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Buyer Beware: Refurbished Nintendo Wii

Posted on Dec 3, 2016

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a gamer. With having grown up with the original Nintendo system, (and yes, I remember playing my oldest sister’s version of Space Invaders), video games have since become an important part of my life. My interests don’t lie in the genres of the “shoot and kill;” I find those games pointless (but to each their own), I enjoy games where I’m able to work towards, as well as create my own goals.

For just over a week now, the household has mourned the loss of the Wii, as the optical drive has finally breathed its last — wheeze? (Whatever that noise is…death rattle perhaps?) At any rate, I’d become excited when I learned that the local (Winnipeg, I mean), EB Games locations still sold Wii systems, but refurbished. They are less expensive than purchasing a brand new Wii U, and are the public’s last option to purchase a Wii (besides buying from someone, used), as the original Wii consoles are becoming phased out of existence. After speaking with one of the salesmen on the phone yesterday, I felt elated that all my Wii-type problems had been solved, and drove right into one of our (a few hour drive, yes), EB Games shops to purchase a refurbished Nintendo Wii. Exhausted from the drive, I decided to set it up the following morning. However, the surprise I received this morning was far more than I was expecting.

What is a refurbished console? The company basically takes in old trade consoles, and cleans them up; scrubs the hard drive clean, and resells it to customers. As I excitedly started setting up the “new” system this morning, it became rather frustrating to learn that I couldn’t just pop in a CD and start playing: the Wii Disc Channel required a system update in order to work. After many failed attempts to update, and numerous [same] error codes, I researched what may be the underlying cause of the issue.

  • I’d cycled the internet router, to ensure that it wasn’t the wireless internet crapping out
  • I’d even manually entered Nintendo’s stated DNS codes
  • Everything on the list, I had tried, for this particular error code

The last article on the list that mentioned reasons for failed updates, might have to do with illegal modification software being installed on the system. After watching part of some guy’s YouTube video, I learned how to confirm whether or not there was hacked software on the system:

  1. Press the power button, to turn the Wii on
  2. Hold down the “Reset” button, and “BootMii” menu may appear

Sure enough, this menu did load, and without options to uninstall this illegal hackware.

After a brief discussion with a Nintendo tech support agent, he let me know that there is no way to remove this type of hacked software from the console, and my “new” Wii was completely useless, without being able to run system updates.

Another fast trip into the city, and I considered exchanging the Wii for another refurbished unit. After the disappointment in learning that we cannot test the consoles in-store, especially with the current knowledge I had, with being able to test whether or not the system’s been hacked, I decided against it.

The moral of the story is that if you’re ever considering buying a refurbished Wii, yes it will save you money, but you won’t know until you start the setup whether or not you’ll even be able to use it. At least if you buy the newer models, you have Nintendo’s support and warranty services, and you have the guarantee that no illegal software has been installed previously.

Definitely something to consider, if you’re only looking to save money. In the future, I’d rather save the headache instead.