and off by pressing the "1" button on the Wii Remote, and are only used to set up the game and are not for input during gameplay.[43]

Titles[edit]

Main articles: List of Virtual Console games for Wii (Japan), List of Virtual Console games for Wii (North America), List of Virtual Console games for Wii (PAL region), and List of Virtual Console games for Wii (South Korea)

Storage[edit]

Games downloaded from the Virtual Console library can be stored in the Wii's built-in 512 MB flash memory.

Wii system software versions 2.0 and later allow Virtual Console and WiiWare games to be moved from the console's internal memory to a removable SD card and then back to the same console. Wii Menu 4.0 added a new menu to run channels from an SD card provided there is enough free space to hold a copy of the channel in internal memory.

If the console runs out of memory, the SD menu will offer to move other channels to the SD card.[44]

Virtual Console games are locked to the Wii on which they were purchased—they cannot be transferred to another Wii via an SD card, although it is possible to purchase games in the Wii Shop Channel and send them as gifts to people on their Wii Friends list.[45] This procedure does not work across regions and it has been reported that bought titles cannot be sent to users from other countries either, even if they are on the same region.[46] In the event that a Wii is damaged and the Virtual Console games can no longer be played, Nintendo will provide support (if the serial number or console email name can be provided).[41] Also, if a Wii owner transfers all data on their console to a Wii U, the ability to download those titles from the Wii Shop Channel, along with all save data currently on the Wii, is transferred.

Game saves and save data[edit]

Game saving is functional and intact on the Virtual Console for all games which originally had a save feature on their cartridge. Saved games are saved to the Wii Internal Memory and function exactly as the original cartridge did.

A game which in its original cartridge form did not have any form of save feature will not have any save game feature on the Virtual Console (though depending on its original system it may have the suspend feature as described below).

Most first-party N64 games used internal cartridge memory for game save data and thus will save properly on the Virtual Console.

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A select few first-party and nearly all other N64 game cartridges utilized the extra memory capability of the N64 Controller Pak.[47] Saving of data to the Controller Pak is not supported by the Virtual Console, so for those games which used this feature, the save feature will not work properly in the Virtual Console.

An extreme example is that of Mario Kart 64 which uses internal cartridge memory for progress and save game data.

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Consequently, all progress is saved properly (since it was saved to the cartridge itself) but one of the features in Mario Kart 64 (saving ghosts for racing at a later date) will not work since that particular feature utilized the Controller Pak, and the option to copy data to the Controller Pak won't function in those games.

Suspending play[edit]

Like other emulation software, the Wii Virtual Console enables the user to suspend play of a game at any time. To do this, users simply return to the Wii main menu from the game.[48] Two exceptions to this are the N64 and Neo Geo AES, titles which do not support this feature.[49] The N64 will allow play to be halted by returning to the Wii Menu but will require the person to start from the title screen to continue playing.

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Note that suspending play enables the player to pause the game indefinitely but does not function as a "save state" in that, once the game is resumed, the user will be able to pause play again (overwriting the suspend point) but will not be able to return to the previously suspended state.[48]

The suspend feature will not be available if the user resets the Wii with the reset button on the front of the console during gameplay.

Further, if the Wii loses power during gameplay, there will be no further suspend state, nor will there be a way to restart from the previous suspend state. There are some exceptions, however.

Virtual Console

Arcade games released by Bandai Namco feature an updated menu and when reset during gameplay the save state will be saved before the console is reset.

South Korea releases[edit]

Main article: List of Virtual Console games for Wii (South Korea)

There were 10 titles total of NES, Super NES and Nintendo 64 games available at launch on the Virtual Console for South Korea.

The store updates irregularly on Tuesdays. There are 40 titles available. Depending on the game, they are playable in either Japanese or English. Super Mario World is the only game that can be bought in either languages. Companies currently supporting by publishing games are Bandai Namco Entertainment, Hudson Soft, Irem, Konami, Nintendo, Taito and Windysoft.

Taiwan and Hong Kong releases[edit]

Main article: List of Virtual Console games for Wii (Japan)

Since Nintendo of Taiwan and Nintendo of Hong Kong never offered a Chinese version of the Wii console in Hong Kong or Taiwan, they have released Japanese Wii's in that region and by hardware extensions, the Japanese Virtual Console is also available for customers in Taiwan and Hong Kong and like other regions are able to buy Japanese Nintendo Points cards at certain retailers.

Nintendo 3DS[edit]

Library history[edit]

On June 6, 2011, Nintendo launched the Virtual Console service for the Nintendo 3DS on the Nintendo eShop.

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Games released for the service include titles for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, NES, Super NES (New Nintendo 3DS only), Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16 games (available in Japan only). There are also special features available while playing Virtual Console games, such as viewing classic Game Boy titles with the traditional green screen or viewing them in an emulated border.

A separate but related set of games are 3D Classics, which are remakes of classic titles that make use of the Nintendo 3DS's stereoscopic 3D capabilities.

When asked if Virtual Boy games were going to be available for download on the Virtual Console for the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé told Kotaku that he couldn't answer, as he was unfamiliar with the platform.

As a consumer, I have experience with every Nintendo platform and, I think every accessory, including the Superscope, with the exception of the Virtual Boy...

so it's difficult for me to articulate a point of view back to our parent company [in Japan] why we absolutely have to have a Virtual Boy store

— Reggie Fils-Aimé

The author of the piece, Kotaku's Stephen Totilo, called upon readers to "argue for a Virtual Boy store on the Nintendo 3DS, if you can."[50]

In response to an August 2011 price drop on the Nintendo 3DS hardware, Nintendo announced plans to give early adopters of the system a number of Virtual Console releases as appreciation of their support.[51] Owners of the system who logged into the Nintendo eShop by a specified time in their home markets became "Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors".[51] In September 2011, ten NES titles were made available through Virtual Console to the Ambassadors at no cost before their general release; the games included marquee titles such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda.[51] They were released to the general public for purchase at a later date, with additional features such as simultaneous multiplayer across multiple systems; Ambassadors received the new features as free software updates.[52] On December 16, 2011, Ambassadors received access to ten Game Boy Advance titles, also at no charge, that are not scheduled to be released to those who are not Ambassadors.[51] Unlike other Virtual Console-branded releases, GBA games are not emulated, but rather they run directly on an ARM7TDMI processor core; the "AGB_FIRM" kernel running on the other CPUs is responsible for emulating the Game Pak, applying a video filter, and allowing the brightness to be adjusted or the game quit without manually rebooting the 3DS.

Many save types supported by AGB_FIRM (many of them having been discovered in September 2017, after injection became convenient and accessible to most users of custom firmware) were not employed in the ten official GBA releases, but can be used by games unofficially "injected" into a GBA VC title.[53][54]

On February 1, 2012, Punch-Out!! the first non-ambassador NES game was released on the Virtual Console service.

Since then, other NES games that were not part of the ambassador program were released including third party games by Capcom, Konami, and Tecmo such as; Mega Man, Castlevania, and Ninja Gaiden.

Furthermore, two NES import titles were added in North American and Europe; Summer Carnival '92 Recca and The Mysterious Murasame Castle in both 2013 and 2014, respectively. As of January 2017, Game Boy Advance games have not been released to non-Ambassadors on the Nintendo 3DS.[55]

TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine games were added to the service in Japan starting with Gradius and China Warrior on December 25, 2013 in Japan.

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R-Type and Alien Crush were later added a few months later in February, the following year.

As of now, no new TG-16 games have been added to the Virtual Console service.

On November 12, 2015, it was announced that during a Nintendo Direct that Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow would be released on the Virtual Console service on February 27, 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series.

The games will feature Local Play for trading Pokémon and battling, replacing the game link cable due to the Nintendo 3DS having wireless connections, but Game Boy Printer features in Pokémon Yellow, like other titles on the Virtual Console, will still not be usable on the Nintendo 3DS.

On March 4, 2016, during a Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced the addition of SNES games on Virtual Console for New Nintendo 3DS. Taking advantage of its upgraded hardware on the New 3DS, the games support "Perfect Pixel mode", which allows these games to be played at their original resolution and aspect ratio.

SNES games are not supported on the original Nintendo 3DS models or Nintendo 2DS.[56][57]

Titles[edit]

Main articles: List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (Japan), List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (North America), List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (PAL region), List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (South Korea), and List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (Taiwan and Hong Kong)

Storage[edit]

Virtual Console games are saved on an SD card and are accessible through the Nintendo 3DS home menu.

Game saves and save data[edit]

The save feature for the Nintendo 3DS Virtual console service is similar to the Wii's.

However, unlike the Wii's, the games can save a single "restore point" that can be used as much as the player wants to but is replaced and overwritten if the player makes another one.

South Korea releases[edit]

Main article: List of Virtual Console games for Nintendo 3DS (South Korea)

Before the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console officially fully launched in South Korea

The Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console logo