It was November 19th, 2006. I remember hearing about the release date, months before, and wanting to run down to the game shop to throw down some money and reserve a console for myself right away. The Nintendo Wii was my first purchase that was ever preordered. I brought it home in the evening after my shift, and my brother was just as excited to try it out. Nintendo had never let us down before.
It was amazing. I could use a wireless remote (I didn't have the luxury of a wireless controller before this point), and magically point at the letters on the screen to spell out EVAN while naming my first Mii. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was the game I bought with the system, but my family and I had tons of fun with the packaged Wii Sports.
Throughout the console's life, it would become home to some of the best, and most entertaining games, that I've ever played. Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Muramasa, Skyward Sword, etc.. But like many great things, people tried to hack it… and they were successful.
Enter The Homebrew Channel. Rather than having to take advantage of exploits in the Wii's Operating System every time you want to load up a mod, or try and run a home-brew application, you installed this channel to bypass that action. Sitting up there beside the Mii, Weather, and Virtual Console channels was a gateway to a whole new world within the Wii.
My interest in softmodding the Wii was started by a Lifehacker article that said I could back up my Wii games and run them off an external hard drive. I had tons of Wii games at this point, and thought it would be amazing to have them all stored in a single virtual library. So I set out to mod the Wii, and install a USB loading application… But that was just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many applications that will allow your "underpowered waggle machine" to do so much more than it was intended to do. You can make your Wii play DVDs, run video captures, run primitive Linux distros, play MP3s, and more. My friends and I play a few different modded versions of Smash Bros. through home-brew too. We can use custom textures and stages, new move sets, you name it!
Lately I've had a retro gaming fire burning inside, and the wonderful Wii Homebrew Community has given me plenty of options to feed the flames nostalgia. My Wii can now effectively emulate every Nintendo console that has come before it. Some of it took a bit more work than others, but I now have one central hub for all of my older games. Rather than have an NES, SNES, N64 and GameCube sit crammed under my TV, I can play all of them through the Wii with little, to no, problems.
This is an excellent option for those of you who have cartridges that are no longer working (RIP Legend of Zelda for NES, and Mega Man X for SNES), or you just don't have the space (or enough outlets) for all of your favourite/nostalgic consoles.
Nintendo made it great, but the community made it better. If you've relinquished your Wii , and sentenced it to a life inside a box in a closet, maybe it's time to bust it out and see what else Homebrew can offer you.
BONUS: I've also hacked the Wii Menu inside the Wii U as well (known as vWii when looking for mods). Although I can't play GameCube games, due to lack of GCN controller ports, I can still play my emulated games and Wii games off an external HDD. It takes a bit more tinkering, but there are tons of YouTube/forum tutorials out there for people to utilize.