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How to Play Retro Point-and-Click Adventures on Your Wii

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If you are a fan of 1980s and 90s point-and-click adventures and you have a Wii gathering dust, well then, do we have a proposition for you. Read on to see how you can replay all your point-and-click favorites from the comfort of your couch.

Anyone playing computer games between the late-1980s and the mid-1990s is most certainly familiar with a point-and-click adventure or two. Titles that filled game store shelves (and home PC hard drives) during that period included such hits as Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island series, the Space, Police, King’s, and Hero Quest series from Sierra Games, and other gems of the era like The Island of Dr. Brain and The 7th Guest.

If you want to relive your favorite retro games and squeeze a little extra mileage out of your Wii in the process, read on as we show you how to configure a Wii to play retro games from the heyday of the point-and-click era.

What You’ll Need

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For this tutorial you will need the following items; read over the list below and then check out the notes following for additional details.

First, this project requires a soft-modded Wii unit that can run homebrew software. While we have shown you how to hack your Wii for homebrew before, new editions of the Wii operating system software require different techniques for soft-modding. Therefore, we strongly suggest you read over The Complete Softmod Guide to ensure you are performing the correct mod technique for your particular Wii. Make sure to install the Homebrew Browser while you’re at it. This tutorial will not walk you through the soft mod process.

If you are totally into the idea of playing old retro point-and-click games but you don’t want to mod your Wii, don’t leave empty handed. Check out our guide to installing ScummVM on your PC here.

Second, while you can happily follow along with this tutorial with just the Wiimote, as you get more into playing point-and-click adventures on your Wii you may find it tiresome to hold the Wiimote up to navigate the mouse cursor around the screen. We found it very comfortable to use an old GameCube controller to play the games.

Finally, you will need to have at least one ScummVM compatible point-and-click adventure game. We will go over which games are compatible and how to get them in the first section of the tutorial.

Game Compatibility and Finding Games

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ScummVM is an emulation tool that emulates specific game engines so you can play retro point-and-click games. It’s not a general purpose DOS/Windows emulator, but instead emulates the software framework (and the hardware used by that framework) specifically for the point-and-click adventure games produced by LucasArts, Sierra Games, Activision, and other point-and-click adventure game companies.

As such, ScummVM will take care of all the emulation, display, and interface side of things but you are responsible for supplying the actual game files for it to load up. You can find a full list of games and their compatibility ratings here.

The easiest way to get started is to simply visit the ScummVM archives and grab copies of games that are now freeware. You can find a list of all the available freeware games in their Freeware/Demoware Wiki entry. You can also check out the Extras/Game Downloads section of the main ScummVM site.

For games you still have the physical media for, you can extract the files off the floppy disks or CD-ROMs and copy them into an appropriately named directory. Generally speaking it is best to copy every single file from the source media and save it in the new directory. If you are curious what specific files the game in question must have to run properly under ScummVM, check out the Game Datafiles entry in the wiki for your game.

For games you have purchased but are unable to successfully extract the media, you will likely be able to find a replacement copy with a single search query or two. Websites like EmuParadise maintain vast archives of old gaming content.

We are going to use a copy of the updated Hero’s Quest game, aka Quest for Glory I, from Sierra Games for demonstration purposes during this tutorial. Why Hero’s Quest  you ask? Between the original and the updated version, we logged dozens of plays of the title in the early 1990s. Any game glitches, poor sound reproduction, or other issues will stand out immediately during testing.  If you are equally as familiar with a favorite title, we suggest you use that for your initial test of the system.

Once you are armed with an appropriate copy of your favorite game, it’s time to forge ahead and install ScummVM.

Installing ScummVM on the Wii

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There are two methods for installing ScummVM on your Wii. The first method uses the Homebrew Browser from the Homebrew Channel to install it and the second method involves manually downloading the files and copying them to your Wii’s SD card.

Both methods will get ScummVM onto your Wii, but doing it manually is the only way to ensure you are getting the absolute latest build on your machine. As of this writing the Homebrew Browser downloads ScummVM version 1.5.0, but you can download version 1.6.0 directly from ScummVM.

In our testing we found that manually upgrading from 1.5.0 to 1.6.0 resolved several bugs. Although the Homebrew Browser version isn’t the most current at the moment, it’s the faster way to install it so it’s worth popping into the Homebrew Browser and checking the version number.

Installing from the Homebrew Channel: Fire up your Wii and launch the Homebrew Channel from the main interface. Once you are in the Homebrew Channel select the Homebrew Browser. After the Browser has finished loading, navigate to the Emulators tab and scroll down until you see ScummVM. Clicking on it will pull up the entry for it like so:

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Here you can check the version number (1.5.0 as of Febuary 2013) and click download to grab a copy. The download is approximately 12MB in size and will install automatically.

Once the download is complete, press the Home button on your Wiimote to pull up the Homebrew Browser control menu. Select “Return to Loader” to boot back into the Homebrew Channel.

Check to see that there is a new entry in the application list for ScummVM like so:

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If you wish, you may launch the application now to test it but, since we haven’t put any game data files on the SD card yet, you will be limited to simply testing the menu interface. Go ahead and exit back to the Wii’s main system menu and eject the SD card from your Wii now.

Installing ScummVM manually: If the Homebrew Browser’s edition is out of date and/or you are having trouble with games using the version found there, installing manually is the way to go.

In order to get the freshest copy of ScummVM for the Wii, visit the ScummVM BuildBot page and grab the latest build. During the course of play testing ScummVM for this tutorial we upgraded the 1.5.0 stable build (downloaded from the Homebrew Browser) to the 1.6.0 development build available via the BuildBot.

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Extract the archive from the BuildBot page to a convenient location. Copy the ScummVM folder from the extracted archive to /Apps/ScummVM/ on your Wii’s SD card.

If you are replacing the Homebrew Browser installed version of ScummVM, you can safely delete all the existing files in the /ScummVM/ folder and replace them completely with the updated copy of ScummVM.

When you replace the SD card in the Wii you will find the same entry for ScummVM in the Homebrew Channel application list as you would if you installed it via the Homebrew Browser.

Loading Your SD card with Game Data: Whether you installed the game via the Homebrew Browser or manually, you still need to populate your SD card with game data in order to play anything.

With your Wii SD card attached to your computer, navigate to /Apps/ScummVM/ and create a new folder /Games/. While, technically, you can put your /Games/ folder anywhere you want on the SD card, the ScummVM interface will search in its own directory by default.

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Within the /Games/ folder create a new folder for each game you are adding to your ScummVM system.

Once you have added at least one game to your card, eject it and place it back into your Wii. Navigate to the Homebrew Channel and launch ScummVM.

Installing and Playing Games

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On initial launch of ScummVM, you’ll notice there isn’t a single game listing (regardless of how many games you added to the /Games/ directory). You will need to manually add each one the first time to populate the list. Click on the Add Game button in the right-hand column.

Select the folder /Apps/ScummVM/Games/. Select the game folder of a specific individual game and click Choose. 2013-02-07_140550

You will be presented with the configuration menu for the game you selected. Since our game is already in the ScummVM database (as indicated by the pre-populated ID and Name that matches the game we’re adding) we are not going to mess with any of the settings. The vast majority of games supported by ScummVM require no settings tweaks on the part of the user. Go ahead and click OK.

You will now see an entry for your game in the main ScummVM interface like so:

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Select the entry for your game and click Start (the load button is for loading save states from previous games which, at the moment, we have none to load).

If everything goes smoothly, you should be rewarded with the the startup sequence and splash screen for your game:

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Controlling ScummVM: Ready to take your game for a spin? You will find the following control scheme reference chart handy.

ScummVM for Wii Controls

  •   Wiimote
    • IR: Mouse movement
    • A: Left mouse button
    • B: Right mouse button
    • Minus: Escape
    • Plus: “.” (Skip current line of text)
    • 2: Enter
    • 1: Port specific options dialog
    • Home: F5 (ScummVM menu)
    • DPad up: Shift (Mass-add for the launcher, combined with home: GMM)
    • DPad down: Virtual keyboard
    • DPad right: Predictive dialog (only in AGI games)

 

  •   GameCube pad
    • Analog stick: Mouse movement
    • A: Left mouse button
    • B: Right mouse button
    • X: Escape
    • Y: “.” (Skip current line of text)
    • Z: Enter
    • R: Port specific options dialog
    • Start: F5 (ScummVM menu)
    • DPad up: Shift (Mass-add for the launcher, combined with start: GMM)
    • DPad down: Virtual keyboard
    • DPad right: Predictive dialog (only in AGI games)

 

Armed with our controller and controller reference chart it’s easy to take a stroll around the virtual world:

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Ah yes, the isolated town of Spielburg trapped behind the snowfall and plagued by an evil ogress, monsters, and brigands. Not much has changed in Spielburg in the twenty years since we last went adventuring there—and that’s just the way we like it.


If setting up your Wii for retro game emulation put you in the mood to enjoy more retro gaming and trips down memory lane, make sure to check out other How-To Geek emulation-oriented features including:

Have a retro gaming/emulation topic you would love to see us cover? Sound off in the comments and we will do our best to make your gaming wish come true.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/14/13

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