Thankfully, the former doesn’t guarantee the latter, or we’d have a lot of people with funny looking hairdos walking around the Internets. 🙂 Ok, this will likely be long, so I’ll bust it up into sections:
Why Would I Hack My Wii?
There are many reasons to hack your Wii. There are many reasons not to as well. Let’s talk about them first.
DON’T HACK YOUR WII IF:
- You are afraid you might brick it. I’ve never bricked a Wii, but you never know. It could happen, and you might not be able to fix it. You could have a $200 boat anchor. (Or a Christmas gift for someone you don’t like.)
- You are afraid people will think you’re a pirate. They will. Even if you’re not. (And, you probably will be — it’s VERY tempting.)
- You are afraid of spending a few hours with a Wii, a TV, and a computer with an SD card reader. The process is long and complicated. There’s probably an easy way, but I don’t know it, and don’t think I’d trust it.
- DON’T HACK YOUR WII IF you haven’t asked your spouse. Or kids. Or the owner of the Wii. That pretty much goes for any potentially destructive behavior, but you know, it goes for Wii hacking too.
DO HACK YOUR WII IF:
- Your house recently burned down, and all the disks you bought are now forever ruined by flame, smoke, and heat. With a hacked Wii, you can get your games back without waiting the 6 months the insurance company will take to process your claim.
- Ok, admittedly that is a rare circumstance, but dog gone it, a valid one. 🙂
- You want to store your games on a hard drive, because DVDs are so 2004.
- You want to play video DVDs in the Wii. Because really, what’s up with that Nintendo?
- You want to play videos, movies, or show pictures on the TV over the network, or from local USB/SD drives. You know, like XBMC but not quite as cool.
- You’d like to watch Netflix streaming videos on your television spending only $40 on the PlayOn software instead of $80 for a Roku.
- You wanna be a dirty filthy pirate, and download games off the Internet, and play them without paying, thus robbing the makers of video games of their profits, and likely causing a cataclysmic breakdown of our economy. Again.
- Or you can hack your Wii because you wanna be like me. Seriously though, if that’s your goal, just learn to do the eyebrow thing. It’s cheaper.
The Basic Steps
Remember when I said it was a long process? Yeah, it totally is. The frustrating thing is that links will die, information will get outdated, and versions will be changed by the time you attempt to do any hacking. So I’m going to be vague enough that you should be able to find the current stuff, and not depend on me for copy/paste instructions. You’re gonna learn darn it! But like G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.” So, you know, there’s that to comfort you. Here are the basic steps, which I’ll elaborate on later.
- Do something awesome, which you’ll likely never understand, and overflow Wii buffers and stuff. Look, if you were smart enough to know how these things work, you wouldn’t be reading this blog entry. Just stand back and be awed like me. Basically, you have your Wii load a “bannerbomb”, which kinda crashes the system, and then starts whatever program you want afterwards. It’s super sweet.
- Remember that Wii we just bannerbombed? Yeah, we’re gonna then load a program that will load boot code onto the Wii itself, so that we don’t have to run the bannerbomb program every time we start up our console. Because really, the wow factor will wear off, and the hacker that came up with it deserves our awe.
- Then we’ll install the Homebrew Channel. Ok, to be honest, that program I talked about in step 2 will install the Homebrew Channel for us. Why you ask? Well, because the Homebrew Channel is the reason we hack a Wii in the first place. It’s where all the awesome programs live.
- Yay! We have the Homebrew Channel! Unfortunately, it’s just a blank screen with nothing inside. We’ll change that by adding cool programs. Unfortunately, those first couple “cool programs” will be cryptic, weird programs that make little sense. We’ll use terms like IOS249, and Trucha Bug Restorer. You will feel as though you’re in over your head. In fact, you may be. That’s OK though, it’s not as bad as it seems. Just close to as bad as it seems.
- We will likely celebrate now. Because really, that last step sucked.
- Now we load a few cool Homebrew programs onto the SD card. Did I mention an SD card before? Oh, well we’ll have an SD card. You’ll be swapping it back and forth a lot. By this point, it won’t even annoy you anymore.
- Depending on how much you want to quit, or how young your kids are, you might just start loading games onto your external USB drive now. Or, you might want to make shortcuts (or “forwarders”) to your homebrew programs right on the main screen of your Wii. All the cool kids are doing it, so you might as well too. It’s actually pretty easy.
- By this time, the Wii is pretty much hacked. You probably won’t want to touch it for a few days, because you’re friggen tired of the thing. Your friends and family will play with it like crazy though, and never truly appreciate how much work you put into it. Oh, and they’ll all ask you how you did it. Feel free just to point them here though. You don’t have to do it for them. Once you do all this work, you’ll say, “You’re going to learn darn it!” — again, just like me…
You Need Stuff, So Get It
You didn’t read any of that stuff did you? DID YOU? Go back and read it now. There is a secret password you’ll need to go any further. Come back here when you’re done.
Good, glad to see you back. Yeah, I totally lied about that secret password. I just wanted you to read the whole thing. Deal. 🙂 First you need to gather and prepare a few items:
- An SD Card. I suggest it be 2GB, but anything 2GB or less is fine. I wouldn’t go below 512MB though, because you’re going to be keeping stuff on it. Maybe a lot of stuff. Oh, and make sure it’s formatted with a FAT filesystem. Not FAT32.
- An SD Card reader for your computer. And hey, all you people thinking your 4GB SD card will be twice as good as a 2GB card? Yeah, you follow directions for crap. A 4GB card or bigger will give you lots of problems. Maybe. It’s not worth it man, just get a 2GB card. They’re super cheap.
- Um, a Wii. Yes. You should have a Wii if you’re going to be hacking a Wii. Just sayin.
Over 1000 Words Later, We Begin
First, boot up your Wii and see what version the firmware is. Generally, you want to leave it alone. As a last resort, you may have to update the firmware to the most recent version, but keep in mind Nintendo does not want you to hack your Wii, and they work hard to keep it from working. Once you know your firmware version, you’ll know how to proceed. It’s super simple:
- Click the Wii options button.
- Click Wii Settings
- Look in the upper right hand corner of the screen. There it is.
- If that was confusing, someone made a video of what to do here. Go watch it, then come back.
Remember that number. Maybe write it down or something. Ok, the next step will be done on your computer. Grab your 2GB or smaller FAT formatted SD card, and put it into your card reader. Now head on over to http://bannerbomb.qoid.us/ and follow the appropriate link. You’ll end up downloading a zip file, extracting it to your SD card, and ending up with a folder called “private” on there, with stuff inside. That’s the magic, awesome thing I talked about earlier. That will basically load any program you put on the SD card named “boot.elf” — so lets put something useful on there, shall we?
There’s a really neat program called “HackMii” that installs 3 very useful things onto your Wii. It installs:
- BootMii, which yes, is a cheesy name, but it replaces the boot code on your Wii or something, and allows you to back up system bits, etc.
- DVDx — this allows your Wii to play video DVDs. Because really, why doesn’t it do that anyway?
- HBC — this is the “Homebrew Channel” I keep talking about, home of all things mystical and wonderful.
It will install these things directly off the Internet for you, so you’ll have the latest version. Pretty cool, eh? Go here to download it (as of this writing, it’s version 0.6 or something): http://bootmii.org/download.
So you download that program, unzip it, and copy the boot.elf file to the root (top) directory of your SD card. So you should have 2 things on that now, the folder called “private” (with stuff in it), and a file called “boot.elf” — if you do, you’re ready to actually hack. SWEET.
Hack It Like a Gibson!
If you thought that scene from Hackers was even remotely realistic, you’re not allowed on my blog anymore. Go away.
Good, you’re still here. Ok, basically you now follow the directions from the bannerbomb site to load the boot.elf file. The directions are slightly different depending on what version of firmware you have. It’s not hard. Go back and read the site. Basically you either go to “Data Management”, and “Channels”, and “SD Card” if you have a pre-4.2 firmware. Otherwise, if you have 4.2, you click on the SD card on the main Wii screen. There, I did the work for you.
You should get a message like “Do you want to load boot.dol?” and you say yes. Even if you would rather eat an ice cream sundae, you still click yes. Or load. Or continue. I don’t remember what the affirmation dialog is, but look, you got this far, you want to load the program. So just do it.
Now you’re going to do 3 things. You’re going to install BootMii, DVDx, and The Homebrew Channel. It’s pretty straightforward. Really. You just install them. If you don’t want to install BootMii, that’s fine. I’m pretty sure you can just install the Homebrew Channel and DVDx. The thing about BootMii is that it allows you to back up your NAND, and possibly unbrick your bricked Wii if you brick it. Not that you will. But you know, just in case. You can also use this method to uninstall these 3 programs if you get in trouble for messing with your sister’s Wii later on.
What? It’s too hard? You’re confused? Well, it turns out the folks over at LifeHacker love you more than I do, and they made a (slightly outdated but still useful) tutorial, and they even included pictures. It’s right here. You can go over there to get that part done if you like. If you don’t like pictures, or Lifehacker filed a restraining order against you, there’s a different article over on wikidot. It has fewer pictures, but it’s just as good. Then come back, because I have more goodies to teach you. Things Lifehacker doesn’t cover.
OK, My Wii is Hacked. Am I Cool Now?
I have no idea. If your self esteem and cool factor is based on the current state of your Wii — it’s likely you’re not cool, and no amount of hacking will help. But your Wii? Yeah, your Wii is pretty cool. Let’s make it awesometastic.
To be clear, you could install some homebrew apps now, and brag you have a hacked Wii. Because you do. The problem is, you have sort of a sucky hacked Wii. The biggest thing you need to do is install IOS249. What is IOS249 you ask? I have no friggen clue. I don’t really care either. It’s something you need in order to let your Wii access things like USB drives. (You might also need IOS222/223, but I’ll touch on that later)
One of the really pain in the butt things, is that Nintendo doesn’t want you to do things like this. So they make it really hard. Thankfully, people smarter than me have outlined it really well. Read the awesome article entitled, “IOS249 – How To Get Started, Even If You’re Really Dumb.” Told ya it was a good article… 🙂
This Is Starting To Suck, Are We Done Yet?
Almost. You might have noticed the link on the bottom of that last article that talked about a HERMES IOS222/223 thing. You probably want to install that too. Why? Well, because it will allow your Wii to read a wider variety of USB drives, and give you more possibilities when things don’t go right. And really, you want to get this over with, don’t you?
If you missed that link, it’s right here. Yes, you’re absolutely right, you didn’t need my blog entry at all. You could have just googled all this on your own. But you didn’t. What does that say about you? Well, based on how long I had to google to come up with the right directions, it says you’re smarter than me. Your punishment for being smarter is listening to me monologue like this. It could be worse, I could have made a video and made you listen to me sing.
OK, now you’re cool. Let’s play games and stuff.
By now, you probably understand that in order to install stuff in your Homebrew Channel, you make a folder inside the /apps folder on the SD card, and then put the program in there, and name it boot.dol. Let me suggest a few programs to get you going:
- Homebrew Browser — This is a neat program that allows you to install, upgrade, and uninstall a wide variety of applications right from your Wii. No more moving the SD card over to your computer. Sadly, it doesn’t have every program, but it does have a lot.
- Mplayer_CE — this is an awesome video player. It plays pretty much everything, including files on remote Windows or SMB shares. You’ll need to configure the config file on the SD card after installing if you want to play from network shares, but it’s pretty easy. It’s available in the Homebrew Browser, but as a warning — I had to use version .75, as the current version (as of this writing) is .76, and it wouldn’t load. You can download older version from their website if needed.
- USB Loader GX — There are other USB loaders, but this is my favorite. It will download cover art for you, rip DVDs for you, and allow you to tweak stuff if games (Wii Sports Resort…) don’t work right.
See? That wasn’t bad. You have a totally hacked Wii. You are awesome. You can brag. BUT… If you want to be SUPER cool, you can install forwarders for a few of the programs you access often (like USB Loader GX).
Forwarders, For People That Are Too Cool To Click Homebrew First
This is another thing I don’t totally understand, but it’s not hard to use. Install the WAD Manager. Apparently “WADs” are the things that appear on the main Wii screen. I don’t know. I don’t really care. When you install the WAD Manager, you are able to install WAD files. Go figure. On that website for USB Loader GX, they have a forwarder WAD to download. You basically install it with the WAD Manager, and it magically appears on the main screen. TADA! It’s really simple. The big thing is finding the forwarder for the program you want to add to the main screen. (Forwarders come as WAD files… are you still with me?)
Here is a link to the USB Loader GX forwarder. Read that page. If you don’t understand the difference between installing a forwarder or installing a channel, don’t worry. I don’t either. Just install the forwarder, it works well.
Here is the info on the forwarder for Mplayer CE that I use. Unfortunately, I had to sign up for the forum in able to get access to the download links. That really ticked me off. If you want to use this forwarder, but don’t want to sign up — here is a direct link to the file. You’re welcome.
I Don’t Care If I’m Cool Anymore, Am I Done?
Yeah. That’s pretty much it. You’ll probably want to tweak the config file for Mplayer CE to point it to your windows shares for playing network videos. You might also want to install the Internet Channel on your Wii, and then install PlayOn on your Windows machine so you can watch Netflix streaming — but that doesn’t require any hacking, it’s just pretty cool. You probably also want to download a WBFS program so you can manage games you illegally downloaded and put them on your external USB drive so you can load them with USB Loader GX. And if you’re not a pirate, you probably want to attach an empty USB drive so you can rip your legally owned games onto your hard drive. USB Loader GX does that for you, and it’s pretty sweet.
If you have any questions, just leave a comment. I’ll try to answer. Really though, I’ll probably just make you google your questions — because that’s all I’ll do. I’m not really that smart, I just have good googling skills. You should too. This is 2010 man, you should be able to search on the Internet. And now? GO PLAY A GAME! 😀
NOTE: There are probably typos that I’ll fix later. I have to go to work, and y’all wanted me to post this, so consider this post a Release Candidate. Also, standard disclaimer about ruining your Wii, your life, etc. I’m not responsible. I think you should sell your Wii and become Amish. That’s my recommendation.