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World First Wii Freeloader Review – Over 22 games tried and tested

by Daniel VuckovicMarch 15, 2008

When it was revealed the Wii wouldn’t be region free, many of us weren’t too worried. It really didn’t seem to matter considering the Australian release was just a few weeks after that of America and Japan. Surely a couple of weeks is fine enough to wait for games? For a while, pretty close release dates were the norm, then Super Paper Mario had a 5-month delay, then Endless Ocean, Fire Emblem and Battalion Wars 2 missed a 2007 release. But now… Now the incredibly popular and anticipated Super Smash Bros Brawl is at best a 3-month delay between Japan release and the Australian release. We PAL gamers are again left in the lurch. That is, until now, with the recent release of the Wii Freeloader, a device that will unlock your Wii to the world of games that are cheaper, uncensored and not delayed.

Owners of this generation other consoles will be well aware that their consoles are region free, Nintendos own DS and the Sony PSP also employ no region mechanism. Only the Wii has such a prehistoric, unnecessary feature included. Thankfully, the Freeloader has hit and, like its GameCube brother, promises to open your Wii to the world – and it does.

Well get right to the point, the Wii Freeloader from Datel works 100% as described on the case. It played every Wii game we threw at it, and hell it even played some GameCube games (more on that later.) Well point out that our console was on Version 3.1E, but a quick search of the internet reveals that the later release 3.2E also works.

The operation is easy. Simply boot up your Wii to the main screen or disk channel, stick in your Freeloader, wait for the screen to wipe twice, pull out the disk, swap it for the game you want to play and you’re region free. That being said, Datel does include a second set of instructions for games that contain compulsory updates, such as Super Smash Bros Brawl. To run that game you’ll have to do as above but make sure the Freeloader is inserted twice. This then disables the games update and a test using Smash Bros Brawl bought about no issue.

The only problem we did come up against was on one console. This particular console had a Wii Key installed. For those that don’t know, the Wii Key is a modchip that, at least before the Wii Freeloader hit, was the best way of playing region locked games (among other more dubious uses). Sadly, if you have a Wii Key and are unable to disable it then you cannot boot the US or Japanese disk of Super Smash Bros Brawl. If you have no Wii Key, then you are fine. Another anomaly we noticed is that No More Heroes, which normally never booted on a modded system, does with the Freeloader.

Notice: Interference on the Nunchuck screen not due to Freeloader

So what did we test?

  • Super Smash Bros Brawl (US & JP)
    • Booted fine after following alternative method
    • Note: Did not boot with system with modchip
  • No More Heroes (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Super Mario Galaxy (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Super Paper Mario (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Trauma Centre Second Opinion (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Ghost Squad (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Rayman Raving Rabbids (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Zack and Wiki: Quest Barbaro’s Treasure (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Wario Ware Smooth Moves (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Nitrobike (US)
    • Booted and plays
  • Trauma Center: New Blood (US)
    • Booted and plays


We also had a handful of GameCube games on hand to test with varied results. While the box of the Freeloader never actually mentions GameCube compatibility it does work in limited cases. Please note that we had the console set to 60 Hz which is what an NTSC GameCube or Wii in GameCube mode would have to put out.

  • Timesplitters 3: Future Perfect (US) – Booted and works
  • Resident Evil 4 (US) -Booted and plays

Sadly, that’s all the games we had on hand that worked, other games we tested included (all US versions) did not load…

  • Alien Hominid

 

  • Battalion Wars
  • Chibi Robo
  • Geist (loads but crashes on loading screen)
  • Killer 7
  • Viewtiful Joe 2
  • Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble

We’d like to put a little disclaimer here too. While it worked on our console on 3.1E, your attempts to boot these games on your consoles may vary depending on your drives condition, laser etc. The Freeloader, while great, didn’t always work and could require you to do some tweaking. Further, while all our games displayed right on 480i (and NMH on 480p), 50 Hz could be a problem. While we never experienced any such problems, some people have been experiencing problems running it with and even without component cables. 

So for now, the Freeloader does what it proclaims to do, and it does so with no modifications to the console and for a pretty decent price. The only downside? Nintendo could choose to kill it anytime with an update. While you dont have to update your console, eventually you may have to and your library of American or Japanese games could become useless.

Presentation wise, the Freeloader ships in a nice case which is white, matching the tone of the Wii console, but comes with a GameCube sized disk. Included instructions are on a single piece of paper, if only because they are so simple.

Pros
+ Cheaper games
+ Gives you the choice of where to buy your games
+ Buy uncut or unreleased games
+ No modifications to the Wii itself
Cons
– Nintendo could kill it anytime
– Future games could block it
– Youre paying for something Nintendo could have given us for free.

If you are after import games, or games released in other countries before they arrive here, then the Freeloader is for you it works (for now) and does so quite well, but it could be killed at any time in the impending future. Its cheap and easy to use; the Wii Freeloader from Datel is a PAL gamers hail Mary.

Giving a score at this point would be arbitrary, but yeah heres a 10 for those number conscious individuals.

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About The Author
Daniel Vuckovic
The Owner and Creator of this fair website. I also do news, reviews, programming, art and social media here. It is named after me after all.Please understand.

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