Get the most out of your neglected Wii – run homebrew software on it. Whether you want to use your Wii to play DVDs or media files from your network, emulate classic games or try out games made by other Wii users, homebrew is the perfect excuse to dust off your neglected Wii and give it a new purpose. A long-lasting hack means you get all of this working quickly and easily, using nothing more than an SD card.
In ancient times, running homebrew software required owning a specific game and corrupting its save data to run an exploit. It was complicated. The most recent hack, which has been working for a year now, essentially gives you access to Homebrew in a couple of clicks. It’s called LetterBomb. Here’s how to use it to install the Wii HomeBrew Channel and explore an entirely new world of free Wii software.
Disclaimer: doing this will void your Wii’s warranty, and messing this process up could potentially break your Wii. We take no responsibility for your actions whatsoever – you’ve been warned!
You can get free games for your Wii without jailbreaking if you’re nervous, but if you stick to the Homebrew Channel and don’t try to modify the way your Wii works, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
Step 1: Research & Updates
LetterBomb only works on the latest (as of this writing) version of the Wii software: 4.3. If you’re like most people and you have no idea what version you’re using, don’t worry, it’s easy to figure out.
Start up your Wii, then click the “Wii” button in the bottom-left corner of the screen. You’ll be presented with two buttons: “Data Management” and “Wii Settings“. Click “Wii Settings” and you will see which version of the Wii software you are currently running in the top-right corner:
It should be 4.3, followed by one of four letters – U, E, J, or K – depending on where you live. Take note of which letter you have – you will need it in the next step.
If your Wii is running an earlier version than 4.3, it’s time to update. Head to page 3 of the settings, then click the “Wii System Update” button. This may take a while, and requires a WiFi connection.
If your Wii is running a later version of the software – for example, 4.4 – Nintendo has finally broken this jailbreak and you’re going to need to find another hack. Start here, or wait for us to update this article.
Step 2: Prepare Your SD Card
So your Wii is running 4.3, and you know which version you have? Great! Head to the cleverly named Please.HackMii.com on your computer to get started:
You’re going to need to enter your mac address. You can find this in the Wii settings, on the second page. Click “Internet Settings” , then “Console Details“.
Enter your mac address, then select your version of the Wii software (U, E, J or K) based on your research above. Fill in the captcha and you’ll download a specially-made ZIP file for your Wii.
Connect your SD card to your computer and make sure it’s formatted FAT32 or FAT (NTFS, HFS and EXF2/3/4 will not work). Open your ZIP file from HackMii and put the “private” folder and “boot.elf” onto your SD card. Congratulations, your SD card now contains everything you need to get The Homebrew Channel and BootMii running!
I highly recommend you also download The Homebrew Browser and install it on your SD card. This will make installing software on your Wii far easier – you won’t need to use your PC to copy files constantly. Download the ZIP, then create an “apps” folder on your SD card. Extract the “homebrew_browser” folder and put it in your “apps” folder.
Step 3: Engage!
Now it’s time for the easy part! Insert your SD card into your Wii, then go to the main screen. Click the envelope icon in the bottom-right corner, and you should see a letter that stands out from the others:
Don’t see it? You may need to scroll back a few days, depending on your timezone and when you prepped the card. If you cannot find it, re-try step 2.
When you see the letterbomb, click it and the process will begin pretty much instantly. You’ll see some white text on a black screen, terminal style, before seeing an anti-scam warning. Finally, you will be presented with a couple of options:
Install BootMii and The Homebrew Channel. In some cases you will only be able to install BootMii as an iOS. It is still worth doing, because BootMii can be used to back up your Wii in case of emergency. Read more about BootMii here – it’s particularly important if you plan on modifying your Wii outside of the Homebrew Channel.
When you’re done, your Wii will look the same as before, albeit with a new channel on the homescreen:
Launch that and we can start exploring.
Step 4: Browse For Software
Open your new Homebrew Channel. If you put the Homebrew Browser on your SD card, you should see it amongst the various (pop-able!) bubbles. Click it and you can start browsing for software.
Here are a few of my favorites so far:
- Super Mario War, the fan-made 8/16-bit answer to Smash Brothers. Multiplayer chaos at its finest.
- WiiMC, the ultimate Wii media center. Supports shares on your network, YouTube and even NaviX!
- ScummVM for Wii. Dust off those old LucasArts adventure games, copy them to an SD card and play them with your Wiimote!
- Still Alive, a 2D portal clone for Wii. Surprisingly difficult, though the sound effects are awful.
There is a lot more to find here, and I plan to feature the best Wii Homebrew Apps in the months to come, but this list of featured Homebrew Apps is a great place to start exploring if you want to find more quality programs.
That’s the process! If you got lost at any point be sure to check out the LetterBomb tutorial on WiiBrew. They know a lot more than I do.
If you want to particularly recommend any apps I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. I only started using homebrew a couple of weeks ago and still have a lot to learn.
Image Credit: macropixel/Depositphotos