Get retro games working on your Wii, regardless of whether they’re on sale on Virtual Console. A variety of emulators await everyone with the Homebrew Channel installed on their Wii.
Emulation, for those who are unaware, is the art of getting software from one platform working on another. We’ve shown you how to get console games from 1994 to 2001 working on your PC, and how to play retro games on your Linux machine.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to get games made for the NES, the SNES, the Sega Genesis and the Game Boy Advance working on your Wii. All of the usual legal disclaimers apply: do not download illegal ROMs from the web, use this only for games you’ve legally purchased and do not ask for help finding ROMs in the comment section. We will not help.
Also note that, before you can run any of these emulators, you’re going to need to hack your Wii to run homebrew. Don’t worry: it’s easy, and all you need is an SD card. Once you’ve hacked your Wii, come back to this article to find out which emulators you can run.
NES: FCE Ultra GX
Where else would we start? If you want to run software for the NES on your Wii, FCE Ultra GX is what you’re looking for. Browse your games and start playing.
Playing NES games with the Wiimote is perfect: just hold the controller sideways and you’ve got a perfect replacement for the retro controller – albeit one without the sharp corners you may remember. Sorry about that.
Every other controller you can imagine is also supported, including the Gamecube controller.
Save state, video settings and a variety of other bells and whistles not offered by Nintendo’s virtual console. Even better: it’s all easily accessible in a Wii-friendly interface. You can even set it up to load ROMs from a network share. Check it out:
Read more about FCE Ultra GX. Download via the Homebrew Browser or at that link.
SNES: SNES9x GX
After the NES came the SNES, the console that housed more than a few of the best games of all time.
Controls are a little more tricky with this one: there are more buttons on the SNES controller than there are on the Wiimote. The default controls will work with some games, but a retro controller or Gamecube remote certainly make things easier. Either way, you can completely customize the controls to work the way you’d like them to.
Again, you’ll find all the features you’d expect from a desktop emulator, from save states to video settings.
Read more about SNES9x GX. Download via the Homebrew Browser or at that link.
Game Boy Advance: Visual Boy Advance GX
Would you rather play old portable games on your giant screen? To each their own, I suppose: Visual Boy Advance GX can emulate games made for the Game Boy Advance and the Game Boy. They might not look great, but in my experience they run perfectly. Even better: the standard Wiimote has enough buttons for the platform, though every other controller you can imagine is also supported.
Again, you’ll find all the emulation goodies you’d expect, and the interface is very similar to the above two emulators. This makes sense: they’re from the same developer.
Read more about Visual Boy Advance GX here. Download via the Homebrew Browser or at that link.
Sega: Genesis Plus GX
Sick of all these Nintendo-related links? If Sega is more your speed, you’ll be thrilled to know that this emulator supports not only the Genesis (Megadrive outside North America) but also Sega CD, Master System, Game Gear and SG-1000.
The GUI of this program is different, but again – all the features you’d expect are here and everthing is very Wii-friendly.
Read more about GenesisPlus GX here. Download via the Homebrew Browser or at that link.
There are more emulators for the Wii, of course, I’ve found these four to be the most stable. In my experience they work perfectly for a wide variety of games, but they’re by no means the only emulators out there. Check out the complete list of emulators you can run on your Wii, or browse this quick list to get you started:
- ScummVM lets you emulate class games.
- Wii64 runs Nintendo 64 games
- WiiSX runs Playstation games
- DeSmuME emulates the Nintendo DS, but is extremely slow.
- DosBOX Wii runs DOS games, requires a keyboard.
Let me know if I’m missing anything in the comments below, along with your thoughts about using the Wii for emulators. Thanks for reading!