My wife’s Wii has been languishing on a shelf for the past several years, so I wanted to breathe a little life back into it. Ever since the NES Classic launched a wave of “mini” self-contained consoles, I wanted to extend that kind of convenience to all the consoles in our collection. There’s a much different experience playing a game on something resembling the original hardware than there is using an emulator on a PC, but I wanted to be able to do it without the wear and tear on optical drives or having to worry about damaged discs. So, I decided to install a USB loader on the Wii in order to be able to play those discs from backups stored on a hard drive and keep the originals in their cases for posterity!
Installing The Wii Homebrew Channel using str2hax
There are several different ways to install The Homebrew Channel on the Nintendo Wii, but this guide will be using str2hax since I don’t have an SD card available at the moment. (I’ll fix that soon.)
In the Wii settings menu, click on “Internet”, then “Connection Settings”, then your current connection.
From there, select “Change Settings” and skip forward until you reach the DNS settings (“Auto-Obtain DNS”) menu. Select “No” and then click “Advanced Settings”. Type in 18.104.22.168 as the primary and secondary DNS. Press “OK” and perform the connection test. If the connection was successful, you can click “No” to skip the system update.
Go back to Internet settings, then click “User Agreements”, then “Yes”. The system will appear to freeze for a couple of minutes. This is normal. In about 1.5-2 minutes, you will get a screen featuring a pixelated Rainbow Dash taking a nap. Welcome to the HackMii installer. Click “I ACCEPT” and wait for the installer to download.
After another few minutes, you will get a warning screen declaring that the software you are using is to be distributed free of charge and is not allowed to be exchanged for money. Thirty seconds later, “Press 1 to continue” will flash on the screen. Press 1 to continue.
On the Hackmii installer main menu, highlight “Install the Homebrew Channel” using the D pad, and press A to select. Select “Continue” once the installation is finished. At this point, I would install BootMii, but my SD card was having problems. I opted to skip this step and revisit it later once I knew my SD card worked, so for now, select “Exit”. (BootMii can be installed by launching the Hackmii Installer from The Homebrew Channel.)
Install Priiloader for brick protection
Since BootMii didn’t want to install yet, I opted to install Priiloader to have a level of brick protection. This application is a custom bootloader that allows you to select how you want the Wii to boot (either to stock system menu or to any number of bootable apps you can install). It also allows you to run recovery discs in case of a bricked system, so it’s pretty invaluable when embarking on this hackery nonsense. The trick to using any old SD card is making sure that you do a full (overwrite) format as FAT32. Once that’s formatted, you can download the Priiloader installer from GitHub, unzip the archive, and drop the “apps” folder into the root of your SD card.
A note about the Wii SD card
Homebrew apps on the Wii SD card live in a folder called “apps” in the root directory. Inside the “apps” folder, each app will have its own folder, and each app folder will contain a “boot.dol” or “boot.elf” file, an “icon.png” file, and a “meta.xml” file. If you’re having trouble with any Homebrew apps, check to make sure all these conditions are met.
Install Priiloader through The Homebrew Channel
Insert the SD card into the slot on the front of the Wii and launch The Homebrew Channel from the system menu. Click the Priiloader Installer and follow the directions on the screen. Once you return to The Homebrew Channel, power off the Wii.
To boot into Priiloader, hold the RESET button while powering on the Wii. Once Priiloader loads, you can release RESET. For the initial configuration, highlight “System Menu Hacks” with the D-pad and select with A. For the initial configuration, enable “Region Free EVERYTHING”, “Block Disc Updates”, “Block Online Updates”, “Auto-Press A at Health Screen”, and “Replace Health Screen with Backmenu”. Save your settings, the press B to return to the main menu. Highlight “System Menu” to boot to the Wii home screen.