Bought a Wii: now what?


So I bought a Wii recently at a thrift store for 25 bucks. What’s the worse thing that could happen? I waste 25 bucks on something worth 150 bucks (or so I thought at the time)? No Wii remote? No sensor bar? No games? No problem. I could not have been more wrong. The following is a telling of how disappointing it is to buy a used Wii, especially when you don’t do your research.

So I get home and excitedly sit down with a pile of Wii cables to untangle them. First: make sure the power works. Okay, thank god it does. Weird, widescreen SD resolution cables also work on my (thankfully old) TV. Safety warning comes up on the screen and we’re good to go.

Except I don’t have a remote. Or the sensor bar needed to use the remote. Okay, no biggie, how much could Wii remotes actually cost? Turns out, forty bucks. That is, unless you’re willing to buy one of the millions of really insanely crappy-looking third party remotes. Which I was not. I did, however, buy a third party sensor bar, largely due to the crushing blow of having to shell out so much for the remote.

“Wii games can still sell for exorbitant prices.”

What’s next? Other than waiting a thousand years for my packages to arrive because Canada, I have to shop for some games, right? The Wii has been out for so long, games must be insanely cheap, no? I mean, the Wii came out NINE years ago; that’s plenty of time for the good games to get super cheap. Turns out, no.

Unless they’ve been added to the prestigious Nintendo Selects catalogue (think Sony’s Greatest Hits editions, i.e. cash grabs but also an excuse to sell an old game for cheap), Wii games can still sell for exorbitant prices. I swear to god I saw Metroid: Other M selling for eighty bucks at Wal-Mart. WHAT? That game wasn’t exactly popular even when it was NEW. Why??

Anyhow, after some bargain bin digging, I managed to pick up some titles that looked mildly legitimate. Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess, some Star Wars game (Force Unleased 2 I think?), and a few others. Most Wii games still on shelves are third party serials like the Lego games (think Batman and Lord of the Rings) or the more “party” type Wii games like Just Dance and even Wii Sports Resort in some stores.

After waiting for three ice ages to come and go, my Wii remote finally shows up with the sensor bar. Both work fine, only required a little calibration tweaking and that gloved hand was swooping around the screen no problem. Next step: games.

I throw in Twilight Princess because it’s the one I’m most excited to play. I’ve been playing Ocarina of Time on 3DS for the past little while and I’ve been loving it so much I don’t want it to end (except that Epona race: fuck that race).

Stressed woman

Disc starts spinning, I can hear it whirring. Good, good. BLAM. Can’t read disc. Oh god, please no. Tried each and every one of the games I bought after that. Same thing. Cannot read disc. Do some quick research as I sit shaking with rage on my couch. Oh. This is an extremely common issue that usually requires BUYING A CLEANING DISC. WHAT YEAR IS THIS. WHEN’S THE LAST TIME ANYTHING HAS NEEDED A CLEANING DISC.


So this is basically where I’m at right now. I’m seriously debating just doing a “soft mod” on the Wii to get access to all these games for free (illegal, of course. Any cops reading this should stop now). Apparently it’s not that hard, you just need an old-style SD card like they used in early digital cameras.

The thing is…those memory cards are so cheap and the cleaning disc is like 25 bucks. At this point, I haven’t made any real decision, especially because I have all those game discs that I can’t return because I bought them used. Hmmm.

There are two lessons to be learned from all of this, people. Number one: don’t ever buy a used console without knowing EXACTLY EVERYTHING that’s wrong with it. Number two: check to see if the console you’re buying still has user/corporate support. Thankfully the Wii was a freakishly huge success–especially compared to the Wii U–so there’s a lot of community-run sites that can help in dealing with all the strange problems that might crop up. In fact, my Plan C is to actually bust open the box itself and replace the drive, all because I saw it on a modding site and it looks fun.

I will likely report back in to this post once I land on a solution that lets me actually play games on the damn thing.

  1. This is really well timed. I’ve had my eye on a used Wii for ages now (they typically go for ₤20-25 in local pawn shops), but was a little put off by the amount of cable juggling setup would involve. I still might at some point, but I ended up getting a Playstation Move kit in the meantime because it was half the price and I already had games that could use it: a significant number of them seem to be ports of Wii games anyway. On that note, if you do get the Wii working, keep an eye out for Dead Space: Extraction. The precise shooting needed in the original survival horror games translates over very nicely into an on-rails shooter (though unfortunately so does Dead Space’s tendency to let you pick absolutely any weapon you like, then shove you in a room with an extremely specialised boss).

    I’ve actually never had a problem with used hardware. I got the PS3 with a significant staff discount while working in a game shop, and I’ve been using a secondhand DS for years. I think a big part of it is how fragile that particular type of console is, and how easy it is to repair/replace. For me, support for the console isn’t as important as some kind of guarantee I can return it if it fails within a certain time: the PS3 was covered for a year, and while I’d be disappointed if it up and died now that’s just passed, I feel like the gamble would still have been worthwhile given that a new one would have cost twice as much.

    By the way, you might want to have a watch of this: . Just in case it helps.


    • Just out of curiosity, what games do you have that works with the Playstation Move? The only one I own that I think would be worth playing is Sportsfriends but maybe there are some other gems out there? I’ve actually played Extraction from start to finish with a friend using the Dualshock controllers and, despite being a little hard to aim at times, it worked pretty well. Definitely a fun game to play co-op but I’m not sure I would ever revisit its single player.

      Honestly, I don’t really have a problem buying hardware second-hand, but I will definitely play-test it first the next time I buy one. I got my Wii at a Value Village and I didn’t bother bringing in a disc to check if that worked (although they assured me the power worked, which is easy enough to test on their part so I trusted that). Next time around I will definitely bring in my own disc and even my own TV (I’ve got a little 22″ that I keep on my desk) to make sure everything checks out before I buy. Plus, even after everything I’ve complained about, I bought my Xbox 360 new and that failed on me after about two years so it’s not like buying new really eliminates all possibility of failure. My PS3 failed a few years ago (just the drive; downloaded games work fine) and I’ll probably buy a used one in a bit (maybe even a new one if the price keeps dropping).

      Also, I watched that video and am now terrified to open up my Wii in case it’s crawling with bedbugs or something. Geez.


      • I already had Bioshock Infinite through PS+, and Extraction came on the disc for Dead Space 2. I’ve also (now) downloaded Dust 514, which is free to play. It’s funny you mention Extraction being okay with Dualshock, because my experience with Dust is that the Move seems to offer no advantage in multiplayer. It’s definitely fun, but I think I’d probably do better with a regular controller. Being single player, Bioshock is probably more forgiving, but I’m waiting for something good to turn up on PS+ before re-subscribing to give it a try.

        Having been generally happy with the Move-as-lightgun setup, I’m keeping an eye out for games that use it in different ways. Heavy Rain looks like a good candidate, as does Sorcery. Also some of the Resident Evil games, since they’ll be third person.

        I sort of feel as though used hardware actually eliminates some risk since you know someone else has got it working already. The DS I bought was originally owned by the cashier I got it from, and apparently she only traded it in to get a DSi. At the very least, you know it’s not going to be like the ton of Xbox Ones that just never turned on.


        • Wait, so Move works on FPS games in general? Wouldn’t that be super jumpy and inaccurate? Although, I do have fun with lightgun games at the arcade so I guess I can see the appeal. The only thing that would make FPS hard would be moving your character while also aiming with the Move.

          Honestly, it seems like it’s a toss-up whether you buy consoles new or used. Pretty disappointed with my new 360 purchase years ago but my PS2 that I bought from a friend like a decade ago runs totally fine.


          • It’s actually not a bad control scheme for FPS. You use the navigation controller (or in my case the left half of a regular dualshock) to move, and wave the move controller to look and aim. It is a little jumpy to actually “look around”, but the ability to point the crosshair anywhere on screen generally makes up for that. Typically you’ll do worse at close range, where you could ordinarily spin round to shoot someone who’s just run out of your field of view, but hitting a moving target is generally easier.

            When the PS2 was new, there was a rumour (at least in my area) that some were prone to failing just after the warranty ran out and others would last pretty much forever. Then again, my friends never took very good care of their tech.


  2. Oh wow, I can just imagine you sitting on the couch shaking in rage! Nothing much left of your happy feeling of getting a bargain. I had no idea that the Wii uses a cleaning disk, I’ve had mine since the beginning but as I’m a handheld gamer it never got much use. I do hope you’ll be able to solve it. By the way, are you sure it’s a cleaning issue? If I were you I’d try to find a friend who still owns a Wii in which you can try your bought games. Otherwise you’ll shell out $ 25 only to find out that that wasn’t the issue..


    • You’re right! I did actually try the discs on a friend’s Wii and they all worked no problem. I tried to get everything up and running again a few weeks ago and kept hitting the same snag so I think it’s pretty much cleaning disc or bust at this point.

      Liked by 1 person

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