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Nintendo Businesses Hardware Hacking Software Wii Entertainment Games

Nintendo Blocks Homebrew Installation 251

ElementC writes "Sometime yesterday Nintendo uploaded the latest Wii system update. This update quietly patches a few bugs that allowed the installation of both homebrew and warez apps. Currently installed apps such as the Homebrew Channel and the video DVD library, DVDX, are reportedly not affected. Those not installing this update are blocked out of the Wii Shop channel and in the future may be blocked out of certain games. Team Twiizers cracked the last update within about eight hours. They're already on the case. Readers familiar with the architecture of the Wii will find the list of currently discovered changes interesting."
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Nintendo Blocks Homebrew Installation

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  • by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:02PM (#25498871) Homepage Journal

    8 hours is significant because I believe for that update, Nintendo had something like a three or four month development, testing, release schedule. This is of course not out of the norm for an update that will affect millions of people, but I can't imagine how much money was put into "fixing" the homebrew problem only for it to be cracked again in hours.

  • Re:Account blocking? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by harrkev ( 623093 ) <kfmsd AT harrelsonfamily DOT org> on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:20PM (#25499189) Homepage

    Honesty, why bother? I have not seen any Wii homebrew stuff compelling enough to risk bricking my Wii. I am not an expert on this, but here is my take: you can add the following applications:

    * Pirated stuff (WiiWare, virtual console, Wii game copies). I am not into piracy at all. I believe in paying for the stuff that I use. Not interested

    * Mame. This is interesting. Still "borderline" piracy, but I can at least understand this. Still, I am not that much into old games when there are so many good new ones out.

    * DVD Player. Wow, I can avoid spending $30 on a dedicated DVD player, AND get more wear and tear on the DVD drive motor. Plus, with the Wii fan running, dust accumulation on the heat sinks will be accelerated. The risk of bricking is just a bonus.

    I have not really heard of any "must-have" homebrew games for the Wii.

    Now, hacking a DS does seem cool. Some people have made some nice DS music synthesis software. Then again, I am still waiting for the DS-10 to be released. That is on my "must buy" list to sit beside my Korg Kaossilator.

  • by jassa ( 1092003 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:52PM (#25499625)
    Yet somehow other publishers manage to overcome these issues and have near-simultaneous worldwide releases! Amazing!

    Most televisions in Australia and New Zealand support both NTSC and PAL signals, and HD televisions (which are becoming more and more common) use 720p/1080i/1080p which are standard HD resolutions worldwide.

    As for classification problems, the removal of content for reclassification purposes is not nearly as common as you might believe. Maybe one in a hundred games actually have to be edited after the initial classification submission.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:58PM (#25499769)
    Oh, yes, that's exactly what I would hope they would do. A hacking team that had Sony's PSP fixes continuosly outfoxed ahead of time would completely change the game and perhaps encourage manufacturers to let us tinker.
  • Re:Blocking owners? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jassa ( 1092003 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:03PM (#25499873)

    Interesting fact: Although the game discs force you to update, the games themselves often don't actually require the update. I don't endorse game piracy, but I did investigate the piracy scene while waiting for Smash Bros. Brawl to be released in Australia and was surprised to discover the pirated version had the update stripped out of the iso, and could still be played with no problems.

    Apparently this was also true for every other game that had previously come bundled with an update.

  • sad... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by motang ( 1266566 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:13PM (#25500017)
    I had to take off all my homebrew apps just to do the's a cat and mouse game.
  • by marcansoft ( 727665 ) <{moc.tfosnacram} {ta} {rotceh}> on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:27PM (#25500235) Homepage

    When the homebrew community anticipates upcoming fixes and pre-emptively beats them, then I'll concede that they are indeed one step ahead.

    That's pretty much what happened. We've been sitting on more exploits for ages, and it took us two hours to make one work after the update. Expect public release in, oh, a day or so.

    We're several steps ahead. Their code is too buggy.

  • by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:40PM (#25500411) Homepage

    Is format shifting a form of piracy? I bought a whole ton of nintendo and super nintendo games and I still own them. If I could rip the roms from them what is wrong with using the homebrew to play those roms via an emulator?

  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:46PM (#25500503)

    I was talking about in Europe, Aus and any other region of the world where NTSC isn't the primary TV system.

    Every single European TV I have seen that has RCA ports on it since the mid 90s or earlier has been able to function with at least PAL and NTSC signals. More modern ones can handle anything you can throw at them.

    I have a wide selection of Region 1 and Region 2 DVDs and an unlocked DVD player and I've never come across a TV that I can't play those US DVDs on (and the DVD player doesn't change the disc to PAL, it outputs in NTSC when a region 1 disc is played).

    Maybe US TVs are all NTSC only, but here in Europe, they are all multi format.

  • I agree it's good to have everyone running the same update for service and support purposes, but this update really doesn't seem to do anything important.

    Instead of wasting time developing an update to block a handful of people from hacking their Wiis, why doesn't Nintendo put their time and development cycles into upgrading the freaking Internet channel flash player already. It's over a year and a half out of date and more and more flash videos are unplayable on the Wii as websites upgrade to the newest version. At least Youtube still works (mostly).

    I know I can just go use my computer, but it's fun to watch Internet videos on my couch (and streaming TV shows) instead of having everyone huddle around the computer monitor.

  • by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @02:24PM (#25501033) Homepage

    what on earth are you talking about? so some locksmith who spend 2 years to design a lock that a thief cracks in 2 minutes means that the thief spent 2 years and 8 hours to crack the lock? i'm sorry, but your logic is severely wanting.

    crackers don't take credit for the new features that hardware vendors add to firmware updates (if there are any), they're merely credited for bypassing the security/DRM/defective-by-design (pick your favorite) mechanisms the vendor added to prevent users from running homebrew. in the case of PSP, most firmware updates don't add any real value to the PSP. they're merely released to break the forward-compatibility of old/cracked firmwares so that users would have to update to OFW to play newly released games. that's why many people simply continue to run CFW based off of an older firmware version.

    if vendors didn't intentionally cripple their devices in firmware then hackers wouldn't have to crack the firmware to enable homebrew development on these platforms. both the vendor and the homebrew developers' time and resources could be better spent on improving the platform rather than participating in this fruitless arms race. and often it's homebrew developers that add more value to a system through CFW than the official firmware updates that just cripple the system.

    for instance, the M33 CFW for the PSP allowed early adopters who purchased the PSP-1000 (which Sony has apparently turned their backs on) to actually use VoIP (Furikup) on their PSP--a feature that the Sony update only gave to the PSP-2000. and Furikup actually has more robust features than the Skype add-on of Sony's OFW.

    what's silly is someone who obviously has no clue about how homebrew works, or what it is, commenting about homebrew development and the efforts of the hackers who make it possible.

  • by TBoon ( 1381891 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @02:37PM (#25501209)
    From what I've heard the reason is that consumer TV's mostly are designed in either USA or Japan, both NTSC/60hz regions. Those NTSC designs are then modified to handle PAL/50hz signals, without discarding compability.

    The nice thing about it was that PAL TVs could handle "everything". The downside was that the "modified NTSC" solution didn't display PAL signals as well as a native PAL design would have been capable of.

    No idea is it is actually the real reason, but it made sense at the time... (As in the 10-20 years before flat panels took over)
  • Re:Uhm.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 24, 2008 @02:38PM (#25501233)

    The marvelous thing about the PSP homebrew scene is that the homebrew people have found a way to hack the battery using software so that it makes the original PSP and the PSP Slim boot off the memory stick, so in essence, the only thing Sony can do about it is release new hardware. The PSP is cracked wide open. Sony recently tried to lock custom firmware users out of their new PlayStation Store app on the PSP, and a workaround was discovered within hours. A no-hassle workaround was released just a few days ago. Sony is pretty much powerless to stop homebrew on the PSP now.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday October 24, 2008 @03:27PM (#25501865) Homepage Journal

    If I could rip the roms from [my NES and Super NES Game Paks] what is wrong with using the homebrew to play those roms via an emulator?

    In countries with case law analogous to Sony v. Universal and RIAA v. Diamond, nothing. But what brand of NES and Super NES cart dumper do you recommend? (The Internet doesn't count, per UMG v.

  • by Tatsh ( 893946 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @03:55PM (#25502209)

    There is a LOT of attention and appreciation for these hackers. I think these hackers love that and that they continue to be successful at cracking open basically a 'virtual safe'. They are cracking things that the companies who make the products want none of. If a company is open to user modifications, that hardly qualifies as 'cracking', as a company like that would probably release specifications, etc.

    For the individual hacker, it is definitely a feeling of 'I have beat them at their own game'. And for both the hacker and the community, it is that and a statement like 'We will continue cracking until you give us what we want'. What people want is subjective. Some strictly would like to see homebrew allowed legally on all consoles. Some would like to be able to use backups as well as legitimate copies of their games. Regardless, a very high number of the users of homebrew, modchips, and other modifications to consoles enjoy being able to play downloaded games without having to pay for them.

    These products are definitely 'defective by design'. The whole scheme of video game selling has always been to screw over a consumer. Today you cannot return a game if you legitimately dislike it after playing (ridiculous considering some are $50+). You also legally cannot make a backup copy and use that to keep the original safe 5 year olds and optical discs? As if. And when they get ruined, does the company give you a new copy when you send in your old one? Very few do. So 90% of the time you are stuck buying a new copy if you want to stay all legal.

    To the companies involved: give us at least A) homebrew ability (and free development tools and full access to the console (that means you, Sony) for at the least non-commercial use), and B) backup ability (that includes PC games!).

  • by Tatsh ( 893946 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @04:14PM (#25502463)

    I completely disagree. Sony could just give access for non-commercial use. All Sony has tried to do with PS2/PS3 Linux is prevent decent game development, making Linux for the consoles nearly useless. Instead of making the licence state 'not for commercial development' and suing anyone who does not follow, they block access to basically the 'most important' parts of their systems, the graphics processors. Why bother installing Linux then? Would not it be cool to run some of those free OpenGL games (such as Neverball) on the PS3's amazing graphics card? I think so. Sony strongly disagrees. And I also think it would be a lot of fun to put these consoles to their limits without having to be a signed developer. They surpass most PCs in terms of power and cost a lot less.

    It's not that it's not 'real Linux'. It is just that is extremely limited Linux in terms of the machine it is being run on. It is virtualised Linux regardless because it has a hypervisor (which prevents dumping of Blu-Ray discs with dd, and like said before, blocks access to several SPEs and the graphics card).

    Maybe the whole industry should stop selling consoles at a loss and relying upon games to bring in money. This is a model that is surely not going to last. Nintendo is making profit when they sell a Wii. Yeah, it certainly is limited in comparison to its counterparts, but Nintendo will not rely upon a model that really has barely worked for both MS and Sony.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.