Wii U Backwards Compatibility Is Like A Wii In Your Wii U

By Spencer . November 17, 2012 . 10:47pm


While the Wii U is backwards compatible with Wii games, it is not backwards compatible out of the box. A firmware update adds Miiverse, the Internet Browser, and the ability to play Wii games.



Wii games cannot be run from the Wii U menu either. You have to turn on the Wii channel before you can play Sin & Punishment: Star Successor. It appears Nintendo "sandboxed" the Wii, perhaps due to hacking concerns. The Wii menu has the disc channel, Wii Shop Channel, and a program that lets users transfer data from a Wii to a Wii U.


wiimenu_3 wiimenu_4


Nintendo integrated the 3DSWare and DSiWare for Nintendo 3DS, but the Nintendo eShop doesn’t carry any content from the Wii Shop Channel. WiiWare and Virtual Console games are in the sandboxed Wii Channel. You still have those with Nintendo Points too.



I tried out Trauma Team, Trauma Center: Second Opinion, and Kirby’s Dream Collection on the Wii U. These three games played fine without any issues. You probably know this already, but Gamecube titles won’t work and unfortunately the Wii Channel is region locked.

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  • DKL

    I transferred data from my 3DS to my 3DS XL and I still have no idea how exactly Nintendo’s system transfer works.

    It’s not as simple as hooking the two consoles up with a wire or something.

    Anyway, I’m just hoping that I don’t botch the data transfer when I attempt it tomorrow.

    (would trade the Wii in after this, but I still need a Gamecube)


    lol region lock = suck

    • Hidayat246

      Fact, Nintendo Fans is never complain about that

      •  Well, they do complain about it concerning the 3DS.

        • Hidayat246


          •  At least the Europeans, considering we got f-ed a lot when it came to several DS games. I mean, we didn’t get Devil Survivor or Radiant Historia for example, two JRPGs that most hungry RPG fans would die for.

          • Hidayat246

            but is not stop people to buy 3DS or maybe because people doesnt know about region lock like this women :

            3;10 u see women ask about why she cant play project x zone in her 3DS

          • Late response: That’s to blame for her lack of knowledge of the system. It has multiple times been said on game news websites that the 3DS is region-locked. A smart consumer knows what its console can do. Then again, I do support her desire in wanting REGION FREE.

          • Hidayat246

            No Problem!!
            yeah i know smart consumer must know what they purchase

            but u forget not all people (even american) have knowledge about internet
            that women is one of them

          • Kibbitz

            I wanna give that lady a hug for buying Project X Zone as a fellow fan, but I know how it is. I’d like to play Mario Sticker Star in English but that’s not going to happen since I only have a JP 3DS. At least I can still buy the JP version of that if I want to though.

          • Hidayat246

            i dont understand why still use JPN 3DS version if u can buy US 3DS version??????????

          • Kibbitz

            I did say I only had a JP 3DS. To play the US version of Mario Star Stickers, I would have to shell out for a US 3DS as well as the US version of the game.

    • Herok♞

      I bet you can’t name a single home console that doesn’t have region lock capabilities and has never been region locked in any way shape or form, so complaining about it for a home console is a waste of breath or comment space.

      • Solomon_Kano

        Capabilities? What do you mean, like the potential to be region locked? That’s probably possible on every piece of hardware, but what matters is if it’s enacted.

        I agree that all these people complaining is really annoying when Nintendo’s been doing it forever, but let’s not act like region free gaming is a completely foreign concept in consoles. I dunno why anybody would complain about Ninty doing it like it’s new though.

        • Herok♞

           My comment was only there to point out the uselessness of mentioning region lock on home consoles, nothing more nothing less. I can tell you got the point I was making by your response.

      • Aoshi00

        What’s a bit annoying though is e-shop is region locked.. cuz w/ 360 or PS3, at least you could get on Jpn PSN and XBL w/ a Jpn account.. guess they have to lock it so people can’t make online purchase by mistake..  Like Usagimaru puzzle game, I had to get it on the Jpn 3DS, strangely it’s easier because it accepts a US credit card.. I think PS3 is starting to region lock DLC as well recently.. some of my Jpn DLCs are not working w/ my US PSN account..  also really don’t like the new PSN store layout :(..

        • Herok♞

           Well with 3DS I say it makes perfect sense because I think it would have caused problems once ids are implemented if you had software from all over on a US account. Kingdom Hearts for example had a patch that was on the game card outside of Japan.

          • Aoshi00

            Or they could let you access the Jpn region eshop but not allowed you to purchase things.  That’s how it is w/ Jpn PSN, you could get d/lable titles, but you can’t access Jpn videos at all.. actually Sony’s gotten more strict w/ it now too.. I imported Malicious before, I could play it on my US acct before, but I don’t think it lets me do it anymore..  same w/ my Tales costume DLCs, they used to play fine w/ my US acct, now incompatible.. so region locking is definitely getting stricter again, which is why I’m not importing Muramasa on the Vita :(…

            But yeah, Nintendo is making it less confusing for a US Wii/3DS to access US e-shop and Jpn Wii/3DS access Jpn e-shop. Just thought it would be nice to have access to the videos w/o needing both systems :) which I did for the Wii and 3DS.. and I’m not looking forward to getting 2 Wii Us unless it’s absolutely necessary..

            I hear you, it is moot complaining about region locking w/ consoles since they have always been w/ few exception, but it does suck for portables.. while Vita is free, it’s getting a lot of restriction.. I always say though, those who really must enjoy games from both regions, get both systems if they think it’s worth it.

          • Herok♞

             yeah you are right about the whole sony thing on my PSP I had all the demos I wanted for every region, on Vita it told me haha your joking this is a JP demo you silly American in those exact words

          •  What tales of? i havent had any problem with any tales of i my ps3 at all so far

        • With what game u had that problem o.o? i got ToX2’s DLC that is pretty new and they work :O, downloading in jap psn and playing in US’s

          • Aoshi00

            U didn’t get any message saying “you’re not the owner of the dlc” after the legal disclaimer? For some reason I couldn’t even start xillia 2 until I deleted the dlc, I think the same with xillia.

          • Omg u got xillia 2? ITS SO AWESOME, xillia 1 feels like a “get ready…” now just for that game.

            And no, i never had that problem, and i downloaded stuff from chinese psn (clothes that came with pre ordering the game since i got asian ver) and from jap too, the free items, and i can play normally in my US account.

            Clothes i got like i told you from chinese psn the pre order and in japanese psn for xillia 1 the free color palette ones and i can play normally.

          • Aoshi00

            Yeah, I got the Jpn ver, Xillia 2 couldn’t boot to the start screen saying I’m not the owner of the DLC.. first time ever happens.. so I thought Sony might be imposing new rules, cuz my Jpn Malicious can’t be played on my US acct anymore. 

            Xillia was in my backlog and I just started playing again, so I would put down Xillia 2 for now.. I just played the intro w/ the fat cat and test in the cave :)  The silent protagonist is really weird though for a Tales game.. would be nice if they let you choose to have a voice or not, instead of needing to beat the game once.. I don’t think I would want to play thru it twice.

            The graphics is cool, but I miss the more SD style for Vesperia and Graces f… and man, I should’ve imported Vesperia PS3 new before, now the original ver is sold out and I don’t like getting the Best of reprint.. Xillia has so many terms though it make my head spin, even worse than FF-13 lol..

      • Ladius

        No offence, but are you really trying to write off PS3 as a region free system because of the theoretical possibility of having region locks, regardless of the fact that only Persona 4 Arena has adopted that stance in more than six years?

        As much as that situation was reprehensible on Atlus’ part, fact is it’s still one game amongst the hundreds released so far on that platform, and after the outcry about that release no other PS3 region locked games have been announced so far.

        Of course region free gaming will be completely achieved when the very option to employ regional locks is removed from publishers, but even so a system where no one save a single game use it is almost too good to be true in the current console landscape, especially considering even the handheld context is plagued by this practice nowadays.

        • Herok♞

          All my comment is saying is that it is pointless to bring up region lock when talking about home consoles, since all of them have the ability to be locked, there is absolutely no need to say it all. saying a home console is region locked and region lock sucks is like saying people breath,  its common knowledge that doesn’t contribute to any relevant disscussion.

          • Ladius

            It would be pointless if all current gen home consoles were region locked in the same way as Wii and WiiU, as you seemed to imply, but since they aren’t why shouldn’t customers push for more options on Nintendo consoles, too, especially after all the Operation Rainfall drama (for American players) and lack of European releases for some of the most prominent US publishers of Japanese games (Atlus USA above all)?

            Till last gen the situation was just as you described, but PS3 is region free save for a single game and X360 has optional region locking which still permits importers to use lots of Japanese and USEU games on their consoles, even if many others are locked. It’s only normal that those of us who actually care about region free gaming are afraid to see things going back as they were till this gen.

          • Herok♞

            Sony I can understand using, but most of 360 games are region locked and the ones that aren’t are released in all regions anyway making it pointless to have them unlocked, so if you are a importer you would hit a road block with 360 sooner or later(most likely sooner), meaning that 2 of the 3 Current Gen systems are still region locked badly, so we aren’t as close to the region free future as you would like to think,  even the Vita is really bad with region lock since you need a separate memory card for every region and have to reset the Vita to factory settings if you want to do anything beyond playing a different region’s game. I am not saying I want consoles to be locked, I dislike locks as well since it stops me from playing what I want when I want, but I am not naive enough to be believe companies will change their business practices for no practical reason. Like now we are going around in circles,talking about a problem that exists for plenty of reasons(like people might get offended if they saw a game that was unsuitable for their culture, granted that would never happen but is still a possibility), until we can make those reasons disappear we will have to live with the sad reality of region lock weather or not any of us like it.

  • Theoretically, if someone cracks the Wii Channel… GameCube games COULD be played on the Wii U, yeah?

    • I imagine not easily, since the Gamecube part was probably hardware-reliant, not software.

      • Yeah, I get the feeling that the Wii U uses a disc drive that doesn’t support the mini discs anymore.

    • AnimeRemix

      Maybe… But there’s no way to plug your gamecube controller into the system to play the games…=/

    • Hidayat246

      that is really hard since u must be Online when u play wii game and can be found by server administrator

  • landlock

    They should have made the Wii part region free now. 

    • You’re going to give the Nintendo R&D team brain aneurysms with talk like that.

    •  Why?

      • landlock

         …because people then can play Wii games from any region and they don’t have to worry about it anymore. As there are no new games being released on the Wii after 2012 as far as I know.

        Personally I still want to play Arc Rise Fantasia, Trauma Team and The Castle of Shikigami IV that never made it to Europe. There isn’t really any reason to keep it locked now.

        • DKL

          I wanna play that DMC Waifu game or whatever that was that didn’t come over to the US…

          • PoweredByHentai

            There was a DMC Waifu game on the Wii?  Why did I not know of this?

          • DKL

            I think it was called Pandora’s Tower or something.

            I still want to play it.

        • Point well made. They should have made it region free. When will Nintendo learn? I guess all that Mario money is going to their heads.

        • You have no idea how to run an international business, do you?

          • kupomogli

            Technically the Wii is now a last gen console.  Two gens ago in my opinion, but whatever.  Something that Nintendo is no longer going to support.  It’s not like anything else is coming out that isn’t shovelware, so there’s nothing to protect from by not making the Wii portion of it region free.

            Nintendo probably won’t make many Wii sales with the Wii U, but by making the Wii portion region free, they’d atleast make money from those in different countries who wanted to play a game never released in their region but didn’t want to mod their original Wii.

            In short. The Wii is dead. There’s no sense in keeping it region locked.

          • Because the PS2 stopped selling the day the PS3 came out, right?

          • Nanashi Toushiro

            Well, in fact these are totally different things, the Wii doesn’t had any noticable game in the past years – at least not in Japan, while the PS2 had a lot, even after the PS3 was released.

          • You’re mistaken if you think console developers should stop supporting legacy products immediately after the new one comes out. Nintendo supported the NES up until 2009.

          • landlock

            Nope but it works for the PS3 and XB360 without any problems in fact publishers that originally locked there XB360 titles like EA and Activision now release them region free so they don’t seem to mind.

            But like the other poster said the Wii is going to be virtually dead by the end of 2012 so I can’t see the harm and they’ll also get a few extra sells from importers. Importing games that weren’t released in your country in the first place isn’t going to hurt the local business because those games are unavailable locally anyway. 

          • puchinri

            I thought only a portion of 360 stuff is region free still/now? I do appreciate PS3 games being region free though, but the PS1 and PS2 games are still not. And actually, the PS3 not playing PS2 games region free is a better example here (new to last gen comparison and all).

          • If the regional offices want to protect their income by keeping all of their profit coming from one place, that’s their business. If you don’t like it, write to the regions directly. 10 million people in every region should do it.

          • landlock

             well done for missing the point completely excel well done.

          • Aoshi00

            Like puchinri said, they won’t make the games region free retrospectively just because it’s last gen or even 2 gen ago.  PS1/2 disc games are still region locked even if you have a B/C phat PS3 (unless you buy them again digitally on PSN), DVD movies are also region locked (even though blu-ray is always comboed w/ DVDs now).  W/ Nintendo locking their 3DS and Sony starting to region lock DLC by accounts retrospectively, I doubt they would loosen on the region lock restriction.  Your best bet is to import a Jpn Wii, unless you want to use CFW and such like others suggested, which is something I personally never do, don’t like tampering w/ things.. The 360 ver of Shikigami no Shiro 3 was much better anyway, control and graphic-wise, w/ leaderboard and cheevos.. the Wii ver was 4:3 and stretched to 16:9.

            sry now I know you meant your EU Wii can’t play US games :) well at least you got Pandora.. I got both the US & Jpn Wiis so I was covered.. now gotta make room for Wii U in the future :(..

        • Julien_N

          Removing the region lock is quite easy, with the 4.3 firmware, as long as you have an SD card. My US copy of Shiki’ 3 is one of the games I play the most on my PAL Wii. I also plan to get Arc Rise Fantasia and Shiren the Wanderer.

          But, yeah, I can’t unfortunately see Nintendo removing the lock. After all, Nintendo is the “inventor” of region locking in video game consoles…

  • I’m not bothered by the Wii system basically being an emulator inside of the Wii U, but I’m more worried on the transfer part, since I have no idea how it will work when most of my stuff is already on an SD card. Why must this be so difficult…? D: I guess I’ll find out on Monday either way!

  • Jenny Wong

    So all Wii channels should work inside of the sandboxed emulator? I ask because I want to know if Everybody Votes Channel will still be alive and kicking.

  • ragingmerifes

    Wii U hasn’t appealed to me until… now. I was thinking of  buying a 3DS, a Vita or a PS3 this end of year, but with the Wii U, I might be able to play Xenoblade/The Last Story while waiting for Dragon Quest X. What a terrible dilemma.

  • Showmeyomoves

    I have a question, Spencer. If I want to load up a Virtual Console game that I downloaded from the Wii Shop Channel, will I need to switch to the Wii Menu as well? Or do Virtual Console games simply appear in the Wara Wara Plaza? I’m really hoping for the latter.

    • You have to switch to the Wii Channel to play Virtual Console, WiiWare, and Wii disc games.

  • kupomogli

    In up to 480p and requiring a non Wii U controller.  Really Nintendo?  

  • Pao Ram

    It would be insane, and very much unprofitable if Nintendo made a console that can run NES, SNES, N64, GB, GBC, GBA cartridges. Like a 6 consoles-in-1. I dub thee, Super Gameboy Nintendo Color Advance 64. :D

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      You miss the Wiiiii lol.^_^

  • ronin4life

    Yo dawg, I heard you liked Wii…
    So we put a wii in your wiiu so you could wii while you U.


  • Spooky Silky



  • gold163

    wait, what the hell? Even Virtual Console titles are sandboxed? What if you buy new VC titles on the Wii U? Or you can’t do that?

  • Areuto

    Hold the phone…this has a to be joke? and Nintendo seriously wonders how there gonna get hacked?…. think about this for sec and tell me what’s gonna go wrong with this…

  • meh,nintendo wont be getting any sales from me till they improve on these issues.
    1)rpgs the wii u doesnt have any to my understanding 
    2)improve your OS speed,reports from gaf says that its slow as hell
    3)improve your firmware update file size cuz 1GB its just unacceptable
    4)improve battery life of the screen controller,ppl are saying it last up to 3 hrs lol 

    • puchinri

      The Wii U doesn’t have a crap ton of games announced (officially) yet at all. But given how well the 3DS is doing, anything could happen. (In comparison to getting titles.)

      How big are the firmware updates for 360 and PS3? 1GB doesn’t sound huge, but if you have the basic Wii U and no external, I could see that being a problem.
      (I have no comment on the other stuff, because I don’t have one of my own to say anything for sure.)

      • PS3 they vary, usually somewhere around 168MB(of course in the begining they were larger but have gotten smaller with time, the wii U may follow a similar trend.)

        not sure about Xbox though.

        and about the games you can’t compare the history of a handheld to a home console(diffrent audiences and all that) Nintendo has always beeen a beast with handhelds but I don’t know about this.

        we’ll just have to wait and see.

        • puchinri

          I just mean that for comparisons sake, consoles with large userbases tend to get some attention (for as much as people talk about the Wii’s lack of library, it got a lot of interesting stuff), and given that it’s HD and already has a large userbase, it’s possible that it will see plenty of attention. (E.X. Troopers is kind an example of what I mean, what with the PS3 being popular and HD in Japan, and 3DS having a large userbase and thus it’s on both consoles.)

          Either way, only time will tell of course, but I can’t say I feel all that negatively about it. If it at least gets the same amount or more of great niche titles that the Wii did, I’ll be extremely satisfied.

  • Nintendo knows the Wii functionality will be hacked almost immediately. When everything’s hacked to be region free, call me and I might pick up a WiiU

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Let’s leave the talk of wanting to see hacks and cracks elsewhere. This isn’t your first time with such discussions.

  • “The Wii menu has the disc channel, Wii Shop Channel, and a program that lets users transfer data from a Wii to a Wii U.”
    If you can transfer a save you can transfer a hack.

    “Nintendo integrated the 3DSWare and DSiWare for Nintendo 3DS, but the Nintendo eShop doesn’t carry any content from the Wii Shop Channel.”
    I don’t know why people even buy online content from Nintendo. This is crazy.

    “You probably know this already, but Gamecube titles won’t work.”
    Remain me why I should buy a Wii U again?

    • puchinri

      For upcoming Wii U games?
      It isn’t necessarily a Wii/Gamecube console. . . ouo;
      (I’m still keeping my Wii too, for my GC games.)

  • I was looking forward to playing my massive Virtual Console collection on the Wii U Game Pad and Pro controller.  The lack of integration and the ability to use your library in new ways really bothers me. 

    Hopefully, Nintendo plans on releasing some kind of Virtual Console integration upgrade when the initial hype dies down.  I believe this sort of feature would greatly increase mid-year sales.

  • l777l

    Oh what the hell, now this requires an online connection as well.

    “Wii games cannot be run from the Wii U menu either. You have to turn on the Wii channel before you can play (…).”Does this imply a permanent online connection?

    • Arrei

      The Wii referred to its apps as channels, isn’t this just a Wii app within the Wii U? I don’t see anything that implies needing a permanent connection.

    • Kevin Tan

      Wii Menu does NOT need an online connection.  I ran Xenoblade on the Wii Menu on a stock Premium Wii-U that had never been connected online.  You can do the Wii transfer without online, since the option exists.

      • l777l

        Interesting. Thanks for the information.

  • Solomon_Kano

    Sectioning the Wii stuff off like that is unfortunate. Nintendo’s always been good about simplicity but there are a number of decisions with this system that simply aren’t as, well, simple as they could be and that bothers me. There’s no reason I should need to access a completely different store to get VC and WiiWare games, much less a completely different store in another section of the system.

    It’s nice to have BC, but this is a puzzling way to go about it.

  • Maia Kasoya

    A Wii in your Wii U… Yo dawg.

  • Like the article said, sandboxing the Wii content is to prevent the already prevalent Wii hacking methods into their brand spanking new system. Sounds like a good idea to implement to me…

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