A feature of the Wii that has older gamers excited is the Virtual Console. This is software coupled with a download service that enables users to play games of past eras. Games from older Nintendo consoles such as the Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo and Nintendo Entertainment System will be available for a small fee. Not only this but others such as the Sega Genesis (aka Mega Drive) and TurboGFX 16 will also feature.
It's been stated that not every game for these systems will be available, but a "Best of" selection. Still the virtual console has great potential, especially if these retro games are playable in multiplayer online. Imagine being able to play classics such as Street Fighter 2 and Mario Kart against friends over the Internet. The technology to do this already exists on the PC through pieces of software called emulators, but network play is often a hit and miss experience plagued with lag and glitches. (update: sadly online multiplayer didn't happen for the Virtual Console).
The Virtual Console won't all be about retro-gaming though. Nintendo say that independent developers with lower budgets can also release games for it. These will be games that show off their creativity, smaller in scale but hopefully still fun to play. Nintendo are keen for independent creators to make their games on the Wii, the Wii software development kit (SDK) needed to make the games costs a fraction of the equivalents for Sony's and Microsoft's machines. Taking this into account we could see some very strange little games on the Wii in future, the possibilities are excellent. (update: the branch of new games from developers became known as WiiWare, separate from the Virtual Console).
The downloaded games can be stored in a number of ways. The primary option is the 512MB of flash memory inside the Wii. There are also USB ports on the Wii allowing external storage devices. Lastly there are slots for SD memory cards.
The 'classic' style controller will be used to play these games. You can see it pictured on the controller page.
Wii's World is not officially affiliated with Nintendo! (but they wish we were).