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 2017, 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.

Getting Started

To get started, you're going to need a program called Rawdump, version 2.1. You're also going to need to make sure your disc drive is compatible with the program, as not all are.

The following DVD Drives are not supported to dump Wii or Gamecube Games:

SONY DVD RW DW-G120A, NEC/SONY Optiarc DVD RW AD-7173A, Optiarc DVD RW AD-7200A,TSSTcorp DVD-ROM SH-D163B, TSSTcorpDVD-ROM SH-D163BSB00, TSSTcorp CD/DVDW SH-W162L, TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-H653B FS01,TSSTcorp DVD-ROM SH-D162C, OFOD SHMBO5U381, Pioneer dvd-rw DR-TD08HB, ATAPI DVD A DH16AASH SA15,ATAPI DVD A DH20A65 7P56, ATAPI DVD A DH20A4P 95P9, LG HL-DT-ST BDDVDRW CH08LS10, TSSTcorp CDDVDW SH-S223Q, HL-DT-ST DVD-RW GWA-4082N, TSSTcorpCDRWDVD TS-H493BD200, HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GH22LP20.

Known DVD Drives that are supported:

LG 8161B, LG 8162B, LG 8163B, LG 8164B, LG GH20NS15, Optiarc DVD RW AD-7203A, HL-DT-ST DVD-ROM GDR8161B.

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 that we have the game ready, we need to get Dolphin so we can actually run it.

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.

However, it isn't perfect. It isn't 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 have 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.


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 have 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 will 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 take the bar away from your console and put it under your monitor instead. Get them running and bam, you have the perfect Wii control system, right in front of your PC.


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.

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.

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Comments

    So can I loan some Wii games from the Video rental store and burn the images to PC and return said games guilt free? Or is that like stealing them or pirating them cause technically I did pay for it right?

      It's still pirating. Just like if you were to copy a video or DVD from said rental shop.

      Of course that doesn't necessarily mean you can't return them guilt-free, that's a matter entirely for your own moral compass.

        Technically using dolphin isn't legit either. Although you are using non format shift genuine games the emulator has a copied version of the wii bios.

          ^ This ^

          That point has been used successfully by the likes of Sony and others since the 90s to successfully shut down emulation products.

          Last edited 17/01/17 5:04 pm

            can you explain how and or why dolphin has yet to be wiped from the face of the internet? seems like something nintendo would be all over cease and desisting.

              Yeah, good luck with that lol.

              I'm sure they want it gone but if people are smart enough to create these emulators then they're smart enough to keep this content alive through many avenues, it would be a pointless exercise.

          Just from a quick google it sounds like you don't necessarily need that to run it? Or at least it's not provided with the emulator and you need to get it through some alternative means if you want to enable it.

          Was curious since some of the stuff that's come up about the bad blood between the Dolphin devs and the DolphinVR dev made it sound like the kind of thing they wouldn't be doing (they were militantly standing by the terms of the GPL and claiming the inclusion Oculus runtime libraries contradicts that, or something).

        Technically, even if you bought the Wii game, dumping it to an image is still piracy in Australia.

        The game's Digital Rights Management (Copy Protection) is being cracked/removed and a DRM-Free duplicate is being made, and Australian laws state only Analogue-Digital format shifting is legal (if you own the analogue content) and digital-digital format shifting is illegal (regardless of if one owns the original copy) I'm sure there are other factors at play, like modifying the game beyond what the rights-holders (in this case, Nintendo) will wish for/allow.

        This excerpt from the below artical leads me to believe that you would need express written permission from Nintendo to make a duplicate image for an emulator.

        https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/07/format-shifting-in-australia-what-can-you-legally-do-with-your-content/

        "But if you're talking about a computer game, you're rather explicitly not allowed to make a backup or format shifted copy without explicit permission from the copyright holder. For some games, especially for retro systems, that could be difficult if not impossible to even sort out given the number of high profile studios which have collapsed, been bought out multiple times or simply vanished into the mists of time. Still, you're legally obliged to seek that permission out.

        One side effect of that is that as the law is written, console video game emulators as software may be legal to run in Australia, but running emulated game images on that software — which is to say, actually using an emulator in the way that people use emulators — almost certainly isn't.

        While you're legally allowed to format shift content that you own a legitimate copy of, you're not entitled to circumvent any copyright protection measures — no matter how flimsy or poorly conceived — to do so."

        Video games always use Digital Rights Management (Copy-Protection), with the exception for GOG games on PC. That's why consoles had to be modified to play pirated games as the consoles otherwise would detect the DRM was not present and not run the disc. These days it is now illegal to modify a console or import modding equipment or a modded console into Australia (Including older consoles like PS1 and PS2).

        In all honesty the chances of getting busted are slim, but it will be always "At your own risk" as if you do lose the lottery and get busted, not oly will you face charges courtesy of the Australian Federal Court, but you will also get taken to the cleaners by the rights-holders in a civil trial.

        You are less likely to get busted ripping your owned copies to an Image yourself, then by downloading images files from ROM (Piracy) Sites, as by downloading from ROM Sites without a VPN Proxy enabled and a modified DNS could get you tracked by your Internet Service Provider and the Australian Federal Police, and possibly even the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Justice too.

          Holy necropost, Batman!

          Also I'm not sure what that had to do with my post really, and wonder if it was a reply fail.

    Can recommend the mayflash dolphin bar for setting up the controllers. It's incredibly easy, and surprisingly versatile!

    I have one hooked up which I use for wii games, my wireless arcade sticks (in SFV, GG, Fightcade), psx lightgun games (point blank on an lcd TV!), and for playing guild wars 2 from my couch.

    Last edited 17/01/17 4:03 pm

    oh man, what a shame the government blocked those torrenting sites.

    I don't have a compatible drive and my Wii is broken, so now there's no way for me to play Skyward Sword.

    No way at all. :|

      you just arent trying hard enough. where there is a will, there is a way.

        You're right, maybe I should borrow someone else's Wii? or watch someone else play it and enjoy it by proxy.

          haha, thats the spirit.
          i have a guy at work who rather than buying some games, just looks up twitch or youtube playthroughs and will sit there for an hour or two enjoying by proxy.

            Oh I have a friend too, he lives down at the bay. He lends me games by proxy.

      Change your DNS settings in your Router to:

      8.8.8.8 (for primary DNS) and
      8.8.4.4 (for secondary DNS)

      press the "Start" button at lower left corner of your windows (windows 7) in the "run" text field type CMD, then an icon will appear in the start menu as "cmd" right-click on this cmd icon and select "Run as Administrator" this is called an "Elevated Command Prompt"

      Then type:

      ipconfig.exe /flushdns

      This will clear the old DNS cache from your system. Restart your PC, and you have officially circumvented the blocking.

        obviously didn't catch the sarcasm in my post.

        I run a VPN. but there's also plenty of proxy services and mirrors to get to the torrent hosting websites at any rate.

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