As you may (or may not have) heard, Nintendo will allow players who have downloaded games to their Nintendo Wii to transfer their purchases to the Wii U when it releases to retail next month. That's big news, especially to those who have been loyal to Nintendo's service, downloading not only a number of countless classics across various consoles (including the Sega Genesis and Turbo-Grafx 16), but also original games.
Now, to be honest, WiiWare isn't as notable as, say, Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, because a. it's not as well marketed as those services, and b. some big name titles are missing, but there's no question there are still some classics here and there that are worth playing. There are even a few that are still bound to come before the Wii U gets here, such as the oft-delayed (but just-about-ready-for-release) Retro City Rampage, a game we previewed last month.
With that, aside from obviously recommending Rampage, we've got a few WiiWare selections that you should consider buying just to bring over to the Wii U. We'll save you the pain of most of the generic stuff in favor of the true gems that are worth adding to your collection. Enjoy our picks, and if you've got some to suggest, by all means…
Adventure Island: The Beginning
Although Hudson Soft's final Adventure Island game (for the moment, anyway) doesn't quite have the momentum of, say, the classic SNES release Super Adventure Island, it's a fun game regardless, and has enough mini-games and classic gameplay to please even the most hardened fan.
Alien Crush Returns
Dedicated Turbo Grafx 16 owners may remember this classic pinball favorite, but Hudson, before their closure, remade it to great effect, with a number of new table areas, cool 3D effects, and online multiplayer and leaderboards. It's just too bad we didn't get a revamped version of Devil's Crush in the process…
And Yet It Moves
An independent darling from the team at Broken Rules, And Yet It Moves is a quirky – and challenging – platforming game where you can change the environment however you see fit to help a hapless on-screen character. This one's tricky, but well worth sticking with, especially in the later stages.
Even though we never got a Wii port of Bejeweled 3 – clearly the top entry in PopCap's series – the second game is hardly one you should be without, especially with the timeless gameplay working so well with the Wii remote. We could see this getting a resurgence on the Wii U market whenever it opens up.
All the games in Gaijin Games' series – Beat, Core, Fate, Flux, Void and, of course, Runner – deserve special nods, as they refer to a classic style of gaming while relying on the simplest – yet most challenging – of gameplay methods. And to think, Runner 2 might make the trip as well before the Wii U arrives. Hopefully.
Blaster Master Overdrive
Sunsoft's rebirth of their NES classic couldn't be better. It does away with the 3D gimmicks that killed Blaster Master on the PS One, instead relying on old-school play methods and a challenge that'll stick with you for hours at a time. We can't get enough of it.
Bubble Bobble Plus!
Taito has a number of games on the WiiWare service, but Bubble Bobble, as always, is a good title to turn to when it comes to dispatching of enemies with big, globby bubbles, alone or with a friend. If you can't get enough of the NES classic, pick this game up as well. Bub and Bob will be glad you did.
Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth and Contra Rebirth
We may not have gotten big-budget Castlevania and Contra sequels like we wanted (Lords of Shadow II may count in a way), but these cheap, entertaining Rebirth titles are the next best thing, with old-school gameplay and excellent presentations. If you like the retro style, definitely go with these.
Dr. Mario Online RX
Though the online services may be in question when the Wii U launches (it's an older game), Dr. Mario remains a puzzling delight to this day, and alone or with a friend, you'll be popping pills (not that way) as you destroy viruses and boost your high score. This one's a lot of fun.
Excitebike: World Rally
Another NES favorite that's been revamped for the WiiWare service, Excitebike is easily one of the best racers out there, carrying the traditional Excitebike gameplay and combining it with fun 3D visuals and a track design tool that'll keep you busy for hours – alone or with friends.
Firemint's game originally started out as an iPad/iPhone favorite, but on WiiWare, it actually serves a fair amount of purpose as well, as you skillfully land planes while avoiding collisions, even when the traffic gets thick and heavy. A fun favorite, even if you suck at air traffic control.
If you've been looking for an N64-style platformer, but with a fresh twist, Shin'en (the developers of the Nanostray series) have something great for you with Jett Rocket. It's got traditional gameplay, fun level design, and hours worth of secrets to find. Plus, hey, the hero's likable.
A game that's likely to be one of WiiWare's greatest final games, La-Mulana is an oft delayed platformer that'll challenge you at every turn with immense bosses, tons of loot to collect, and thousands upon thousands of rooms to explore. It's got that classic Spelunky-style vibe, too. Get it when you can.
Bioware's classic shooter – the one that put them on the map – returns as a stellar WiiWare release, one packed with beautiful visuals, fun gameplay and a variety of challenges between three unique characters. It's weird as heck, but still a blast to play after all these years.
Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10
Capcom's 8-bit series continues to live strong on WiiWare, thanks to these 8-bit style games that are very true in nature to the first seven or so games from the NES days. The music is as classic as they come, and the bosses you'll face are ridiculously challenging. Still, their weapons are definitely worth it.
RedLynx didn't end their racing run with the Trials HD and Evolution games. Nope, they relied upon this great cart-racing game, where you drive through various courses, trying to beat the best times and acquire new items along the way. This one's chock full of fun.
Space Invaders Get Even
How's this for a twist on modern convention? Instead of playing as the warrior battling the Space Invaders (as you've been doing after all these years), you're playing as the Invaders themselves, trying to take over Earth. The gameplay's a bit different, but this one is definitely worth the conquest.
Tales of Monkey Island
Last but definitely not least, we have to throw a recommendation to Guybrush Threepwood and his latest adventure, brought to you by Telltale Games. Tales of Monkey Island splits across five humorous chapters, telling an engaging new story filled with challenges galore. Any would-be pirate would be wise to snag these.