How To Play Wii Games In High Definition, On Your PC

Even when it was released in 2006, Nintendo's Wii games were already looking a little past it, stuck as they were in the muddy depths of standard-definition resolution and on relatively old hardware. In 2011, they're way past it.

Not to worry. If you'd rather play your Wii games in stunning HD - and trust us, they look stunning - then all you need to do is follow these simple steps.

While you can't play Wii games in HD on the actual console, no matter what kind of snake oil you're being promised, you can play them in HD on your PC.

How? Simple. Using a program called Dolphin, one of the most popular and accessible emulators around. What Dolphin does is simulate the workings of a Wii (or GameCube) on your PC, turning it into the prettiest and most powerful Nintendo console you've ever seen.

Note: We've prepared and tailored this guide to help those who already own a physical copy of a Wii game. Those who give Nintendo (and other publishers) the money they deserve for making these awesome games.

GETTING STARTED

To get started, you're going to need a program called Rawdump, version 2.1.

Rawdump 2.1 [FileTrip]

What this does is let you drop your Wii (or GameCube) disc into your PC's disc drive and "rip" the content off it. This is important because you won't be playing the game off the disc, you'll be playing it off the "image" of the disc that you get using the program and save to your PC.

Drop the disc in, click "START DUMP", and when it's done you'll be left with a file ending in .Wii or .Wod. Select the file, click "CONVERT RAW TO .ISO", and you'll be left with an .iso file, which is what Dolphin needs to run.

Now we've got the game ready, we need to get Dolphin so we can actually run it.

Dolphin Emulator [Dolphin]

Make sure you get the right one for your operating system (it runs on Windows, Linux and Intel-based Macs). After it's downloaded, boot it up.

THE SETTINGS

A lot of emulators out there are complex, arcane affairs, but one of the reasons Dolphin is so popular is that it's relatively simple to understand and easy to use. There are five big buttons that contain most of the settings you'll ever need to mess with, and those buttons, as you can see, are pretty self-explanatory.

It's not, however, perfect. It's not a plug-and-play affair. You'll need to mess around with a lot of the graphics and performance settings to get things running to a level that either suits you or to which your PC can handle. And yes, the better your PC, the better: because you're only emulating a Wii or GameCube, it can be quite a strain on your processor, so if you've got an older or weaker PC you may need to dial the settings down a bit.

Because these settings will vary from user to user, and even from game to game, I'm not going to list them here. Feel free to tinker with them yourself, or visit the super-friendly Dolphin forums for more specific guidelines.

Dolphin Forums [Dolphin]

THE HARDWARE

Because you're playing on a PC, you can entirely customise the way the games are controlled. Dolphin lets users individually select each button press and axis of movement, so if you'd like to use a keyboard, control pad or combination of the two, you can.

For GameCube (and some Wii) games, all you'll really need to do is plug in a control pad, configure the settings (just click on the big GCPAD or WIIMOTE buttons) and you're off. For Wii games, though, you've got some choices.

While it's possible to play games using the keyboard, control pad and mouse to replicate the movements of a Wii controller, it's a shoddy workaround. The best way to play Wii games, especially those like Skyward Sword which require MotionPlus, is to use your actual Wii controller.

To get one running on your PC, you'll need two things: a Bluetooth adaptor (if your PC or Mac doesn't already have the capability) and a wireless sensor bar. Some people will say you don't need the latter, but it'll save you a lot of hassle. The Bluetooth adaptor lets you sync your Wii controller to your PC so it can read its movements, and using a wireless sensor bar means all you need to do is go turn your Wii on, take the bar away from your console and put it under your monitor instead. Get them running and bam, you've got the perfect Wii control system, right in front of your PC.

How to sync your Wii Remote with a PC [Instructables]

Nyko Wireless Sensor Bar [Nyko]

GET PLAYING!

Now that you're all set up, it's time to play! Click on the yellow "OPEN" folder icon on Dolphin's main dashboard and browse to the .iso file you got from your Wii disc. Select it then, gods willing, your game should start up and look amazing.

If it doesn't, or if there are glitches, or the controller isn't working, or something else goes wrong, relax. Like I said, this isn't plug-and-play. Most games usually take a little fine-tuning to get working, and once again, the best place for advice on specific games (since some can be a little twitchy in Dolphin) is to head to that title's thread on the Dolphin forums.

Game Discussion [Dolphin]

And that does it! Hopefully those of you who have enjoyed their copies of Skyward Sword, or any other big Wii game recently (Okami and Mario Galaxy come highly recommended), can now go back and enjoy them all over again, only this time in shiny HD. Ditto for your GameCube collections as well, as Wind Waker looks amazing.


Comments

    Dunno how to look at this guide... While im glad you guys are doing this for everyone, as some games like Windwaker as you said look just incredible in HD (and if you have an Eyefinity setup, its even better :) ) I can only imagine how many people are going to use this guide to help get them pirated games..

      going by the timing, and having downloaded rayman origins recently (it came packaged with dolphin), i think this guy just downloaded rayman origins, found out about dolphin, and was like OMG I have to tell everyone

      Thank you kotaku for publishing such an in-depth article on how to pirate nintendo software AND hardware. Now i never have to support game companies again!

      If you're pirating Wii games, you already know how to use Dolphin. Hell, it's not like this is a very in-depth guide, what with skipping the whole "setting the emulator up" step.

    The other factor is, Rawdump will only work with people who have a compatible DVD drive... Most DVD drives don't read Wii discs, and the only 4 that could have been discontinued a long time ago.

      Using a Homebrewed Wii, you can rip discs straight to your PC using your wireless network. Shame my PC can't really handle the emulator smoothly.

      There is a Wii hard drive hack that allows you to 'install' games onto a USB hard drive. You can then plug said hard drive into your PC and get the images that way. Look up 'usb loader GX'

    Not a bad guide. Good for all those philistines out there. I've never used dolphin personally. But a big fan of emulation. Might try now I have access to some wii games though. Will definatly try with the last story. :D

    Looks tonnes better without the lines.

    Ok so Auspost has disappointed me yet again.. Expecting my copy of Wind Waker to arrive but it didn't - I might just emulate it.

    Anyone know how to use a GC controller on the PC? I've heard of these Magic Joy Boxes - does anyone know where to get these locally in Sydney? Or is there a better alternative? Playing with a keyboard doesn't make sense because Wind Waker NEEDS 2 analog sticks.

      Ive been using a wired 360 controller for all of my Dolphin and emulator gaming. Works perfectly and I still believe that it is the most comfortable controller out there on the market.

    can you use the wired sensor bar if the cord reached to your computer? I'd love to replay okami and skyward sword in hd! Will give it a go, unless my disc drive can't read Wii discs (they're only dvd's surely?)

      If you have a computer with bluetooth capabilities, you can connect the Wiimote to your PC with either specialised bluetooth software or Windows 7 drivers. Once it's connected, use Dolphin's settings to use the Wiimote for the emulated games.

      I'm not sure if you really need the sensor bar at all...

      Just tried ripping Skyward Sword. The disc drive just made a few clicks and the light blinks and the disc doesn't spin. Oh well.

      The sensor bar is required to make the Wii remote work, but you don't have to have the bar connected to the device you're using it on. All it is is two infra-red LEDs at a specific spacing. The Wii remote reads their position and orientation to figure out where you're pointing. This is why eg a window behind the TV with the sun coming straight in or even a reflection of the sun on things can sometimes throw it out. Apparently tea lights or candles will work too.

      So in short, if you could run your Wii sensor bar from your Wii to under / above your PC monitor then yes, that would actually work too. Wireless sensor bar is much easier though.

    I'd love to play Metroid Prime 3 and Twilight Princess/Skyward Sword in HD (the only Wii games I own) but I'm not sure if my Mac is compatible. Are the 21.5" 2011 iMacs compatible? I'm at work or I'd do a bit more research.

      If your computer can install Dolphin and has 2GB of RAM and preferably a 3GHz CPU, it should be fine. I don't know what specs Macs have, but I know those specs are what lets me play games at 100% speed on Windows 7.

        Is there a version of Rawdump that works for Mac? If not how do I rip the Wii ISOs?

          I've got the same iMac as you do, but as far as I know there is no way to rip Wii discs to the computer using a Mac. There is a Mac version of the Dolphin emulator which runs quite well, though.

          You either have to rip the Wii iso files using a Windows computer and transfer them over, or get them by... other means.

            Well I won't be pirating because, well, it's just not how I roll. My roommate has a Windows PC so I'll use his and put it on a USB.

    Laptop with a 2.5ghz i5, 4gb of ram and ATI Mobility radeon hd 5650. Averages about 40fps. So much disappoint -.-"

      Only 40fps!? That must look horrible! ;-)

        It looks pretty nice, actually. Just hate how everything slows down.

      Maybe use a laptop with a graphics card that at least makes the top 100 mobile gpu list. :P

        Can't be bothered going through all the trouble to upgrade the GPU, nor can I afford a new machine.

    Wind Wakers awesome emulated, as is super smash bros.

    so, piracy then? cool.

      no, if you have the disc, you can download the iso from another source. I would not class that as piracy.

    I'll settle for SD on my HDTV, I'm not one of those people who turn into hate-machines when there's a bit of low-resolution. Of course my TV isn't one of those ones that turns SD games into sawblade party.

    Don't know why so many people are complaining, googling "how to play wii games on pc" will yield the same results.
    Get over it

    Theres really no reason to worry about this guid being used for pirating.

    People who frequently pirate games will not require a guide to get them working :P

    I'snt there a emulator which runs wii games for free, without buying a expensive wii disk and ripping it off??

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