I've had a thought as of recently. Wouldn't it be great if virtual console games could be played online. You can already do this with emulators, although its kinda buggy and difficult most of the time, when it works its great. There has been speculation that this would be possible for VC, but Nintendo doesn't seem to have plans for it. What I wonder is, is it feasible, and could Nintendo implement it in the future?
The biggest problem that this idea has is that doesn't want to modify ROM code. They've stated several times that games wouldn't support any features that they didn't have originally. So could it be possible to have online without modifying the original games? Well, the games are run with an emulator rather than porting the code. This is pretty obvious with the ability to access the Wii menu and the addition of save states. Games will support multiple controller types including the wireless Wii-mote, so its pretty reasonable to assume that a game could be controlled with a "virtual controller", controller commands that are received online. Is this really feasible? Well, it doesn't work. The problem is lag and synchronization. Let's say you're playing Mario Kart. On a remote system, your friend starts a race by timing his acceleration to get a boost. However, there is a lag, so on your system your friend's character mistimes the boost. The games are out of sync and playing becomes impossible.
Well I thought I remembered an online add-on for the SNES, and sure enough there was, the XBand. The XBand allowed for online play for a select few SNES games for a monthly subscription fee. But how did this peripheral make games not designed for online function online? Turns out that the XBand only worked with a few games because each game had to be individually hacked to retrieve and modify player information over the network. It handled the sync by hacking the games, something Nintendo probably won't want to spend time on.
So we now come back to the emulators, how do they do it? They can handle online multi-player in any game, players merely have to have the same rom file. I'm not 100% sure, and different emulators probably have different implementations, but I believe online play is accomplished by synching the "system state" or the state of the emulated system memory. Rather than sending control data, systems send changes to each other's "states" and thus simultaneous online play is accomplished. Is this possible on the Wii? It is possible, the system already supports save states for 16-bit games. The virtual console emulator could feasibly be updated to support this type of online play.
However, I doubt Nintendo would do this, at least not any time soon. With a lot of things on the Wii, Nintendo would rather leave things gimped than take the extra mile. On the other hand, this is something Nintendo SHOULD do. This would take Nintendo's online support from kinda pathetic to pretty badass. The feature could potentially be a major system seller in itself. I know I would fork over money for games I either have on the original system or on emulator if it had online on Wii.