Nintendo consoles always seem to leave a lasting impression, and the GameCube was no different. When the Wii arrived in 2006, GameCube owners were easily won over by the addition of backwards compatibility.
But with the arrival of the Wii U (CA/UK), that feature somehow disappeared despite the fact that the console shipped with a walled-off “virtual Wii” mode. Nintendont is a piece of Wii homebrew which restores GameCube compatibility and adds additional features to boot.
It also supercharges GameCube capabilities on the original Wii.
What is Nintendont?
Nintendont isn’t an emulator, because it doesn’t need to emulate the GameCube’s hardware. When Nintendo ditched GameCube support on the Wii U, they effectively flipped a virtual switch to turn the feature off. Nintendont turns that switch back on again, allowing GameCube games to run natively at full speed.
The exploit is possible as the “final” firmware used on the original Wii and in vWii mode on the Wii U is susceptible to being tampered with. By installing the Homebrew Channel, it’s possible to install and run all sorts of additional applications on your Wii — from emulators, to media centres, and even boot loaders to run games from USB or SD card.
In essence, Nintedont is just that — a bootloader for GameCube games. Only on the original Wii can you use the original media (GameCube discs) to play games however, and on the Wii U you’re going to need to resort to disc images.
Why Do I Need It?
If you’re a Wii U owner, then the reasons for installing Nintendont are self-explanatory. Your console can natively play GameCube games with this software installed, which adds another 600 titles to the console’s repertoire. Let’s be honest — the Wii U can use all the additional games it can get.
For original Wii owners, the reasons might be less clear but are just as compelling. Nintendont comes with a bunch of extra features, removes region locks, adds support for many new controllers, includes graphical enhancements and more.
Maybe you’re a GameCube owner whose console has died, but you still have a collection of games you’d like to enjoy, and a ton of controllers and old saved data you’d like to use. Rather than buying those games again using Nintendo’s Virtual Console, you can play them on your Wii U with Nintendont.
Note: Piracy is bad and we aren’t condoning it, but in many regions it’s perfectly legal to rip your own backup copy of a game. Though a gray area in many jurisdictions, you may also be a able to download an image of a game you own without having to rip it yourself (as the end result is pretty much the same). You are responsible for adhering to the laws in your region, and remember that stealing makes baby Mario cry.
Other features worthy of a mention added by Nintendont include memory card emulation, allowing you to store save games locally on your device rather than using a GameCube memory card. Support for additional controllers is present, including the Wii Classic Pro and Wii U Pro controllers (over Bluetooth) and other common wired USB HID controllers. Others include Sony’s PS3 and PS4 controllers, the Nvidia Shield Controller, the Wii U GameCube controller adapter, and plain old generic USB gamepads.
Cool, so you can use the GameCube adapter to control GameCube games in Nintendont. Cool.
GameCube games on Wii U ftw
— Ryan Terry (@byteandahalf) May 25, 2016
CRT televisions that used a 4:3 aspect ratio were still the norm when the GameCube was released, and not all games supported 60hz PAL output, 480p and widescreen. Nintendont lets you force games to use the higher resolution and output in 16:9. Though widescreen works, it can cause some issues in games. The software also comes with support for other tweaks, like a cheats database, and there are a few original Wii-only features worth noting too.
Original Wii owners are the only ones who can use Nintendont to play original or backup discs. The new Wii U simply spits out GameCube disks, which used the smaller size of 8CM and a capacity of just 1.5GB. Wii owners can use original memory cards (though I haven’t been able to test if Wii U owners can do so with the GameCube controller adapter for Wii U), use the Game Boy Advance link cable for supported games, and use the WiiRd cheat engine too.
Wii U + Nintendont + Smash adapter + GameCube controller = GameCube over HDMI. 480p uprezzed to 1080p by Wii U scaler.
— Adam ??? (@seven5three) March 12, 2016
At present there’s no support for online play using a virtual modem or broadband adapter, but the feature is apparently coming according to developers. The project is very much alive and kicking, but don’t expect Game Boy Player support as this has been ruled out.
The first thing you’ll need to do before you install Nintendont is install the Homebrew Channel on your Wii. There are a few different ways to do this, and we’ve covered it in the past for original Wii users. The important thing to remember is that Nintendont doesn’t require any additional USB loaders, cIOS revisions, or other tweaks to work — you just need to get your console to a state where the Homebrew Channel has been installed.
Regardless of which console you have, you’ll need to download a few files and put them on a regular SD card (not SDHC or SDXC) of around 2GB. Once you’ve installed the Homebrew Channel, you can use larger SD cards and even USB sticks with your console. If you already have the Homebrew Channel installed, you can skip this step.
On an original Wii:
- System software version 4.3: use the LetterBomb exploit (no game required).
- System software version 4.2 or lower: use the Bannerbomb exploit (no game required).
- You can also do so using Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and a few other games (which are hard to get a hold of).
Note: To find out which version of the Wii’s software you are running, launch the Wii’s system settings (click the round Wii button in the lower-left corner of the system menu). You’ll find your version in the upper-right corner.
On a Wii U via vWii:
- You must use a game in order to do this, but the methodology is the same.
- The easiest game to get hold of is Super Smash Bros. Brawl, then use the SmashStack exploit to install the Homebrew Channel.
Now Install Nintendont:
- Grab any SD, SDHC or SDXC card you want to use, formatted to FAT32 for best compatibility.
- Download icon.png, meta.xml, and loader.dol then rename it to
- Create a folder called
apps/nintendonton your SD card and copy those three files to it.
For games, you can either create a folder on the same SD card or format a USB stick or hard drive for this purpose and put your games there. Regardless, put your .ISO files (more on this in a minute) in a folder like so:
games/game name. You can replace the “game name” part with whatever you want but it’s really important that the disc is called
game.iso — for any multi-disc games name the second image
disc2.iso and so on.
Windows users can use the GameCube ISO Tool to copy their games to the
/games/ folder in DiscEX format, which will save space by means of compression. This is not necessary, and it’s not even an option for Mac or Linux users. If you want to use a USB device to play your games, use the “bottom” USB slot on your original Wii (or the one closer to the edge if your console is stood upright).
To launch Nintendont: insert your SD card, launch the Homebrew Channel and select it from the list.
You’ll need some games to play, and unless you’re using an original Wii, you’re going to have to resort to .ISO files. Even if you are using an original Wii, disc images are faster, you don’t have to switch discs, and they won’t scratch — so they’re very convenient. You can rip your own GameCube disks using an original Wii, and a tool called CleanRip — just install it to the
/apps/ folder like you did with Nintendont.
You can also rip discs using a computer, a compatible disc drive, and a free copy of Windows software RawDump. As previously noted, you may also be able to download a disc image of a game you legally own (though in many countries this is still illegal, and in others the law is not clear).
With Nintendont running you are given the choice of SD or USB storage, as well as original media (disc drive) on the Wii. Selecting a game from the list will launch it, but there’s also a settings menu to explore by hitting the B button on your WiiMote. A few settings you might want to enable, and what they do, include:
- Memcard Emulation: Uses your USB or SD device to store games (turn this off to use original memory cards in a GameCube controller).
- Force Widescreen: Self-explanatory, may break things.
- Force Progressive: Always use 480p, again may break things.
- Auto Boot: Allows you to resume the last game you were playing when you launch Nintendont (hold B on your WiiMote at startup to bypass).
- Native Control: Enables support for real GameCube accessories on a Wii, like the Game Boy Advance link cable (turn this off to use other USB controllers with Nintendont).
- Patch PAL50: Worth trying if you can’t get certain games working, this is the only way I could get Super Mario Sunshine working.
On the Settings screen you can hit the 1 button to go to the Update menu. Choose Download controllers.zip to use USB controllers like the PS4 controller with your console. Once this file has been downloaded and installed, Nintendont should detect any controller you put in your original Wii’s top slot (the one furthest from the closest edge if upright).
The GameCube was a celebrated system, with many exclusives that are worth checking out or revisiting. A few of our favorites include: Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Metroid Prime (and its sequel Echoes), Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, F-Zero GX, Pikmin, Luigi’s Mansion, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II, and Star Fox Adventures.
You can find many of them for sale at reasonable prices in thrift stores, on Craiglist, and online auction sites like eBay.
What are your favorite GameCube games?