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Wii Entertainment Games

Wii Gets Custom Firmware, Purported PSP Emulator 68

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the radically-different-definitions-of-working dept.
Engadget is reporting that some recent unofficial Wii modding news has had a couple of interesting breakthroughs. First, it seems that a team has released what is being called the "first custom firmware for the Wii" that supposedly allows writable DVDs to be read in emulators. Second, the folks from TeamShift have shots of a "working" PSP emulator for the Wii. Unfortunately "working" only means between 4 and 8 frames per second, so still a long way from playable.
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Wii Gets Custom Firmware, Purported PSP Emulator

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  • Excellent article (Score:5, Informative)

    by eln (21727) on Friday July 18, 2008 @02:55PM (#24246805) Homepage

    I especially like how this article and its twin [slashdot.org] are back to back on the main games.slashdot.org [slashdot.org] page.

  • WOOOOOO (Score:2, Funny)

    by Flaystus (887453)
    OH sweet! Who needs more then 7fps anyway?
    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      It depends on the game Disgaea: afternoon of darkness doesn't really need more than 7fps it will be choppy but playable
  • is obviously fake

    • Ditto. The image on the TV is wrong on the upper right corner and the FPS text has blurred squares around it.
    • by p0tat03 (985078) on Friday July 18, 2008 @03:10PM (#24247073)

      Probably not fake, but also probably not realistic, nor will it ever see widespread use. Knowing the PSP's specs, and knowing the Wii's specs, there is simply no way you can make an emulator run at a reasonable pace. The performance of the emulating machine must be *many times* faster than that of the emulated machine, to account for the massive amount of overhead. The performance gap between the two machines simply is not enough to make this happen.

      • by psavo (162634) <psavo@iki.fi> on Friday July 18, 2008 @03:16PM (#24247175) Homepage
        well.. the main thing behind PSP is that it has fairly fancy 3D chip inside, the CPU is not "that" good by itself. 3d acceleration of "slower" console emulation lowers emulation overhead very much.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by adisakp (705706)
        Not necessarily true. First of all the Wii is quite a bit faster than PSP. Second, they are both MIPS so you don't need to emulate most code, it can run natively. You just have to hook the right calls. Third, most PSP games do not access any hardware directly (all the rendering is done through a library similar to a very light opengl and all the file and audio calls are similarly through system libraries). If you got the system libraries running, all you have to do is hook them up and then you can do a
        • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 18, 2008 @03:43PM (#24247565) Homepage Journal

          First of all the Wii is quite a bit faster than PSP.

          333MHz vs. 729MHz. Even if we assume that they have a different performance profile on a per-cycle basis, a little more than twice the clock speed is not really enough for smooth emulation.

          Second, they are both MIPS so you don't need to emulate most code

          Since when does the Wii contain a MIPS chip? Last I checked, the "Broadway" chip was a PowerPC processor running at 729MHz.

          Third, most PSP games do not access any hardware directly (all the rendering is done through a library similar to a very light opengl and all the file and audio calls are similarly through system libraries).

          That's true of nearly all modern consoles. Yet the last time I looked into GameCube emulators, they still showed very poor performance on a modern PC. And that's counting that most 3D emulation is done by using replacement libraries whenever possible.

          • by DrYak (748999) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:09PM (#24249631) Homepage

            The 2x speed factor could be enough if the CPU emulation uses good dynamic recompilation.
            And efficient libraries replacement can give the necessary performance boost.

            That's how fast emulation of the N64 was possible back then.

            The main problem is that the emulator isn't mature yet :

            - Wii's target architecture is PowerPC. Coder haven't as much experience doing fast assembler optimization for PPC compared to IA32 (which 90% of the emulators currently target)
            - PSP's architecture is MIPS. This isn't an architecture that has been emulated as extensively as, say, the Z80 or 68k architecture (for those there are lots of ultra highly optimized emulation libraries).

            => Thus you won't currently get a high performance DynaRec egine.

            - The PSP is quite recent and the libraries replacement still have to mature a lot (compared to the current state of N64 or PSX libraries).

            => thus even if most game use mainly hi-level interfaces, the emulators aren't currently quite good at harnessing that.

          • by adisakp (705706)
            Since when does the Wii contain a MIPS chip? Last I checked, the "Broadway" chip was a PowerPC processor running at 729MHz.

            D'oh, you're right... The funny thing is that I've worked on both of these platforms... I must have just wanted to suppress the memories of pain involved in porting to them - haha :-)
            • Perhaps you were thinking of the N64? That was MIPS all the way. The first TRUE 64 bit console. (Even if that didn't help it any.) :-)

      • by rjhubs (929158)
        The other issue I imagine would be that a decent PSP emulator doesn't even exist for the PC. The only ones that exist can only play PSP homebrew. I don't believe this story.
      • Yup. The screenshot shows a splash screen running at 7 fps. If that's a splash screen, imagine what a real game would run at.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What do you mean not playable? I played through Quake II at 8 fps (software rendering on a Cyrix)...

    • by WilyCoder (736280)

      And you won?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      I know a guy who played on a passive lcd display on an old laptop. There was more than 8 fps, but everything really blurred together to the point where it was almost unplayable. When he upgraded to a real screen, he started to really win quite a bit, as he was so used to playing with such a bad view of the game. He almost learned to play blind.
  • I think that this has more meaning than just "oh, look, psp games!" I think that the fact that custom firmware is now running on the wii means that it will become the hacker's choice, if you will. It's already a huge success in the modding world, and this will just make things more interesting. I can't wait till they get a simple way to get scummvm running on the wii (yes, there IS a port for it). If they do that, I'll have a wii before the end of the month.

    • by Josejx (46837) on Friday July 18, 2008 @03:19PM (#24247225) Homepage

      I'm not sure what you're waiting for. With the Homebrew Channel, you can start ScummVM directly from the Wii Interface. The only tricky part is getting the HBC installed and there are plenty of tutorials for that.

      • Exactly. I want simple. Hell, if they sold scummvm for the wii, I would buy it in a heartbeat, as long as I could have stuff on the network or something. I love scumm games.

        • by unhooked (21010)

          How simple do you want it? copy some files to your sd card, and play zelda - that's it.
          However if you really need it, there's a windows executable that sets everything up for you.
          Mplayer, geexbox, and dragonmedia are becoming rather useful of late. And with homebrew channel even my kid can mod our wii (and he just graduated from kindergarten today).

          See wiibrew.org for more.

      • by cHALiTO (101461)

        Absolutely. I got the HBC installed using the install dvd image (have a modded wii, but you can use some other tricks to install it on an unmodded wii too). If I want to play MI I just select the homebrew channel from the wii menu, then select scummvm, and that's it. Piratey fun point'n'clicking from the couch.

    • by TavisJohn (961472)

      Thanks to the Homebrew Channel I have been playing Secret of Monkey Island on my Wii for almost a month now. I was going to try out Loom next week.

      ScummVM is already really playable and stable. And it runs off of an inexpensive 2gig DS card.

  • Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tpl2000 (1174767) on Friday July 18, 2008 @03:42PM (#24247561) Journal
    Y'know, the picture they give is fake. I'm not saying the lighting is wrong, or anything... but it's a "perfect" picture. the image on the screen is at exact right angles, and that would be damn near impossible regardless of what surface your camera is on. Also, the power light on the Wii appears to be orange. HMMMM......
  • So I was trying to find that "custom firmware", but could not find it anywhere on the page. All the emulators on dcemu that the engadget article pointed to all seemed to use the Elf SD emulator, which is like a hack to Zelda: Twilight Princess. That is why I got so excited about the custom firmware headline - I was hoping I would not have to jump through all these hoops just to get a SNES emulator to work. That would be so cool - I just want to put all my ROMS on a disc, and play them using the classic cont

    • You can download the firmware directly from the maker's site, which is: wii.waninkoko.info [waninkoko.info]
      I don't really understand what you're complaining about, once you installed the homebrew channel, it's really easy to play with the snes emulator and it works with the classic controller too.
  • To me that is just stupid! Why would you want to emulate a PSP @ only 4 and 8 frames per second. I at least have to give them some props for TRYING. Who knows, next they will probably try to create an Wii emulator for PSP, witch will be even DUMBER!
    • by Wanon (808109)
      Well there is an NDS emulator on the PSP. The first ever system to emulate a same generation console. A next gen system being emulated may not be that out of reach...
  • The PSP Emulator (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bragg (147168) on Friday July 18, 2008 @06:18PM (#24249209)

    Given the screenshot, it seems likely that this is a port of the Potemkin emulator which was released under GPL about a year ago. I have not tested Potemkin but, i haven't read that it's fake anywhere either.

  • by kribby (964773)
    classic example of a "emo kid trying to grow his e-penus" Throughout the years as a admin at NGemu, I have witnessed the birth of PS1, N64, and PS2 emulation. There is always a common characteristic between fake emulator of then and now: An unknown author claiming the extraordinary without any previous debug release that can play homebrew games. Also, they always seem to post 1 image claiming their amazing accomplishments.... I don't think anyone can tell me, with a straight face, that the image is 100%
  • ... going to make something other then emulators and ports of Doom/Quake/Etc?

    • [When are homebrew developers] going to make something other then emulators and ports of Doom/Quake/Etc?

      Probably once you help with creating models, textures, etc. under a free [freedomdefined.org] license suitable for use in free video games. The free non-software works movement isn't as mature as the free software movement yet.

    • by solcott (1002711)

      ... going to make something other then emulators and ports of Doom/Quake/Etc?

      There is a port of Quake, and it works very well.
      http://wiibrew.org/wiki/Homebrew_apps/Quake [wiibrew.org]

      Controls work very similarly to Metroid Prime 3 if you have played that.

      • by solcott (1002711)

        ... going to make something other then emulators and ports of Doom/Quake/Etc?

        There is a port of Quake, and it works very well. http://wiibrew.org/wiki/Homebrew_apps/Quake [wiibrew.org] Controls work very similarly to Metroid Prime 3 if you have played that.

        Wow, something _other_ than. I fail at reading.

  • by marcansoft (727665) <hector@nOsPam.marcansoft.com> on Friday July 18, 2008 @09:03PM (#24250407) Homepage

    ... as usual.

    Let's set a few things straight:

    • Currently, there is no public method for reading DVD-Rs on an unmodded Wii.
    • This isn't the first "Custom Firmware" (I hate that word) for the Wii. Not even close. Not even the first public one. Or, alternately, this isn't and there has never been a true wii Custom Firmware, depending on how you look at it.
    • The "Custom Firmware" is only a small patch to the firmware that does two things: disable signature checks and disable a certain read restriction on the DVD code. What this does is let you use standard-format DVD-Rs (i.e. ISO9660 or Video DVDs) with the DVD drive on the Wii, but you still need a modchip.
    • The difference between this firmware and the original is exactly 5 bytes. 4 for the DVD maximum read restriction (an unsigned int), and one code byte patch for the signature disable. Hardly earth-shattering.

    We released a legal open source firmware patcher [hackmii.com] some time ago. Approximately three days before this purpoted "custom firmware" came out, svpe had added the DVD restriction removal patch to it (this was in response to an outright modification to an older firmware, released with the original code and hence illegally, by nitrotux, which he distributed with a disc dumper, but our patcher patches all of the recent versions of the firmware which use a completely different subroutine for the check, so the patch is different even though the result is the same). The first revision of Waninkoko's "custom firmware" was so hastily done that it was basically a PPF patch over the original firmware. Except it's encrypted. And he even changed the key. Hence, the patch was useless and he ended up distributing the entire patched-and-reencrypted file in the form of the patch (the entire patcher was 2MB, which is the size of the entire firmware). The fact that he made this trivial mistake makes me think that he did this very quickly and stole the patches from the open source patchmii (the DVD patch is identical except for the actual number involved in the restriction, and the signature check disable patch, which is relatively hard to find and there are several ways of doing it, is exactly the same). He later released a newer version without the blatant patch fuckup which is presumably legal to distribute now, although it still requires people to rip the original firmware from a recent game (whereas our open source patcher automatically downloads it from Nintendo's servers).

    Now onto the news. Recently, we actually did figure out a way of reading DVD-Rs without a modchip. Since this can be used for piracy (and could potentially cause quite an increase in it, since a free simple non-warranty-voiding pirate-game-playing hack is very appealing compared to the current modchip situation), we have tried to contact Nintendo about it (privately and publicly [hackmii.com]). If they ignore us, then we'll probably release an open source library and tools that will let Wii homebrew read information from a DVD-R on any Wii, modchip or not.

    For anyone trying to draw parallels between the PSP and the Wii, I suggest this article. As for the PSP emulator, I'll believe it when I see more than a single screenshot.

    • Recently, we actually did figure out a way of reading DVD-Rs without a modchip.

      Does this include DVD-ROM, DVD-R, and DVD+R discs? If so, then I'd guess Nintendo has no excuse not to make a "DVD-Video Channel" and sell it in WiiWare for 2000 points to cover the price of DVD format (MPEG-2, AC-3, CSS) licensing. That's what Microsoft did for the original Xbox: sell a copy of the DVD decoder software on a memory card and bundle it with a remote.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by marcansoft (727665)

        That's correct. Technically, Nintendo could make a DVD-Video player channel. If Nintendo ignores our attempts to contact them, we'll give porting a DVD player a shot.

  • That is mostly on topic. There is a new Open Source wii emulator out that runs in both x86 and x64 windows. It was initially just a gamecube emulator, but it now emulates several wii titles, and shows perfect graphics until it realizes you have no wiimote, for which there is currently no software interface, either.

    But still, a wii emulator is ALREADY OUT that shows graphics, and it's OPEN SOURCE (now)!

    http://www.dolphin-emu.com/ [dolphin-emu.com]

    • by tepples (727027)

      [This GPL'd GameCube emulator] emulates several wii titles, and shows perfect graphics until it realizes you have no wiimote, for which there is currently no software interface, either.

      Would it likely be made to work with titles that can read GCN controllers, such as Brawl, Mario Kart, and (apparently) City Folk?

      • by crhylove (205956)

        Eventually. It seems the pattern for emulation is: Nothing, then a few loading screens, then it's almost playable, then the games become playable, then the emulation steadily improves, and finally the gameplay experience is vastly superior to the original console.

  • I'd be happy if I can play my old MegaCD games on it, if only so I can do it without needing 4kg of power bricks.

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