Homebrew: Hack Nintendo WiiU and Install Games From Backup

I’ve just ‘hacked’ my Nintendo WiiU and installed homebrew software to allow me to run backups of my games from an external hard drive. It is fantastic! A Homebrew Hack Nintendo WiiU setup will also allow you to use emulators (for older Nintendo or other retro games), custom games, and mods. If you have a WiiU kicking around, this is a jailbreak project for your WiiU you need to take on today. No more need to switch disks and no more worrying about scratched disks for those prized games. This article will 1) walk you through setting up an SD card with all the necessary programs, 2) running the WiiU exploit, 3) installing the homebrew software and 4) then downloading and installing backups of your games onto your WiiU. Like all my articles, I put this together because I found the information on how to do Homebrew Hack Nintendo WiiU scattered in a number of places on the internet and not in one convenient place. This article will be the one convenient place to walk you through all the steps to Homebrew Hack Nintendo WiiU, get that homebrew software running and playing backups of games!

Maybe the WiiU isn’t considered retro yet?, but feel free to browse my other retro gaming articles on this site.

Tools and Hardware to Homebrew Hack Nintendo WiiU

Hardware:

  • Windows PC
  • Wii U System with latest update (5.5.3 or 5.5.4)
  • SD Card
  • USB Stick or External USB Hard Drive

Software / Tools:

Overview

The process for modding the WiiU, downloading games and transfering the games to the WiiU is straightforward but a bit cumbersome. It first involves installing The Homebrew Channel and Haxchi software which will run off of the SD card. Second we need to install WiiU USB Helper on your Windows Machine to download the backups of your games. Third the games must be transfered to an SD Card. Finally, the games need to be install from the SD Card to your USB drive using The Homebrew Channel on the WiiU. We will go over each of these steps below.

This guide is for WiiU consoles that are version 5.5.3 or 5.5.4

Lets get started.

Step 1: Setup SD Card

As noted above, you will need an SD card to run Haxchi and The Homebrew Channel. It needs to be formatted as FAT32 and if it is more than 32 GB then you will need to use the Fat32Formatter tool linked above in order to format it. 32768 cluster size is optimal and it can’t be more than 2TB.

Once its formatted, you will need to download the install files to copy to the SD card. This process can be done manually by following the instructions at WiiUhacks or by following this video. However some handy folks have already done this tedious work for us and an already complited package can be downloaded from this Google Drive Link.

This file will download as a RAR file and you will need a program like 7Zip to open it.

Extract this contents of the “wii u sd backup” folder (within the “wii u sd backup 2020” folder) to the root of your SD card and it should look like this (although you will probably also have a “retroarch” folder too):

WiiU Create SD Card
WiiU Create SD Card

If you’re having problems later in the install, it may be because this file with the WiiU programs is outdated. If that’s the case, you can follow the manual process noted above from either the WiiUhacks page or by following this video.

That’s it! You have an SD card ready to go and you’re ready to boot your WiiU.

Step 2: Installing The Homebrew Channel and Haxchi

After completing step one above, let’s continue to Homebrew Hack Nintendo WiiU and now you can pop your SD card into your WiiU and fire it up!!

The first thing we’re going to do is head to the WiiU store and buy Brain Age. You’re looking for the app called “Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day”. You need this so it can be replaced with Haxchi which we will install in a minute. It’s the cheapest available app and is $5USD, $9CAD, £5 or €6.

Once you’ve bought the game, start up the WiiU web browser. You’re going to head over to wiiuexploit.xyz and click the a button on the bottom of the page which is labeled “Run Homebrew Launcher!”. If everything works properly, you will load into The Homebrew Launcher app which will look something like this:

WiiU Homebrew Launcher Homepage
WiiU Homebrew Launcher Homepage

If you’re having problems, head to the settings of the browser (wrench icon in the top right) and delete your cookies and reset saved data.

Next step will be to backup your system data juuuust in case something goes wrong. To do this we will run NAND Dumper. Launch it and then click load. From the black and white text menu, select the components you want to backup. I just used the default, but you can add all the items if you’d like if your SD card is large enough. Once done, power off the WiiU and the power it back on. You can either copy these backup files (.bin files) off of your SD card to you PC now or later.

Repeat the process of launching the web browser and heading to the exploit page (wiiuexploit.xyz) to get back to the homebrew launcher. Now we are going to install Haxchi. Select the Haxchi Installer item from the launcher. Select load, and then select Brain Age to replace it with the Haxchi. Once this is done, it will return to the WiiU main menu and you should now see the black Haxchi icon. Run Haxchi now. It will take a few moments and return to the WiiU menu. This is normal behaviour.

In order to run backed up games. You will need to run Haxchi everytime the system reboots.

You can install the Cold Boot Haxchi Channel (CBHC) if you’d like which would make it so Haxchi launches automatically on boot (and you don’t need to manually do it everytime). There are instructions in this video starting at about 15:05. However BE AWARE THERE IS A RISK OF BRICKNG YOUR WIIU if to brick the WiiU if you ever happen to accidentally uninstall brain age. For me with kids, this potential is greater and so I did not install cold boot. However this is your call.

Step 3:Installing WiiU USB Helper

You can rip your games manually following the instructions in this video, however it can be so much easier and faster to just download a pre-dumped game. To do that we will go back to your PC and be installing a key component to Homebrew Hack Nintendo WiiU – a great little program called WiiU USB Helper which can be download from here: https://github.com/FailedShack/USBHelperInstaller/releases

When the program has downloaded, run the installer and follow the dialogs to: select your region, and then select the location where you store your backed up games. Next will come up a dialog in which you need to enter a title key site for the WiiU which looks like below.

WiiU USB Helper TitleKey
WiiU USB Helper TitleKey

You will need to enter titlekeys.ovh into the dialog box (for Method 1). The image below shows some more title key options.

WiiU USB Helper TitleKeys
WiiU USB Helper TitleKeys

Now WiiU USB Helper should be installed and up and running and should should be greeted with an interface which looks something like this:

WiiU USB Helper Installed
WiiU USB Helper Installed

Step 4: Download Games

In the WiiU USB Helper you can search for games in the top left corner of the interface. The results will be colour coded based on whether you have the game, have downloaded a backup or have installed it. If you haven’t downloaded the game, then you can right click on the and you are given a bunch of options including “Download Game(s)”.

WiiU USB Helper Download
WiiU USB Helper Download

Once you’ve clicked selected the game to download, the “Start Downloading” button at the bottom of the screen will start flashing. It’s really hard not to press flashing buttons, so go ahead and do that. Once you do, you will see the download manager on the right side of the screen pop-up showing you the download progress.

Once the game has downloaded, it now time to copy it to the SD card.

Step 5:Copying to SD Card

You can use WiiU USB Helper to copy the files to your SD card or you can do it manually. First we will stat with using WiiU USB Helper.

First you will need to insert your prepared SD Card (see step #1 above) into your PC, if you do not, the menus noted below won’t show up properly. Once you’ve done that, click the “Copy to SD” button in the bottom right of WiiU USB Helper as shown below.

Copy Games to WiiU SD Card
Copy Games to WiiU SD Card

We will now need to select what we need to copy (e.g. game, DLC, updates) in the interface window that pops up (note if it’s just the game and no DLC or update this window will not appear), as shown below:

Copy Games to WiiU SD Card
Copy Games to WiiU SD Card

Once you select OK, a window will pop open on the right side of the screen, confirming what you want to copy. Ensure it is correct and select the “Copy to SD” button on the bottom.

Copy Games to WiiU SD Card
Copy Games to WiiU SD Card

Double Click on the drive letter of your SD Card:

Copy Games to WiiU SD Card
Copy Games to WiiU SD Card

WiiU USB Helper will use Windows Explorer to begin the copying the files to your SD Card:

Copy Games to WiiU SD Card
Copy Games to WiiU SD Card

If you don’t want to use WiiU USB Helper, alternatively, you can use Windows Explorer to copy to SD card. Simply copy the games files from the WiiU USB Helper download folder to the USB drive in the \install\ folder, as shown below:

Manual Copy WiiU Games to SD Card
Manual Copy WiiU Games to SD Card

Repeat these steps for all the games you wish to install and then we will install them to the USB drive through the WiiU interface.

Step 6: Install from SD Card to USB Drive

Alright, your SD card is loaded up with games and you’re ready to install those onto the USB drive in the WiiU. Obviously you will need to put the SD card and the USB drive / stick.

Now boot up the WiiU with both the SD card and the USB drive / stick. If this is your first time plugging in the USB drive / stick the WiiU will ask you if you want to format it. You can go ahead and do so. Once that’s done and when the system is booted up launch Haxchi and then run The Homebrew Channel.

Launch The Homebrew Channel
Launch The Homebrew Channel

Within The Homebrew Channel launch WUP Installer.

The games you’ve copied to the SD card will show up in the list within the WUP Installer. Select the games (and updates and DLC) you want to install by clicking on them and then click the “Install” button on the bottom left.

Install WiiU Games in the WUP Installer
Install WiiU Games in the WUP Installer

Select the location to install the games to. NAND is the internal storage on the WiiU and USB would be your USB drive / stick. So select USB to install your USB drive / stick.

WiiU WUP Installer USB
WiiU WUP Installer USB

WUP Installer will begin copying the files. It could take a while so grab a tasty beverage and sit back and wait.

WiiU WUP Installer Copying
WiiU WUP Installer Copying

Once it’s done, exit the WUP Installer, exit The Homebrew Channel and you can now launch your game from your WiiU home screen! Note: You will need to launch haxchi every time you reboot the system before you play any of the games.

You will need to repeat the download, copy install process for all the games you wish to install to your USB drive/stick

Alright, well that’s it, you’ve made it through the Homebrew: Hack Nintendo WiiU post. You now have your backup WiiU games ready to go and can sit back and relax!

Happy retro gamin’!

~digiMoot

Sources:

WiiUhacks: http://wiiu.hacks.guide
Install The Homebrew Channel and Haxchi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDk5l3veAGg&list=WL&index=85
Install The Homebrew Channel and Haxchi (updated): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbiZToxq-Mo
Install and Setup WiiU USB Helper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDymS9HNS9w&list=WL&index=87
Install and Setup WiiU USB Helper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5msoW-VzeXk

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