Wii U updates incoming: Virtual Console in Spring plus speed boost

Nintendo is readying a pair of updates for the Wii U, one for release in spring and another in summer, to speed the console's performance; meanwhile, Virtual Console functionality will be added after the spring update. Revealed during a Nintendo Direct videocast today, president Satoru Iwata said the company had heard complaints about how fast Wii U games loaded and how sluggish it was to return to the console's main menu, and promised they'd be addressed with the new firmware.

That speed improvement will be an incremental, two-stage process. However, even after the first release in the spring, there will be some new functionality to keep Wii U gamers happy.

Virtual Console is finally due, and will hit the Wii U after the spring update has arrived, though Iwata warns that Nintendo won't be able to offer the full existing line-up of Virtual Console games straight away. However, it will support backing up of game progress, as well as access to the Miiverse.

Virtual Console gameplay will also be supported on the Wii U GamePad itself, for off-TV play. Meanwhile, Nintendo plans to add Game Boy Advance support later on, something missing from the service so-far. Those gamers coming from Virtual Console on the Wii to the Wii U will get a discount if they buy the same games again. The normal pricing for NES games will be $4.99 to $5.99, while for SNES games it will be $7.99 to $8.99; however, discounted rates will be $1 and $1.50 respectively.