There were few reasons to own a Wii U back when I first bought the console back in 2013, and even fewer to own one now. Yet it’s still the best way to access the Wii and Wii U’s catalogue in 2023, and Zelda fans know Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD are the best way to play both of those games.
You may laugh at my quest to recapture the nostalgia of the Wii era, but as someone born in 1996, the Wii was a staple in every household when I was growing up. This means I was never far away from a match of Wii Sports or some other weird motion-controlled game. I also never owned a PlayStation 2, so all of my early gaming was done via Nintendo consoles and handhelds until I finally got an Xbox 360 to play Halo 3 on in 2010.
My fondness for the Wii U doesn’t hold as much nostalgia, but I still have several good reasons for why I decided to buy one in 2023.
Where it all began
This journey started a few weeks ago when the golf update finally hit Switch Sports. My friends and I started playing it more and, by proxy, the rest of the Switch Sports games. This made me start to feel nostalgia for Wii Sports Resort, a spin-off of Wii Sports with extra games like archery, frisbee and even a plane-flying mini-game.
If I wanted to get the sports from Wii Sports Resort into my next local multiplayer match, I’d need to get a Wii, four Wii remotes (with Wii Motion Plus built-in) and four nunchucks. Wii Motion Plus is needed for the extra sports games in Wii Sports Resort since it adds extra gyroscopes to give the remote more precision. This originally started as an attachment that slotted into the bottom of the remote, but newer controllers called the ‘Wii RemotePlus’ built it all into the simple Wiimote.
After digging through my basement, I found a Luigi-themed Wii RemotePlus and my old homebrewed Wii, but no cables. Since the Wii is homebrew-enabled, you need a GameCube controller to access the menu, so it’s more or less out of commission. The remote still works, but the batteries inside had corroded, which required a lot of cleaning.
From there, I went to Facebook Marketplace, and much to my surprise, Wii U consoles were fairly cheap. “Do I dare?” I asked myself. It would be cheaper to get a Wii, but having access to the HD remakes of Twilight Princess and Wind Waker is very appealing. After a bit of searching online, I discovered I could also buy the Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Wii U eShop, and I was sold.
As luck would have it, I started this journey right before the eShop is set to close down for good on March 27th. While this seems unlucky initially, it gives me at least a slim chance to buy some of these games for a fair price online before it’s resale only.
Bringing it home
After a few days searching the used market in Toronto, I stumbled across a 32GB unit that a video game shop was selling for $170. That felt like a good deal to me, and since these small shops generally offer short warranties, I jumped at the chance. After work, my girlfriend Alex and I jumped in my car and drove over there to catch them before closing, but when we got there, they only had a white 8GB model, which they sold to me for $150.
The unit came with a Wii RemotePlus, Nunchuck and all the other necessary cables you’d need for a Wii U. To top it off, I bought another RemotePlus/Nunchuck combo, and the store threw in a copy of Wii Sports Resort for free since they weren’t sure if they’d work (it did). All this also came with a two-week store credit warranty, which I was happy with. If I had been willing to drive further or wait longer, I think I could have found a better deal on the used market.
When I got home, I plugged the console in, and much to my surprise, it spit out a copy of Wii Play, another mini-game-focused Wii title from my childhood.
Then I needed to factory reset the system and log in with my own Nintendo Network ID — notably, a different login system than the Switch. This is where things got complicated. I kept trying to input my password, and it wouldn’t work for some reason. I then discovered that the 3DS uses the same login info, so I dug my 2DS out of storage. I found my login info there, but it still wouldn’t work.
After even more research deep in Reddit forums, I discovered that the Wii U suffered a hack a few years ago, which kneecapped a lot of the safety on the console. Therefore, I would need to call Nintendo to recover my account. The other alternative would be to make a new account, so I just did that instead, sacrificing my online copy of Pikmin 3 linked to my old username.
This is now two hours after I initially started setting up the console. From there, I hopped into the Wii U eShop and attempt to buy Wind Waker HD. Luckily for me, the game is only $30, which is cheaper than many resellers online. I add it to my cart and went to add my credit card to the console, and I learned that you can’t add credit cards to the Wii U post-hack. Bummer, but I can buy a $35 eShop card on Amazon, which should cover the game and taxes. I try to load that into the Wii U, and I’m again stopped.
Ok, back to Google to find out how to solve this.
It turns out I can merge my Nintendo Network ID and my Switch Nintendo account, add the funds to that, combine the two wallets and then buy my Wii U game. My first attempt at this is through my phone, and — unsurprisingly at this point — it errors out. Whenever I input the code, it sent me to a blank Nintendo website page. I grab my Switch, and it finally accepts the eShop code. I go back to my phone, log into my Nintendo account again, and merge the two accounts and wallets. I’ll mention that these are two specific ‘merging’ steps, not something that happens automatically when you link accounts.
Three hours later after a simple Wii U reset, I finally had enough money on the console to buy the game. I hit download only to realize that the 8GB of storage is unusable for downloading games. After a bit more digging around in my house, I uncovered a 4GB USB stick that was big enough to hold Wind Waker HD.
It was a hassle, but I’ve got a smaller 32GB stick on order from Amazon that only cost me $13, and so far, I’ve been having a blast reliving my childhood Wii and Wii U games. I even plugged in the MClassic that I wrote about a few years ago, and it’s really helpful for making Wind Waker look extra crisp.
If you have any Wii or Wii U game recommendations, let me know in the comments. I’ve already got my eye on Battalion Wars 2 and Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn for Wii, but I’m looking for other recommendations before the console’s shop shuts down on March 27th!