Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Soft-modding your Wii for Homebrew

When I buy a device, I expect to be able to do whatever the hell I want to do it. It’s my hardware, right? So why must I go through loops and bounds to get the software I want to run on said device to work? And why must the company that makes the software for it make it near-impossible to get anything I want to work on it?

That’s the problem everybody who has the same mindset faces with Nintendo’s Wii.

Here’s a simple guide to getting the Wii to run software that you, the owner could wish to run.

What you will need

  • A Wii
  • An SD card (1 GB or larger is suggested if you want to do anything useful)
Notice that you don’t need much to hack your Wii these days? With the SD card, you might have to try several SD cards until you find one that doesn’t act very slow. In my case, I am using an OCZ 1 GB SD card and it seems to be doing the trick. If you’re unsure and are willing to spend some cash, just get the Sandisk Wii-branded SD card and that should do the trick. I had to try about three different cards until I found one that worked just fine.

From here

Get a copy of Bannerbomb (from here) and follow the directions on the site. They’re fairly straight-forward and provided that you don’t have any issues with your SD card.
My recommendation is that you do everything but mess around with the IOS. Boot2 should be more than sufficient to play with and is reversible.

Things to note

  • Disable WiiConnect24 as you don’t want to be caught with a non-working Homebrew Channel thanks to Nintendo’s overzealous system updates.
  • I haven’t had any issues playing online games such as Mario Kart Wii online, so I don’t expect the same for any other game.
  • If a new update is made available, be sure to follow homebrew websites like WiiBrew, which will offer advice or information. Some updates have passed that haven’t messed up the Homebrew Channel.
  • Keep your non-Nintendo-licensed channels on a seperate SD card. If you do not, you’ll run into problems where your Wii will just lock up trying to load up the SD card channels. SD cards are cheap anyway.

Experiences

A bad SD card will result in some odd problems. I managed to get some of my apps to load just fine, but they ended up complaining that they couldn’t read the SD card. If you run into a situation where it cannot load the appropriate driver to read the SD card or cannot write to it, besides checking the read/write tab on the card, you might want to just copy the contents of the SD card to another one. This is a problem that resulted in me changing my SD card.

DVDx in combination with Mplayer will allow one to play DVDs on your Wii, but from my experience, I haven’t had any success with getting any disc to play–the movies will just play for a few seconds and then stall or go back to the Mplayer menu (I suspect that it is just playing the buffer). Mind you, a console is not really intended to play movies in the first place and I would suggest otherwise anyway. It does however play the videos I have stored on my USB key without any problems.

Many applications support the use of SMB/CIFS as a method of accessing files stored on a computer. This is great except for one problem: the applications that support it don’t allow for backslashes so if you have a domain specified on your file server, you’re out of luck. I will be filing a bug report about this or at least suggest to them that they allow the use of domains in SMB file access. For the vast majority of those reading this blog entry, it won’t be an issue.

Things I have done

I haven’t done too much except installed Snes9xGX and QuakeGX on it.

QuakeGX has been pretty neat to try out. If you use the nunchuck in combination with the Wiimote, you can use the Wiimote to shoot and the nunchuck to move around. It is a bit sensitive, but after a few adjustments, it felt almost natural and a lot of fun. I still prefer the keyboard and mouse, however.

With Snes9xGX, I will admit that I prefer playing everything on both my SNES and Super Famicom (I own both). However, it is the fan-translated games that I have been desiring to play. There are quite a few including Bahamut Lagoon, Seiken Densetsu 3, and Wonder Project J.




I encourage that everybody buys these games before going about acquiring copies elsewhere, but this is one useful function of the Wii. You can also get adapters to plug in your SNES controllers.

Links

WiiBrew – A good site for anything and everything relating to Wii homebrew.

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