The Nintendo Wii is the best-selling Nintendo home console of all time. Sure, Sony has still outdone Nintendo by having the Sony PlayStation 2 as the best-selling home console of all time, but the Wii still defeated the PS3 in the same generation and the Switch closed the sales gap against the PlayStation 4—Sony’s 2nd best-selling game console of all time next to the PS2—in a much shorter time with the Switch, a home console, and handheld console hybrid.
In turn, the development of the Switch as a hybrid console makes sense in light of the Nintendo DS and Game Boy serving as Nintendo’s 1st and 2nd best-selling consoles of all time as well as the 2nd and 3rd best-selling consoles of all time just behind the PS2. With that in mind, how should one go about connecting the Wii to a projector?
Connecting the Wii to a Projector 101
The Nintendo Wii is a popular console with killer games such as Wii Sports, Mario Party, The New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Metroid Prime, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. However, when you have a big group playing the Wii, it can get quite cramped and even your big-screen HDTV isn’t enough to cater to everyone playing. You need something bigger, like a huge movie screen that can fit your living room and a projector that works with your Wii.
- How to Connect Your Wii to a Projector: First thing’s first, you need to place your Wii properly beneath the location of the projected image instead of the projector. This is because you want it to be in front of you in order for it to detect your motion. It’s like other consoles in that it’s best placed near the screen you’re playing your game on, but in the projector’s case, the screen is separate from the display device instead of being part of the device as in the case of the V or computer monitor. Try to keep the Wii at a level roughly central to the floor and the ceiling for maximum motion detection.
- Projector Placement and The Sound System: Meanwhile, the projector should be placed on the opposite side of the room, perhaps on the ceiling in an overhead fashion so that you don’t end up blocking the projection of the device with your shadows as you play your Wii-based games. The Wii should also be linked to your sound system using the A/V cables that come with the system. Set it to stereo sound for the best results. You can connect soundbars, amps, base, and so forth with the Wii too, just keep in mind that any modern device using ports like HDMI or DisplayPort will require the right cables and adapters for it since the Wii only has A/V and component ports available to it.
- Limits of the A/V Cables of The Wii: Put the video cables from your Wii console to the projector. This can get tricky because the native A/V connector might not be long enough to reach the projector if it’s any further than 8 feet. You might need a splitter, extender, or even a wireless transceiver in order to wirelessly send the Wii’s signals to the projector. With that said, the Wii actually works best with A/V or non-HDMI standards like composite and component video. That means it works best with projectors made around 2006 or earlier, particularly the ones with component video ports and the like.
- A/V Cable Coupler and Extender or Short-Throw Projector: Using Extension Cables with the Wii’s A/V Cables: If your projector is further away than 8 feet or if it’s on the ceiling, you’ll need to extend its port or extend the connector of your Wii beyond that 8 feet of space by getting a video cable coupler and a second or even third video cable to complete the connection. This is more of an issue with projectors than with TV sets or computer monitors due to the fact that the projector requires some distance between itself and the screen in order to work (throw distance). Another alternative solution to this short-range dilemma is to get a short-throw projector that you can play nearer the screen.
- The Testing Phase of Your Wii Connection: Turn on your Wii then test if the projector is working properly and has a video signal in the first place. This will determine whether your link between the Wii and the projector is working in the first place or is properly connected. If there’s no signal, you’ll need to trace back the origin. Is there something wrong with the A/V cables? The ports? The doubler? The extension cables? You should also test the position of the Wii’s sensor to make sure that you’re getting a good motion signal as well. This allows you to control the games by moving your Wiimote around. The motion detection comes from the console and not from the projected image on the screen.
- Tips for Connecting The Wii with a Projector: Although the Wii doesn’t have an HDMI port but instead uses component cables, you should invest in a newer projector for the Wii as much as possible. Older projectors don’t have the same connectors as the newer ones, so you’ll have to use adapters to create the right connections with them. The sweet spot for Wii projectors is around the late 2000s and early 2010s when all projectors have non-HDMI A/V connections with them. However, you can always get a converter or adapter to link up a Wii with a projector made in the late 2010s up to the 2020s. Some converters even advertise their ability to link the Wii with an HDTV or HDMI projector for good measure.
- An HD Wii? Why Not Just Use the Wii-U? If you really don’t like how lacking an HDMI connection your 480p Wii is due to its focus on motion controls instead of pushing its hardware to the high-definition era of gaming. It sort of worked, with the Wii becoming the best-selling console of its generation. However, it came at the cost of having a low-res, standard definition 480p resolution, and the lack of an HDMI port. However, the Wii-U or the next-generation sequel to the Wii does have an HDMI port on top of component RCA ports to allow you to play all the Wii games you love plus all those Wii-U exclusives. It certainly beats buying a converter on top of the Wii just to link to an HDMI projector.
- Warnings and Precautions: The Wii uses a motion sensor bar to make its motion control work in the first place. You need to place your sensor bar and the Wii console itself in the same direction as the projection or the screen where the final image will be placed. It’s the same way your Wii should be oriented along with your CRT or HDTV. Your A/V or component cables will thusly require extension cables to allow linkage from your Wii to your overhead or backend projector unless it’s the short-throw kind of projector that you can place near the Wii and the screen itself. Ideally, the sound system should be placed elsewhere or even behind the screen.
- Virtual Wii Sensor Bar Hack Makes the Wii Projector-Friendly: The Wii works well with projectors, even HDMI ones that require a component or A/V to HDMI converter. Why? Its sensor bar works well with the projector and its projected image on the accompanying screen. You can hack the sensor so that infrared dots are projected unto the wall so your Wii-mote can work without the Wii infra-red sensor bar. The bar’s design is rather simple. Every Wii-Mote has an IR-sensitive camera inside it, which is the black box at the end of the motion remote device. The sensor bar, in turn, is just two IR LEDs.
- A Custom LED Lamp of IR Light to the Wall: The twin infra-red LEDs of the sensor bar is what the Wii-mote’s cameras focus on, resulting in motion detection that controls the player character or avatar on the screen, whether it’s Mario, Link, Samus Aran, or some other popular Nintendo character. In light of this, any source of infra-red light will work with the bar just fine when appropriately spaced. One hack involved designing a custom IR LED lamp. It cast the light unto the wall by the projection screen that will help detect the Wii-mote’s motion controls. You can search the Internet for more info on how to build such a DIY lamp yourself.
Connecting the Nintendo Wii to a projector is a straightforward deal. As long as you have the right A/V cables and ports available for the projector in question, you’re good to go. Modern 21st Century or 2010s projectors (probably even projectors in the 2020s) use the HDMI standard, so thusly you should have a component to HDMI or A/V to HDMI converter for the job. There are many converters out there that are even specifically made for the Wii, whether they allow HDMI to component or HDMI to A/V connections for the console.
Component to HDMI is ideal because the component is probably the highest-quality analog standard available that is compatible with the Wii. As for vintage projectors, they should have A/V connectors available for the Wii to use. Otherwise, get a converter to allow for RCA or component connections to link up a projector using SCART or whatever else A/V standard is available out there.
- Jason Fitzpatrick, “Virtual Wii Sensor Bar Makes Wii Projector-Friendly“, LifeHacker.com, September 18, 2010
- “How to Connect Wii to a Projector“, It Still Works, September 22, 2017
- “How to Connect Wii to a Projector” eHow UK, February 5, 2019