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Wii Hardware Hacking

First Wii Mod Chip Shipping Out 58

Posted by Zonk
from the enjoy-your-indie-games-with-waggle dept.
Via Ars Technica's Opposable Thumbs blog, and their commentary on the device, a review of the first Wii mod chip at the MaxConsole site. The review offers step-by-step instructions for putting it in place, and then rates the resulting options opened up by the device. Most interestingly the chip is apparently updateable via a DVD, allowing for new functionality to be released for as time goes on. At $50 and with just a little soldering to get in place, the Wii CycloWhiz sounds like a great deal for anyone looking to do some outside-the-box thinking with Nintendo's console.
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First Wii Mod Chip Shipping Out

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  • So how long till we get some homebrewed stuff for the wii floating around? it should be interesting to see what appears from this. Also anyone else thing about how nice of a media center this could be i mean it already has a remote not a controller. =)
    • So how long till we get some homebrewed stuff for the Wii floating around?
      It will be a while still. This chip doesn't allow for homebrew, just backups. They advertise it as running Gamecube Homebrew, but the Wii has been capable of that since day 1 without a chip.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Torne (78524)

        They advertise it as running Gamecube Homebrew, but the Wii has been capable of that since day 1 without a chip.

        Only NTSC Wii's can run Gamecube homebrew without a chip - it requires an Action Replay to boot the loader, and the PAL Action Replay is not compatible with the Wii for some reason, it refuses to recognise it as a gamecube disc. You can't use an NTSC Action Replay in a PAL Wii as the region protection is not bypassed until you already booted it. :)

        So, there is still some value in this for homebre

        • I didn't know that, though there are other Homebrew methods beyond Action replay, like using Phantasy Star Online or Max Drive Pro... do those not work on PAL Wiis either?
          • by nbehary (140745)
            Don't know what Max Drive Pro is, but the PSO hack involved the GC broadband adapter, which the Wii does not support or emulate from what I understand.
          • by Torne (78524)

            I didn't know that, though there are other Homebrew methods beyond Action replay, like using Phantasy Star Online or Max Drive Pro... do those not work on PAL Wiis either?

            I don't believe the Max Drive Pro's boot disc works on a PAL Wii either - it's based on the same security data as the Action Replay so it's extremely likely that it is also not recognised (and I've not seen anyone anywhere claim that it *does* work). As the other poster indicates, you can't use PSO either as the Wii doesn't emulate the Cu

        • by KDR_11k (778916)
          I believe that reason is Nintendo of Europe preventing the Wii from reading discs that can bypass the GC's region protection. How else are they going to overcharge us by 50% for games?
          • by Torne (78524)
            US and Japanese Wiis still read the US/Japanese Freeloader/Action Replay just fine.

            Yes, games are pretty much universally more expensive in Europe and this is an economic motive for stopping EU consumers from importing US games, but if they can prevent cracking region protection, surely you'd expect them to include this in *all* consoles - there's no particular reason for them to want to allow anyone to use imports (otherwise they wouldn't have a region protection system in the first place).

            It's more likely
            • by KDR_11k (778916)
              I think NoE just cares more. Japanese have no real reason to import because they get everything first and Americans get the cheapest games and have a language barrier to importing from Japan for getting stuff early. However, Europeans pay so much for games that importing actually ends up cheaper and games come out earlier in the US with a much lower language barrier. Europeans just have a lot more incentive to import stuff than other regions.

              Plus I recall a US Nintendo representative claiming the Wii was re
              • by Torne (78524)
                Oh, that's quite plausible too, but still.

                It's not a matter of the format being different, it's which game they ripped off the valid barcode from and how accurately they reproduced the error pattern that goes with it. The source of the valid barcode was different for each region, so they could easily have got tolerances better on the NTSC versions just by chance.
  • Unfortunatly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tainek (912325)
    There is still no chip for imports, as much as i love my Wii, i Refuse to pay $80 a game (UK)

    Hopefully a *>Pal Chip will come soon...
    • by khchung (462899)
      Same here in Hong Kong, but worst. There is no local HK version of Wii here (there is one for PS3), so we have the choice of buying the US version or the Japan version Wii console and Wii games. Which sounds great... until I find out that the US Wii cannot play Japan Wii games, and vice versa (thanks to the dumba** idea of stopping game imports).

      So effectively we have 2 parallel, mutually incompatible consoles called "Wii" with their sets of incompatible games. I can buy the US version which is more expe
    • by scumbaguk (918201)
      Sorry but you do not pay $80 you pay £39 which buys you roughly the same as about $55 would in the USA.

      It's only a weakness in the dollar and strength of the pound which allows you to make such extrodinary claims.
  • Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:50PM (#17906166) Homepage Journal
    The modchip works. It lets you play Wii and GC backups. It lets you play GC imports, but PAL games don't work on NTSC without GCOS, the first version of which was just released for the Wii. It makes SOME PAL games work on an NTSC control. No idea about NTSC on PAL. Wii imports DO NOT WORK. It's $50. Personally I'd wait for the next version, unless you're buying it only to play backups. I want region unlocking.
    • I had success using the Free Loader disc for my import Gamecube games on the Wii. This isn't a solution to unlock the region coding for Wii games, but it only costs maybe $10ish.
    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      Personally I'd wait for the next version, unless you're buying it only to play backups. I want region unlocking.

      I talked to Guyfawkes, someone who's involved with this modchip project, about 10 days ago, and he told me that I'd be better off waiting a month or two, when a better version would come out, before buying this thing.

      If I remember correctly he mentionned that currently the modchip makes you have to change discs by hand while they're spinning, as future versions will get you rid of that burden.

  • No homebrew though. (Score:5, Informative)

    by noretsa (995866) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:51PM (#17906174)
    From the article it sounds like this hack is very similar to the XBox360 DVD firmware hack in that it tricks the system into thinking the disc is a different type than it really is (pressed as opposed to DVD-R). However, the executables are still signed and the only thing this enables is "back ups" aka piracy.

    This strategy will not enable custom user applications which is what a lot of us really want. However, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Even though the executables are signed, it is likely that the data on DVDs is unencrypted. Maybe by modifying this data a more effective exploit can be found?
    • I just don't get it. Sure, the sleazy publishers associations can talk a line about how there's no such thing as a backup (or at least a legitimate one), but why do we actually slurp it up and start regurgitating it ourselves?

      I back stuff up, and play the backups. I've been doing this since the 8-bit days.

      Backups are not a myth. They're not a euphemism. They're a simple practical thing that people should do, especially people with little kids. And no matter who lies to you about it, you have a right to make
  • by nxtw (866177) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:56PM (#17906258)
    - The Wiinja chip [wiinja.com] was announced first.
    - No chip is actually shipping yet to end users -- CycloWiz has however been shipped for review to MaxConsole. Foundmy lists it as being in stock starting Thursday [foundmy.com].
    - The CycloWiz appears to be selling for around $40, not $50.
    - The CycloWiz (NOT CychloWiz) is NOT firmware upgradeable.
    - The WiiKey [wiikey.cn] is reportedly firmware upgradeable.

    The Wiinja requires wires to older it in, while the CycloWiz has a "quicksolder" interface that lets you directly solder the chip to the motherboard. (I think I'd prefer wires -- but you can still use wires with the quicksolder interface.)
    The WiiKey supports both, apparently -- I assume this means that you can solder the chip using wires if you prefer and that the chip facilitates this easily by having pads for soldering wires directly.
    • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:04PM (#17906412) Homepage
      I would suspect the Max Console review is a bit inaccurate... considering the shop that manufactures and sells the chip also runs the servers that host Max Console... No conflict of interests there or anything.

      Also Firmware upgrades via DVD was supposedly added to the CycloWiz [cyclowiz.com] at the last minute, you're right on your other accounts though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ProppaT (557551)
      I would be somewhat hesitant about a modchip like the WiiKey that can be firmware upgradable via DVD. What's to stop Nintendo from including a flash in future games and/or WiiConnect24 update that would flash the mod to render it useless?
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      he CycloWiz (NOT CychloWiz) is NOT firmware upgradeable

      so the instructions that coems with it are BOLDLY LYING then?

      you solder in a switch for upgrading by booting with a DVD that has the new firmware on it per the instructions in the installation manual.

      http://www.teamcyclops.com/install.pdf [teamcyclops.com] for the manual.

      So who has reverse engineered the chip and determined that the makers are lying and it's not upgradeable?
  • Custer's Revenge (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:03PM (#17906390) Homepage
    The first two words about "unauthorized" games on any platform needs to be this. If you haven't seen Custer's Revenge, you need to understand that this was a completely unauthorized independently developed game for the Atari 2600. It sold out before the Atari lawyers managed to get a TRO stopping sales of the game, it was that popular.

    Of course, it was an incredibly lame game. But, it was the first game that really showed what people wanted on a video game - naked women. And men with huge penises.

    If it wasn't pulled by Atari the morning it appeared on store shelves, it probably would have been blocked by local or state action. And might have stopped sales of the game console itself. Things are a little bit looser now, but still there is the opportunity for an independent developer to release something so utterly vile as to enrage people.

    Because of this manufacturers are pretty careful to make it very, very difficult to release such unauthorized games. This of course means the primary purpose of such mod chips isn't to allow anything except piracy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Daemonstar (84116)

      of course means the primary purpose of such mod chips isn't to allow anything except piracy.

      Yes, allowing the Wii to play backup discs will enable piracy, but the intention is to play backups (insert comparisons to guns for murder, CD-R/DVD-R drives for piracy, etc.)

      Similar example in a computer repair department: Instead of plugging the monitor in and out every time we work on a different PC, we attach a VGA extension cable to it and use that. Eventually, the pins get bent or the cable gets snafu'd a

      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        Yes, allowing the Wii to play backup discs will enable piracy, but the intention is to play backups

        Realistically 90% or more will buy this thing to warez stuff, not because they care so much about their precious originals. Optical discs don't die that fast unless mishandled, most likely your console will give out before your games do.
        • by Daemonstar (84116)

          Optical discs don't die that fast unless mishandled, most likely your console will give out before your games do.

          That's all well and good . . . unless children are involved. I have CD's and DVD's that have been moved around, laid around, set on things, dropped, and are no longer useable. I finally got tired of it and make an ISO of every one I have because I know something will happen to them eventually.

          If you've ever rented games (or even some DVD's) from a rental store, then you'll know what I'm tal

    • Re:Custer's Revenge (Score:4, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:43PM (#17907212) Homepage Journal

      Because of this manufacturers are pretty careful to make it very, very difficult to release such unauthorized games. This of course means the primary purpose of such mod chips isn't to allow anything except piracy.

      Uh, the real reason they want to make it hard to release unauthorized games is that they don't get licensing fees when one is sold.

    • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:43PM (#17908228)
      If it wasn't pulled by Atari the morning it appeared on store shelves, it probably would have been blocked by local or state action. And might have stopped sales of the game console itself. Things are a little bit looser now, but still there is the opportunity for an independent developer to release something so utterly vile as to enrage people.

      Surely the same could be said for DVD players though?

      Seriously though, copy protection is there to stop piracy. Mod chips are there to aide piracy. All this bullshit about "backups" or imports etc., is simply that - bullshit. While there may be people who actually do play backups, it's pretty clear what the vast, vast majority are sold for.

      I wonder if Nintendo and MS wouldn't be better off doing what Sony did and dropping regional controls altogether. It's one less excuse for modchip makers to hide behind. That's probably one good reason Sony did it in fact.

      • by Mr. Hankey (95668)
        I wonder if Nintendo and MS wouldn't be better off doing what Sony did and dropping regional controls altogether.

        You bet. This is the only reason I'd even consider a modchip. I have Japanese software for my DS, why not on the Wii console?
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        I know several people who do exactly that, use backups...
        A lot of people buy games consoles for kids, and kids are very good at destroying or losing flimsy media like DVDs... So you make them a copy they can destroy, then you only have to worry about the machine itself.

        Copy protection is there to increase sales, not through preventing serious piracy, but through casual copying (we used to copy amiga games when i was at school) and through lost/damaged media, or people with 2 or more consoles in the house wh
  • We only need to send a bunch of weirdos [wikipedia.org] into space and have them clean things up [wikipedia.org] a bit, and problem solved!
  • ...how long will it be before official games attempt to "update" it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I could just be paranoid but what I would be afraid of is people posting 'images' of games that actually bricked your system...

      You really only have to be successful with a couple hundred/thousand systems before word gets out and the average consumer will be afraid to install a mod-chip and download games.
    • by lmnfrs (829146)
      That is probably illegal or at least very gray-area. (..read: ianal)
      Modchips with disc-flashable firmware are hardly a new thing, so I suspect one of the console manufacturers would have already tried this if they thought they could get away with it. For example, the PSP firmware updates could be automatically flashed over hacked firmware making it difficult to revert to an older, exploitable, firmware version.
      What it probably comes down to is, they know some percentage of people will freak out and shut o
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      as soon as the games come with a mechanical arm to flip the mechanical enable update switch.

      I am guessing that no programmer on this planet is Uber enough to code that in.
  • I could just be paranoid but what I would be afraid of is people posting 'images' of games that actually bricked your system... You really only have to be successful with a couple hundred/thousand systems before word gets out and the average consumer will be afraid to install a mod-chip and download games.

    If you want to download games I suggest using sites similar to Piratebay.org were people leave comments on quality of file. I'm considering doing some game backups for my Wii so I dont ruin the originals when going to friends houses but I really want DVD video playback support. I may wait a few months and see how the Wii modchips advance. Anyone know if any Modchips or Third party software is in development for the Wii to play DVD Videos and DVD Video backups? I'm certainly not paying another $250+ for a

  • Will any of the mod chips available allow you to watch DVDs on the Wii?
  • How long until there's homebrew stuff you ask? Why does my mind go directly to the gutter? How hard would it be to write a XXX rated game and how many sexual maneuvers could you .. uhm.. execute with the Wiimote.. Just a thought.
  • by Dorceon (928997) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @08:30PM (#17914502)
    Face 1: Games are getting uncreative. There are too many Maddens and not enough Shadows of the Colossi. Down with EA!
    Face 2: Yay, modchips! Now we don't have to pay for games!
    Madden's margins are so fat it can afford to lose 10% of all sales to piracy much more easily than more creative fare that needs those sales to live, especially when it weeds the competition out of the industry. To paraphrase, a rising tide lifts all ships, but a hurricane sinks the small ones first.
  • I live in Argentina, where the coming of the chip is the only shot the Wii has at being popular here. Chips tipically enable the use of pirate games, and that's the only reason the PS, PS2 and X-Box were able to take off.

    The Argentine versions (there are two) of eBay are currently selling Wiis at about 700 U$S a pop. That might sound expensive to you, but it's worse if you consider that 700 U$S is considered to be quite a decent monthly salary here. Games are selling for about 100 U$S. Once chipped Wiis sta
  • I think WiiKey has more future. Besides, it was made by the same guys who made Xeno, the GameCube modchip.

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