04 June, 2014

A Quick Guide to the UK Hero Turtles VHS Tapes

In 2009 the lengthily titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Original Series – 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition was released on DVD in the UK (I guess “Seasons 1 and 2” wasn't fancy enough). When the first TMNT TV show originally aired in the UK it had been edited, most obviously with the use of the (slightly) different title: Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Whilst the DVD set featured the episodes uncut for the first time, it was not the first time the show had received a home video release.  In the 1990’s Abbey Home Entertainment (mostly using the Tempo Video label) released a number of VHS tapes of the “Hero” version. Typically two episodes per tape, they covered a large chunk of the first three seasons with some episodes from the fourth as well.

The episodes were not always as aired. The tapes tended to have just the one intro sequence and set of closing credits but more interestingly a look at the BBFC site reveals that some of the episodes received further edits. It seems that the distributor wanted a U certificate (Universal – Suitable for All) for the tapes but in order to receive this from the BBFC sometimes cuts were required. Unless off-air recordings surface to compare, no further details are available, but any episodes that received further cuts are noted in the list below.

There are twenty two tapes in all and their placement in the list is based on a rough episode order. In some cases episodes saw multiple releases. In total forty-four episodes and one special saw a VHS release in the UK.

VHS01How It All Began
Cat No. 99032

[SP] How It All Began To obtain a U certificate cuts of 32 seconds were required.

A 50-minute special that begins as a clip-show summarising some of the events of the first season before filling out the runtime with abridged versions of season two episodes [6] Return of the Shredder, [7] The Incredible Shrinking Turtles, [8] It Came from Beneath the Sewers and [9] The Mean Machines.
The footage covering the first season is taken from another clip-show episode: Blast from the Past from the third season.

VHS02The Case of the Killer Pizzas
Cat No. 99012

[11] The Case of the Killer Pizzas To obtain a U certificate cuts of 3 seconds were required.
[12] Enter the Fly To obtain a U certificate cuts of 3 seconds were required.

VHS03Invasion of the Punk Frogs
Cat No. 99022

[13] Invasion of the Punk Frogs
[15] New York’s Shiniest To obtain a U certificate cuts of 2 seconds were required.

VHS04Return of the Technodrome
Cat No. 99042

[18] Return of the Technodrome To obtain a U certificate cuts of 33 seconds were required.
[17] The Catwoman from Channel Six

VHS05Attack of the 50-Foot Irma
Cat No. 99132

[21] Attack of the 50-Foot Irma
[20] Turtles on Trial To obtain a U certificate cuts of 8 seconds were required.

VHS06Green With Jealousy
Cat No. 99112

[39] Green with Jealousy
[23] Sky Turtles
[22] The Maltese Hamster

Part of the “Tempo Special Edition range [that] features an extra long running time”. In this case that means “AN AWESOME EXTRA ADVENTURE FREE!”

VHS07The Fifth Turtle
Cat No. 99052

[26] The Fifth Turtle
[27] Enter the Rat King

VHS08Attack of Big Macc
Cat No. 99062

[30] Attack of Big Macc
[28] Turtles at the Earth’s Core

VHS09April Fool
Cat No. 99092

[29] April Fool
[35] Turtles, Turtles Everywhere

VHS1020,000 Leaks Under the Sea
Cat No. EUKV 2010

[32] 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea

VHS11The Very Best of the Turtles
Cat No. NVT 12946

[6] Return of the Shredder To obtain a U certificate cuts of 13 seconds were required.
[32] 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea
[33] Take Me to Your Leader
[34] The Four Musketurtles

Includes the previously released 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea. An abridged version of Return of the Shredder was previously included as part of the How It All Began special.

VHS12Cowabunga Shredhead
Cat No. 99102

[36] Cowabunga Shredhead
[38] Camera Bugged To obtain a U certificate cuts of 3 seconds were required.

VHS13Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers
Cat No. 94602

[37] Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers

VHS14Corporate Raiders from Dimension X
Cat No. 99122

[43] Corporate Raiders from Dimension X
[61] Shredderville

VHS15Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady
Cat No. 99192

[45] Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady
[46] Beware the Lotus

VHS16 The Biggest Ever Video
Cat No. 96462

[51] The Case of the Hot Kimono
[47] Blast from the Past To obtain a U certificate cuts of 2 seconds were required.
[48] Leatherhead: Terror of the Swamp
[50] Usagi Yojimbo
[52] Usagi Come Home To obtain a U certificate cuts of 2 seconds were required.
[34] The Four Musketurtles
[33] Take Me to Your Leader
[32] 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea
[6] Return of the Shredder To obtain a U certificate cuts of 13 seconds were required.

Includes five previously unreleased episodes followed by the complete contents of the Very Best of the Turtles tape (so a third release for 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea) but with the episode order reversed.

VHS17The Biggest Ever Saturday Morning Heroes
Cat No. 96782

[63] The Big Rip Off

Tape of episodes from various shows, including one Hero Turtles episode.

VHS18The Biggest Ever Saturday Morning Picture Show
Cat No. 96612

[64] The Big Break In
[65] The Big Blow Out

Tape of episodes from various shows, including two Hero Turtles episodes.

VHS19Sewer Heroes Series: Raphael Meets His Match
Cat No. 99182

[82] Raphael Meets His Match
[80] Raphael Knocks ‘em Dead To obtain a U certificate cuts of 5 seconds were required.

VHS20Sewer Heroes Series: Leonardo Lightens Up
Cat No. 99152

[84] Leonardo Lightens Up
[98] Leonardo versus Tempestra

VHS21Sewer Heroes Series: Donatello’s Degree
Cat No. 99162

[96] Donatello’s Degree
[88] Donatello Makes Time

VHS22Sewer Heroes Series: Michaelangelo Meets Bugman
Cat No. 99172

[92] Michaelangelo Meets Bugman
[94] What’s Michaelangelo Good For?

Although it IS the episode on the tape, there’s no BBFC record for Michaelangelo Meets Bugman. It seems the similarly-named Michaelangelo Meets Bugman Again[dead link: see below] was mistakenly submitted in its place. Whoops.

################(26TH MARCH 2022 UPDATE)################
Additional rated episodes
In 2020 the BBFC redesigned its website and irritatingly a lot of information was lost and search options were reduced. Gone was information on multiple submissions of the same film/TV episode as well as anything refused a certificate. Information on cuts was also reduced, now simply noting "a version of this work was cut".

Strangely almost all of the Hero Turtles information was removed. Of the episodes released, only the How it All Began special has a listing. Curiously, following the website redesign, some other listings appeared for episodes that were rated, but apparently never released. The episodes are:

[7]  The Incredible Shrinking Turtles
[8]  It Came From Beneath The Sewers A version of this work was cut.
[9]  The Mean Machine [sic]
[10] Curse of the Evil Eye A version of this work was cut.
[14] Splinter No More A version of this work was cut.
[16] Teenagers From Dimension X
[44] Pizza By The Shred

The first five of these episodes were classified 1st July 1990, just over a month before the How It All Began special (6th August 1990) was rated. That special incorporates cutdown versions of the first three of those episodes and might be why the longer versions went unreleased as well as Curse of the Evil Eye which concludes the arc.

###############END UPDATE################

Finally here are two “Hero Turtles” opening sequences for your viewing pleasure:

08 March, 2014

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe [game review]

NOTE: This review originally appeared on Nintendo Life (posted March 2010) and is reposted here with permission.

Platform: Game Boy Color
Developer/Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 1999

Extra-packed port of a platforming classic
The original Game Boy received a Mario platformer in the form of Super Mario Land, which in turn received a sequel before Nintendo shifted their attention to Wario. Following the release of the Game Boy Color however, they decided Mario should go portable once more and released Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, a port of the original Super Mario Bros. featuring some extras.

People often debate which is better: Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World (including us in a recent podcast!), but what is so often forgotten is how right Nintendo got it the first time around. The game handles wonderfully: the controls are responsive and sliding your thumb from B to A as you perform a running jump comes so naturally you are often unaware of doing it. Many of the enemies that would feature throughout the series made their debut here including everyone's favourite cloud-riding, spiny-dropping and all-round git Lakitu.

Though the GBC's audio chip wasn't the greatest, Koji Kondo’s compositions still excel, from the fun and exciting main theme to the creepy subterranean music. It’s memorable stuff, free from any grating beeps, and fits the visuals perfectly. Complementing the music are the iconic sound effects: Mario becomes an instrument for you to control and sometimes you’ll find yourself triggering these sound effects to fit the music rather than through any genuine need to perform the actions – jumping on the seventh note of the Super Mario theme is particularly hard to resist.

This isn’t an exact replica of the NES game however, as there are a few changes. The minus world glitch has been removed and each world now has its own map so you can see Mario or Luigi progressing through the game. Other changes include Luigi's overalls (green/brown rather than white/green) and the ability to save the game on any level (three save files). The save feature makes sense for a portable title, but does naturally make the game easier. However your score is reset when you resume a saved game and as an incentive to play well with just the one set of lives there is a scoreboard for you to try and get on.

The original NES version was later ported to the Game Boy Advance where the image was squished to fit the screen, but here a different approach has been taken. Everything is the same size as before, but the viewing area has been reduced. Not being able to see the full playing area could cause trouble, but Nintendo added the ability to look up and down with the D-Pad and tapping Select will reposition the camera so you can see a bit further ahead. Being able to see the full screen would be preferable but this solution works quite well.

Then there’s King Koopa himself: Bowser. Hopping up and down spitting flames, each encounter is essentially the same just a little tougher. Compared to his appearance in later games, he looks quite weedy and in truth he’s never that difficult to beat. However by changing things each time, be it a troublesome fireball, less room to manoeuvre or just a tough journey to get there, the game can cause momentary panic. When Bowser makes his final appearance at the end of New Super Mario Bros. Wii it is an impressive sight, but for inducing terror it has nothing on the moment in this game when he starts chucking hammers.

In addition to the main game, there are some extra modes and features on the cart. “Challenge” takes the same 32 levels from the main game and adds five red coins and a Yoshi egg for you to find, as well as giving you a points score to reach. Searching for these hidden items whilst negotiating the hazards of each level and trying to reach a certain score can prove to be tricky, making for an interesting and fresh way to play the game. “VS Game” is a two player mode, but rather than just being the main game with players taking alternate turns it features 8 new courses where you must race to the finish. Along the way there are switches you can hit to make blocks appear or disappear which can either help or hinder your route.

As well as these modes you can unlock artwork as you play the game. Unlocked pictures appear in an album and can be printed off using the Game Boy printer. Unlocking one of the pictures requires you to trade scores with someone using the infrared link: something that only featured on the Game Boy Color. It’s only one picture but it could prove a slight irritant for Game Boy Advance/SP players if they like to have everything unlocked in their games.

In the “Toy Box” section you will find a calendar you'll never use, a fortune telling application and an option to get a hint as to where the Yoshi egg is hidden in one of the challenge levels. Further artwork and banners can be found here, in some cases allowing you to edit the text. Overall there's a good selection of added content to keep you occupied.

But wait, there’s more! Get enough points and you can unlock two further game modes: a one-player version of the VS game where you race against a Boo and the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 that was originally released for the Famicom Disk System. Better known in the west as “The Lost Levels” and titled here as “Super Mario Bros. For Super Players” this sequel provides a tougher challenge for players. Like the first game a direct port was later released for the GBA as part of the Famicom Mini series. As a Japan-only release it requires a bit of extra effort to track down so how does the version here compare?

Like SMB1 there is the addition of the map screen, the ability to save after each level (though there's only one save file) and the reduced viewing area. There have also been some omissions such as the removal of the winds that featured in some levels. Worlds 9 and A-D have also been removed and (unlike the FDS original) Mario and Luigi no longer have different abilities. Removed content is always disappointing but you are still getting an extra 32 levels to play through, providing even more platforming joy and its inclusion is a welcome addition.

It’s easy to see why Super Mario Bros. shifted so many NES consoles back in the day. Tight controls, varied, well designed levels, great music and a variety of enemies make for a classic game that is a joy to play through. With a heap of extras including a (regrettably cut-down) version of the sequel, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe is an essential GBC title.

17 February, 2014

Gaming Headlines: Wii U third party woes, a generous PS Plus trial, 1993…

Hi everybody. Welcome to Gaming Headlines a look at computer/video game stories from the past week that have caught my eye.

The only surprising thing is that it hasn’t been cancelled
This past week it was announced that Ubisoft’s much anticipated (and already delayed) Watch_Dogs will be arriving on Wii U later than on other platforms (Game Informer). Due to arrive elsewhere at some point between the start of April and end of June it is unclear how much longer it will take to arrive on the system. Third party games are announced as no longer coming to the Wii U with alarming regularity, whilst those that do turn up often have features removed so this is yet more irritation for owners of Nintendo’s console.
There is something of a vicious circle going on with companies cancelling/delaying/removing features from games as they are finding it difficult to shift copies on Wii U, whilst Wii U owners aren’t buying due to cancelling/delaying/removing features from games.

Not all games are struggling to sell on Wii U however with indie title Mutant Mudds Deluxe performing well on the eShop (Nintendo Everything). Whilst sales-wise “3DS is king”, the Wii U version has apparently managed better sales than the PS3, Vita and PC (via Steam) versions combined.

PS4 owner takes out 21 year PS Plus trial  
With access to free games and discounts PlayStation Plus has obvious appeal. For those on the fence about signing up there is a free trial, but when one gamer was given the option to extend his trial he did. Repeatedly (VG 24/7). He finished up with his membership extended until 2035. Unsurprisingly this deal is not widely available.

TVii still not available in Europe and Oceania 
It may have launched in the regions 444 days ago but Wii U owners in Europe and Oceania are still without the TVii service. The TVii page on the Nintendo France site reads:

“Nous vous prions d'accepter nos excuses, le service Nintendo TVii initialement prévu en Europe pour 2013 ne sera pas accessible cette année. Veuillez rester à l'écoute pour des annonces ultérieures concernant ce service dans un avenir proche”.

Maybe there will be better news next week.

The wrong kind of English
Thursday saw the first Nintendo Direct of the year featuring more footage of games we already knew about (X still looks extremely  promising) and some new reveals such as NES Remix 2 (something I’m very much looking forward to). It was also announced that GBA games would finally hit the Wii U Virtual Console in April whilst the first Inazuma Eleven DS game would be available to download from the 3DS eShop after the presentation. But not for everyone…

So why was the UK denied this re-release of the RPG Footy game? No reason was given in the presentation, but Nintendo Life reader “AcridSkull” found the answer on developer LEVEL-5’s site. It seems it is down to a new US voice cast:

“While this was a challenging decision, it was deemed unsuitable to release a game with American English voice acting in a territory in which the franchise has been so firmly established with the British English voice cast and downloadable game size constraints prevented us from including both English voice options”.

The comment about “downloadable game size constraints” is somewhat eyebrow-raising considering full retail 3DS games are available to download from the eShop, but that’s the reason they are going with. If you are a UK 3DS owner who really wants to play the game, the Argos eBay Outlet is currently selling the physical DS release for a fiver.

Unfinished Amiga game looking to come to Steam
A game that caught my eye on Steam Greenlight this week was 1993 – Space Machine. There are lots of games on Greenlight but this fun-looking arcade shooter came to my attention via the story of its development. Originally titled Shenandoah: Daughter of the Stars, it was shaping up nicely for a 1993 Amiga release when a case of unrequited love caused the whole thing to fall apart. Obviously the story doesn’t end there and the full story including that of its return here on Polygon is definitely worth a read.

Well that’s all for now.

10 February, 2014

Gaming Headlines: Dungeon Keeper/Flappy Bird…

Hi everybody. Welcome to Gaming Headlines, a look back at computer/video game stories from the past week that have caught my eye.

So there’s this new Dungeon Keeper out…
The big news this week was the release of Dungeon Keeper for iOS/Android. It’s not exactly unheard of for a video game company to annoy fans, but EA have turned it into an art form. They took popular 1990’s strategy game Dungeon Keeper, created a new instalment for smart phones/tablets and then released it as a “free to play” title.  When it arrived gamers were not happy and reviews were not good with the main problem being that whilst it was free to download, if you wanted to do anything it would cost you.

“Dungeon Keeper barely waits until the tutorial is over before making it very clear it’s free-to-play in name only. The rooms you task the imps with building all take time to excavate and you’ll quickly find that even the smallest can take several hours unless you spend gems to speed things up. And of course once you run out of gems your best way of getting more is to pay for them with real money (Only £69.99 for 14,000!)”

“This is shameful, and if anybody's proud of the horrible thing, they deserve nothing but scorn for being so pleased about actively contributing to the continued long-term harm such short-sighted and damaging games will do to this industry. This business model, built entirely on aggressively exploiting a bubble before it bursts, can bring nothing but illness toward an already unhealthy market”
The Escapist

EA pointed to 5 star reviews from users as proof that people liked the game. However (at least with the Android version) this is misleading. As reported here by USgamer whenever you go to make a in-app purchase you are prompted to rate the game. At this point the game makes the ludicrous claim that 5-Star reviews will help provide free updates. Furthermore there are only two options “1-4 Stars” or “5 Stars”, select the former and you are prompted to e-mail your feedback on how they can make the game a 5 star one. I suspect there were many a strongly worded e-mail sent off to that particular e-mail address.

An alternative to microtransactions
Whilst EA have their own ways of making money, Elite Systems (the company behind  the recently funded via Kickstarter  Bluetooth ZX Spectrum) have apparently found a different way of boosting their bank balance. Speaking about the recent Kickstarter campaign GamesIndustry International report that “the final hours were mired in controversy after it was claimed that many of the developers whose 8-bit games feature in the associated emulator app had never received agreed royalties”.

Elite Systems first brought Speccy games to the iOS appstore in 2010 via collections and in some cases standalone apps. Apparently these developers were offered 50% of the profit from each sale but have yet to receive a penny, whilst one developer is said to have never actually given permission to sell his games in the first place. Elite Systems are said to be planning to fix things within 28 days and for the moment have removed the apps from the store.

Meanwhile The Your Sinclair Rock’n’Roll Years have highlighted that this is not the first time something like this has happened with Elite Systems by posting a scan from a 1986 issue of Popular Computer Weekly here on their Facebook page.

The rise and fall of Flappy Bird
Also annoying people was iOS/Android game Flappy Bird. Released in May last year it suddenly shot up the charts this past week. Why everyone suddenly became aware of it is uncertain, though the USgamer review is probably right to suggest this YouTube video [not work safe] played a big part. Around the web criticisms included the difficulty, overly simple gameplay, pipe and floor graphics looking suspiciously similar to Super Mario World and general “why is this game doing so well, it’s rubbish?” type comments. I can’t say the game particularly bothered me. It was a free download after all. However by the end of the week the developer decided he’d had enough and removed the game (Twinfinite). Of course plenty of clones are still available…


TVii still not available in Europe and Oceania
It may have launched in the regions 437 days ago but Wii U owners in Europe and Oceania are still without the TVii service. The TVii page on the Nintendo Deutschland site reads:
“Wir entschuldigen uns dafür, dass es uns nicht gelungen ist, den Nintendo TVii-Service wie geplant 2013 in Europa zu veröffentlichen. Bitte achten Sie in der näheren Zukunft auf weitere Ankündigungen bezüglich Nintendo TVii!”.

Maybe there will be better news next week.

Amazon’s console starts to get interesting
Amazon recently announced plans to launch a games console priced under $300 “ offering the streaming and download of games, music, movies and TV content” . It held people’s attention for about 8 seconds before they shrugged and went back to whatever they were doing before. However this past week it was announced that they had purchased Double Helix Games (TechCrunch). Double Helix Games are the developer of the most recent Killer Instinct game and whilst that won’t be showing up on Amazon’s machine, it does seem the Kindle maker will be putting in a bit of effort when they launch their console.

Look it’s a new Mega Drive (kind of)
Finally here’s a picture of Mega Drive Megatron:
Yep this rather cool looking release from Takara Tomy/Sega has the Decepticon leader transform into a Mega Drive (known as a Genesis to North Americans and Wikipedia users). More pictures can be seen here on Seibertron.

Well that’s all for now. More waffle next week.

03 February, 2014

Gaming Headlines: It Begins

Hi everybody. Having decided I really should be writing *something* I present to you the first Gaming Headlines, providing a look back at the best (or not) computer/video game stories of the past week. Let’s get started…

Lazy bum starts new feature on blog
Dave from largely forgotten about blog Possibly Interesting has started a new weekly feature looking at computer/video game news from the previous week. The format seems to be largely stolen from TJR Wrestling’s daily news updates and the feature is expected to fizzle out and die after the third instalment. Dave is said to be expecting mass indifference to the arrival of Gaming Headlines and will no doubt soon be wishing the feature the best in its future endeavours.

So did anyone buy Scorpion as DLC for Injustice?
Remember the fuss when it was announced that Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion was heading to DC Comics brawler Injustice: Gods Among Us as DLC? With the many, many DC characters that have appeared over the years but were not in the game, a lot of people questioned the need to grab a character from somewhere else. Actually some shouted quite loudly about it. So was Scorpion a waste of developer NetherRealm Studios time? Er… apparently not. Last week began with Mortal Kombat Online reporting that the spear-throwing ninja spectre was actually the highest selling DLC for the game. If a number of people were voting with their wallets it seems that number was actually quite small. Whilst exact figures aren’t given and—as the site notes—anyone with a DLC Season Pass got Scorpy whether they wanted him or not, it’s still quite surprising given the anger originally shown in some quarters.

Nintendo trying something else
There were a lot of Nintendo news stories  last week including the usual “Wii U is in trouble” reports which will no doubt crop up again in future weeks, but the big story was Nintendo’s idea to start making more money. No they’re not planning to re-open their chain of love hotels but are  introducing a third platform focussing on “Quality of Life” (story here on Wired). Not a games machine, it will be targeted at a different market: the non-gamers who picked up the likes of Wii Fit or Dr Kawashima's Brain Training (as did plenty of gamers I should note). Anyway here are a couple of diagrams that don’t really explain it…

None of this helps out the Wii U but trying something different could be a success. The last time Nintendo decided they needed a “third pillar” it gave us the original DS and that worked out OK for them. It did mean the death of the Game Boy line however, so could launching the Nintendo Treadmill lead to the 4DS being the only option for fans of Nintendo games next generation? Well no, but I was trying to find a way to transition to…

DS games are coming to the Virtual Console
Speaking of duel-screen handhelds (see what I almost successfully did there?), games from the original DS are coming to the Wii U Virtual Console (Nintendo Life). With the Wii U’s touchscreen gamepad it makes sense, though initial reaction from fans has been along the lines of “why not on 3DS too?” seemingly forgetting you can just use the actual game cards on it. There’s no launch date yet but considering the 3DS and Wii U are still waiting for previously announced PC Engine and Game Boy Advance games respectively, expect the first DS game to hit the service in early 2017.

New PS Vita hits the UK soon
Something that does have a release date (at least in the UK) is a new slim Playstation Vita. Already out in Japan (since October last year), it can be picked up in UK shops from 7th February. The new PCH-2000 series model features a lighter re-design, longer battery life and… some other differences… I guess…. I dunno. To be honest I lost interest when I saw the £180 price tag. If you’re interested there’s a unboxing video over at IGN, though upon clicking it, it turned out to be an advert for some soy sauce.

TVii still not available in Europe and Oceania
Back to Nintendo. It may have launched in the regions 430 days ago but Wii U owners in Europe and Oceania are still without the TVii service. The TVii page on the Nintendo UK site reads:
“We would like to apologise that we were unable to bring the Nintendo TVii service to Europe in 2013 as originally planned. Please continue to keep an eye out for further announcements regarding this service in the near future”.

Well that’s all for this week.

14 January, 2014

The Wii U 50Hz Virtual Console Hall of Shame

Click here to jump to the list

2nd July, 2018 Update:
I now consider this list complete. The Wii U is no longer receiving much support and there hasn't been a Virtual Console release since the beginning of February (and it's been even longer since a 50Hz one). Should something change I will update the list accordingly.

Nintendo’s Virtual Console service launched with the original Wii in 2006, allowing owners to play games from previous systems (both Nintendo’s own and former rivals). There were some problems but the one that caused the most ire from gamers was unique to Europe and Oceania: 50Hz. There’s a good Nintendo Life article here explaining the problem, but the short version is that games ran slower than their Japanese/North American 60Hz equivalents and in some cases had squished visuals with black borders along the top and bottom of the screen. Not all games were affected: PC Engine games and most imports would run in 60Hz whilst other games had been PAL-optimised at the time of their original release. However a huge chunk of the available library was unoptimised 50Hz.

In 2011 the service arrived on 3DS and to the delight of the PAL regions the games were the 60Hz versions. Finally Nintendo had seen sense. Hooray! Correct speed gaming for all. So when Nintendo announced the Virtual Console was coming to Wii U, people’s main thoughts were not about the speed the games would be running at but the new features such as Miiverse integration and the fact that (for a limited time) the initial releases would be priced at a mere 30p/30c.

Then the first game (Balloon Fight) arrived and…


Yes. 50Hz. Really. A game that was available to 3DS owners in its original 60Hz form was for some reason available to Wii U owners as a slower 50Hz release. Gamers were not pleased and took to forums to complain much as they had when the Virtual Console first appeared back in 2006. However something that was not available in 2006, but was in 2013 was Nintendo’s own social network: Miiverse. If Satoru Shibata or anyone else from Nintendo of Europe popped into the Balloon Fight community expecting to find delighted gamers, the reality was anything but. Floods of complaints were posted and not just on that first day, but the day after and the day after that… in fact gamers kept up the protest until it was announced that the second game to be released (F-Zero) would be 60Hz.

However that is not the end of the story. Whilst the majority of Wii U Virtual Console releases are 60Hz, if a game has language options and/or received some optimisation at the time of its original 50Hz release Nintendo sometimes release that version instead. Balloon Fight was eventually updated to a optimised 50Hz version rather than the 60Hz release, presumably so the game’s save data could be kept.
Even with optimised 50Hz there are issues. Putting aside the fact that the degree of optimisation can vary, the Wii U can only output at 60Hz. To get around this 50Hz games have to occasionally repeat frames. NeoGAF forum user “Robin64” explains it better in this post.

How much of a problem 50Hz is will vary from gamer-to-gamer. It will also vary game-to-game. If you were playing a turn-based strategy game is that extra bit of speed essential? Ideally Nintendo would make both versions available but is currently unwilling to do so.

Which brings us to The List. Hopefully someone will find it useful. I’ll keep updating it, even if that just involves changing the “correct as of…” date each week. Originally you could make sure a game was the 60Hz version by going to the eShop listing. If it was, the shop description would include a line at the end saying “This is the US version of the game” or “This is the Japanese version of the game”. Beginning in October, 2014 this information is not always provided. This information was never provided for Game Boy Advance or DS games, but due to their handheld origins they are not affected and so (barring any emulation issues) will play correctly.
I’ve kept things simple, listing them in alphabetical order, followed by some notes on any optimisation (taken from the eShop listing if available). Where available I've placed a link to comparison videos people have made.

The List
NOTE: As standard the aspect ratio (black border problem) for 50Hz releases is corrected. As this is usually done for each release it is not mentioned in the notes - though if a game does still have black borders, that is noted.

Game Notes
Balloon Fight (NES) Optimised 50Hz
Originally released unoptimised
60Hz/50Hz comparison video on YouTube.
“run[s] at a similar speed to the US version”.
[Donkey Kong Country 2:] Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES) Optimised 50Hz
“offer[s] gameplay and music speed similar to the US version. Demos and animations may run at PAL speed”.
Donkey Kong 64 (N64) No information is provided on the eShop listing, but this is the 50Hz version."[Kongs] move as fast as in the NTSC versions. Everything besides movement (cutscenes, menus, enemies, ...) is slower"- from the Donkey Kong 64 Speedrun Wiki
Harvest Moon (SNES) “play[s] music at a speed similar to the US version”.
Kirby’s Adventure (NES) Optimised 50Hz
“offer[s] gameplay and music speed similar to the US version. Demos and animations may run at PAL speed”.
The Legend of The Mystical Ninja (SNES) “play[s] music at a speed similar to the US version".
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) “play[s] music at a speed similar to the US version”.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64) No information is provided on the eShop listing, but this is the slower 50Hz version.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) “This is the European version of the game”.
Paper Mario (N64) “play[s] music at a speed similar to the US version”.
Pokémon Snap (N64) No information is provided on the eShop listing, but this is a optimised 50Hz version, offering gameplay and music at a similar speed to the US release.
Pop'n Twinbee (SNES) “play[s] music at a speed similar to the Japanese version”.
Pop'n Twinbee: Rainbow Bell Adventures (SNES) “play[s] music at a speed similar to the Japanese version”.
Street Gangs (NES)“This is the European version of the game”.
Super Metroid (SNES)Optimised 50Hz
“offer[s] gameplay and music speed similar to the US version. Demos and animations may run at PAL speed”.
Ufouria: The Saga (NES) No information is provided on the eShop listing, but this is the slower 50Hz version. Music plays at a similar speed to the Japanese release. Black borders are still present.