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How to Turn Your Wii into an Emulation Powerhouse

How to Turn Your Wii into an Emulation Powerhouse

Disclaimer:  Modifying the existing hardware and/or software of a console can carry an inherent risk of “bricking” said console.  (In other words, rendering the unit useless.)  I believe that this particular procedure is safe enough for virtually anyone to try.  These processes are in widespread use (relatively speaking) and have been well-documented for an extended period of time.  I believe this to be a low-risk project that when done correctly and as described will not pose any immediate threat to your console.  However, I cannot account for all possible contingencies and outcomes.  If you have any concerns, please do not proceed.  Neither Nerd Bacon, its affiliates, sponsors, members, or writers, past, present, and future, nor the progenitor(s) of this information, nor the developers or distributors of the software provided, nor myself is to be held liable for any damages, physical or digital in nature, to any piece of personal property, that may arise from carrying out the following instructions.  These parties are also not responsible for any loss of data, loss of functionality, or any physical injury that may result from the following activities.

If you’ve ever emulated an old game on your computer and found the setup cumbersome or considered softmodding one of your existing consoles for the purposes of emulation, you may not need to look any further than your Wii and a few simple instructions!  Although the Wii has sporadic success emulating games from the 5th generation and beyond, it can be a powerful asset for those wanting to experience the best of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations.  This puts many of the classic systems at one’s disposal – the Atari 2600, NES, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis, not to mention early handhelds including the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Game Gear, Atari Lynx, and even the Virtual Boy!

If you’re already familiar with softmodding your Wii then most of this should be pretty simple to puff off.  However, even if you’ve never even heard of softmodding, you should be able to pull this off in a very short time.  The set up is, overall, fairly simple.  The time consuming aspect is gathering up ROMs of all the games you want to include, but by using nothing more than an SD card, you can add (or delete) games at your leisure, meaning you don’t have do it all at once.  There are tons of great resources for downloading ROMs out there and I’ll go over some of them at the end of the article.

So why is the Wii such a great choice for softmodding?  Surely some of you have seen the elaborate and refined interfaces on “hacked” Xbox’s, Xbox 360’s, and even PS3’s; why not go that route? These are all wonderful options, and many of them provide a more contiguous and user friendly experience compared to the clandestine setup of the Wii, the issue is that these are relatively complex to pull off.  In order to start throwing just any ol’ software onto a console, it needs to be “hacked” or more specifically “exploited” in some way first.  In other words, a vulnerability has to be found, then some sort of “master program” has to exploit this vulnerability, thereby allowing “any ol’ program” access to the console.  It can be done with a particular save file from a particular game on the Xbox (which I’m eager to try one of these days), but the PS3 and 360 – owing to their more advanced technology – are much harder nuts to crack.

While emulation on the Wii may not score as many points for presentation and user interface, it’s much easier to set up, making it perfect for the casual retro enthusiast looking for a lot of return out of a relatively small investment.  Moreover, used Wii’s are exceedingly cheap and they offer a plethora of control schemes, from the WiiMote, WiiMote + Nunchuck, GameCube controller, GameCube Fight Pad, Classic Controller, and Classic Controller Pro.  What’s perhaps most impressive is that most emulators will support multiple control schemes, making it easy for the user to work with what they’ve already got.  Best of all, exploiting the Wii is really, really easy.

  1. Emulation on the Wii: The Basics
  2. Materials: What You’ll Need
  3. Prepping Your SD Card
  4. Installing The Homebrew Channel
  5. Installing Individual Emulators
  6. Adding Games
  7. Using the Emulator(s) for the First Time
  8. Adding Cheats
  9. Special Notes for Emulators
  10. Downloads
  11. Resources

I.  Emulation on the Wii: The Basics

We’ve already talked a little about why the Wii is such a great introductory option for the emulation of retro consoles, so now let’s dig into what exactly it is we’ll be doing.  Essentially this project consists of 3 major steps: installing the exploit (which allows the emulators to run), installing the emulators (the various bits of software that will allow the games to be played), and finally downloading and adding whatever games you choose.

The tricky thing here is that we’re not dealing with one big piece of software that makes all of this possible.  We’re dealing with several discrete pieces of software, much like a computer.  The exploit is its own bit of software that essentially opens the door for us, and then each individual emulator will need to be installed as well.  Luckily, we’ll be dealing with a few emulators that cover multiple systems, which makes our lives a little bit easier.  When it comes to installing the emulators themselves, you’re free to pick and choose what’s of interest to you.  I won’t be listing all of the emulation possibilities in this article, but I will point you in the direction where you can apply this knowledge to other emulators as well.

Fortunately this process doesn’t require any technical know-how beyond following instructions and being able to use a computer.  We’ll be doing 95% of this with an SD card inserted into the computer, so much of this will have a degree of familiarity to it; after all, most of what we’ll be doing is dragging and dropping!

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II.  Materials: What You’ll Need

  • a Nintendo Wii (with all the appropriate cables, sensor bar, WiiMote, etc.)
  • an SD card – preferably 16GB (although 8GB will probably do)
  • an internet connection (for running the initial exploit)
  • a computer with an SD card slot
  • software to install The Homebrew Channel, such as Letter Bomb
  • individual emulators
  • games, in the form of .ROM files (or other extensions)
  • optional – a more conventional controller such as the GameCube controller or Classic Controller
  • optional – a USB drive if you need more than the 16GB on the SD card

Having another controller on hand is highly recommended.  Although you’ll need the WiiMote to navigate around many of the menus, having a Classic Controller or GameCube controller on hand will make gameplay much easier due to button mapping schemes.  Playing SNES or Genesis games (for example) is possible by holding the WiiMote sideways or by connecting the Nunchuck, but the button mapping will be far from intuitive.

Wii Controllers

I strongly recommend having at least one of these on hand before digging too deeply into emulation on the Wii.

There’s no real reason to have a USB drive on hand unless you’re literally out to collect every game ever.  Were we dealing with larger games (5th gen and up) space would be a concern.  You can experiment with N64 and PlayStation emulators, but I found very limited success.  If the SD card gets full, loading games onto a USB drive will be necessary.  The software must be run from the SD card itself, and there’s no slot for another SD card, so any extra data has to be introduced in a different way.  I wouldn’t worry about this too much though; even 300 – 400 games plus all the software will probably take up no more than 2GB total.  To be safe, don’t worry about the USB drive and make sure you to have a 16GB SD card on hand.

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III.  Prepping the SD Card

In order to make sure the Wii reads the SD card the way we want it to, we’ve got to tinker with it just a little before we get started.  It’s best to make sure that your SD card is completely blank before starting – think of it as being solely devoted to Wii softmodding.  If you’ve already used an SD card to install The Homebrew Channel on your Wii or for other exploits, you can continue to use it for emulation as well.

With the SD card in your PC, find its icon (typically under “My Computer” as one of your removable drives).  Right-click it, and select “Format.”  For File System, select FAT32 and 64KB Clusters.  Click “OK.”  It should only take a couple of seconds, and you’re ready to go!  (You may also want to take this opportunity to name your SD card something like “WiiMod” or something similar so that you know exactly what it is when it’s in your PC.)

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The Homebrew ChannelIV.  Installing The Homebrew Channel

This is probably the most involved part of the process, but as long as you stick with the instructions, you should be fine.  The main exploit that we’ll be working through is called The Homebrew Channel.  I’m sure there are other exploits, but if so they’re unknown to me.  What it is important to realize is that there are multiple ways of installing The Homebrew Channel on your Wii.  I’ve used Letter Bomb on 3 separate occasions now and everything has gone wonderfully smooth.  If you prefer doing it another way that’s fine, just be sure to have The Homebrew Channel successfully installed on your Wii by the end of this step.

The easiest and most well-known method is to use Letter Bomb.  It’s a bit of a process so stick with me.  Once this is done you’ll be opening up your Wii to a whole new world of user-generated content.  The Homebrew Channel will allow you to experience far more than just emulation; maybe we’ll talk about it sometime in another article.  If you’ve seen my article on installing QuadForce then you’ll be familiar with this process.  In fact, if you got QuadForce working then you already have The Homebrew Channel installed and you can skip down to the next step!

1.  Wii System Menu V4.3

The first thing we need to do make sure that our Wii is running version 4.3 of the Wii System Menu.  To do this, first make sure your Wii is connected to the internet.  On the home screen (with all the channels), click on the “Wii” icon on the lower left of the screen.  Then click on “Wii Settings” on the right.  Now look to the upper right of the screen.  If the Wii is where it should be, you should see “Ver. 4.3” followed by a letter.  The letter simply denotes the country, and Letter Bomb supports country codes U, J, K, and E.  The “4.3” is more important than the letter, but you will want to make note of the letter.  If you’re in the US and your Wii is up-to-date, you should see “Ver. 4.3U.”

If you have something less than 4.3, scroll over a couple of pages and update your Wii.  Or if you have reasons why you don’t want to update, you can visit The Wiibrew Wiki and look into alternate exploits for installing The Homebrew Channel.  If by some chance the Wii System Menu ever goes beyond 4.3, you’ll need to look into downgrading your Wii’s software, but this is unlikely.

2.  Your Wii’s MAC Address

Don’t exit out of the Wii’s settings just yet.  We’ll be needing one more piece of information before we can move forward.  From the page where we looked at the version information (Wii Options > Wii Settings from the main menu), go over to page 2, and then click “Internet.”  From there, choose “Console Information” and in big bright letters, you should see your console’s MAC Address.  Either copy it down or just leave the screen up, ’cause we’ll be using this string of characters in just a moment.

3.  Downloading LetterBomb

Now we’re almost ready to download the exploit software.  First, click here to be taken to the Letter Bomb download.  (It will open in a new tab.)

LetterBomb Site

Here’s what the site where you’ll download LetterBomb looks like.

On this page, you’ll need to select your region-specific version.  Since we’ve already verified that we’re running 4.3, we only need to select “4.3U” assuming you’re in the United States.  Otherwise, match up your selection with the information given on your Wii.

Proceed by entering in your Wii’s MAC address; this is essential to “receiving the message.”

By default, “Bundle the HackMii Installer for me!” should be checked, but make sure it is just in case.  Enter in the CAPTCHA code, and continue by clicking on cut the red wire.  A download should initiate and you should receive an archival file (such as a .zip, .rar, .7z).  This download is specifically tailored to your MAC address, which is why I can’t just link up to a file.

4.  Moving Letter Bomb to the SD Card

Now we’re going to put most of these files on the SD card.  The easiest thing to do is open up 2 windows in Windows Explorer: one containing the contents of the Letter Bomb file (no need to unzip/extract it) and another for your SD card.

At this point there should be nothing on your SD card (unless you’ve previously used it for softmodding, in which case I will assume you know what you’re doing).  Drag the folder labeled “private” directly to the SD card root/top level directory.

Next you should notice a boot.elf file among a slew of text files outside of the “private” folder.  Move boot.elf to the root of your SD card as well.

The text files are mostly there for general information and troubleshooting; I’d advise you to keep them, but they do not need to be loaded on the SD card.  An alternative to the above transfers is to simply extract the contents of the LetterBomb file to the card’s root directory and then manually deleting the text files from the card so that boot.elf is the only standalone file.

5.  Installing The Homebrew Channel via Letter Bomb on the Wii

Now we’re going to move the SD card from the computer to the Wii.  When moving the SD card, it’s very important to always remember to safely remove or eject it from your computer.  Even more importantly, when using the SD card with the Wii, always put the SD card into the system before turning it on, and always turn the console off before removing the SD card.  Go ahead and insert the SD card into the Wii and boot it up.

LetterBomb Icon

One of the messages on your Wii should look like this!

From the home screen, click on that little mail icon on the lower right of the screen.  Remember the exceedingly literal “letter bomb” graphic from the download page?  You should see a piece of mail that looks like this lurking around your “mailbox.”  If you don’t see it immediately, try moving backwards (or maybe forwards) a day or so.  You should eventually see this “letter bomb;” now all you’ve got to do is click it!

A test of sorts will initiate.  For the time being, and for our end goal, all you want to worry about is whether or not The Homebrew Channel can be installed.  Once the test has concluded, click “Continue.”  From here, you want to go to “Homebrew Channel” and then select “Install Homebrew Channel.”  Don’t worry about anything else.  If at any point there are any more prompts, be sure to push forward, but again, do not worry about installing anything else.

Install Homebrew Channel

After The Homebrew Channel has successfully installed, you are free to exit this menu (by pressing “Home” on the Wii Remote or following any onscreen instructions to exit) and return to the Wii main menu.  If everything went smoothly, you should now see that your closest vacant channel has become “The Homebrew Channel.”

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V.  Installing the Emulators

Please note that some emulators have little quirks that you’ll need to be aware of before using them.  Before you finish up, be sure to see the Special Notes for Emulators section and read through any notes pertaining to any of the emulators you may be using.

This step is highly customizable based on your individual needs.  Most emulators follow the same “installation” process, so you should be able to apply this method to most programs.  Most emulators also maintain some sort of rudimentary website or entry over at Wiibrew.org which should also provide basic installation instructions.  Keep in mind that most of this software was developed independently – the interfaces are different, the features are different, the default settings may vary, etc.  Initial setup can be a minor pain as you plod through these emulators and tweak them to your tastes (and you probably will want to at some point, especially when it comes to button mapping) but once you’ve finished, the settings will be saved and you’ll be ready to go.

I’d also like to take a moment to point out that these emulators are clandestine projects.  There are lots of potential bugs, so don’t be too surprised if they crash or function improperly on occasion.  In many cases these projects have been supported by single individuals or very small, informal “teams,” many of which have since disbanded or ceased development.  On the bright side, I’ve experienced very few problems when dealing with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation emulators.  It was only when I moved into PS1 and N64 territory that problems began to arise in any abundance, which I why I won’t be addressing emulation of the 5th generation (and beyond).

First things first: shut down your Wii and take out the SD card, then put the card right back in your computer.  Just like with Letter Bomb, we’re going to be dragging and dropping files onto the card.  I’m going to explain the general process and then go through a couple of specific examples.

When you download an emulator for the Wii, it’ll come to you in the form of an archival file, like a .zip, .rar, or .7z.  If you need help opening these types of files 7-Zip is the way to go.  It’s free, lightweight, and takes care of all formats that you’re likely to run across.  Once you’ve downloaded your emulator of choice, there’s no need to completely extract it.  If using 7-Zip or the Windows’ built-in extraction utility, just viewing the files is fine.

At this point, the most common thing you’ll see are two folders: one with the name of the emulator, and the other called “apps.”  In some cases, there may be a top level folder with only the name of the emulator.  Usually you can just go into this folder and you should find the case described above, with 2 separate folders.

From here, you’ll want to drag the folder with the emulator’s namesake over to the top level of your SD card.  It should appear right there alongside “private” and “boot.elf” from our Letter Bomb installation.  Next, drag the “apps” folder over to the top level of your SD card.  Pretty easy, right?

When you’re ready to install another emulator, you’ll have yet another “apps” folder.  If you actually look in the “apps” folder you’ll see that it merely contains another folder named after the emulator, so for subsequent emulators you can just go inside the “apps” folder of the file you downloaded and drag that folder into the “apps” folder of your SD card, or you can drag the “apps” folder over as is.  If you do, Windows will prompt you to merge the 2 folders – this is perfectly safe, and it ensures you’ve got everything you need.

Ok, let’s do it for real, with one of the most powerful emulators for the Wii, WiiMednafen.  This beast will emulate a multitude of machines: Genesis, Game Gear, NES, Sega Master System, Game Boy/GBC/GBA, Lynx, Virtual Boy, and more.

  1. Download WiiMednafen – it’s about a 2MB file named wiimednafen-0_1_1.zip.
  2. Open (but do not extract) the file.
  3. Inside you should see 2 folders, one named “wiimednafen” and the other “APPS.”
  4. Use another window to open up your SD card; make sure you’re at the root (top level) directory.
  5. Drag the folder “wiimednafen” over to the SD card.
  6. Now drag “APPS” over to the SD card.
  7. Congrats, you’ve just “installed” WiiMednafen; ok, it isn’t actually up and running on the Wii yet, but the hard part is over!

Since you’ll probably want more than one emulator on your Wii, let’s go ahead and install another one.  You can install as many as you want at this point; there’s no need to go back and forth from the Wii to the computer.  Of course if you’re unsure of what to add or just want to get moving quickly, you can always install more later.  For this example, let’s use an SNES emulator, Snes9x GX.

  1. Download the Snes9x GX emulator – you’ll end up with a file called Snes9x.GX.4.3.2.zip (or something similar).
  2. Open (not extract) the file.
  3. Inside you should see 2 folders: snes9xgx and apps.
  4. Drag “snes9xgx” over to your SD card’s root directory, alongside the “wiimednafen” folder from before.
  5. Drag “apps” over to the SD card – at this point your computer should ask you if you want to merge the 2 folders. This is perfectly safe as all the relevant files within “apps” are further divided into their respective folders.
  6. Done!
Wii Mod

Here’s an example of what the root directory of the SD card might look like after installing several emulators.

You can do this again and again without fail and everything should stay perfectly separated.  As I mentioned before, if you open up one of those .zip files and only see a single folder, go ahead and go into that folder and you should see the 2 expected folders within.

Now at this point these emulators are fully functional, but that doesn’t really matter if we don’t have any games available for them to run!  Both of these emulators (as well as all others I’ve played with) have specially designated folders for the game files.  It’s helpful, but not 100% necessary to use these pre-made folders.  All of the emulators I’ve used so far will let you browse around the entire directory of the SD card (as well as a USB drive if you have one plugged in) so it doesn’t technically matter where these game files end up, so long as you know where to look.  At any rate, I see no reason not to use the pre-made directories to hold games, just keep in mind that if you do want to organize them differently at some point it’s always an option.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I would recommend installing, at least to start with:

  • WiiMenafen
    • NES
    • Game Boy
    • Game Boy Color
    • Game Boy Advance *
    • Sega Master System
    • Game Gear
    • Sega Genesis
    • Atari Lynx *
    • Virtual Boy
    • Neo Geo Pocket Color **
    • PC Engine (CD)/TurboGrafx 16 (CD)/SuperGrafx (Fast version) **
    • Wonderswan **
  • Wii2600
    • Atari 2600
  • Snes9x GX
    • Super Nintendo
  • Visual Boy Advance GX (VBAGX)
    • Game Boy
    • Game Boy Color
    • Game Boy Advance

* For these systems to work, you’ll need special BIOS files not included with the WiiMednafen package.  See Special Notes for Emulators for more specifics on using these.

** These are either untested or need special BIOS files to work properly that I’ve been unable to find.  Wiibrew.org may have more information or alternate emulators to assist with these.

There are plenty of other emulators listed over at Wiibrew.org – feel free to try them at your leisure once you’ve gotten your feet wet with some of the main ones.  You may have also noticed that I included another GB/GBC/GBA emulator on the list; this is because WiiMednafen had problems running a few of the GB/GBC/GBA titles I tried.  If you run into similar issues where particular games won’t work, don’t hesitate to try another emulator!  I know it can be a bit of a pain, but stick with it and make yourself some notes if you have to.  Don’t feel like you have to test every game all at once.  Let the problems come as they may and handle them one at a time.  Sometimes finding a new game file will also help, though it can be difficult to tell whether or not you’re actually downloading a new file or if it’s the same file with a different name.

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VI.  Adding Games

You can find ROMs at several well-stocked repositories throughout the web; check out the links in my Resources section for some good websites to check first.  If you look at the emulator-named folders on your SD card (such a the “wiimednafen” or “snes9xgx” folders), you should see another directory within named something like “games” or “roms.”  As I said, it’s not strictly necessary to use these directories, but for the sake of simplicity, that’s what we’ll be doing.

Game files can have any number of extensions.  Most of the time whatever the extension is on the file that you’ve downloaded is sufficient, but very rarely you may need to pay attention to these extensions.  The generic extension is “.rom,” but many game files will also have their own, such as “.nes” for NES games, “.gbc” for Game Boy Color, and so on.  For more information about these, be sure to see the section of this guide titled Special Notes for Emulators before getting underway.  Most games will be contained within a .zip file (or a comparable archival format), so be sure to open it up and move the .rom, .nes, .gba, etc. file over into the game directory and not the entire .zip file.

This can be pretty time consuming, but remember that you don’t have to add every game you’ll ever want all at one time.  For WiiMednafen, be sure to file the games away in the appropriate folders (this is just to make things easier when you’re ready to browse and play).  If you want, you can also create other subdirectories in the “games/roms” folders for other emulators to best organize your files.  Find a dozen or so games that you like, drag ’em into their appropriate directories, and get ready to move the SD card back to the Wii.

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VII. Using the Emulator(s) for the First Time

Here’s where the fun starts!  Go ahead and put the SD card into the Wii and turn it on.  If you’ll be using a different controller, now’s the time to go ahead and plug it in.  You’ll still need the WiiMote for navigating around the menus, but generally speaking you’ll want to have your controller of choice plugged in before loading the emulator.  Note that Wii2600 only supports the WiiMote (you’ll hold it sideways) due to the simplistic nature of the Atari 2600 controllers.

I wish I could throw out a bunch of tips and tricks for using all this different software, but since most of these programs were developed individually there’s not a lot of consistency.  One important thing to remember is that the WiiMote’s (or other controller) “Home” button will generally take you to the Options menu for the emulator.  This will allow you to do things like change the screen size and ratio, button mapping, load a new game, exit the program, and more.

The Homebrew Channel

An example of what you might see when The Homebrew Channel has been installed alongside other applications. Notice that both Snes9x GX and Wii2600 have been installed on this machine.

You’ll remember from using Letter Bomb that the closest vacant channel has now been turned into The Homebrew Channel.  Click on it.  You should now see small rectangular icons for each of the emulators you have installed.  To open one, all  you’ve got to do is click on it and the emulator will start running!  You’ll then need to load a game, and then actually start the game.  It’s as easy as that!  Like I said, you’ll probably want to go in and rearrange the settings for the button depending on what system you’re emulating.  In many cases the WiiMote itself does’t have enough buttons.  Even with the Nunchuck is active there’s very little about the resulting control scheme that’s intuitive, especially when compared to old-school controllers.

Other than a few minor tweaks (you may also want to fiddle with the screen size) you’re pretty much ready to go!  The configuration for each emulator will be a bit different, but stick with it and you should be able to find and change whatever it is you need.

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VIII.  Adding Cheats

A few of these programs support cheats, namely the NES bit of WiiMednafen and the SNES emulator, Snes9x GX.    Many  PC-based emulators offer up simple integration of Game Genie / GameShark / Action Replay cheat devices, though the implementation is much more sparse on these Wii-based emulators.

When equipped with the proper BIOS, WiiMednafen will prompt the user with the familiar NES Game Genie screen when each ROM is loaded.  This feature can be turned on or off within WiiMednafen’s configuration; if you plan on using it at all I would recommend turning it on and leaving it on.  For games where it isn’t used, you can just bypass it with a quick button press.  There is a small catch though – WiiMednafen doesn’t come bundled with the proper Game Genie BIOS.  You can do a quick internet search for “nes game genie bios” and find it (you can also check out the Downloads section later on in this guide), but there’s a little more to be done.  This BIOS can come in many different forms; you’ll need to rename it to “gg.rom” (including altering the extension if it isn’t already “.rom”) and place the file in your “wiimednafen” directory.

The other supporter of cheats is the Super NES emulator, Snes9x GX.  These are handled in a rather unorthodox manner – the original hex codes used with existing game enhancers must be converted to binary.  How is this done?  I don’t really know, but there’s a great website that can offer up at least some SNES codes in this binary format.  You’ll need to go to CheatZilla.com and search for you game.  If you see a drop-down box that will let you convert the codes, you’re in luck.  It should then let you download the file.

Once you have this file, you’ll want to stick it in your snes9xgx\cheats directory on your SD card.  For it to work properly, you’ll need the name of the corresponding ROM and the cheat file to match up exactly, and you’ll want to make sure the cheat file has an extension of “.cht”.  So if you had the ROM for Mega Man VII and it was named “Mega_Man_VII_(U).smc” and the cheat file was named “megaman7.cht,” you’ll want to either rename the cheat file to “Mega_Man_VII_(U).cht” or rename the ROM “megaman7.smc.”  Alternatively, it’s perfectly safe to rename both files.  Many ROMs will be given elaborate titles with symbols and parenthetical information and it’s totally safe to rename it to something that’s easier on the eyes.

With your cheats properly named and within the cheats folder, you’ll be able to load them easily from Snes9x GX’s interface.  Once the game is loaded, you should be able to enter the menu with the “Home” button and find the option to load cheats.

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IX. Special Notes for Emulators

As I’ve said time and time again, these emulators are each their own, discrete pieces of software with their own quirks, features, and methods.  I can’t point out every idiosyncrasy of each emulator, but I can clue you in to some of major differences and oddities that you’ll want to make note of.

WiiMednafen

As powerful as this emulator is, for some reason the package doesn’t come with everything you’ll need to utilize all that power.  It can emulate several systems and includes support for the NES Game Genie, yet is purposefully missing many of the BIOS files that will allow these features to function.  Specifically, BIOS files are needed for the NES Game Genie and emulation of the GBA, Atari Lynx, TG-16/CD/PC Engine Duo, Wonderswan, and Neo Geo Pocket Color.  So far I have been unable to locate such files for the latter 3.  However the first 3 are easy to find and I have included them in the Downloads section a little further on.

To properly use these, all you’ll need to do is put them in your main “wiimednafen” directory.  If you happen upon any of the other BIOS files, place them in the main “wiimednafen” directory as well and any associated ROMs should work.  Why the developer(s) went to the trouble to emulate so many devices and then left out so many BIOS files is beyond me, but at least we’re able to experience the majority of these platforms without too much trouble.

Wii2600

There’s nothing too very strange to note about this emulator except for its control scheme.  First of all, this emulator only supports the WiiMote and only supports it held sideways (i.e. the D-pad is treated as if the WiiMote is oriented on its side).  Once within the emulator, some of the interface controls are a bit strange as well.  In-game controls are easy to figure out, but when using menus and such, it often relies on using the “plus (+)” and “minus (-)” buttons to navigate instead of “up” and “down.”

Snes9x GX

Personally Snes9x GX has one of my favorite layouts of any of the emulators on the Wii and I wish others had adopted a similar scheme.  WiiMednafen has a wealth of functionality though its interface is rather spartan while Snes9x GX is very clean and computer-y looking.  Anyway, there’s only a couple of things to look out for here.  First, all ROMs must have either the “.smc” or “.fig” extensions.  In my experience, almost all SNES ROMs I’ve come across have been in the “.smc” format.  The ones that weren’t were “.fig” files.  No real problem there; if you do get an SNES ROM with a different extension  you can try simply renaming it with a compatible extension or try to download the game from a different source.  The other strange occurrence is purely cosmetic, though it can be confusing.  At times, the color scheme for the “active” button on a given menu will switch.  For example the button that looks highlighted on one menu might use the same color scheme to denote an “unhighlighted” button on another menu.  It’s a strange error, but worth keeping an eye out for.

VBA GX

So far I don’t have any special notes regarding this one.  I’ve also used it a lot less than the others as well, so that could account for some of it.  This emulator is made in the same style as Snes9x GX including the excellent interface, however I’ve mostly stuck with WiiMednafen since it covers all of VBA GX’s platforms as well.  The only reason I even mention VBA GX is because WiiMednafen had trouble with a couple of Game Boy games I tried (Mortal Kombat 3 was one of them, can’t remember the other) and it is also a suitable alternative for playing GBA games for anyone missing the GBA BIOS required for WiiMednafen.

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X.  Downloads

7zipThese downloads are all contained within archival formats (.7z, .zip, .rar).  If you have trouble opening these (and even if you don’t), I recommend 7-Zip.  Download it for free at www.7-zip.org.  All of these downloads are local (so they shouldn’t ever go out of date) and safe to the best of my knowledge.  Depending on the age of this article and any current or future development of these emulators, there may be newer versions available. If so, let me know.

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XI.  Resources

If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or problems, please contact me or leave a comment below – I will respond to any comments or emails received!

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Written by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist


Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

Email me anytime, about anything: thecubist@nerdbacon.com

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5 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this! It makes getting out of be on Sundays worth all the effort!

    I’ve got a few emulators downloaded now with varying degrees of success. I just wondered what the limits on the Wii actually are. Reason being is I can play Discworld Noir (PS1 version) on PS3, but wondered if there’s a way to get the PC version running on Wii. I know the game is a pain to run on anything, but wondered if a) it’s theoretically possible (ScummVM doesn’t work), and b) if this game (and others from a similar time) would push the Wii too far.

    Thanks again

     
  2. Sweet!!!…just did it per your instructions and worked flawless…i now have 200 nes games…better than a “nes classic”..my only ? is how do u setup up a game save storage?…thanks dude, your awesom

     
  3. Hi this is the first time I have ever commented on a guide but it is worthy of doing so. I searched high and low for a decent easy to follow guide in how to modify my Wii and this is the best one I found. I had it side by side with another one and this is by far the easiest and most informative. It got me up and running in no time and without those awful moments of frustration because it literally tells you everything. So a complete novice can do it. Thanks for putting in the ground work!

     
  4. Excellent guide! Turning the Wii into an all powerful Nintendo playing machine just feels like the right thing to do.

     
  5. This is an insanely helpful guide. I tried to put emulators on my Wii when I had it. At least now I know where I went wrong.

     

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