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Some Thoughts on the Latest Wii System Update

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On March 25th, Nintendo released the latest Wii System Update. Its features were a long time coming in the opinion of many. According to Nintendo’s support website the features of the latest system update are SDHC Card Compatibility, the ability to launch WiiWare and Virtual Console games from an SD or SDHC Card, and the ability to download titles from the Wii Shop Channel to an SD or SDHC Card. Additional features include changes to the Wii’s data management system to “make it easier to copy and move stored items on an SD Card or the Wii console’s system memory”, an update of the Wii User agreement, and “other behind-the-scenes enhancements to the Wii console system menu included with Wii Menu 4.0.”

The main reason I was excited about this update was the new SD card support. Like many others, I have downloaded too many games from the Wii Shop channel to have them all sitting on my system. I have about 15 games just sitting on my SD card that I had to delete to make room when I downloaded new games. I have also deleted the Check Mii Out, Everybody Votes, and Nintendo Channels. This is a shame, because I did enjoy those channels.

SDHC Card support is great too; I have a 4GB SDHC Card that was sitting around doing nothing after I bought last year thinking it would be compatible with the Wii.

Immediately after downloading the update and applying it, changes to the menu were visible. Underneath the channels is a graphic icon of an SD card labeled SD. Clicking on the icon opens up another Menu filled with channels of all the games on the SD card. The black background of the SD Card menu contrasts nicely with the Wii’s white background.

I had heard from various sources that there could be some problems if you have save data on both the Wii System and the SD Card when you load games off SD. One of my main complaints with the Wii Save Data system is that all save data looks the same; there are no dates or other markings other than the games title and its system. Looking at your Mario Kart Wii SD card save and your Mario Kart Wii system save it is impossible to tell if there are any differences. So, I deleted a few channels and made sure that all my Virtual Console and WiiWare games had save data on the Wii console by moving the necessary files off my SD card.

Then I took out my old SD card and put in the SDHC card that had been lying around. I downloaded all the channels on my Wii Console to the SDHC Card. I went to the Wii Shop to re-download the deleted previous purchases.

This was more streamlined than I expected. “Titles You’ve Downloaded” is an option on the Wii Shop menu. After clicking on it all the titles you have downloaded are listed alphabetically. If the title is on your Wii system, it will not give you an option to download. If it is not, you can choose to download to the console or to SD. If you try to download to SD twice a message will inform you that the title is already on the SD Card.

This ordeal took longer than I had hoped for, a little over an hour. After I was done with all my data management, I purchased Super Punch-Out!! and downloaded it directly to SD. Back at the Wii Menu, I opened up the SD Menu and launched Super Punch- Out!! right from there. It was not an instantaneous boot, but only about a second longer than launching from the Wii console.

After playing, I went back out to the menu. Super Punch Out!! was not in my Wii Menu channels, which I thought was odd. If you have too much data on your Wii system it will warn you that it needs enough memory to run the game off the SD menu. It would seem natural that it would download the channel to the system if there were enough space.

After that, I launched a Wave Race 64 from SD. I knew a N64 game would require a large number of blocks to run. A window popped up telling me I did not have enough space to run the game and asking if I wanted to manually manage the memory or automanage. Clicking on automanage brought up three more options: manage rightmost data, manage small blocks, and manage large blocks. I choose rightmost data and it started copying the rightmost data to the SDHC card until it was ready to launch. This process took about a minute and a half.

After playing Wave Race 64, I popped back out one more time. About nine titles had been deleted from the rightmost portion of my Wii Menu channels. I checked my SDHC card to make sure that the data copied was only the title channels and not the actual save data. It was, and I suspect the reason it went so quickly was that the titles were already on the SDHC card.

Next I wanted to check how well the save data held up with all this back and forth between the SD and Wii console. I launched Super Punch-Out!! yet again. Not only was my save data intact, but it launched right where I had left off when I had left the last play. This place holding has always worked with the games on the Wii system memory and I was surprised but glad it carried over to the SD support.

This system update is definitely worth the hassle. Being able to access all your WiiWare and Virtual Console almost instantly was worth the initial setup time. The real question is why did it take Nintendo so long? This is something that should have launched with the system. For that matter, I still think a USB External hard drive would have been a more elegant solution. If Nintendo had released a USB hard drive that expanded the Wii’s system memory to 4GBs or more, I would have gladly spent money on it. Keeping all my saves and Wii Shop downloads in one place and never having to worry about any data management would have been worth the money. Nintendo is likely worried about piracy, but they could have released only a Nintendo branded peripheral and make you register it to your console before use. That may still be coming and the SD support is appreciated for keeping the cost down.

The SD Card support works better than I expected, and does solve the majority of the Wii’s storage problems. So, if you have tons of Virtual Console and WiiWare games, or want to download a ton, this latest system update is what you have been waiting for. Now you can spend Wii Points again!

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About Mark Kalriess

  • Tall Writer

    A great update…a nice plan to suppliment the Nintendo DSi launch yesterday.