One of the more baffling announcements from yesterday's Nintendo Direct was that select original Wii games would now be offered digitally on the Wii U e Shop. Each game will run you $20, but during the first week of sale the games will be discounted to $10. The excellent Mario Galaxy 2 kicked off the program and is available now. Punch Out!! will arrive on January 22nd, with Metroid Prime Trilogy following on the 29th.
This is a welcome addition to the eShop to be sure, but with some puzzling caveats. The games act as a shortcut and launch straight from the Wii U menu (or even the quick-launch screen on the GamePad), so you don't have to go through the cumbersome process of booting up Wii mode to play your classic games. They also include a digital scanned version of their original manual. That said, the games haven't been improved or updated in any way, and that includes resolution. They're still in 480p, not in HD, which is pretty disappointing if you ask me.
I can understand why Nintendo is offering these titles digitally. These games won't be available at retail forever, and in the case of limited edition games like Metroid Prime Trilogy, disc copies are already vanishingly scarce and prohibitively expensive. This is a great way for people who have missed out to play some of these classics. However, if you already own a hard copy of these games there's no reason to shell out again, for what amounts to a simple menu shortcut.
The lack of an HD upconvert is particularly glaring, especially considering bootleg emulators like Dolphin have been running Wii (and GameCube!) games in 1080p for years now. Nintendo has a habit of taking great ideas only halfway, and I guess this is just one more example. For a more detailed look, our friends over at Nintendolife have a video analysis on the new digital Mario Galaxy 2.