How to Download Guitar Hero Style Songs to your Wii Console for Free
Guitar Hero does not support direct download of songs for its Wii versions yet, but users who install the Homebrew channel and an application called Guitar Fun can use their Wii Guitar Hero controllers to play songs that extend the generally awful selection included in most of the Guitar Hero games.
Get the Wii Homebrew Channel but Be Careful
While Nintendo does not yet support the downloading of Guitar Hero songs for the Wii.* Wii console owners who have the Homebrew channel installed can download an open source Guitar Hero like program called Guitar Fun. You will need the Guitar Hero guitar, a Wii Mote and an SD card. Find installation instructions for the Homebrew channel here.
Hacking the Wii voids the warranty that comes with the console and it may cause the user not to receive upgrades to the console's software provided by Nintendo. Activision and Nintendo plan to allow uses to download songs for the new Guitar Hero IV game. A user who wants to expand the music into decent options beyond the few good songs in each Guitar Hero game needs to hack his system or wait.
Some Necessary Items to Download New Guitar Hero Style Songs
The hack requires several items beyond the Nintendo Wii. The player must have an SD card, an SD car reader, a copy of Twilight Princess and a saved game file on the Nintendo. Complete instructions on how to install the Homebrew channel can be found here. (This open source Wii channel allows many custom games and additional user generated content.)
Formatting the SD Card and Installing the Homebrew Channel
Insert the card in an SD card reader. Many netbooks come with an SD card reader as standard equipment. Format the card using the File Allocation table format. Download and copy the Twilight Princess Hack onto it and unzip it. Take the card out of the PC and place it in the Wii's SD card reader slot. Access the hack and install it to install the Homebrew channel. You will also download the songs onto this card. Complete channel installation instructions can be found here
Download Guitar Fun
Guitar Fun is a free version of Guitar Hero. Guitar Fun is similar to the Frets on Fire application for the PC. This file must be in the root directory of the SD card. The songs must be in the Guitar Fun folder of the SD card. Now that the technical information for custom Guitar Hero Wii songs has been covered, it is time to get to the fun part. Downloading songs that rock in comparison to the ones typically included with the Guitar hero releases.
*This was true at the time this article was written. Guitar Hero does now let users download tracks for a fee.
Make Your Own Songs for the Wii?
Users can generate their own songs for the Wii, but this falls beyond the scope of this tutorial. If a Wii Guitar Hero player wants to figure out how to do this, he should find information on a program called Ghost which allows a user to make new songs for Frets on Fire. (Guitar Fun can read these files.)) Several other programs exist that also save files in the appropriate format for the Guitar Hero and Guitar Fun music files. User generated songs created by the Ghosts software package can be saved in the Frets on Fire format.
Getting Guitar Fun Songs for the Wii
The Frets on the Fire songs can be downloaded directly onto the SD card which can in turn be plugged into the Wii. Start the Guitar Fun application and provided the songs do not rest in the incorrect directory on the SD card, the user can play them. Make sure you have the Wii Guitar set up properly and select the songs you want to play from the list of available songs on the card.
What About Getting Guitar Hero Songs for II & III?
Neither Nintendo nor Activision, the makers of Guitar Hero, currently allows users to download songs for the Wii directly to the console at the current time. Guitar Hero IV will support this feature, but in the meantime users must either hack their system to get better songs or buy more Guitar Hero games. The licensing problems make this a little problematic though and the remaining Beatles adding their bands name to an upcoming edition of Rockband does not help matters. Does anyone know when the Mighty Mighty Bosstones edition of Guitar Hero will be released?*
*The author's musical tastes should not taken as an indication of what Activision should publish, especially because his attempts to play Guitar Hero continue to fail spectacularly.