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Wii

The Wii SD Card Menu: A Walkthrough

by Jon Lindemann - March 25, 2009, 12:27 pm PDT
Total comments: 37

We give you a guided tour of the newest addition to the Wii's featureset, the SD Card Menu.

Today at GDC 2009, Nintendo of America's Bill Trinen introduced the Wii SD Card Menu. This menu appears after applying the latest Wii firmware update (available now), and appears as an icon in the bottom-left of the screen right next to the Wii button.

This new menu allows you to load games directly from the SD Card, instead of having to constantly copy them over to the Wii's system memory and then run them from there. In addition to this frequently-requested functionality, the Wii can now handle SDHC cards up to at least 32GB in size (whether it can handle cards larger than 32GB has not been confirmed nor denied). It also expands the number of SD Card pages to 20, with 12 channel slots available on each page.

In addition to these change to the local Wii menu, Nintendo has also updated the functionality of the Wii Shop Channel. Players can now choose whether or not they want to download to the Wii's system memory or the SD Card. Download times are identical in either case, indicating that there is no lag when dealing with direct-to-SD Card downloads.

Here's what you'll see when you first access the Wii SD Card Menu:

Game Developers Conference 2009: delete

After the update is applied, this icon appears on your Wii Menu

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Icon Mouseover

The mouseover tells you all you need to know

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Welcome Message

Accessing the menu displays a welcome message

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Save Data Information

Save Data can't be played directly off of the SD Card

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Warning Message

Remember, don't turn off your Wii while it's saving

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Closing Text

You always have the option of reading everything again

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Loading from the SD Card

The menu then loads from your SD Card...

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Full Menu

...and shows your games

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Game Loading Screen

When you load a game, this is the screen that's displayed

What the SD Card Menu actually does is place a "phantom" copy of a game that's on the SD Card in your Wii's system memory. For example, World of Goo - a 320-block game - still requires 320 open blocks on your Wii. However, if you launch another game, like Onslaught (a 308-block game), the 320-block reserved space then changes to a 308-block reserved space. You can always delete this phantom image from the Wii's Data Management menu to free up the space entirely.

Even larger games like Onslaught launch rather quickly, with Hudson's shooter taking a mere ten seconds to load. As the game loads, a progress bar shows players how long it will take before the game is ready to play (loading will be longer if you let the SD Card Menu move files automatically, and the load times will also vary based on the read speed of your respective SD Card).

Virtual Console, WiiWare, and Wii Channel Applications (such as the Internet Channel and Wii Speak Channel) are confirmed to be launchable from the SD Card Menu. NWR has not tested installed channels such as the Mario Kart and Wii Fit channels, but it's probably safe to assume that they work as well.

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Mouseover

The "phantom" SD Card data is in the top-left corner

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - SD Card Data detail

The details show the size of the placeholder data

A great new feature is the "Auto Manage" menu. If you try to launch a game from the SD Card without having enough room on your Wii for the placeholder data, the "Auto Manage" menu informs you that you need to move some games from your Wii system memory to the SD Card in order to launch it. It then lets you choose how you want to select which items are moved: by right-most position on the Wii Channel menu, by items with the most number of blocks, or by items with the fewest number of blocks. I selected Lots of Blocks, and Tetris Party and Onslaught were moved over to the SD Card and deleted from my Wii system memory accordingly. World of Goo was then copied over and launched.

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Auto Manage screen

This Auto-Manage menu appears if you don't have space for SD Card data

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Movement Criteria Selection

You can then select the criteria by which to select items to move

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Selecting by Rightmost

Selecting by Rightmost on the Wii Menu

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Selecting by Most Blocks

Selecting by Lots of Blocks

Game Developers Conference 2009: Wii SD Card Menu - Selecting by Fewest Blocks

Selecting by A Few Blocks

There are a few caveats. When exiting out of Virtual Console games, it appears that you can only go back to the Wii Menu, not directly back to the SD Card Menu. You also cannot load save data or DLC from SD cards. Save data and DLC must be on the Wii's system memory, because it cannot access the SD Card. Furthermore, you cannot manage save data that's in your SD card with the SD Card Menu; to manage save data you still must use the Wii data manager.

Dragging games from the Wii Menu to SD Card Menu is also not an option, and must also be performed via the Wii data manager. The News and Weather channels are also bound to the Wii Menu, and cannot be moved to the SD Card in any way.

It's currently unconfirmed, but it also seems like copying games from the SD Card to the Wii system memory is a lot faster. Copying the 308-block Onslaught now only takes 22 seconds, whereas it used to take minutes.

The Wii SD Card Menu is a great addition to the Wii's SD card support, and will certainly all but eliminate having to "clean the fridge" for larger games. When fridge-cleaning does need to take place, it is now a LOT easier. It's a much-needed update to the Wii's functionality, one that will be appreciated by all heavy users of the Virtual Console service (which includes most of the staff here at NWR). Good job, Nintendo!

Talkback

Going from SD to Wii via this is indeed a lot faster, I moved Strong Bad Episode I from the internal memory to the SD card to make room for the placeholder and it took several minutes but when I played the game from the SD card it loaded in less than 30 seconds.

I've been waiting for this for a long time and it's great to see that Nintendo pulled it off without any major problems. Now I have to go back and download all the stuff I didn't put on my SD card.

NWR_DrewMGAndy Goergen, AlmunusMarch 25, 2009

Seriously, having all of my DL'ed content available from the Wii Menu is like CHRISTMAS.  I've completely forgotten about some of the VC games I bought in 06-07

Yeah, this update is MONEY IN THE BANK

CalibanMarch 25, 2009

This update is great.

Michael8983March 25, 2009

Nintendo = Love


AVMarch 25, 2009

EPIC FREAKEN WIN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I have no problem putting them all on SD card, and not having to worry about system memory ever getting full.

StratosMarch 25, 2009

Put the Internet Channel and the Nintendo Channel back on my Wii since I don't need all that space for precious games. Now I'll never have to have awkward ridge cleaning when guests are over and we try to play Rock Band or Guitar Hero and I forgot to clear enough ghost space to make the games SD card mode work.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 25, 2009

So I have to wonder... if this was what they were making.. why was it announced way back when as...

"The Wii Shop channel will be able to save games directly to the SD Card"

I don't understand the need to be cryptic there and not give the whole story.

kraken613March 25, 2009

I haven't gotten to download it yet... Getting an error code saying their servers are too busy.

I'm going to download this update tonight after work, but I'm concerned about something: If I can't play saved games directly from the SD Card (still), then how do I PLAY VC/WW games that I buy and download to the SD Card? Do I still have to move them over to the Wii's sytem memory in order to play them?

I guess I don't understand how this new update makes the process any smoother, because it looks like I will still have to shuffle things around.

Now you can dump everything onto your SD Card.  When you go to run it, the Wii makes a temporary copy in the Wii system memory and runs it from from there.  If you run something else, it deletes the original and refreshes it with the new data.

If you run World of Goo, it creates a 320-block temporary file on your Wii.
If you then run Onslaught, it automagically deletes the 320-block temporary file, and creates a new 308-block one.

If there isn't enough room on your Wii to create the temporary file, the Auto-Manage menu appears and helps you with that.

Basically move everything off to your SD Card and you're done.  This assures that you'll have enough room for any temporary file the SD Menu will attempt to create.

BlackNMild2k1March 25, 2009

Lindy, that was a great walkthrough that was very thorough and easy to understand.
I had already figured out how the SD copy over kinda worked, but the way you explained it just made it make more sense.

TansunnMarch 25, 2009

Quote from: Halbred

I'm going to download this update tonight after work, but I'm concerned about something: If I can't play saved games directly from the SD Card (still), then how do I PLAY VC/WW games that I buy and download to the SD Card? Do I still have to move them over to the Wii's sytem memory in order to play them?

I guess I don't understand how this new update makes the process any smoother, because it looks like I will still have to shuffle things around.

I think it keeps loading the save data from the Wii as usual, it just stores the program on the SD card.  Since you can move your large program files to the SD card, you'll have plenty of room to keep your save data on the Wii.

Also, a note for any Homebrew Channel users, make sure you update it before doing a system update.  I was too excited about loading stuff from the SD card that I didn't bother trying to update HBC beforehand, and for the time being, I can't update it.  I'll be stuck at 0.9 until they figure out another way to upgrade it.

Mop it upMarch 25, 2009

So, wait, this is a firmware update and not a separate channel? That leaves me with two questions:

1. Does it use any number of blocks?
2. Can it be removed like any other channel?

I don't have an SD card (or download games), so I'd hate to be forced to download this and have it just take up space.

Oh, I see. So you can PLAY the game from your SD card, but it will still save itself to the Wii's internal memory. That makes sense.

StratosMarch 25, 2009

I think half the space is reserved for updates and core programs. Everyone throws around the 512 when in reality you only have 256 to use for VC/WW/Channels/Save data. So it shouldn't impact your usable space.

Also, cards beyond 32gb are called SDXC and so I'm willing to bet they won't work on Wii.
SDXC 64gb cards are supposed to be coming before the end of the year. The cards can technically go as high as 2 Terabytes.

LuigiHannMarch 25, 2009

One subtle but GREAT thing is that now, on the Wii system memory manager thing, in addition to the "Copy" and "Erase" buttons, there's a "Move" button, which makes the unwieldy two-step process into a much quicker one-step process. That'll make moving a bunch of stuff from the system memory to the SD card a smoother process overall.

yoshi1001March 25, 2009

I wonder if this means Nintendo will loosen up the WiiWare size restrictions due to this. Basically, this turns the SD card slot into a paging file for the Wii.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusMarch 25, 2009

If anyone is curious I put in a empty 8GB SD card in the Wii and it equals to 61,104 blocks.

StratosMarch 25, 2009

I already had a 4 gig card running on my Wii so I don't need to buy a new one for a long while. :P

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusMarch 25, 2009

My designated SD card for Wii is 2GB I'm already up to page 8 on the SD card menu and still have over 6000 blocks.

This is a firmware update.  It doesn't use up any blocks; this is just like when they added the clock to the Wii Menu.

In effect, the Wii uses its system memory like RAM in this case.  It copies the game to its RAM (system memory), and runs the game from there.  If you switch to a different game, it wipes the RAM and copies the new game file over.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 25, 2009

Ya know what surprises me the most about this update? The fact that there is an actual progress bar when loading a game off SD. Holy crap! I can actually tell that something is happening!

I am flattened by the news that this goes up to 32 GB. I never expected that! I was actually doubting that Nintendo would add SDHC support!

... of course, this also implies that the Wii2 will not have a robust out-of-the-box storage capacity.

CalibanMarch 25, 2009

Quote from: Kairon

... of course, this also implies that the Wii2 will not have a robust out-of-the-box storage capacity.

I'm putting my hopes on a Solid State Drive for the Wii2.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusMarch 26, 2009

Quote from: Kairon

I am flattened by the news that this goes up to 32 GB. I never expected that! I was actually doubting that Nintendo would add SDHC support!

... of course, this also implies that the Wii2 will not have a robust out-of-the-box storage capacity.

Wii's SD reader always could support the SDHC standard, Nintendo just had to enable it in a firmware. The only reason why Nintendo set the 32GB limit on SD cards is because the SDHC standard maxes out at 32GB, a 64GB SD card is now in the SDXC standard territory.

Even with over 80 games my 2 GB SD card has more space left than a new Wii, and that's with a bunch of homebrew too.

BlackNMild2k1March 26, 2009

Quote from: Kairon

I am flattened by the news that this goes up to 32 GB. I never expected that! I was actually doubting that Nintendo would add SDHC support!

... of course, this also implies that the Wii2 will not have a robust out-of-the-box storage capacity.

By the time Wii2 comes out 32gb SDHC cards will cost like $5 a piece. I'm sure we won't be too worried about it.

vuduMarch 26, 2009

I love this new feature, but I have a minor gripe:  I wish you should put "links" to individual games that are stored on your SD card on your main menu.  I generally have one or two VC games that I'm playing at any one time and I'd like to have those available right on the start-up screen.

GoldenPhoenixMarch 26, 2009

Quote from: vudu

I love this new feature, but I have a minor gripe:  I wish you should put "links" to individual games that are stored on your SD card on your main menu.  I generally have one or two VC games that I'm playing at any one time and I'd like to have those available right on the start-up screen.

Good idea. It sounds like it wouldn't be too hard to put in.

AVMarch 26, 2009

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

Quote from: Kairon

I am flattened by the news that this goes up to 32 GB. I never expected that! I was actually doubting that Nintendo would add SDHC support!

... of course, this also implies that the Wii2 will not have a robust out-of-the-box storage capacity.

Wii's SD reader always could support the SDHC standard, Nintendo just had to enable it in a firmware. The only reason why Nintendo set the 32GB limit on SD cards is because the SDHC standard maxes out at 32GB, a 64GB SD card is now in the SDXC standard territory.

Is anyone really going to fill in 32 gigs of Virtual Console and Wiiware . I think thats a fair limit. If you want more just buy another memory card.

StratosMarch 26, 2009

Quote from: Mr.

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

Quote from: Kairon

I am flattened by the news that this goes up to 32 GB. I never expected that! I was actually doubting that Nintendo would add SDHC support!

... of course, this also implies that the Wii2 will not have a robust out-of-the-box storage capacity.

Wii's SD reader always could support the SDHC standard, Nintendo just had to enable it in a firmware. The only reason why Nintendo set the 32GB limit on SD cards is because the SDHC standard maxes out at 32GB, a 64GB SD card is now in the SDXC standard territory.

Is anyone really going to fill in 32 gigs of Virtual Console and Wiiware . I think thats a fair limit. If you want more just buy another memory card.

If you are a heavy Guitar Hero and Rock Band player then you will use a lot more.

vuduMarch 26, 2009

Another minor gripe:  When you go to the Shop Channel and go to the section that lists games you've already downloaded it won't show titles that are on the SD card (but not on the Wii system's internal memory) as "downloaded"--instead it shows them as downloadable.  It makes it a little annoying when you're trying to figure out what games you've paid for but don't have saved.

GoldenPhoenixMarch 26, 2009

Quote from: vudu

Another minor gripe:  When you go to the Shop Channel and go to the section that lists games you've already downloaded it won't show titles that are on the SD card (but not on the Wii system's internal memory) as "downloaded"--instead it shows them as downloadable.  It makes it a little annoying when you're trying to figure out what games you've paid for but don't have saved.

I noticed that too. My guess is that stuff will be fixed soon. Overall though it looks like it was well tested before it was released

BayouApril 06, 2009

(cough) Well I guess my 1st hypothesis was correct and that it turned out to be basically an SD card channel, though I was wrong about the ability for a firm ware update for the Wiider, which I am glad to be wrong here as I was just drooling over the 32GB SD cards at future shop and then cursing how very few mobile systems actually utilize SD cards (mini SD can suck it as far as I am concerned).
The save data limit I dont think is a big problem as most WIIware games dont take up a heck of alot of memory, not to mention that programmers might be able to get around some of these obstacles with the help of shadow ram so that the save data on the WII is only an access point for the larger custom data sets (I am thinking for games like civilizations or say an expansion pack for FF:my life as a king to have an actual explorable , modifiable world outside your own kingdom).

s1kw0nJanuary 07, 2016

I don't understand how SD Menu works for the Wii AT ALL. I tried to MOVE channels to the SD CARD and I delete the game from the Wii main menu channel and it FAILS to LAUNCH from the SD CARD. I really WISH someone could HELP!! I APPRECIATE ANY INFO. THANKS.
-Steve

ejamerJanuary 07, 2016

Quote from: s1kw0n

I don't understand how SD Menu works for the Wii AT ALL. I tried to MOVE channels to the SD CARD and I delete the game from the Wii main menu channel and it FAILS to LAUNCH from the SD CARD. I really WISH someone could HELP!! I APPRECIATE ANY INFO. THANKS.
-Steve

The most common reason I've seen for this is that people moved the games onto SD from one Wii (or Wii U) console and then tried to access/play the games on a different Wii console.  When you download a game, it actually gets locked to that specific hardware so the SD card won't work on other consoles - although you will be able to see the games stored on the card.


It's also possible that your SD card isn't supported. Things should work with any normal SD card, or an SDHC card that is 32 GB or smaller in size.


I've also seen games fail to launch just because there is corruption on the SD card.  Unfortunately the only way to get your games back in this case is to re-download from the Wii Shop Channel, format the SD card, and try again.  (But maybe try using the Copy option and launching from SD that way instead of using Move. That way if it doesn't work, you won't have to re-download the game.)


If none of those comments help, maybe post more specific details about what happens when you try to launch the game. Is there an error message shown?

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