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Wii Mode F.A.Q.

by Andy Goergen - November 19, 2012, 3:00 pm PST
Total comments: 20

How does your Wii U work with your old Wii data? Here are some answers.

1. How does the transfer process work?

It's very simple, actually. You need to have an SD Card with at least 512 MB on it. After performing your Day 1 system update on your Wii U, there will be an icon for "Wii Mode". Inside that menu option is, surprisingly, a full Wii System Menu. One of the home screen icons will be a Wii U Transfer Tool, which is actually a shortcut to download that tool.

You'll also need to hit up the Wii Shop Channel on your Wii to download a system transfer tool there.

Once you have the system transfer app on both systems, you'll start on your Wii U, and put the SD card in. Run the transfer app, and it will connect to the Internet and prepare your SD card for the transfer. Once this is done, you will be prompted to take your SD card, and put it in your Wii. Run the system transfer tool there, and you will be warned that all of your Wii Shop information will be permanently removed from your Wii.

Click OK, and the magic begins. An army of Pikmin will begin to carry the data from your Wii, and load it onto a rocket ship. This process can take 20 minutes or so, depending on how much data you have. Note that only the items on your Wii System Memory are being copied. All of the WiiWare and Virtual Console games on your SD card are not going to be moved over, however the licenses will be. In order to get these games on your Wii U, you will need to re-download them from the Wii Shop Channel located inside of Wii Mode on your Wii U as the old SD card will not work with it.

After the Pikmin are done loading up your SD Card, your Wii will reboot, free of all of it's purchased content.

The SD Card must be placed in your Wii U now, at which point the Pikmin will begin to unload all of the SD card contents and move it into the Wii System Memory on your Wii U's "Wii Mode". This part of the process will take longer than the last part. This took about 30-40 minutes for me.

Once this process is complete, your SD card will be erased, and your Wii U will go back to the Wii Mode home screen, with all of the purchases brought over. If you want to re-download any other content that wouldn't fit on your Wii System Memory when you initiated the transfer process, you can now do that from the Wii Shop Channel inside of Wii Mode.

2. What is "Wii Mode", really? How does it work?

Wii Mode is a fully virtualized Wii system inside of your Wii U, with all of the limitations and privileges therein. The Wii Mode system memory is limited to 512 MB, just like the Wii system memory is, so if you want to have your entire collection of N64 and WiiWare games available on your Wii U, you'll need to put them on an SD Card, just like you did on Wii. The SD Card menu is available on the Wii U's Wii Mode Menu, just like it is on Wii.

In other words, just like how your Wii became a GameCube when you put a GameCube disc in the disc slot, your Wii U becomes a Wii when you launch "Wii Mode." There are a few slight differences, however. The Wii System Settings are not accessible, only the data management settings. Although the Wii Shop channel is fully available, not all of the content is. The Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Youtube applications available on the Wii Shop Channel from your Wii are not available from your Wii U.

3. How long does the transfer take?

You can plan on it taking around an hour, but it will vary depending on how much content you plan on bringing over.

4. How do I access my WiiWare and VC games on Wii U?

Once you launch "Wii Mode" from the Wii U menu, you access them the same way you accessed them on Wii, either by launching the game channel, or opening up the SD Card menu and loading them from there.

5. Can I pick and choose the content to transfer?

No, you must bring over all of the following content, or none at all: Wii Software save data, WiiWare and save data, Virtual Console titles and save data, Add-on content, Wii Points, Wii Shop Channel activity, Mii characters.

6. What about my system-locked save files (Smash. Bros, Animal Crossing?)

These will come over to the Wii U, and will be locked in place there.

7. What doesn't copy over?

Not much. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Youtube, and, for some reason, LostWinds. A fix is currently in the works to bring LostWinds over to Wii U via the transfer process.

8. Will my Wii Points balance move over to Wii U?


9. What if I have Homebrew?

Obviously there are no guarantees but early reports seem to indicate that the transfer process is completely unaffected by the presence of the Homebrew Channel. I can confirm that this was the case for me. Though my Wii was wiped following the transfer, the Homebrew stayed and was left intact and still functional.

10. Do Wii games look any better on Wii U than they did on Wii?

Although the games will be upscaled to HD, that does not mean they are being rendered in HD. They will mostly look the same, but perhaps a little clearer as an HDMI signal is higher quality than component, and especially composite.

11. Can I use any Wii U accessories with Wii games?

No. Once you launch Wii Mode, any accessories (Pro controller, GamePad) that weren't compatible with your original Wii will not work with the system until you exit Wii Mode. This means that you can't play Virtual Console games on the GamePad, or use the Pro Controller for Super Smash Bros. Brawl.


Darkurai the Oracle PonyNovember 19, 2012

My biggest question remains unanswered: Does the Pro Controller work in Wii Mode?

jvgsjeffNovember 19, 2012

For Wi-Fi Wii games that have been transferred to Wii U, can you confirm that friend rosters remain intact and are actually playable online? Everyone assumes so, but I can't seem to find first-hand confirmation from anyone who has actually done it.

StrawHousePigNovember 19, 2012

This is bull honkey. I don't think I'll be using the eShop to avoid running into this in the future.

Yeah right... I'm such a sucker I'm sure I will.

TJ SpykeNovember 19, 2012

Quote from: Darkurai

My biggest question remains unanswered: Does the Pro Controller work in Wii Mode?

Didn't GameStop already confirmed the Pro Controller will not work with Wii games.

gojiraNovember 19, 2012

Any idea what happens to VC games that are now no longer on the shop.  Do they stay behind like Lost Winds?

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorNovember 19, 2012

Quote from: gojira

Any idea what happens to VC games that are now no longer on the shop.  Do they stay behind like Lost Winds?

Donkey Kong Country transferred over with no issues.

Quote from: Darkurai

My biggest question remains unanswered: Does the Pro Controller work in Wii Mode?


ShyGuyNovember 19, 2012

Lost Winds staying behind adds a bit of mystery. What happened to that ancient civilization?

tyderianNovember 20, 2012

Anyone have firsthand experience with transferring in-game purchases?  I have several Guitar Hero songs that won't fit on the Wii onboard storage.

Still considering not transferring anyway due to peripherals, namely, Gamecube controllers for SSBB.

AVNovember 20, 2012

i redownloaded all my games but lost winds was not present , the sequel i redownloaded. i wonder if nintendo got mad it released on ios and took it off the store.

I do notice a a slight crispness in the wii graphics. The textures in Skyware sword is cleaner and the sky i can almost see the pixels. I used a component cable before with a box that converts signal to vga so i can play on my monitor. The detail in texture work in Brawl also looked slightly cleaner.
This is only because HDMI is the best cable, not because Wii U fixes the graphics correct.

The original article has been updated, which should answer any questions about using Wii U accessories in Wii games.

As to online Wii games being played on Wii U, I haven't tested it personally, but I can see no reason why it wouldn't work while playing it on Wii U any differently than if you played it on Wii. They literally are being run the exact same way.

tendoboy1984November 20, 2012


So game journalists support hacking now? Wouldn't this fly in the face of Nintendo's "anti-piracy" efforts? I know Nintendo can't control what people do with their hardware, but they could take your journalistic privileges away.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorNovember 20, 2012

Homebrew ≠ Piracy.

steveyNovember 20, 2012

Addition WiiU F.A.Q. (since this info is somewhat obscure and could be helpful to some):

A1. Is the any *unofficial* way of keeping saves and purchases on both the Wii and WiiU (without straight up piracy)?
Yes, by backing up the Wii NAND with bootmii before the transfer and then restore it afterwards allow you to have them on both systems.

A2. What's the catch?
The Wii's shop account is removed on Nintendo's side so using the shop channel after the restore will cause you to lose your ability to use all your downloads. This also means that you can't game the system by transferring the Wii account to multiple WiiU systems.

A3. Speaking of Homebrew, is there a way of installing the HBC on the vWii?
Not yet, but there should be exploits in the wings waiting to be released soon after some testing.

A4. Does WiiU allow any sort of partitioning of it's hard drive?
No. According to those that have tried, the whole drive gets wipe without exception even if it's prepartitioned.

tendoboy1984November 21, 2012

I know homebrew does not equal piracy, but for many people, hacking is done specifically to pirate games. Look at the PSP situation.

It's so easy to download (steal) games once you open up those exploits, that's why Nintendo and Sony are against hacking.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorNovember 21, 2012

tendoboy - First, Nintendo doesn't get to authorize who gets "journalistic privileges".

Second, just because a lot of folks (and I'd feel comfortable in saying "The majority" hack to pirate games, it doesn't mean everyone does - so discussing it is a valid conversation.  I have the HBC loaded onto one of my Wiis for the specific purpose of playing a singular imported title - and have never once considered downloading any illegal material in spite of how easy it is.

I heard reports (namely from 1up's Bob Mackey) that the save file for Last Story doesn't copy over, which doesn't jive with people moving Brawl, Monster Hunter, etc saves over. Can anyone confirm?

Quote from: UncleBob

Homebrew ≠ Piracy.

Quoted for truth.  I installed Homebrew so I could play Disaster Day of Crisis and Pikmin 2 (before they surprised everyone by bringing the Wii version Stateside.)

funguy11December 02, 2012

What happens to the Wii Channels like Photo Channel, Forecast, News, Internet, Everybody Votes, and Check Mii Out? Do these also transfer or do they have to be separately downloaded on the Wii U system?

yoshi1001December 03, 2012

As far as the resolution thing goes, from what I can tell the system does not render the Wii games in HD, however, they probably do look slightly better because the Wii stretches the 480p image in the digital domain, whereas your TV is scaling the analog 480p component image (after redigitizing it) to whatever your TV's native resolution is.

gbuellGrant Buell, Staff WriterDecember 04, 2012

Quote from: funguy11

What happens to the Wii Channels like Photo Channel, Forecast, News, Internet, Everybody Votes, and Check Mii Out? Do these also transfer or do they have to be separately downloaded on the Wii U system?

As far as I can tell, those channels are gone for good.

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