You can view these announcements and the rest of what was announced in this WiiU Nintendo Direct video (skip to 8:07).
This is an unusual move by Nintendo because typically you’d expect to see Game Boy Advance games available on the 3DS… another portable, NOT on a console system. Perhaps Nintendo choose to bring them to Wii U instead of 3DS due to the fact that 3DS early adopters who bought the system before the price drop got 10 free NES games as well as 10 free GBA games.
Nintendo promised that the GBA games given as part of the 3DS Ambassador program were from a system, the GBA, that would not be getting a public release, and thus the games were truly exclusives and a strong reward for people who bought the 3DS early. By bringing GBA to WiiU instead, Nintendo has kept that promise. Which is quite surprising when you think about it. I hope they will come to their senses and re-release GBA games on 3DS as well sometime soon. GBA games are fantastic and the largest possible audience should get to enjoy them, and they make a lot of sense as 3DS titles.
Game Boy Advance Virtual Console titles will be released on the WiiU alongside NES and SNES games, to start, this Spring. Sadly GameCube Virtual Console games, which are expected to come to the WiiU Virtual Console eventually, were not announced for WiiU VC. Hopefully they’ll get announced sometimes this year…
Two WiiU System Updates are also scheduled, one for Spring and one for Summer, each of which will bring updates to the WiiU including faster system menu switching, improved load times and the ability to play Virtual Consoles games on the GamePad; along with the WiiU Virtual Console Spring launch library.
The MiiVerse will also get updates in Spring and then Summer. Updates include new features like a browser-based mobile interface to check MiiVerse from a mobile phone, user-created Community Discussion Threads, and an improved filtering system for MiiVerse messages.
WiiU Virtual Consoles games will also have a few improvements over games from the original Wii Virtual Console, and thus they will be getting re-released (much to the dismay of many who hoped they wouldn’t have to re-buy old Virtual Console titles or wait for Nintendo to re-release games that they already released for the Wii).
These WiiU Virtual Console games will include new features like MiiVerse compatibility (so people can leave messages for retro games, including tips, hints, secrets, comments and art. Which IS a very cool feature) and the ability to play the game’s on the WiiU GamePad even if the TV is in use (a feature known as “Off-TV Play”). Thankfully, if you previously owned a WiiU Virtual Console game for regular Wii, you will be able to upgrade to the improved WiiU version at a cost of $1 dollar (for NES games) or $1.50 (for SNES games). I assume you only get the cheaper price if you have transferred your Wii Virtual Console collection to the WiiU, where the system will detect it. I could be wrong though. If you don’t already own the games, you will have to pay full price. The pricing will be the same as on the regular Wii.
Since the WiiU Virtual Console proper won’t release until Spring, Nintendo has announced a trial-run campaign to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Japanese Famicon (the Japanese version of the NES). To celebrate, Nintendo will be re-releasing one special Nintendo classic WiiU Virtual Console game a month, that you can purchase for only 30 cents! These games will be compatible with MiiVerse and Off-TV Play. They will cost the normal amount once the campaign ends after 30 days for each title. At which point if you own the Wii version you can buy the game at the reduced price of $1.00 or $1.50, or you will have to pay the full price of $5-6 or $8-9 dollars if you don’t yet own the game in any form.
The first Trial Game is Balloon Fight, a classic that Nintendo President Satoru Iwata was a developer on. Iwata says he hopes players will have fun trying to top the high score of other players and their friends and share their experiences with the game via MiiVerse social networking.
Here is the schedule of additional games for the 30th Anniversary of the Famicon Campaign:
January 2013: Balloon Fight
February 2013: F-Zero
March 2013: Punch Out
April 2013: Kirby’s Adventure
May 2013: Super Metroid
June 2013: Yoshi
July 2013: Donkey Kong
I think Nintendo is making a mistake by re-releasing games like F-Zero and Super Metroid that they already released for original Wii, even with the added MiiVerse and Off-TV Support. Although these new features are welcome, they should simply work on upgrading EVERY previously released Virtual Console game to include these new features, and then continue to BUILD on the Virtual Console library.
Now that they will be re-releasing games they’ve already released for regular Wii Virtual Console, Nintendo fans and retro fans have less incentive to excitedly anticipate new releases for Virtual Console, since they now know that they’ll have to wait in frustration as Nintendo continues to re-release games they already own or games that were previously released last generation…. Instead of building a HUGE library of amazing classics, this is like taking two steps back and one-step forward…. Very disappointing. Having said that, it is still cool to see MiiVerse integration with classic retro games.
But until Nintendo comes to their senses and makes games like F-Zero compatible with online play, and adds leaderboards and Achievements (which would really make people want to buy these retro games AGAIN) then I think Nintendo will be losing business and not attracting any new players… Had these games included online play or Achievements to unlock, I would gladly fork over $5-10 to rebuy them even if I owned them on Wii Virtual Console. But without features like those, I don’t know that the price is justified. It certainly doesn’t get me super excited, if anything it leaves me disappointed. And gives me even less faith that the games fans really want, like Mother I, EarthBound and Mother III, will never get a proper re-release… or if they do we will be left waiting for YEARS AGAIN! *sigh*