Super Mario World box art

Image: Super Mario World box art. Nintendo.

Perhaps the worst to come from today’s outpouring of Wii U info is the news that downloaded Wii content will function in only the most basic sense on Wii U.

Sure, you’ll be able to transfer your WiiWare and Virtual Console games to the Wii U, but they’ll only function in a special “Wii Mode.”

Similar to the way GameCube games trigger the Wii to function only as a GameCube, Wii Mode essentially turns your Wii U into a Wii while active – that means no support for the GamePad or other Wii U features.

Strangely, Wii Mode is not simply something that boots when you try to open Wii content, but rather its own application which must first be accessed. In essence, your Wii’s whole existence will be shoved into a single menu item, with its contents not even allowed to commingle with Wii U’s navigation.

While details are still scarce, it sounds like my dream of playing VC games while running a movie on my TV are shot. As well, the requirement of this special mode implies that Wii’s online store will either be unavailable on Wii U, or only available through Wii Mode.

Unless Nintendo plans on rebuilding all of the Wii’s online content for Wii U in short order, be prepared for another long wait for VC games. Horror mode: you might even have to re-re-buy your old favourites through a new Wii U Virtual Console if you want them to take advantage of the system’s features.

Wii digital content transferred to Wii U won’t support GamePad, other system features