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GameCube (Games) Technology

First Mod Chip For GameCube 312

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-took-long-enough dept.
Cuber writes "The first modification chip for Nintendo's GameCube console has been announced. It will allow users to boot homebrew applications, loaders and BIOS'. Until now hackers where using an exploit in the game Phantasy Star Online and a broadband adapter to be able to load homebrew software like GC-Linux over a network connection but now they'll be able to run code directly from flash memory. The mod chip will require to solder only 4 wires and while the device comes empty it's not impossible to think 3rd party loaders will come that allow you to boot copied games."
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First Mod Chip For GameCube

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  • I think... (Score:5, Funny)

    by laughingcoyote (762272) <barghesthowlNO@SPAMexcite.com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:45PM (#10915280) Journal

    it's not impossible to think 3rd party loaders will come that allow you to boot copied games."

    I believe that you meant "impossible not to think."

  • what took so long? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by npfscayle (671641) <cayle.wardenNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:46PM (#10915282)
    why did it take so long to get one of these to market?
    I mean....there a shitpile of mod chips for X-Box, PS-2, etc......
    Just my 2c
    • by mschoolbus (627182) <travisriley @ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:52PM (#10915325)
      there a shitpile of mod chips for X-Box, PS-2, etc.....

      Because xbox was extremely easy to hack being based on x86. Playstation 2 hacking came quick because of demand (look at sales of PS2 vs. GC)

      I cannot wait until the next gen of consoles to see who gets the homebrew hay-day.
    • by Frogbert (589961) <frogbertNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:58PM (#10915358)
      Because Gamecube uses their own disc format, no one can copy the games because consumer level burners aren't available.

      Therefore if no one can copy the games there is no real market to have them. Having said that shouldn't the price of games be going down due to lack of piracy?
      • by the angry liberal (825035) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @11:32PM (#10915568)
        I think there is wisdom in your comedy..

        The Xbox, Dreamcast and PS2 have had all their games traded on P2P, usenet, and through other channels. The guys in chinese towns who sell pirated DVDs can't do anything with GC discs, so they aren't able to go to the PC and make copies.

        The Gamecube has not suffered from any of these problems, and since the SPA says piracy costs companies/consumers billions every year, then why has the lack of piracy on the GC not caused them to sell their products for less?

        • In fact GC are usually $5 more expensive than their PS2 or XBox counterparts. The proprietary media (despite its cuteness) was what I assumed was responsible for the increased price.
          • In fact GC are usually $5 more expensive than their PS2 or XBox counterparts.

            New GC games: $40-$50, normally.
            New PS2 games: $40-$50, normally
            New Xbox games: $40-$50, normally

            I'm sorry, which bizarro world do you live in where something that sells for the exact same price is "usually $5 more expensive" than its counterparts?

            Insightful my ass....

            • by the grace of R'hllor (530051) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @05:35AM (#10916959)
              New GC games: $40-$50, normally.
              New PS2 games: $40-$50, normally
              New Xbox games: $40-$50, normally

              I'm sorry, which bizarro world do you live in where something that sells for the exact same price is "usually $5 more expensive" than its counterparts?

              Exactly. They are, in fact, about $40-$50 more expensive than its counterparts.
        • Well, even without piracy, they still don't make nearly as many sales as Sony, so they can't lower their prices or they won't make a profit.

          Also, they spent quite a lot of money on minidisk technology to be able to make it pirate-proof. Not to mention they can now demand a higher price since people can't get the games any other way (ie more people would probably pirate PS2 games if they cost more).

          Xbox charges less (I think) but it is losing tons of money (mostly because of the cost to build the cons
        • Where are all the jackasses complaining that they can't back up their Gamecube media, so they can "safely store a copy away"?

          I hate those guys...
      • Yes, you can...
        http://www.megagames.com/dc/dc_backup_faq. shtml#1. 1
        http://www.dvd-supply.com/double-sided-mini-dvd -r. html
        • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @01:06AM (#10916082)
          "Yes, you can...
          http://www.megagames.com/dc/dc_backup_faq. shtml#1. 1
          http://www.dvd-supply.com/double-sided-mini-dvd -r. html"

          No, you can't. The Cube discs *aren't* dual-layer DVDs. They are a proprietary optical disc from Matshusta. To my knowledge, there isn't even a GDROM-R, and if there were, you can bet that you wouldn't be able to buy them.

          The "use the broadband adaptor" trick that you linked to changes nothing. The DC also used proprietary discs, and that article says what the grandparent said - you cannot burn Dreamcast games just as you cannot burn Gamecube games.

          Yes, you can use the PSO hack to image and play 'Cube games over the network. Most people won't be doing that, though.
          • by tepples (727027)

            you cannot burn Dreamcast games just as you cannot burn Gamecube games.

            BS. The Dreamcast could read and boot from CD-R media without a modchip; I've done it with my DC. It took a bit of knowledge to dump the proprietary games from GD-ROM and (for some games) cut out the movies to get them under 700 MB, but once they were on Usenet...

            Now all the pirates need is a way to coax the GameCube's DVD controller into reading 8cm DVD-R media.

          • Wow, someone doesn't know much about the Dreamcast do they?

            Jaysyn
        • Can someone please tell me where I mentioned Dreamcasts?

    • > there a shitpile of mod chips for X-Box, PS-2

      Yes, there is.

      A friend asked me about the possiblility of running games encoded for a different region on his PS2. I told him that a mod chip could take care of it but that was about the extent of my knowledge on the subject.

      Later, I did some googling and found a dozen or so mod chips. Some only work with specific versions of the console (there are 12, including the new slim console), some are flashable, etc.

      Unfortunately, I didn't find any site that
    • It probably took so long because there isn't much of a market. Until someone figures out how to copy a GC game to a media format the GC itself can read, I don't see a shitload (using your measurment system) these chips being sold.
    • Because bootloaders for import discs were already widely and legally available, and you don't need a modchip, just a bootloader disc, to play GC games in the wrong region.
  • Thanks... (Score:5, Funny)

    by SpiffyMarc (590301) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:46PM (#10915285)
    Well, we could've just quietly assumed that it would be capable of running copied games, and celebrated it for its ability to run homebrewed software and Linux... but no, we had to go and give it that aire of illegitimacy.

    Thanks, poster!
    • I have a Game Boy Player accessory on my GameCube console. I can use it to boot original Game Boy Advance Game Paks, or I can use it to boot homebrew GBA games that I've developed [pineight.com] on my flash card, or I can (rarely) use it to boot copied GBA games on my flash card. So my GameCube already boots copied games, albeit not copied GameCube-native games.

    • Do you really believe that noone would associate a mod chip with piracy if the poster of a Slashdot article hadn't mentioned the possibility?

      Come on now.
  • Awfully late... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eeg3 (785382) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:47PM (#10915288) Homepage
    But a great tool, nonetheless. Especially with the low prices and great capabilities of the gamecube.

    I'm looking forward to getting the chip for myself. The old method was annoying, and lacked the potential this has.
  • Phantasy Star Online (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chess_the_cat (653159) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:47PM (#10915290) Homepage
    Check thebroken.org [thebroken.org] for a video explaining how to load software onto the GC using the optional ethernet port. It's Episode III.
  • Interesting... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:49PM (#10915302) Homepage
    People who buy came consoles suddenly feel an irrational need to put new bits of hardware in and install 3rd party software.

    Per.. perso... personal computer?

    Just buy your local PC store's Family Friendly Box with Free Internet and achieve the same effect.
    • People mod the xbox and ps2 console to play games without buying them. Running 3rd party software is just an extra.
    • A tiny cube-shaped PC with TV-out for $99? Where do you live that your local PC store sells such a machine?
    • Just buy your local PC store's Family Friendly Box with Free Internet and achieve the same effect.

      A gamecube is $99. People who mod thier consoles into media centres do so either 1) 'cuz it's fun, or 2) it's much cheaper and smaller than getting a typical low-end PC and doesnt look butt-ugly sitting next to the TV.

  • Copied games? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmcmunn (307798) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:50PM (#10915304)

    I have seen Iso's floating around out there, but how can you burn them to a mini DVD, when as far as I know they use a proprietary media for GameCube games? I know thus far they have been running them over the ethernet port (as mentioned in the post) but with the mod chip the theory is that you could run them right in the console...so how would you burn them? Is hardware modification required to boot from a regular DVD, or does the factory hardware read from regular discs once the mod chip is installed?
    • I don't think a regular DVD would even fit in there - correct me if I'm wrong.
      • Re:Copied games? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @11:00PM (#10915384) Journal
        Apparently (I haven't taken mine apart) if you take off the top part, the sled that the laser travels on is full length, and it's been speculated that there could be a case mod that would allow you to use full sized discs.

        It's a regular DVD assembly, just a funny shaped case.

        And the discs do not spin backwards, that I know. How they're written to the disc would be irrelevant if a BIOS hack allowed you to read regular UDF filesystems.
        • getting it backwards (Score:5, Interesting)

          by n3k5 (606163) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @11:45PM (#10915652) Journal
          And the discs do not spin backwards, that I know.
          I haven't got a GC myself so I can't verify this, but many sources claim that the spiral of pits and lands on the discs is indeed backwards. It isn't read by spinning the disc backwards, as can be easily verified by opening the lid while it's spinning, but the laser moves from the outer rim inwards. I don't know for sure, but I think this is true; I think this is how that huge "spins backwards" myth was started. I wonder if this could be compensated for with a driver, or if a regular DVD burner could be hacked to write apropriate media with a firmware flash.
          • by finkployd (12902)
            What you say is true, and I don't know why the "backward spin" myth is so prevelent when it is so damn easy to check. I suspect it is because people hear that the data is written backward (outside to inside) and cannot wrap their minds around that concept so it becomes the disk spinning backwards.

            Finkployd
          • It isn't read by spinning the disc backwards, as can be easily verified by opening the lid while it's spinning, but the laser moves from the outer rim inwards.

            In other words, GameCube uses the DVD's second layer, right?

            I wonder if this could be compensated for with a driver, or if a regular DVD burner could be hacked to write apropriate media with a firmware flash.

            Depends. Does your burner support DVD+R DL?

            • [can you make an ordinary burner move the laser backwards?]


              Depends. Does your burner support DVD+R DL?
              Aah, the second layer ... I didn't think of that at all, thanks for pointing it out. Please excuse my ignorance, I don't own a DVD drive of any kind :-)
          • by Lehk228 (705449) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @03:00AM (#10916493) Journal
            The outside-to-inside writing of the data was most likely used to improve load and start times, which is also one reason for using tiny media. this was also the reason nintendo was late to move away from cart media.
          • by valdean (819852) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @03:25AM (#10916558)
            It's not a myth--down here in Australia it spins backwards. Just like the water in the toilets.
        • They don't spin backwards, but I've heard they use a different laser, which is much harder to circumvent.
      • I have seen a "proof of concept" video online where some people burned a GC game and then popped it in and played it. They had removed the plastic case from the GC and just stuck the full sized CD on top of the reader.

        I can think of several reasons why this is not a good fix. Among them dust on the lens, and that the drive was not meant to spin full sized disks. If I remember one of the reasons Nintendo went with the small disks was that they could be accessed faster.
    • Re:Copied games? (Score:3, Informative)

      it's a serious hassle to do the PSO (phantasy star online) hack. It takes quite a bit of setup and navigation just to get the game running (takes over 2 minutes to do everything). I assume you could save the iso/gcm/dol loader in memory or on a card and boot into the loader right from the getgo. You would simply have to select a game on your PC and power yer gamecube up.

      One thing I was thinking would rock is if someone had a way of attaching an iPod running iPodLinux and the linux GameCube loader and strea
    • One thing i hate about copy protection schemes in the PS2, for example, is that people aren't allowed to program their own games and distribute them. No, you have to get a contract with Sony, so they distribute your games in their uncopiable format, and they get their share. Oh, you haven't got the money? Sorry. "But the game..." NO DEAL!

      Sometimes i wonder... have Sony forgotten their roots, when they were trying to sell transistor radios in Germany?
  • do you figger it will take Nintendo to begin trying to shut down anyone and their dog that offers to sell these things?
  • DMCA (Score:3, Informative)

    by comwiz56 (447651) <comwiz @ g m a i l . com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:53PM (#10915332) Homepage
    How long till Nintendo DMCA's the crap out of this?
  • Market (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FiReaNGeL (312636) <fireang3l@hotma i l .com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @10:54PM (#10915341) Homepage
    Why did it took so long for a modchip on the Gamecube? Is it because the targeted market isn't hacker friendly? Was there a market for the Gamecube at all, facing Xbox and PS2 competition? Not enough incentive (demand) to create / sell a chip, not enough potential 'customers'?

    It doesn't seem related to poor marketshare, as GameCube seem to hold its fair share of the pie [google.ca].
  • by Punboy (737239) * on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @11:01PM (#10915389) Homepage
    How much more disappointed XBox users were in their console than Gamecube users. Obviously Gamecube owners, until now, were satisfied with they got, whereas XBox users almost immediately started trying to tinker with it and make mods. :-D
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @11:22PM (#10915533) Homepage Journal
    Normally if I saw something like this, I'd say let the lawsuits begin! Nintendo is infamous for its fierce protection of its properties. [slashdot.org] But in this case I don't expect to see that anytime soon. Why? Because of the funky mini dvd format the GC uses, practically speaking, only homebrew software is going to take advantage of the mod chip. So Nintendo will be hard pressed to argue that the mod chip was created to facilitate piracy. By the time anyone comes up with a way to make pirate game GC disks cheap and easy, the GC 2 will be out and no one will care any more.

    That said, I'm sure there's some factory in China pumping out pirate copies of GC games like crazy. But that certainly is not in response to the release of this mod chip.
  • I thought GC discs spun backwards? If you wanted to create pirate games with your DVD burner, wouldn't need to modify your burner to burn backwards?

    Would you be able to just reverse the polarity to the motor...? /me breaks out the soldering iron and the ol' 4x CD burner... it's hackin' time.

    • No, this strange and easily debunkable (is that a word?) rumor has to stop, for crying out loud. The GC disk does not, and has never spun backwards. It spins clockwise just like every other optical disk.
      However, for some strange reason, every discussion board on the net seems to have someone claiming otherwise.

      However, and this is probably where the confusion comes from, the disks are written backwards in a sense. The data is written to them from the outside in, instead of from the inside out like all othe
  • Nothing new... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shakey_Jake33 (670826) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @11:33PM (#10915579)
    This really isn't as revolutionary as it sounds.

    What this mod essentially does. is allow you to store DOL files on the modchip itself. DOL files are Gamecube executable files, so it allows you to send small apps across. Not bioses.

    Do you guys remember the old PSO Exploit, where you could send small apps across to your GameCube using a bug in the network connection? From here, you could send across little 'loaders' that could stream the games from your PC...
    This mod really doesn't provide anything that the previous method could not... it just saves you from having to boot up PSO.

    This is a rather cool little mod if you would like your apps to automatically boot up when you turn in your GameCube... GC-Linux anyone? And you can send across the afrorementioned 'loaders' you boot yer Iso's... but this isn't going to help you play games from disc, nor is it going to help you use a hacked bios replacement. Sorry guys.

    The main reason a 'proper' modchip for the GameCube does not exist yet is because it uses proprietory discs, not mini-DVD's as people seem to believe.
    I gather it's theorietically possible to boot a DVDR on the Gamecube... but it would require hacking of the drive controller, as opposed to merely hacking the bios.
  • by lordperditor (648289) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @11:37PM (#10915601)
    My understanding is the Gamecube uses a 3" disc which is a proprietary mini DVD format that holds 1.5GB. It cannot be read by the CD or DVD player in your PC meaning you have to invest in some slightly more serious hardware to try and copy these discs, pushing it out of the reach of the average user. A great approach by Nintendo to copy protection, I have heard rumour that the XBox 2 is gonna follow suit and have a proprietary disc format to help combat copying.
  • Re: Market (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @11:38PM (#10915610)

    There is no need to mod a gamecube to do these things since it can all be done in software:

    Freeloader [codejunkies.com], MAXDrive Pro [codejunkies.com], etc.

    Plus the fact that there was already a mod for the Panasonic Q, which includes gamecube hardware (and works 100% with the above software), but also played DVDs and could read standard CD/DVD media.

    Also, Nintendo's got nothing on Sony for (trying to) shut down mod/emu vendors/users, and even Sega was more proactive about stopping rom pirates. Nintendo's been rattling its sabre over Gameboy roms, but there's not really all to much to be gained from the GC side of things since the losses to piracy are realtively small. Well, have been so far, anyway...

    And lastly, PSO is commonly used for console hacking because it loads executable data from a network source; once the handshaking was worked out, the most complex task left was running a name server so that it thought that your PC was Sega's server.

  • a nice personal touch making the press photo's of circuitry on someone's bedspread.

    Just like Intel :-D
  • How about a mod that let's you take advantage of the Gamecube's SD->memory card adapter without having anything else hanging off the system?
  • Oh Goodie... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Crossfire (15197) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @01:13AM (#10916114) Homepage

    I'm glad that this has happened, but not so I can play copied games.

    I'm looking forward to being able to play my imports without using a boot disc (I currently use freeloader). And being able to patch and update it against bugs in such handling (Japanese Namco games are quite well known for having serious problems with freeloader and save cards).

    Homebrew software development also appeals to me, but not as much as the ability to handle those imports.

    And why am I so interested in imports? Well, our local Nintendo office [nintendo.com.au] has seen it fit to destroy the gamecube by keeping the prices high, failing to promote the cube sufficently, being slow on the uptake of titles and withholding new accessories for the gamecube from market.

    In Australia, you can't even buy the Official Nintendo 1019 block memory card, whereas I bought one during a visit to the US for the same price that a 251 block memory card costs us here. The broadband adapter was announced at one point, but you certainly can't buy them here.

    Not only that, imported gamecube games cost LESS than their local counterparts, even after shipping in most cases. I bought R: Racing (US) for a whole US$20, whereas it was still priced at AU$90 back home. Given express shipping from Lik-Sang [lik-sang.com] costs around AU$25, we still keep just below the $90-100 line for most games here.

    Now, given the choice, would you give money to that division when you could just buy from overseas, with one of the foreign divisions of that company earning the profits instead?

    As far as I'm concerned, it means I get my games, and I get them cheaper than buying locally, and Nintendo still gets the money they deserve for producing such a good (underrated) platform.

    And, with some luck, I hope that the local branch will get their act together and start giving us prices that are even vaugely competative against their neighbouring branches.

    • Re:Oh Goodie... (Score:2, Informative)

      by mewphobia (630153)
      The broadband adapter was announced at one point, but you certainly can't buy them here.

      Broadband adapters are availiable direct from Nintendo Australia only. Price includes postage. Call +61 3 9730 9822 during business hours Last time i checked they were $60.

  • Why oh why isn't there a Dance Dance Revolution for the freakin' gamecube. I'm a console holdout, I like the Gamecube the most (they seem to have the games that interest me the most) but I would really like to be able to play some Dance Dance Revolution.

    Is there any hope?
  • by Megane (129182) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @03:56AM (#10916659) Homepage
    As far as I can tell, this chip doesn't let you do anything but load some code onto it which can be used as a net bootloader. You could try to play ISOs with the help of a PC, but the 10 or 27* megabit speed limit of the Ethernet port means that ripped games will stutter or have to be downsampled to work properly. It doesn't even seem to have the ability to bypass the region lockout.

    But the important thing is that it won't play "silvers" (pressed pirate discs) or burned CD-R/DVD-R discs, not even homebrews. As far as I know, nobody has yet gotten the GC's drive to read any data from a burned disc. Whether it's the reverse spiral or a wrong wavelength laser, proper piracy can't be done without being able to slap in a bootleg disc and hitting the power button. You can use this mod to play ripped game images, but only with a lot of effort, and only with a PC handy. Having to load ISOs over the Ethernet port is only for true die-hards, and is enough of a pain in the arse that you might as well go legit... or mod an X-box instead.

    *The broadband adapter is connected via a 27Mbit serial interface, shared with the memory cards, and probably a few other things. And early attempts to use the 100Mbit mode of the Ethernet port weren't reliable.

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