Getting official versions of WII games has gotten especially difficult after Nintendo closed the official Shop Chanel. On January 30, digital versions of best-selling WII games and exclusive releases suddenly became unavailable.
Of course, gaming experts were wondering about the motifs of such a decision. Why do it now, when other consoles start exploring the digital possibilities, becoming a Nexflix of the industry, like what PS did with its PlayStation Now platform? Either way, now users are forced to look for alternative ways of digitizing their gaming experience – some download ROMs while others map the functionality of the original version.
Let’s take a look at the possibilities that were lost with the closure of WII Shop Channel and the easiest ways to replace the loss.
Digital versions of best-selling retail games
Before, Nintendo didn’t try to expand its reach into an online marketplace. That’s why the news about WII Shop Channel launch was thought to mark a new era in company’s strategy. Even though the functionality couldn’t possibly compare to PS3 Playstations Store or Xbox’s platform, it was the first serious attempt of the corporations to bring their physical best-sellers into a digital format.
Of course, there had to be drawbacks. The platform didn’t support games of more than 45 MB. That forced the team to upload only the simplest games – Excitebike, FAST Racing League, World of Goo, Art of Balance, and others. Finding truly iconic games like WII Sports and Mario Kart was a challenge even after the platform has completed its initial development stages.
The best part about the shop was that it allows to play games on PC and on console alike. You could try all facets of WII experiences and really dive into the retro-feel.
ROMs provide the answer
Luckily, this aspect of WII Shop Channel is more or less easy to substitute. ROM storages provide digital versions of WII best-sellers and rare titles. They even often unique benefits, unavailable on the official store. Let’s take a look at those.
- The choice is much better. You can download WII ISOs of popular and rare games – from WII Sport and Mario Kart to Donkey Kong and Super Smash Bros. Also, rare titles are available – the hidden gems, known to the most die-hard console’s fans. Sin and Punishment, No More Heroes 2, and Trauma Team – these were iconic titles, unavailable on the web marketplace.
- Clear statistics. Let’s take one of the best emulation libraries out there, KillerRoms for comparison. The platform keeps track of most popular downloads. They also establish active communities – users leave comments, rate games, and choose their favorites.
- Rich settings. Emulators are improved versions of consoles since you can stream games online, save videos and screenshots, and keep track of your performance statistics. Official versions are much more limited in this regard.
ROMs provide the answer
That’s not to say, however, that emulation is able to solve all issues, connected to WII digitalization. Even though it’s definitely a better way of experiencing a game, it’s also an illegal one – although there are discussions around.
Let’s take a look at the main disadvantages of WII emulation and find ways around these obstacles.
Legal issues. Nintendo isn’t shy about taking emulation cases to court and fining the providers. For a while, it has kept the emulating community on the edges of their seats – legality of Nintendo emulation has been a topic of heated discussions for a while now.
Soon it became clear that the company isn’t keen about sueing regular users, only those who take direct responsibility of distributing games. Hence, take care to not give a reason to be perceived as a ROM provider. Try to avoid exchanging links, sharing access to your storage, and giving away physical drives with emulated files.
Technical knowledge. You need to have at least a mediocre level of computer skill to set up the simplest emulator. The most popular – and also the simplest one – is Dolphin. The emulator has a large wiki with step-by-step guides and free tutorials – so literally anyone can learn. Still, you need to be conscious about required time investments. It will take time till PC emulation will be effortless, if you haven’t done it before.
Emulation might be illegal, but it’s not unethical
If you are worried about the moral implications, there is no reason. It was noted by multiple experts that emulation is what keeps our favorite games alive. Having a dedicated Reddit thread or an online blog, or a Youtube channel is only possible if the user pool is not limited to several lucky geeks who have a physical WII copy.
Emulation makes gaming more accessible, and it naturally attracts more people to beloved titles. Granted, Mario Kart will perhaps never go extinct, but we’ve already seen it happening to some rare games. Hardware, consoles, an cartridges tend to damage and break, but online storages keep the data running.
It would be one thing if game publishers would care about properly handling game preservation. Up to date, they don’t. Hence, it’s up to users to keep our favorite games alive and maintain active communities – even if Nintendo itself doesn’t support the initiative in any way.
Emulation is the future of gaming
At least, that’s how it looks now. Nintendo, PlayStation, xBox, and everyone else could’ve taken initiative into their hands – yet, they fail to meet the needs of dynamic digitalizations. It’s alright if we are not interested in playing by the old rules. Just like TV is surely getting replaced by streaming services, consoles will be replaced by digital alternatives.
The example of WII Store is a telling one. Nintendo seemed to understand the importance of an innovative digital approach to game distribution – yet, they discontinued the store before it even built a proper legacy.
We should feel no remorse for emulation. If companies aren’t pushing the future of the gaming, keeping to ignore their legacy, there is no wonder that users will retake the initiative. So far, fan communities and libraries are doing a great job.
P.S. Just to be safe, make sure you download ROMS, created from official game version, not the homebrew ones. If the creator owns the original edition of the title, they have done all in their power to respect Nintendo’s copyrights. Just be careful and do your research – and most importantly, have fun.