The Nintendo Wii will go down in the virtual pages of history as being one of the most successful consoles of all time. The somewhat under-powered machine has been on the market since 2006 and has sold well partly due to its competetive price point and partly due to the groundbreaking motion controls.
As well as being a fun and accessible console system, the Wii has racked up quite a collection of games over its lifespan and now, thanks to the wonders of emulation and Dolphin, you can enjoy Wii games, Wiiware, Wii Channels, Virtual Console and Gamecube releases in glorious HD on your Windows or Mac computer. You can even connect multiple Wiimotes and a sensor bar for the full Wii experience, with visuals you never thought possible.
Note: Despite the fact that Dolphin works on the PC & Mac, this walkthrough has been completed using the Windows version and thus contains some advice not applicable to Mac users.
Download & Install
You can download the latest version of Dolphin from the downloads page on the official site. The official system requirements are quite vague, though you’ll need a fast processor that supports SSE2 (the more cores the better) and a graphics card that supports Pixel Shader 2.0 or better.
There are two versions for Windows – 32bit and 64bit (if you’re not sure right click Computer in your Windows menu and choose Properties) – and a single Mac OS X install. The version I downloaded for Windows was packed with 7zip, though there are a host of archive managers that will extract the files.
Once the archive has downloaded, extract it to a location of your choice, and remember where you put it. After extraction you will be able to run Dolphin by double clicking Dolphin.exe. I’d recommend testing it straight away, as you might receive a nasty error or two.
On Windows one of these errors (VCOMP100.DLL not found) is caused by a missing Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable Package. 32bit users can download this here, and 64bit users here. You will also need the DirectX 9 End-User Runtime if you haven’t already got it. By the time you have downloaded and installed these dependencies, you should be able to launch Dolphin.exe.
Next you’ll want to connect your Wiimotes so that you can actually play using a real controller. There are other options, though you can’t beat the real thing and this is what we’ll be focusing on here. If you want to use the pointer then you’re going to need to buy a wireless infrared sensor bar and set that up on top or below your monitor, though you won’t need one for every game.
Before attempting to connect your controller make sure Bluetooth is set up on your machine, either via an internal chip or external dongle. On Windows, Wiimotes are connected by right clicking your Bluetooth icon in the system tray and choosing Add a Device. When the dialogue loads, hold the 1 and 2 buttons down on your Wiimote until the LEDs begin rapidly flashing.
Your PC should have detected the Wiimote as Nintendo RVL-CNT-01, select it and choose Pair Without a Code. You won’t need to install drivers or anything – your Wiimote is now Windows ready (you’ll need to pair it with your Wii to use your console again, if you have one).
Next go back to Dolphin and click on the Wiimotes button. Hit refresh and your Wiimote should buzz and assign itself a number denoting that it’s been found. Well done, you can now use your Wiimote with Dolphin. If you want multiple controllers then simply repeat the process.
The exciting bit! Dolphin gives you the option of launching games via your optical drive from original game discs, and from disc image files of games. As always, I must mention that downloading games you do not legally own is against the law. Then again there’s very little wrong with creating backups from your own discs or supplementing your physical copy with a downloaded image someone has already created.
With your Wii game or disc image to hand, launch either by clicking File then Boot From DVD Drive or by clicking Open and choosing a Wii game image on your hard drive. When you’ve made your selection the game will launch, probably windowed if you’ve yet to alter display settings.
You might find that the game you launched is either too slow, too fast or glitchy. Don’t worry, tweaking Dolphin so that it’s perfectly set up isn’t too hard with. This will also give you a few tips about playing games in HD, which basically entails turning the resolution up (if you hadn’t worked it out already).
Naturally, if your PC didn’t handle the standard resolution very well then you’re not going to have very much joy at higher resolutions.
That’s pretty much it! You can find lists of, which should help guide you in the right direction. I tried New Super Mario Bros, A Boy and His Blob and Muramasa The Demon Blade on my aging Core2Duo with an 8400m. Initially the first two were not operating at full speed, with Demon Blade averaging 70% speed. After a quick performance tweak they’re all up to playable speed, so I’d better stop writing this article and get gaming…
Did you enjoy this how to? Have you tried it yourself? Do you use Wiimotes on your PC for other tasks? Let us know in the comments below.