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Nintendo Wii Games

Wii Update 4.2 Tries (and Fails) To Block Homebrew 520

marcansoft writes "On September 28, Nintendo released a Wii update, titled 4.2. This update was targeted squarely at homebrew, performing sweeping changes throughout the system. It hardly achieved that goal, though, because just two days later a new version of the HackMii installer was released that brings full homebrew capabilities back to all Wii consoles, including unmodified consoles running 4.2. However, as part of their attempt to annoy homebrew users, Nintendo updated the lowest level updateable component of the Wii software stack: boot2 (part of the system bootloader chain). Homebrew users have been using BootMii to patch boot2 in order to gain low level system access and recovery functions (running Linux natively, fixing bricks, etc). The update hasn't hindered this, as users can simply reinstall BootMii after updating (it is compatible with the update). But there's a much bigger problem: Nintendo's boot2 update code is buggy." Read on for more details.
"Boot2 had never been updated in retail consoles until now. During BootMii's development, its authors noticed that Nintendo's code had critical bugs and could sometimes permanently brick a console by writing incorrect or unchecked data to flash memory, so they decided to write their own, much safer flashing code. Now, Nintendo has pushed a boot2 update to all Wii users, and the results are what was expected: users are reporting bricks after installing 4.2 on unmodified consoles. Nintendo is currently attempting to censor posts and remove references to homebrew. It is worth noting that the new boot2 does not attempt to block anything or offer any additional protection or functionality. Its sole purpose is to simply replace current versions which may or may not have been modified with BootMii. Another interesting tidbit is that Nintendo is not believed to have any method to repair this kind of brick at a factory, short of replacing the entire motherboard."
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Wii Update 4.2 Tries (and Fails) To Block Homebrew

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  • Why is that legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tei ( 520358 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:14AM (#29603415) Journal

    You have buy a machine, not a license. If you want to open it, and mod it on any way you want. Is just a tiny mountain of chips and transistors. You could break it in pieces and use it to fix your refrigerator. Any law that let the creator of the machine perpetuate this locking trough anti-user changes sould get a fine, and any law that help then do that, sould be reverted, and the legislators of these laws be kicked in the ass with a boot.

    • by Techmeology ( 1426095 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:21AM (#29603445) Homepage
      It's legal because the same people who invented the DMCA invented other laws too.
      • It's legal because the same people who invented the DMCA invented other laws too.

        Until they push these insanities to the point that they get a revolution from the bottom.

        • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:02AM (#29604473) Journal

          You mean from the top.

          The people sit at the top level of authority, and that power flows downward to the state government, then the continental government. By revolting the people are merely taking-back the powers/rights that were illegally stolen from them by the lower levels.

        • by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @03:33PM (#29609797)
          You mean a Wii from the bottom, of course.
    • by selven ( 1556643 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:27AM (#29603473)
      First, we should kick out the laws that fine the CONSUMER for daring to mess around with his own legally-bought electronics.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The problem is, the law does not say you cannot mess with your electronics, the law says you cannot bypass security measures in place that protect the intellectual property of the item you are messing with.

        That said, I agree the law is stupid, vague, and consistently abused to stifle innovation and peoples rights, but currently, it is the law, and while I would love for it to be repealed, the odds of that ever happening are very very slim.

    • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:43AM (#29603553)

      I'm not aware of it even being used for piracy. I have the Homebrew Channel installed and it's great fun to play a few things on, plus occasionally turn the Wii into a media player.

      IIRC it can be used to play out-of-region games. Which is a GOOD thing.

      What exactly do they have to gain here?

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:54AM (#29603603) Homepage

        They want to enforce region locking, or they wouldn't have implemented it to start with...

        Region locking hurts legitimate users, and is used to screw them out of more money... Region locking should be illegal. It does absolutely NOTHING to benefit the consumer.

      • by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:06AM (#29603679) Homepage

        I'm not aware of it even being used for piracy.

        Well it is. I was at a buddies house, he had a USB HD plugged into his Wii, all kinds of games on it. Apparently the Mario Galaxy he downloaded had a few bits flipped somewhere in it's image so he played it all the way to the last few planets and then couldn't finish it. Some of the games he actually owned so... I think it's great to be able to back up games to a HD and play off them. When you share the Wii with someone and they get up to play Wii Fit every morning... and I'm working my way through Zelda. Swap swap swap.

        Also he had this media center software running on the Wii, sorta like having XBMC or something. Then he uses his iPhone to change the tracks, watch movies, etc... pretty sweet.

        Nintendo should just sell a media center channel and let millions of Wii owners plug HDs into those babies.

      • They don't release pirated software but they do release tools that can be used to play coppied roms from a USB drive, and the main thing i've seen them used for is emulators which must require "illegal" roms for the snes/n64 games you play.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Moryath ( 553296 )

        It can also be used to play legal ports of games that have been open-sourced - for example, Doom and Quake have fabulous ports on the system (the Wiimote makes a very interesting interface for Quake).

        But Nintendo doesn't want that, either. Nintendo has always had a bug up their ass about "piracy"; they claimed the "security" chip in the original NES (which was actually about stopping companies from Tengen from making cartridges and was the reason you got the "blinky blinky" power problem so often) was to wa

    • by zlel ( 736107 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:53AM (#29603597) Homepage
      The Refrigeration Industrial Artists' Association has decided that you will need to pay an "iFrigement use fee" if you put any food item with an energy content of more than 1000 kCal in your fridge. Your fridge comes with a Healthy Home Edition license - I'm afraid you need to upgrade your kCal licenses for your level of consumption.
    • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:54AM (#29603615) Homepage

      Someone will have to confirm this for me, but I'm pretty sure that on the box of the original Xbox, it states that you don't technically own the hardware, but have been given a licence to operate it which can be withdrawn at any time (if you don't agree then don't open the box etc.)

    • If you don't like it, then don't download and install their free firmware updates.

      You can get all huffy and jump up and down on your soap box all you want. But the reality is, you bought some hardware and it needs some software to operate correctly. You can choose to play games offline only, or you can choose to plug it into the internet and collect your free updates that maintain support with Nintendo's network while at the same time attempts to prevent you from using homebrew.

      If you want to do homebrew ga

    • Why should be illegal for someone to publish software for the Wii that modifies the Boot2 code? It seems you're arguing that it should.
  • DRM (Score:2, Interesting)

    This is to updates as DRM is to using stuff. It's all a big commercialistic manipulation attempt. People don't like to be manipulated. Thus it fails miserably. There's also that warm fuzzy feeling when the hacked version solves bugs too:D Bonus "learn your lesson" points if they have to replace the bricked consoles (which, under most consumer law, they should).
  • by Mr0bvious ( 968303 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:22AM (#29603453)

    It costs them a lot of money to try and stop modding etc, when they will fail every time.

    Waste of time, money and reputation.

    • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )
      Especially reputation.  Nothing like making yourself look incompetent over & over again.  I'm looking at you Sony & Nintendo.  You need to tell your shareholders, to sit down, shut up & enjoy the easy money.
      • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:04AM (#29603667) Journal

        Well they dont really fail. Sure, someone finds a way around it. But it gets harder to get the homebrew working again. I updated to 4.0 before and didn't know you couldn't get all the homebrew working again. I tried to downgrade a few times, but it failed always (and I followed the guides closely). Then I just forgot about it and didn't try again.

        So in that case they won. And I'm pretty computer knowledgeable person myself, it would be even worse for someone who isn't.

    • I'll fess up. I've got a SD card in my Wii with old NES games, and I run Homebrew Channel and FCE Ultra on my Wii.

      Mind you, I own most of the games (SMB games, Mega Man games, TMNT2, etc) on NES cartridges. I do have an old NES, but I just can't be arsed to drag the thing out, wire it up to my TV and spend 10 minutes wiggling cartridges until they work. And I couldn't be arsed to buy games I already own on Virtual Console so I can play them again. Even though they're only $5/game, it's a principle thing.


  • Nintendo's Response (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rick Richardson ( 87058 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:27AM (#29603467) Homepage


    Some of you have reported problems with your Wii console after updating to the Wii System Menu 4.2. The symptoms most people are describing usually occur when the Wii has been modified. However, some of you also mention your system has never been modified.

    We'd like to help get your system working properly again. If you're experiencing problems with your Wii console after downloading Wii System Menu 4.2, and you believe your system has not been modified, please give us a call. If we find that you have a normal system and the update caused your system to not work, we'll repair it at no charge.

    Please call our Customer Service Department at your earliest convenience, 1-800-255-3700. We are open 6 AM to 7 PM, Pacific Time, 7 days a week.

    Thank you,

  • Dear Nintendo, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Narcocide ( 102829 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:40AM (#29603529) Homepage

    Please stop making me cry.

    Your loyal non-modding customer.

    P.S. Please spend all this time and effort addressing the cheating hackers plaguing the Mario Kart Network instead.

    • P.S. Please spend all this time and effort addressing the cheating hackers plaguing The Conduit instead.

    • Re:Dear Nintendo, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:03AM (#29603661)

      We often look at the past with rose-tinted sunglasses.

      When we were children, some of us grew up with Nintendo. The NES gave us incredible gameplay. We fell in love with the company.The SNES brought even more to the table. Many of us are also plagued by the Tetris theme, thanks to the Gameboy.

      Unfortunately, the reality is much more bitter. Nintendo has done some pretty rotten things since the very first version of their system. Whether it was the 10NES lock-out chip, their censorship policies, their anti-competitive attitude (which landed them fines in the European Union in 2002 thanks to how they ran their business from 1991-1998), Nintendo has a long track-record of "doing evil". We only never realized it because, at the time, most of us were children and only cared about getting that next fun game.

      Compared to the way things were then, all of this is unsurprising.

      • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        Well at least they're not Sony or Microsoft... :)

        Compared to those two companies, Nintendo is still an angel!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Arimus ( 198136 )

          So was Azrael and look where he ended up...

          Think while MS and Sony are demons, Apple, Nintendo, Google are all well along the path to being fallen angels.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TJamieson ( 218336 )

        Game Genie. They tried to sue them into the ground more than once, iirc. For something that merely redirected or altered memory contents.

    • THIS.

      Why all the effort to fight homebrew, instead of the rampant online cheating? They don't need to lock the platform down, just some freakin' checksums would be a step in the right direction.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daid303 ( 843777 )

      Note that the cheating is done trough Homebrew software. And thus blocking homebrew could help in stopping cheating a bit. But stopping homebrew is like trying to stop the sun shining, the people who are working to hack the Wii are smart and persistent. And those people don't do it for the cheats or the piracy, they just want an open platform to toy with.

      Cheating in online games is always hard to beat, but the current state of the Wii is like early counterstrike and UT. The games are not build with cheat pr

  • What's the best course of action here?

    I don't have BootMii installed at present.

  • installing 4.2 worked fine on my (unmodified) Wii.


  • What year is this? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Waccoon ( 1186667 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:52AM (#29603595)

    No checksums before flashing? Really?

    Even at launch I was hearing about bricking problems. Glad to see things are improving after taking in all that cash.

  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:36AM (#29603821) Homepage

    We (Parallel Realities) have written a bunch of games and I was recently looking into porting these onto the DS and Wii via Homebrew, because I think people would enjoy playing them (on the move in the DS's case), so I'm all for Homebrew.

    What I am against though is modding your games machine just so you can download the games off the web without having to pay for them, which I think is what Nintendo is actually annoyed about.

    However, getting around region locking does mean that one can play games only released in Japan (or the US if you live in Europe). In this instance I could understand a gamer's frustration and why they might download it off the web (because they can't a company willing to ship overseas).

    • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:57AM (#29603931)

      It's not just that either - I go on holiday to various places around the planet. Sometimes I go into a music or games shop whilst I'm there and buy one or two things to take home.

      Why should I not be able to play them when I get home?

      And yes, some games (the original Katamari Damacy, for instance) are not released in some markets and as a result are hard to get hold of, even if you've soft-modded the console to play other regions.

      It often seems to me that the benefits of a global economy are reaped by companies by employing labour and sourcing materials where they like, but they try their damnedest to stop consumers doing the same.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gramie2 ( 411713 )

      About the region locking: I used to live in Japan, and my kids have many Japanese games for the Wii. Now that we live in Canada, we were faced with not being able to play any games sold here. I got a chip that makes the Wii region-free, but to make Rock Band work, I had to replace the entire OS with the North American version (it can still play Japanese games, thanks to the chip).

      We've never played games that we haven't bought or rented, so the only effect of trying to kill homebrew, to us, is to potentiall

  • It is highly likely that they can recover the box in the repair depot. You can flash chips without removing them from the board if the board designer was thinking intelligently. In my company's HW dev labs they re-flash bricked system boards all the time; they can also do so in the factory. If we couldn't fix RMA'd sysplanars, field flashing bugs would be a complete and total disaster.


    • You tell me how they do that. Not software - the ROM bits have no recovery functionality. Hardware? Massive props for you if you can find any kind of JTAG or similar port on the board, because quite a few people have wasted lots of time trying and failing to do so. As far as we can tell, they preflash the NAND chips before soldering, and I'm not aware of anyone who hasn't just had their motherboard replaced after this kind of unrecoverable brick.

      Here's [] a pinout diagram of the Hollywood with everything that's definitely not a recovery port marked. Let me know if you find any flashing/recovery functionality on the remaining pins ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Burpmaster ( 598437 )

      You can flash chips without removing them from the board if the board designer was thinking intelligently. In my company's HW dev labs they re-flash bricked system boards all the time

      Those boards weren't designed to prevent modding. No, I bet Nintendo has to replace the whole circuit board containing the flash chip due to their own paranoia.

  • by Kartoffel ( 30238 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:16AM (#29604073)

    How about some anti-cheat measures? Playing online Mario Kart is still fun, but it is less fun when there's some griefer with infinite red shells.

  • by amoeba1911 ( 978485 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:22AM (#29605353) Homepage

    I had a modded Wii and I was prolifically downloading Wii games for free from all kinds of pirate sites at Nintendo's expense. It all changed as soon as this patch came out, it suddenly turned me from being a dirty pirate to a legitimate customer! My pockets which had previously been devoid of anything other than pocket lint are now somehow filled with cash that just materialized out of thin air. I use that money to buy games legitimately, giving the company the profits it deserves. Their share prices have quadrupled in the past 3 hours. The company is worth more than Microsoft now. Hot Japanese anime girls are waiting to blow all of the company executives who came up with this wonderful anti-piracy patch that fixed everything.

    This is what they've been waiting to hear... let's lie a little bit so they can feel good about wasting millions of dollars on this patch.

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