Can Nintendo Switch Games play on Nintendo Wii


The other day, while having a chat with my friend over Zoom, I was asked a question:

Can the Nintendo Wii or Wii U play Switch games?

My friend, who’s an avid Wii fit user and a big fan of the Wii U Mario games, thought that Nintendo might have made Nintendo Switch games work on their older consoles. After all, the Wii U does have a large touch screen similar to the Switch.

Sadly, he was in for some bad news…

Can Nintendo Switch games play on the Nintendo Wii or Wii U? No, Nintendo Switch games can not be played on the Nintendo Wii or the Nintendo Wii U.

Now that you have an admittedly blunt answer, let’s take a look at exactly why Switch games don’t work on the Nintendo Wii and Wii U.

After that, I’ll take a look at some options open to you that’ll help you get over the shock of not being able to play Switch games on your Wii.

Why can’t the Wii or Wii U play Switch games?  

The Wii, along with the Wii U, will only take physical game on a DVD disk.

The Wii or Wii U can’t play Switch games for a number of reasons. Let’s take look at some of the reasons why…

Switch games come on a cartridge

The Wii and Wii U both use DVD-ROM disk drives to play physical games. Whereas the Switch uses cartridges that use physical flash memory to store and play its games.

Both the Wii and the Wii U have nowhere for you to insert a Switch cartridge into them.

But what about downloadable games? Could the Wii and the Wii U have access to Switch games via their respective eStore?

Sadly, no. Switch games, even digitally, will not run on the Wii or Wii U. Let’s take a look why in the next section.

Switch games need different internal hardware

The Nintendo Switch is home to a custom ARM CPU that’s coupled with an Nvidia Mobile GPU. Together, these create some seriously powerful mobile gaming hardware.

Games that are designed for the Switch couldn’t run on Nintendo’s older hardware. The Wii and the Wii U simply aren’t powerful enough.

Technically, the Switch Produces 1 Teraflop of computing power when docked. For comparison, an Xbox one produces over 1.2 Teraflops of computing power.

The Wii and the Wii U are substantially less powerful than the Switch. The Wii U only produces 0.35 Terflops of computing power. That about 1/3rd the power Switch.

The Wii is massively less powerful than the Switch. Producing only 0.013 Teraflops, the Wii is nearly 77 times less powerful than Nintendo Switch. So there’s no way it would ever be able to run Switch games.

Nintendo wants you to buy new hardware

Never forget Nintendo are a business. They want to convince you to buy more consoles, more games, more peripherals, and more hardware.

So, as a business, it’s not in their interests to make their older consoles forward compatible with their newer console’s games because fewer people would buy their new hardware.

Plus, making games compatible with old hardware would hold back the development of the new games on the Switch.

The Wii U’s screen doesn’t work the same way as the Switch’s screen

The Wii U, though it offers a touch screen controller, is different to the Nintendo Switch.

The Wii U touch screen uses resistive touch screen technology. This is the same technology used on the Nintendo DS. The screen has to be physically compressed for an input to be registered.

On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch uses a capacitive touch screen. This is similar to the technology you’ll find in your smartphone. You can use your fingers, but generally, accuracy is lower than a resistive touch screen.

Though these two technologies look as if they could be used in similar ways, they do affect gameplay. This makes the touch screen another reason why Switch games are not on Nintendo Wii U.

Alternatives to playing Switch games on the Wii or Wii U

I know you’re probably still upset that the Wii and Wii U can’t play Switch games. And I don’t blame you.

But there are plenty of alternative gaming routes you could take. And I’ve listed a few of them below:

Keep your Wii and buy a Nintendo Switch

If you love your Wii/Wii U, just keep it, enjoy it, and then, when the time is right, buy a Switch to compliment your gaming collection.

There is no need to sell your Wii to buy a Switch. Just wait until the Switch comes down in price, or buy a Switch Lite.

A Nintendo Switch Lite can be bough for only $199. Or, they can be picked up preowned for as little as $150.

Keep on playing the Wii/Wii U and enjoy some of the classics on the system

There are some truly amazing classic gaming experiences to be had on both Wii consoles. So why not play your way through some of them and worry about buying a Switch later?

That’s what I would do. Check out some of the best Wii games on RetroDodo here. Also, take a look at some of the best Wii U games on WhatToPlay here.

For example, the Mario Galaxy games on the Wii are some of the best platforming adventures ever made.

Buy a different Nintendo Console

The 3DS is a fantastic console. You won’t be able to play Super Mario Odyssey on it. But you will be able to play loads of other top-class games.

The Nintendo Switch isn’t the only Nintendo console you can buy. Why not pick yourself up a SNES or NES mini.

Retro gaming, not your thing? How about buying a Nintendo 3DS? Every Nintendo handheld is packed with gaming diamonds ready to be unearthed.

I’ve recently bought a Nintendo DSi so I could play some of the classic Mario games on the system.

By a console from a different brand

You could upgrade away from Nintendo and buy yourself a Playstation or an Xbox.

You could buy a PS4 or an Xbox One or you could go with something newer such as a Xbox Series X/S or a PS5.

Microsoft’s and Sony’s consoles offer a staggering amount of high-quality Triple-A game experiences. But, if I had to choose, I’d pick Sony’s PS4/5 every time. Some of the best games I’ve ever played have been on Sony’s consoles.

Once you’ve experienced, The Last of US: Part 2, God of War, or Horizon: Zero Dawn, I promise you, you’ll be a Sony fan for life.

Buy retro console

I own an Evercade myself and they really are superb little retro consoles.

I’m a big fan of retro gaming. And there are a ton of glorious gaming oldies just waiting to be enjoyed. For example, I recently bought an Evercade retro handheld console to enjoy some on-the-go retro goodness.

This small machine, which is similar in size to a Sony PSP, takes old-school game cartridges similar in size to the Sega Game Gear. These chunky carts are a treat as it gives you a chance to experience that authentic plasticy retro gaming feel.

Check out the Evercade Starter Pack here.

And it’s not just handheld retro consoles you can play. How about playing games on an old Xbox 360 or even the PS2.

So long as you’re happy to look past the aging graphics, there are some stunning gaming experiences to be had on these old consoles

Play games on Mobile Phone

Another great way to experience some Nintendo magic after the Wii/Wii U is to play mobile games.

Bother Android’s Play Store and Apple’s AppStore are home to Mario Run and Mario Kart. Both games are expertly crafted for always on the go, only got 5 minutes to spare, smartphone gaming.

So go check them out on your phone now.

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

Recent Posts