The only method I can think of is to download a ROM and test it with an emulator, and then delete it 72 hours after I download it. However, I'm uncertain if this is legal.

How can I test a Wii game before buying it?

  • 2
    What happened to the good old testing of games in game shops? Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 15:04
  • 2
    @Martin I've not seen that pretty much ever, but it might depend on your location.
    – Adam Lear
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 15:05
  • 22
    "Try then delete ASAP and it's legal" is a made-up idea a lot of ROM sites used to convince people to download their warez (and give them ad impressions). It's not based in any form of reality. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 15:28
  • 1
    @Anna In the past, if you asked really nicely (and things weren't busy, or they didn't have a specific deal with a publisher) you could get GameStop/EB employees to change the games in the trial consoles, but I haven't asked in a long time, so their policy may have changed.
    – user11502
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 2:42
  • The 72-hour thing is made up. Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 14:01

9 Answers 9


Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Copyright laws differ per jurisdiction. What I've stated below is the norm in most countries.

Downloading a ROM is illegal. No matter whether you own it, or whether you only keep it for a few hours, it is always piracy.

See the Nintendo FAQ on the matter for more information.

In case you don't trust Nintendo because they are partial to the subject, the WIPO Copyright Treaty explicitly prohibits circumvention of technological measures and unauthorised modification of rights management information in articles 11 and 12.

As for your second question, there are a few options you could try. Like Martin suggested, you could try going into a game shop and see if they have a console you can try it on.

There are also options to rent a game instead of buying it, and you can always buy it again afterwards.

Alternatively, if you are committed to circumventing copy protection in order to play illegal copies of video games, might I suggest moving to Monaco. On balance, it is a far more desirable place to end up than say, Nigeria.

  • 8
    it is always piracy. => This is simply not true.. There are a vast number of scenarios where downloading a rom is completely OK; for example if you own the rights of the game (for example, because you wrote the game yourself) or if the game is released under a permissive license, or in the public domain, or if the copyright holder allows such activities, etc etc Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 16:35
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    @AndreasBonini We're talking about Wii games. There is simply no case in which the copyright owner will be able to download it, because the copyright owner will never be a natural person, nor are there permissive Wii games.
    – user56
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 16:45
  • 2
    +1 for solid advice, but that FAQ is misleading if not downright dishonest. For example, I find the claim that game copying devices are illegal to be suspect. I wouldn't take Nintendo's word on this topic, since they definitely have a conflict of interest.
    – Steve S
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 20:41
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    @Arda Nintendo is lying in that FAQ. Nintendo wishes that game copiers were illegal everywhere, but they aren't. The possibility that someone might do something illegal with the results of the copier (distributing the ROM) doesn't make the act of copying or the copier device illegal, as Nintendo says. (A car can be used to break speed-limit laws, but cars aren't illegal.) They say an untruth that their lawyers well know is an untruth. Hence, lying. Companies do it all the time. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 23:39
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    @Seven: It should be noted that, 1) The DMCA also explicitly prohibits devices whose sole purpose is to circumvent copy-protection measures, so the car analogy is flawed. 2) Similar laws, including exactly this sort of provision are required and present in every country that is a signatory to the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty. While there are a handful of non-signatory countries most are either in the 3rd world, and/or have similar measures on the books anyway. Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 0:21

I'm fairly sure from my view on this, that it would be illegal in most countries, as you are not the legal owner of the content to begin with. It does sound morally right to delete it and then buy it if you like it, but at the same time it's not legal. There are some solutions for it though:

  • Rent it. There are still video stores out there that will rent a game for perhaps $5 a week or so.
  • Play N' Trade. This store is only in the US, but they have tons of TVs and consoles set up so you can TRY before you buy. I think it's awesome.
  • Ask around with friends! Social networking may help with this, just drop a post on Facebook/Google+/Twitter/Whatever you use.
  • I mean digitally play test games. For PC gaming is "games on demand" (pay for one month and play and delete) service. This way is ok.
    – Saulius
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 15:17
  • @Saulius for console games, that really doesn't exist though. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 15:18
  • Play N Trade is still in business? They closed like a dozen stores here last year, I thought they'd gone bankrupt.
    – Shinrai
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 15:34
  • May be a internet TV to see gameplay for about 30mins and decide this way to buy it or not.
    – Saulius
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 15:34
  • 1
    Nintendo doesn't offer a digital demo service on the Wii, and haven't granted anyone else the right to offer downloads for modded Wiis. Therefore, there's no way to legally download Wii games. The only way you're going to legally demo Wii games is to rent, borrow or visit somewhere that has the game, like a demo booth at a shop or convention, or your friend's house. You can always move to a country which doesn't have copyright law, but these countries tend not to have Internet. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 17:17

Check your local public library. More and more libraries these days are offering games for checkout. And it's probably free as long as you return it on time. Some libraries may require a deposit to borrow games/systems.


Gamefly? Rent from a brick store, if you can find one still standing.


I can only speak for the greater Indianapolis area, but I would be surprised if this doesn't hold true elsewhere:

Official policy or not, GameStop employees will accept returns on the grounds that you don't like the used game that you purchased. If you are seriously considering buying a game and want to try it first, buy a used copy from GameStop. This doesn't mean you get to use GameStop as a free rental store; If you like the game, keep it.

If you're talking about games that you can download from the Wii Shop Channel, the only legal way to try before buying is to play the purchased game on a friend's system.

(Nintendo is shooting itself in the foot by not providing demos in the Wii Shop; If you don't know someone who bought the game, you truly have no legal option for try-before-you-buy.)


How about OnLive? http://www.onlive.com/

Sure they don't have many games at the moment, but they might have the ones you are looking for?

  • what's the connection between onLive and Wii games?
    – Zommuter
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 5:47
  • They could have some games that he was looking for. In general the games that are released onto multiple platforms. Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 17:05
  • that's a good point
    – Zommuter
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 17:11

GameFly. It's been said before, and I recently just canceled my subscription, but for legal ways of trying games, this is probably still one of the best options. They have a good selection, allow you to hold onto the game as long as you want, and generally have decent service in terms of re-shipping lost games, etc.

Their used prices are actually pretty good, so if you're interested in buying a game after trying it, you can get them to ship the box and manual for a game just by paying the used price. (even if you're the first to rent it) I've done that quite a few times and it's a great way to buy a game AND get them to ship your next game ASAP.

I don't think you were hoping to hear "a paid subscription service" as an answer, but it really is among the better options available, even if not ideal.


To add on to the other suggestions, I also agree that your current method is illegal. Game Stop allows you to return used games (I don't know about new) before a certain number of days pass (I don't know how many)


I assume by your question you are referring to the downloadable games for the Wii, not the retail titles.

Some games, like Super Smash Bros. Brawl have unlockable demos for classic NES games.

For any disc-based title, just rent it from any game rental store/service.

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