Wii System Update Lets You Play Games From An SD Card

By Spencer . March 25, 2009 . 9:27am


New Nintendo firmware is up and it tackles the lack of storage space on the Wii with a simple solution. You can now play games saved WiiWare and Virtual Console games from an SD card. At the bottom left hand corner there is an SD card icon. Click on this to access an SD card and the downloadable software saved on it.


Is this a fair alternative to a Wii hard drive?


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  • Not unless it adds SDHC support.

  • Chow

    I wonder if that will strain the SD card port eventually.

  • Senrii

    It has.

    And ZELDA! :D

  • MadMirko

    Apparently SDHC has been confirmed, so yup.

  • maxchain

    No kidding! That’s great news for my Wii-owning friends. This is long overdue.

  • jarrodand


    I hope DSi has a similar update.

  • Kaoro

    Sounds like our pleas have finally been answered! I haven’t tried it out on my Wii yet though.

  • daizyujin

    For anybody that runs homebrew, I can happily tell you that while it disables the twilight hack and installation of the HB channel, it will not delete it if you already have it installed, and it still functions fine. So if you like your LEGAL homebrew, install the HB Channel, BEFORE you update. If you like your “backups”, just a friendly word of advise, this will kill them.

    • MadMirko


      Piracy killed, Homebrew spared, new Zelda, WiiWare Arcade, storage solution… good conference.

      • daizyujin

        Piracy isn’t killed, merely curbed. Most people that pirate won’t update their system and a way around it will likely be out in days if the 3.4U update is any indication. It is a bandage on it. Don’t expect this to stop piracy of Wii games by a long shot. In a week we will probably see a custom version of firmware 4.0 with the back end piracy blocks deleted.

        • daizyujin

          Also, none of this is likely to mean crap to people with a physically modded Wii, just the ones using softmods.

          • daizyujin

            Browsing forums I can confirm that my estimation of a week was far off, there is a hacked version of firmware 4.0u out now. If you have installed cIOS before upgrading, pirate discs still work fine as does the install of wad files. The only thing this kills is the ability to move save files that are marked as non-copy. There you go. Piracy was “killed” for about 18 hours.

  • EdgeKun

    I must admit, this has ended my vendetta against the Wii and it’s terribly limited memory. (When I get one, it’ll mostly be just for Virtual Console titles) Support for up to 32 GB SD cards and fast loading are great too.

    My only concern though is upon finding out that the “Play from SD” option works by temporarily copying the file in question to the system memory. (Not RAM, the onboard flash) While this most likely wouldn’t cause a problem as far as I can tell, I’m still a little paranoid about whether that’d lower the lifespan of the system memory or not (writing to and deleting every single time I were to play a VC title)

    The only other problem for me is that I think they patch the ability to install WADs. Personally, I’d normally have absolutely no problem with this, but then I have no way to play Dracula X on the TV until Nintendo gets off their arse and brings it to stateside VC. D=

    • Kaoro

      Yeah I was concerned about the flash memory wear and tear as well. I’m going to assume the life of most flash chips now is much better than it used to be, or we wouldn’t see computer manufacturers offering SSDs.

      For what its worth, in the worst case that your on-board flash memory dies, I had a flawless experience with Nintendo when I sent my Wii in for repair (for a different issue, but all they do is send you a new unit anyway). The replacement had all my purchases transferred and ready to go. My experience with the Xbox 360 repair is an awful reminder of how smooth the Nintendo repair was.

      • EdgeKun

        According to Wikipedia (so take it for what you will) the Wii uses NAND based flash, and that NAND based flash is good for 100,000 writes + deletes. (100k writes, 100k deletes) While that might not seem so much, it would pretty much last you for 96 years straight if you wrote to the flash 3 times a day, every single day for those 96 years. (did the math while bored at work)

        That said, I’ve come to a similar conclusion that it’s not really anything to worry about. =P

        • Kaoro

          I suppose I should worry about myself lasting that long and not the Wii! :P

          Thanks for that.

      • daizyujin

        I had exactly the opposite experience. Microsoft did a great job. As for Nintendo, well, that wasn’t a fun experience.

        • Kaoro

          Looking at it now, my sentence was very awkwardly worded. I meant my experience with Microsoft was awful, actually. Spent many evenings on the phone trying to get them to transfer my licenses which should have been done at the factory. Nintendo was flawless in my experience.

          • daizyujin

            Apparently I had the opposite. With Microsoft it was very easy. All I had to do was go through a list and tell it to redownload, they did all the liscense transfers. With Nintendo I had to complain like hell to get them to do anything.

  • Aoshi00

    About time! I’ve been putting off buying some VC games, how many games can one buy before the system is filled up. But this won’t do me any good since I’m not updating, still haven’t finished a couple of imports using freeloader, just let people play their expensive imports alrdy!

    Also Nintendo should make the long overdue first party rechargeable battery despite there being one there from Nyko. When it comes to peripherals I always use first-party (PS3 headset, 360 battery, etc), PSP has battery, Xbox has battery, why can’t the Wii?

    About games running off of SDHC card, it should be pretty safe right, I don’t think they would jeopardize all the systems out there by introducing this feature. I just added an 8Gb SDHC Micro to my Sansa fuze mp3 player last night, bring it up to 10Gb, sweet.

    • daizyujin

      I love the battery for the 360. It works great for what I need it to at least. I know on here that I gave praise to the Nyko set up but I would now advise against it. It seemed to work well at first but the second slot of the charger has recently went out and so has one of the batteries. At less than 2 years old I would consider this unacceptable. Like I tell everybody, just invest in some rechargeable AAs, they will do you well. Just get a set that is newer and doesn’t run on 10 year old rechargeable tech and you should be fine.

      No, it won’t hurt anything. The SD slot is SDHC from a hardware standpoint. Nintendo just didn’t bother to enable it before. All this does is bring the potential out. Sony did this with the PSP in regards to the former 2 gig cap on Memory Sticks a while back. Nintendo did a similar stunt with the USB slots on the Wii. They are technically 2.0 but were at least initially locked to 1.1 speeds. Not sure if this has been increased and truly don’t care.

  • daizyujin

    Hey Spencer, just curious where that picture came from. It appears that it is a Japanese unit but it has a NTSC-U region copy of Bonk’s Adventure installed.

    • Hahaha very sharp eyes! This picture is actually from my Japanese Wii. I have a US and Japanese Wii and a long time ago I tried to transfer the US games I got like Bonk’s Adventure to my Japanese Wii to see if they work to write an article about it. Obviously, it didn’t work and I was too lazy to delete the file.

      • daizyujin

        Ah I see, yeah I remember now, if you do this with another person’s download it is the same way, you can see it but it gives you an error when you try to start it.

        • The same problem still exists which is disappointing. It would be awesome to bring Virtual Console and WiiWare games over to a friends house, but I understand Nintendo doesn’t want people to copy games and illegally share them.

          • EdgeKun

            Just to confirm them Spencer, there’s still no other (legal) way to get japanese region VC titles on a US Wii, is there? =(

          • daizyujin

            Legal way, no. Actual way, yes. Though it involves things that I would not personally ever do to my machine, let alone suggest anybody else do. If you mess it up, your system is bricked.

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