Emulating the Sega CD on the Wii

31 January 2013

Nintendo never game us Sega CD games on the Virtual Console, but you can take matters into your own hands and fix that problem.

Sega CD games play almost perfectly on the Wii. You just need to hack your Wii, rip your Sega CD discs, install the right emulator, and then you're golden. I haven't seen a full end-to-end guide on the internet for this, so hopefully this guide will prove helpful. But first pay attention to a few legal caveats.

If you don't own Sega CD games and hardware that can play them, then you might as well stop reading now. The goal is not to help anyone pirate games and play them on their Wii. This is a guide to enable users to digitize the Sega CD games they own and make their Wii systems perform its best Sega CD impression.


There are a number of steps required. They take time, but as long as you're patient, methodical and thorough you shouldn't encounter any problems. Let's start with the most involved one.

1) A Hacked Wii with Homebrew Channel

Don't be scared. There's nothing wrong with hacking your Wii; you don't need to be have a background in computer science. You just need to carefully follow directions. Here's one of the best guides on the Internet, courtesy of wiihacks.com.

2) Sega CD Hardware

One of these days, TimeWarpGamer will have a proper guide for this hardware. In the meantime, here are your options, starting with the best (and most expensive): Sega CDX (a.k.a. Sega Multi-Mega), Sega CD I (a.k.a. Mega-CD I), and the Sega CD II (a.k.a. Mega-CD II).

Emulation helps reduce wear on my original harware and games.

3) Sega CD Games

Although the Working Designs discs of yesteryear aren't the best examples, there are plenty of great, affordable titles out there. Check out the Greatest Sega CD Games list, and you'll find handy links to search for each game on eBay.

4) ImgBurn (compatabile with Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8)

This is the easy one. Simply download ImgBurn, which is widely considered to be the best free ripping/burning software for Windows, so it's something you should have anyway.

Ripping Games

ImgBurn is about as straight-forward as a ripping program gets, but here's a step-by-step guide to help ensure you end up with the right file format and a rip that's unlikely to contain errors:

-Load your Sega CD game
-Click "Create image file from disc"
-Choose the correct optical drive under "Source"
-Click the little magnifying glass over the folder to choose a destination and name
-For read speed, choose 12x / 12x (in general, slower speeds reduce the chance of errors)
-Click the disc to image icon in the bottom left to begin ripping
-Depending on the number of audio tracks, it will probably take around 15 to 20 minutes
-You should end up with a .bin (raw data) and .cue (how the data and audio tracks are organized) file

If only this was available for my Mac...

Installing Genesis Plus GX

If you're familiar with the Homebrew Browser and loading homebrew software on your Wii, this is a cake walk. For those new to homebrew, here are some detailed directions:

-Have a properly formatted SD card for Homebrew in your Wii (again, see wii.hacks.com for help)
-Launch the Homebrew Browser
-Click on the "Emulators" tab
-Click the "A" icon on the right to sort by name
-Scroll down to "Genesis Plus GX Emulator"
-Click to open it, and click to install
-Wait for it to download and extract

Configuring Genesis Plus GX

To emulate the Sega CD system, you need to have BIOS files that match the region(s) of your game(s). There are three BIOS files in total: United States, Europe, and Japan. Find whatever ones you need, extract them, and rename them to bios_CD_U.bin, bios_CD_E.bin, and bios_CD_J.bin. Then copy them to your SD card at the root level in genplus/bios.

This emulator is remarkably easy to use. The only tricky part is setting it to read games from a USB device rather than your SD card. By default Genesis Plus looks to your SD card for games, but with .bin/.cue rips of games often clocking in at over 500 megabytes in size, you'll probably want a different solution. Therefore, you should probably click "Options," then "Menu," and switch "ROM Load Device" to USB. You can organize your ripped games on your USB drive however you want to, as long as you keep a game's .bin and .cue in the same folder.

Running Games

At last, the moment you've been waiting for! All you need to do is fire up Genesis Plus and point to the .cue file for the game of your choice. Here's a walkthrough just in case:

-Open Genesis Plus GX from the Homebrew Loader
-Click Load
-Click Mega-CD
-Click your way to the .cue file for your game of choice

It's as simple as clicking the top right icon and finding a .cue file

Playing your Sega-CD games on the Wii is a beautiful thing. Genesis Plus GX offers near-perfect emulation. Once in a while you might hear a blip or two interrupting the sound, but you shouldn't encounter any game-stoppers. Enjoy!