The Gamecube may have been Nintendo’s least successful console ever, as well as the wooden spoon holder of its generation, but in recent years, it has come to stand as a symbol for the Nintendo of old, the one that used to push for new core IPs, and the one that used to cater to core gamers above all else with cutting edge tech that far outdid its competition. As a result, when rumors of the Wii U (then known as Project Cafe) first began to circulate, backwards compatibility with the Gamecube was slightly taken for granted. The announcement at E3 that the Wii U will not be compatible with the Gamecube in any capacity came as a bit of a downer, then.
However, hold on to your Gamecube controllers for a bit. A new report has started doing the rounds, and it claims that Gamecube games may soon be appearing on the Wii U’s online store, possibly under the Virtual Console storefront. There are no details- we don’t know if all games will make it to the store, for instance, or only a select few, we don’t know if this indicates support for the Gamecube controller, or if the Classic Controller will be substituted to play GCN games instead; we don’t know if games will be upscaled, or if they will be emulated natively.
And where does this rumor originate from? Why, from Nintendo itself. Speaking to a site called NintendoGal, Amber McCollom, Nintendo of America’s director of entertainment and trend marketing, had this to say about Gamecube compatibility with the Wii U:
“You know it’s interesting that you bring up backwards compatibility and Nintendo’s history usually goes back one system. The Wii was compatible with GameCube and Wii U will be compatible with Wii and that’s pretty traditional in launches from Nintendo.
“Actually the GameCube discs will not be compatible with Wii U, but a number of the games that were playable on GameCube can be downloaded from WiiWare.”
It makes sense for the Gamecube to join the swelling ranks of the Virtual Console front, which, as of now, represents systems as varied as NES, SNES, N64, Genesis, TurboGrafix 16, Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Game Gear. And whereas it seems likely that this will happen for sure, it seems to make too much sense, and so, obviously, Nintendo won’t confirm it yet.
When contacted, this is what Nintendo had to say:
“To clarify the capabilities of the Wii U system: As correctly stated, Wii U will not play Nintendo GameCube discs, however Nintendo has not made any announcements regarding downloadable content.”
In any case, hold on to your Gamecube or Wii consoles, along with all your games and accessories. One way or the other, you’d do well to keep them, since even if the Wii U supports downloadable Gamecube games, you’ll have to rebuy them.