How I Got My Wii Running On A New TV Using A Cheap USB Adaptor And Some Candles

How I Got My Wii Running On A New TV Using A Cheap USB Adaptor And Some Candles
Me, basically MacGyver, setting up Guitar Hero. Image: CBS

On my TV shelf for the last two years has sat a circa 2011 Nintendo Wii console, with a stack of games, all Guitar Hero, and two guitars. They’ve sat there for two years because I have constantly said I would one day play what was once my ultimate favourite game. So this Christmas, I finally did it, but there was a lot of effort involved in recreating some nostalgia (and getting that much needed 2021 dopamine hit).

While I’ve been wanting to give Guitar Hero another go for the last two years, it’s been far longer since I’ve actually played.

The Wii I acquired in 2011 (source unknown). It was never mine but it showed up one day and no one returned to retrieve it. So I did what any music obsessed person would do in their 20s and bought all the Guitar Hero things off someone on Gumtree. Looking back, this was a little dodgy, but I digress.

guitar hero
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Fast forward to the end of 2021 and of the two guitars, one is completely unusable – the part that connects to the Wii controller is both burnt and frayed, the result of leaving a controller connected to it for months in a warm apartment many years ago. The other guitar, the strum bar is sticky to touch. Nothing spilled on it, the rubber (?) is just disintegrating.

One Wii remote suffered a battery explosion, but the other seemed fine. But I refuse to throw anything out. And to prove a point to a friend, I decided this short holiday break I was going to finally play Guitar Hero.

But of course, it wasn’t as simple as just playing Guitar Hero

Obviously, I had to connect the Wii to the TV. Over Christmas I was reviewing the LG 4K Smart QNED 91 MiniLED TV, which is a 2021 model television with 2021 ports. That is, no coaxial connections. Shocking, I know.

Jaycar wanted $89.95 for a Composite AV to HDMI Converter, so I obviously procured a cheaper and probably far less reliable device from Battery Expert (currently on sale for $19 instead of $30, if you’re wanting to give your older console a go, too). It connects to the Wii, then you plug in a HDMI cable and run it from the TV. You also have to connect the converter to power through a micro-USB. It all looks hell ugly, but that’s the price you pay for fun, folks.

guitar hero
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The Guitar Hero landing screen came up, sound came through. Fantastic. But my Wii controller wouldn’t work. Swapping the batteries for fresh ones didn’t fix the problem, so I went down to EB Games and bought a new one. But that still wouldn’t work. So I Googled.

Enter the power of candles (and the internet)

Candles? Yep. I wasn’t just keen for a romantic Guitar Hero sesh. Two candles can work in place of the Wii’s sensor bar.

How? Well, the Wii sensor bar contains two infrared LED bulbs that the controller recognises to triangulate the positions between them. The only reason the sensor bar plugs into the Wii is to power the infrared bulbs.  Because this is independent of the Wii system, you can easily replace the Wii sensor bar with two lit candles.

candles
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

(The pavers are there because the legs on the TV sit out too far from the wall and my cat thinks it’s funny to walk behind the TV and threaten to knock the whole thing over).

My Wii controller worked (so did the old one, FYI) and while I had to continuously yell at my cat to get off the cabinet, I shortly got the hang of Guitar Hero again (even if it was just on medium difficulty). The screen was so bloody blurry and my eyes were absolutely killing me but all of this was worth the six hours I then spent soaked in dopamine.

guitar hero
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia