Wii Softmod or My Brief Stint Into Console Hacking


Note: This is not illegal if you don’t steal games from the internet.

I feel I must account for my actions the last three days. I have sorely neglected everything in pursuit of modifying my Nintendo Wii. I made use of the Homebrew Channel by means of Soft-Modification (Softmod). Apparently, someone sent their Wii in for repair and the technician forgot to remove the troubleshooting program from the Wii before sending it back. That’s how all this softmodding came about. Before this, you had to sodder things and use screwdrivers. Never a good thing.

I installed a boot program that opens before the regular boot. The chief advantage of this being the backup of my current operating system just in case the modification causes terrible things to happen. By means of the program Bootmii, I then installed the Homebrew Channel and DVDx which allows me to watch DVD movies and AVI movies off of USB or portable hard drive, run open source code programs, back up Wii games and run them from a hard drive or disk. Now, just because my Wii has this ability does not mean that I can automatically take advantage of it. I have to have a program that can use these new abilities. Finding the right ones was quite a chore. Also, it seems that installing these programs requires the installation of modified input-output system files or IOS. (example: IOS36) Hackers made use of a security flaw in IOS36 that now is the gateway to installing cIOS’s. These new system files are what every homebrew program is based off of. They are fakesigned IOS’s. If you are successful, a huge door is opened to you that lets you play Wii ISO’s that you download from the net (ISO’s are images of games), use MplayerCE to play DVD’s and AVI’s, make use of cute little homebrew games, run Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Sega emulators, even play computer games like Quake and Wolfenstein 3D on your Wii.

This is the best tutorial for doing such a thing:

http://adewii.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/howto-prepare-a-system-menu-4-2-wii-for-launching-backups-from-blank-dvd-or-usb-drive/

My main focus was to backup the games I own and play them from a portable hard drive. I would really rather support Nintendo and buy Wii games than steal games from the net. Innovation should always be encouraged. However, playing ISO’s on the Wii is trickier than first thought. The Wii file system is WBFS just like the Windows file system is NTFS. Nary the twain shall meet. Copying ISO’s from NTFS or FAT32 to the WBFS file system doesn’t happen without a program called WBFS Manager. This program is junk, at least that’s my experience with it. It seems that it copies the game identification over and not the whole ISO. This is extremely frustrating. I think the purpose is to tell the Wii that this particular game is currently loaded in the disk drive. But I couldn’t get it to work. The Wii wouldn’t recognize the flash drive I formatted to WBFS. I couldn’t copy the ISO onto the DVD because it was too big, and when I tried to burn the image, it became a different extension (.wii) which neither the Wii nor the program I used to play it recognized. Also, there are compatibility issues when using DVD+R disks. Apparently you are supposed to use DVD-R, and I only have DVD+R. I could buy some but that’s neither here nor there. Any ISO loader or USB loader i used on the Wii looked for a WBFS file system and I was not willing to dedicate a whole hard drive to that file system. I have a 16GB SDHC card so I tried some way to use that, but the apps I use were already on it and they needed the FAT32 format. I briefly looked at making two partitions on the SDHC, but the research would have taken longer than I had patience for.

There had to be a faster and more efficient way. I found the file “wbfs_file.exe” (google it) and stumbled across this site:

http://forums.afterdawn.com/t.cfm/f-154/guide_configurable_usb_loader_using_fat32_partition_no_wbfs_partition_needed-822897/

Apparently, most of the info in Wii ISO files is useless. wbfs_file.exe strips the useless junk away and converts the file to the extension .wbfs. These files can exist in a FAT32 USB or hard drive and act like the file system the Wii needs in order to run the game. So Mario.ISO will convert to Mario.wbfs. The Mario.ISO was almost 5GB. The conversion to Mario.wbfs shrunk it down to 483MB. I was amazed. I could fill up a 2GB flash drive with about 3-4 Wii games. Turns out, that’s all the Wii needed for the games work. Caution: wbfs_file.exe is a DOS program. So if you are uncomfortable with DOS prompts and command line usage, you may want to get over it.

The USB Loader I used forwarded the the operation to the FAT32 flash drive, and that’s how I got the games to work. You can get the loader from the previous link.

As a side note, cIOSCorp_v3.5 is a system replacement that can do the same job and run the games from the DVD Drive without the need for ISO loaders and USB loaders and the WBFS file system, but it overwrites most of the Wii system files and I was not willing to do that.

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7 thoughts on “Wii Softmod or My Brief Stint Into Console Hacking

  1. I was surprisingly interested in this post. Although I’ll never take the time to do any of that.

    “So if you are uncomfortable with DOS prompts and command line usage, you may want to get over it”

    lol

  2. I must say this is quite an accomplishment. be careful these things are not always looked upon kindly Mr. Yoda. May the force be with you

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