Is Nintendo NX backwards compatible with Wii U?

Professor E. Gadd

Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2012
Wii U
Traditionally, Nintendo has included backwards compatibility for one previous system in its current systems, starting with the Game Boy Advance, which had a GB/GBC cartridge slot, and most recently the Wii U, which can play Wii discs and is compatible with most Wii accessories.

One big question to ask about potential backwards compatibility of Nintendo NX is whether Nintendo is going to include an optical drive in the system. Again, traditionally, Nintendo has always opted to use last generation's technology in their consoles, which would indicate that it's probably going to include a Blu-ray drive (which is already on its way to becoming last-generation technology) with Nintendo NX. A Blu-ray drive would enable Nintendo NX to accept Wii U discs, provided that system's internal chipset is built with backwards compatibility in mind.

Another route Nintendo could take is to build the NX CPU and GPU with the ability to run Wii U games in mind without including an optical drive in the console. Under this scenario, you would purchase Wii U games from the eShop or possibly third-party stores, download them, and run them from the system's internal memory or external storage, similar to how "digital downloads" (I know, a very bad name) are handled today. Nintendo NX would still run in "Wii U mode" when Wii U games are played, similar to how Wii had a GameCube mode and Wii U has a Wii Mode (aka vWii).

Finally, Nintendo could enable backwards compatibility via software completely. This is what's called emulation and is the method that Virtual Console games are currently run on Wii and Wii U. Note that Nintendo NX would have to be a pretty powerful system to be able to emulate a Wii U, so this is the least likely scenario of the three.

In the end, we know that after the last two generations of consoles, Nintendo is now fully aware that fans enjoy playing older games on newer systems. Knowing that, the probability of Nintendo NX being backwards compatible is pretty high.
Based on the way they've been doing things for years now I can't imagine why they wouldn't with this if it is the the Wii U successor. However, I don't see them making it backwards compatible with both Wii & Wii U. Perhaps just the Wii U.
I would hope that Nintendo would make the NX backwards compatible. But I also feel it will have a lot to do with function of the new system and space--didn't effect the GameCube in Wii horribly. I don't see how function and space would be a problem, but I am no engineer.
Well since I see Nintendo going with a VR system I think it will be one that doesn't have BC. Maybe over time they will create an emulator for games, but in that case you would need to rebuy the game digitally.
I think they won't make it backward compatible. ;-;

We don't even know what it is yet, so we can't say much. They could be making a tv for all we know. I hope it's backward compatible though, that would make transitions much easier.
I don't think they're gonna move to be backwards compatible at all, I mean they're looking at doing things differently with handheld devices and not keeping their proprietary games JUST on their hw. Cash is king, and they want some more back again since their NES/Wii heydays. So I think they'll just opt for downloading older games as they come available by their release schedule (whatever that may be).
It's too bad most systems don't do that. Backward compatibility would translate in my eyes as a better marketing plan to appeal to the masses. Also you increase the number of games available to play on the more recent consoles. It just makes sense to me, but I'm sure technological aspect makes it difficult and they are tearing away at any extra hardware to save money and make it affordable.
Depends on how Nintendo wants to take the NX, I feel like they might make it completely different and might not be able to offer any backward compatibility physically. But I hope at least digital via their VC they will be able to support the Wii U and everything else VC the Wii U can currently do.
Well, I'd love the NX to have backward compatibility but that will largely depend on the CPU & chipset they'll be using. They may follow the trend of the industry and just go with a x86-based processor like their competitors. If that's the case then we can simply forget about backward compatibility which won't make most of us very happy. However, the upside is that the NX will be powerful and developers will flock to Nintendo since they're accustomed to developing for the other consoles and PCs.
Further to @Damien Lee 's point and judging by the sales of the Wii U, is it worth for Nintendo to hold back the Nintendo NX in order to play Wii U games, or just try to make the most powerful and innovative system that they can and if backwards compatibility doesn't fit, then just forget about it?

A new console that has backwards compatibility is a bonus to me. I want each console to just kick as much butt as it can, and I certainly don't want them to sacrifice performance just so I can throw in a couple old Wii U games in there.
i hope it is, i also hope my VC games carry over, and i really hope we keep our Miis. i always liked this idea, especially when i can use them in so many games. Maybe its silly, but it's just something i enjoy.
@dustinb12 I hear ya, and if you enjoy it then it's not silly at all. I also like the whole Mii thing, and having VC games carry over should be a no-brainer. Let's hope Nintendo doesn't disappoint us!
another thing i hope i see is new mii parts. Last night i was trying to make Pinkypie and Applejack(you heard me) and well is it too much to ask for pink hair?
Nо оnе knоws but I'm thinking nо bесаusе оf thе gаmе pаd. Thеrе mаy bе sоmе соdе in thе gаmеs thаt rеlаtеs tо thе gаmе pаd, оr еvеn tо thе hаrdwаrе itsеlf thаt is likеly tо bе diffеrеnt оn thе NX.
Rеgаrding kееping thе Wii U, I did nоt mаinly bесаusе I dо nоt think my Wii U gаmе pаd wаs gоing tо lаst аnd I dоn't wаnt tо hаvе tо buy аnоthеr оnе, mоst likеly usеd оff еbаy in а fеw yеаrs whеn Nintеndо stоps sеlling thеir $150 rеplасеmеnts. I think thе gаmе pаd is gоing tо mаkе thе wii u systеm diffiсult tо kееp lоng tеrm. I'm hоping thе NX systеm will mаkе mоrе sеnsе.
Nintendo usually has some kind of business plan. They've done great things in the past and they invested a lot of love into the Wii U so I don't see it just disappearing.
Based on the rumors, I'm speculating that the NX will be fully backwards compatible with the Wii U, be a 1080p console, and although much more powerful still being in the realm of games scaling between the two.

This is where Twilight Princess comes in (and BotW after a fashion). It is a game that would be nearly identical except that it had to be modified for different controllers - even flipping the world so Link would be right-handed. If the Wii had a Gamecube controller I suspect that the game could be nearly so identical that the exact same disk could play on both consoles.

This was a first for a Nintendo console. Jumping from the NES to SNES to N64 and GameCube was such a dramatic switch that a game ported to the next console would not take advantage of all it's capabilities, let along look anywhere as great as a game native to that console. But Gamecube to Wii, that's a different story. Porting a Gamecube game to a Wii was not only very straightforward, but would only require minor tweaks to take advantage of the higher capabilities. Wii to Wii U is a bit more of a jump, but mostly because it switched to HD and the Wii U was a much more expensive console.

But now it seems the NX might hit closer to home. It seems to be based on the Wii U architecture, and Nintendo has explicitly said they are focused more on the experience than graphics. I don't believe it will use a controller any more radical than an updated Pro controller, but I don't have even a hint of rumor to back that up. Yes it may use cartridges (which may throw a spanner in my conclusion), but aside from a speed boost the cartridges will most likely hold no more than a Wii U game can.

Which brings me to my conclusion: While there will be NX exclusive games, I believe it is possible to make most games work on both Wii U and NX. PC developers have had to scale for a wide selection of hardware for a long time, and even now the tools they use allow them to code for multiple systems at once. Thus theoretically you should be able to buy a WiiU/NX game and be able to play it on either console, with the game taking advantage of the NX's better hardware.

Ideally you should be able to go to the store and have maybe 90% of the games advertised as working on both Wii U and NX, so you can just grab a game and stick it in your console of choice.

If the NX uses cartridges though, that might be a problem. eShop games would be fine as it would be the same for both systems, but if the NX only has a cartridge slot and the Wii U only has a disk slot...

I can see Nintendo continuing on with the compatibility format though. That's what they have done with the DS, DSi, 3DS, and New 3DS, and the game cartridges for those consoles can serve as a representative of the future. The NX may be like the original DS with both a cartridge slot and disk drive, but future revisions and consoles will all use cartridges - but the cartridges will be compatible as the DS/3DS cartridges are.
No. NX will likely not play Wii U games unless VC and that would not be likely in the near future. NX likely to use cartridges and a cross play ability with the hand held and console. Wii U would just hold NX back. From what we hear NX is more likely to use AMD and/or ARM CPU. Nintendo would shoot themselves in the foot for using PowerPC yet again. Also reports that range form NX has the power of base XBO and other reports of it being close to Neo specs. Just because Nintendo says specs are not the main focus does not mean NX won't have some muscle They said that in Gamecube era as well and GCN was a beast. A year ago someone working with the NX said it was using industry leading chips. That's not Wii U or anything related to Wii U.

What I want from NX is a dream but possible..I want Nintendo to partner with CD Projekt Red to have GOG on NX to have an instant library of thousands of cross play games.

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