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

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.

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 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.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Image Credit: Carlos Gutierrez/Flickr

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