Play Wii Games on Mac

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Wii Mii

I was one of those guys that bought the Wii off of eBay shortly after its release at a scalper's ransom.  For months my roommates and I would drink beer, talk trash, and play Wii Sports bowling for hours on end.  Of course the Wii never got many quality games but the console was worth the price alone for all the fun we had with Wii Sports.

A decade later my Wii doesn't work very well; the discs are scratched and the Wii usually spits out any disk I put into it, which is a shame because my four year old is just getting into gaming.  After a bit of research I've found that Dolphin, the emulator I found to play Gamecube games, can also emulate Wii games.  It took a few hours of experimentation but I finally figured out how to play Wii games on my Mac.  Let's have a look!

Step 1:  Get Dolphin

The Dolphin app is an emulator for both Gamecube and Wii.  Download and install Dolphin emulator and you should see this screen when you open the app:

Dolphin Emulator

Step 2 (Optional):  Get the Wiimote Dependencies

This step is only required if you want to use real wiimotes to play wii games on your Mac.  Many gamers have mentioned that the Xbox controller is an excellent alternative.

Start by opening System Preferences > Bluetooth and ensuring Bluetooth is turned on. Despite being a bluetooth device, the wiimote does require a bit of extra software to work as desired:

  • foodhid: OSX IOKit driver for implementing virtual HID devices (joypads, keyboards, etc.)
  • WJoy: Nintendo Wiimote driver for Mac OS X.  Unfortunately the current version of the original repository has an immediately disconnecting defect so use this forked version which contains fixes so your Wiimote can stay connected.

The WJoy utility may not be needed to play games with Dolphin but it's a very useful app for using a Wiimote for any purpose on Mac.  WJoy displays in the menu bar and allows you to open or close Wiimote discoverability.  Click the "Begin Discovery" menu item, then grab your Wiimote and hold the red pairing button near the Wiimote's batteries;  WJoy will quickly discover and pair your Wiimote!

Step 3:  Configure the Wiimote or Other Remote within Dolphin

Dolphin does not initially detect your Wiimote so you'll need to manually configure your Wiimote (or Xbox controller) within the Options > Controller Settings menu.  Find the "Wiimotes" heading and choose either "Emulated Remote" (for a controller other than Wiimote) or "Real Wiimote" if you have a Wiimote.

Notice that you can use up to four real Wiimotes (it works!). You'll also want to turn on the "Continuous Scanning" option under the "Real Wiimote" heading.

After initial setup, Dolphin will remember any configuration you've created.  Once Dolphin recognizes your Wiimote, the Wiimote will rumble and make the typical Wiimote chime.

Step 4:  Load an ISO and Play!

Click Dolphin's "Open" icon and choose an Wii game ISO file.  The game will start and you're ready to play!

My 2017 13" MacBook Pro plays Wii Sports flawlessly, even without the Wii sensor bar.  The swinging and other Wiimote motions are just as responsive as my old Wiimote.  Kudos to the developers of Dolphin and the Wiimote drivers for making all of this Magic happen!

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