DIY Entertainment

What to Do With an Old Nintendo Wii: 12 Fun DIY Ideas and Projects

Christian Cawley Updated 29-04-2020

Over 100 million Nintendo Wii consoles were bought between 2006 and 2013. As such, there’s a good chance you own one. Your old Nintendo Wii is probably stuck at the back of a cupboard or acting as a particularly expensive doorstop.

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After all, so many new consoles have come along to replace it. But does your old Wii console really have to sit unused? No!

If you’ve been wondering what to do with your old Nintendo Wii, here’s a list of ways to repurpose it.

Install Homebrew on Your Old Nintendo Wii Console

Incredibly it’s not difficult to find new uses for your Nintendo Wii. After all, like any game console, it’s basically a computer hooked up to your TV. While this doesn’t mean much in normal circumstances—you’re locked to Nintendo-approved activities—jailbreaking the Wii extends the possibilities considerably.

Jailbreaking is remarkably simple. Our guide to installing the Homebrew Channel on the Wii How to Install Homebrew on a Nintendo Wii Using LetterBomb Installing Homebrew on your Nintendo Wii can unlock its full potential. Here's how to do that using LetterBomb. Read More with the LetterBomb hack shows you how. Once you’re done with that, head back here to find some new uses for your old Wii. Anything that can run on the Homebrew Channel can be installed from its repository of software, or downloaded to PC and copied to your Wii’s SD card.

Before you start, make sure you have a USB keyboard attached. This will help you to make the most of these new Nintendo Wii projects.

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1. Install Homebrew Wii Games and Apps

One of the main reasons to use Homebrew is to install additional software. Among the list of titles available is a host of games. Some of these are original creations, while others are ports of open source games from other platforms.

Simply browse the list in the Homebrew Channel (HBC) and install the software. Moments later, it will be ready to use.

2. Develop Your Own Homebrew Games

You don’t have to rely on software already created by the community—you can make your own. A vast collection of homebrew games is available in HBC, and anyone can develop their own to share.

For details, check the list of Wii development tools available to download and install. These typically run on Windows or Linux PCs, with a few supporting Macs. When you’re done, upload games (or other software) to the HBC community for others to use.

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3. Turn Your Old Wii Console Into a Children’s Media Center

Your Wii is permanently hooked up to your television; your computer probably isn’t. So why not use your Wii to play videos on your TV? These days media center apps (such as YouTube and Netflix) aren’t available for the Wii—but you can use WiiMC.

A media center suite for the Wii How to Turn Your Wii Into a Media Center With WiiMC Turn your neglected Wii into a media player. Listen to music and watch videos from your computer on your TV, or browse a bit of the best the web has to offer using your Wiimote.... Read More , WiiMC is easily set up via the Homebrew Browser. WiiMC can browse media shared over a network or stored on a SD card or USB hard drive. Note that WiiMC has limitations, however.

High definition (HD) video won’t play on the Nintendo Wii due to hardware shortcomings. Other drawbacks include a lack of 5.1 surround sound. This makes a Nintendo Wii running WiiMC more suitable for children than adults.

4. Use Your Wii to Play DVDs

With WiiMC installed you can also play DVDs on your Nintendo Wii. This will not work on newer Wiis, but if you bought an early model you’ve got yourself a DVD player.

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This is significant because by default the Nintendo Wii doesn’t play DVDs. Despite using DVD data discs and having all of the necessary hardware to read DVD videos, the feature was disabled.

Resolutions of up to 1280×720 will play on the Wii, depending on video format. Note that while DVDs can play, CDs won’t.

5. Turn Your Wii Into a PC With Wii-Linux

Another amazing way to take advantage of the HBC on your Wii is to turn the console into a PC.

Wii-Linux can be installed via the Homebrew Channel, allowing PowerPC-compatible Linux applications to run. Many distributions for the Wii are available, including ones based on Debian, Gentoo, and Arch Linux.

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For the best results (including Wi-Fi and USB support) Wii-Linux should be installed using the BootMii exploit.

Wii-Linux is also known as GC-Linux and as such can run on a Nintendo GameCube.

Not keen on Linux? The Wii can also run FreeBSD.

6. Install Minecraft Server on Your Old Wii

Not only can your old Wii run Linux, it can also host a Minecraft server. Want to play Minecraft network games? You’ve already got the hardware to do it!

This video outlines how the Minecraft server Java edition can be installed on the Nintendo Wii. Surprisingly, the result is a smooth hosting experience, although we expect that multiplayer would be limited to under 10 players.

It’s not a massive surprise that Minecraft server can run on the Wii. The modest Raspberry Pi can also host Minecraft network games How to Set Up a Minecraft Server on Raspberry Pi Want to host your own Minecraft server? The Raspberry Pi is ideal. Here's how to set up a Minecraft server on a Raspberry Pi. Read More .

Own multiple Wiis? You can also install a dedicated version of Minecraft, called WiiCraft.

7. Control Your PC with WiiVNC

VNC is one of the easiest ways to control one computer with another.

It’s not just limited to computers, however. You can install VNC on tablets and phones, for example. You can also stick it on your Wii if you’ve installed the Homebrew Channel.

Think WiiMC is too limited as a media player? Simply run content on a PC, VNC to it, and stream the content to your TV through the Wii. This project uses WiiVNC, available to install from HBC.

8. Use Your Wii as an Alarm Clock

An old Nintendo Wii can even get you up in the morning. The Strobe Alarm Clock is a homebrew project that lets you run a clock in full screen view.

Just remember to leave the Wii and your display switched on at bedtime!

9. Keep Time With a Wii Metronome

If you’re a musician, having a metronome to hand might be useful. While you can get metronome mobile apps, one running on your Wii is easier to control thanks to the Wiimote.

Metronome lets you specify a custom beat, from 30 to 300BPM. Simple and easy to use, this is a great idea that is effectively implemented.

10. Explore the World With WiiEarth

Love exploring the world using software like Google Earth? With WiiEarth you can do the same thing from your couch, using only your WiiMote.

This service uses map data from both Google Maps and Bing. Cycle between the options using the 2 button on your WiiMote to if something isn’t working. It’s a great way to quickly show someone directions or explore what your town looks like from the sky.

11. Install Emulators to Play Classic Games

Via the Virtual Console, Wii users already have access to a vast library of classic console and arcade games. Want more titles? With a little work you can emulate classic consoles including the NES and Game Boy Advanced.

MAME arcade emulators, PlayStation 1, and all Sega consoles can also be emulated on a Nintendo Wii running Homebrew.

Check our list of the best emulators you can run on the Nintendo Wii 30+ Great Emulators You Can Run on Your Nintendo Wii With these emulators, you can play virtually any retro video game on the Nintendo Wii. Here are the best emulators on the Wii. Read More for full details.

12. Run DOS Software on Your Wii

It isn’t just retro console games you can run on a Nintendo Wii with the HBC. A version of DOSBox has been released for the Wii, which means hundreds of classic PC games will run.

So long as you have a keyboard and mouse connected to your Wii, these games should work with little issue. You’ll mostly be limited to mouse-driven adventures and strategy games—first person shooters don’t run too well in DOSBox on the Wii. Fortunately, most of the ones you want to play will run straight from HBC.

Check the DOSBox Wii compatibility list for full details about which games you should take the time to install.

12 Awesome Things You Can Do With an Old Wii

This is only a sample of what your Wii can do, of course: there is a lot more quality homebrew software out there, and if you know what you’re doing as a programmer you could probably make more. The only real limit is imagination.

  1. Install independent homebrew community games
  2. Develop your own indie projects
  3. Turn your Wii into a media center
  4. Play DVDs on the Wii
  5. Install Linux and use the Wii as a PC
  6. Host Minecraft network games
  7. Remotely control your PC over VNC
  8. Use the Wii as an alarm clock
  9. Install a metronome for music practice
  10. Explore with WiiEarth
  11. Play classic console games
  12. Run old PC games

It’s a good idea to regularly visit the WiiBrew wiki page for the latest homebrew releases for the Nintendo Wii. Meanwhile, if you also have the Wii’s successor, find out how to make the Wii U useful with homebrew How to Make Your Wii U Useful Again With Homebrew Is your Nintendo Wii U gathering dust? Use the Haxchi exploit to install the Homebrew Channel on your Nintendo Wii U! Read More .

Image Credit: Carlos Gutierrez/Flickr

Related topics: DIY Project Ideas, Media Center, Nintendo Wii, Recycling, Retro Gaming.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Randy Capasso
    May 3, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    You forgot one major thing. Keeping it hooked up to a TV and still play games like bowling.
    Still one of my all time favorites and just played it this past weekend. My kids love it now as well.

  2. Austen Gause
    November 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    i got homebrew channel to work but when i download anything onto it it crashes

    • Justin Pot
      November 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      That's odd. USB drive or SD card?

      • Austen Gause
        November 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm

        im using my micro 4gb class 4 sandisk sd card from my phone
        and i installed letterbomb and when i try to download homebrew onto the wii it either does not show or when i launch it it crashes
        by the way i am running the latest version of the wii operating system

        • Justin Pot
          November 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm

          How are you using a MicroSD in your Wii? Is the card locked (dumb question)? Not sure what else to ask.

        • Austen Gause
          November 22, 2012 at 1:19 am

          im using a micro sd adapter

        • Austen Gause
          November 22, 2012 at 1:20 am

          but i do have a thumb drive i could use but the problem may just be the software so i really wouldnt worry about it

        • Austen Gause
          November 22, 2012 at 1:21 am

          and thank you for helping me i really like your articles and how you take the time to address peoples problems thank you.

  3. lubinka dimitrova
    October 5, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I bought my Wii years ago, but was rather disappointed (it didn't live up to my expectations - not that the console had anything wrong, my expectations were wrong). It was collecting dust ever since, until I read the (MUO) article about the homebrew channel, and it was a revelation! Your article is also really helpful - I did need a guide for all these new possibilities I've discovered on the Wii. Many thanks for sharing your advice with us!

    • Justin Pot
      October 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      Glad you found some new uses for your old hardware. Let us know what you end up using it for.

  4. druv vb
    September 4, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Always wanted to get movies and clips from my PC to my TC, but moving the computer was out question. This makes me want to buy a Nintendo Wii. Maybe I could get one off eBay.

    • Justin Pot
      September 5, 2012 at 12:00 am

      They're easy to find on Craiglist for around $100, in my experience. If you just want this for videos, though, you should look into the Apple TV, the Roku and other devices made especially for that – might be simpler.

  5. Melanie Rivers
    September 3, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I am smiling so big!!! I am no IT specialist, but this is some cool simple homebrew info! I love it!

  6. IamAshMcLean
    September 3, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Can you teach me how to hack my Wii...??

  7. Darren Reynolds
    September 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    I found out about homebrew by accident simply because I wanted to simply be able to watch dvd's on my wii, otherwise it was just sitting around collecting dust.. Great bit of software :)

  8. xbalesx
    September 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I have one and I am going to try this stuff out. Never thought about till i read this article. Browsing over 2 homebrew now. Anyone else have any resources that would help me along??

    • Justin Pot
      September 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      I learned everything I did by browsing WiiBrew.org – it's the easiest resource to use, in my opinion, but I'd love it if someone pointed out something easier.

  9. rama moorthy
    September 2, 2012 at 10:20 am

    COOL MUO !

  10. Arron Walker
    September 2, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Pretty cool - like an overview of previous articles. I'd forgotten the media centre tip.

    • Justin Pot
      September 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      Occasionally we do roundups, just to make sure no one missed anything. I also wanted this to be a reference for people new to homebrew.

  11. Benjamin Glass
    September 1, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Cool!

  12. April Eum
    September 1, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    these are great creative ideas. my wii is just collecting dusts :(

    • Justin Pot
      September 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      Let us know what you end up using it for! We're curious people here. :)