Nintendo released Balloon Fight today in the Nintendo eShop, bringing with it a preview of the Wii U's upcoming Virtual Console as well as customizable controls and save points.
Balloon Fight is the first in a series of NES games that the company will release monthly between now and July in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Famicom, the Japanese counterpart to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Like Balloon Fight, each will cost $0.30 for 30 days.
Nintendo's console version made its debut in 1986, and a port of that is now front and center in the Nintendo eShop. Tapping on the icon allows you to check out screenshots, get information about the game as well as purchase, download and install it with a few taps on the GamePad.
Launching the game took about 19 seconds. While it was loading, the Wii U displayed a Virtual Console splash screen, with information about the game in the foreground and an NES in the background. When the game loads, it's looks as you'd expect: an NES game working on the Wii U, both on the TV and GamePad.
Tapping ZR (the right trigger) brings up the Virtual Console Menu, which allows you to create a restore point that saves a snapshot of your progress that automatically loads when you reenter the game. The Controller Settings submenu allows you to map the buttons on your controller of choice, using an icon of the original NES controller as a frame of reference. Balloon Flight supports the GamePad, Wii remote, Wii U Pro Controller, and the Classic Controller Pro.
Nintendo is creating versions of its Virtual Console games specific to the Nintendo eShop on Wii U. Those who've purchased a Virtual Console game and transferred it to the Wii U can buy the "enhanced" Wii U version, which offer support Miiverse communities, at $1 for NES games and $1.50 for SNES games. Everyone else will pay regular price for NES games, priced between $4.99 and $5.99, and SNES games, which will cost between $7.99 and $8.99.
Nintendo announced that an update this spring would bring the Virtual Console to the Wii U.