How to hack your Wii for homebrew apps and games

Breathe some new life into your aging Wii by hacking it for Homebrew! Emulation, DVD playback, and Linux are all possible

After some D.I.Y tinkering, the Nintendo Wii can become a far more versatile machine.

After some D.I.Y tinkering, the Nintendo Wii can become a far more versatile machine.

After the excitement of the Wii's "revolutionary" controller died down, a lot of us adult gamers began to realize Nintendo's missteps on the console: The lack of mass storage, HD support, and DVD playback, and a scarce online community were all reasons my interest in the console began to dwindle. If it weren't for Homebrew, then apart from the occasional first party franchise throwback such as Zelda, Super Smash Bros., or New Super Mario, there wouldn't be much of a reason for me to pick up a nunchuk.

So if you're looking to breathe some new life into your Wii, consider getting into the homebrew scene. What started as a couple of curious hackers has become a huge community of developers and users looking to bring some amazing new features to the aging console. Emulation, DVD playback, and the ability to run Linux are all made possible by installing The Homebrew Channel.

Big N plays a continuous cat-and-mouse game with Wii hackers, much like Apple does in the iPhone jailbreaking saga, but despite Nintendo's best efforts, the Wii Homebrew scene has matured, and the necessary software is easier to install than ever before. If you're new to the game, here's how to get it going.

Warning: Proceed at your own risk! If you read the documentation included with the installers and use caution you will be enjoying the fruits of Wii Homebrew in no time, but be warned that if you do something silly there is always that tiny chance of "bricking" your Wii.

What You Need:

A Wii running the latest Wii System Menu 4.2 (of course, Wii Homebrew is possible on older versions, but the installation process is slightly different, so for the sake of this how-to, I will assume you have the newest update). HackMii Installer v0.6 and Bannerbomb v2. An SD card (FAT32 formatted) and Wi-Fi connection.

How to Install Wii Homebrew:

Download Bannerbomb v2 and HackMii. Create a folder named "private" on the root level of your SD card if there isn't one already. Unzip the Bannerbomb files to your SD card. Copy the HackMii installer file, "installer.elf," to the root of your SD card and rename it to "boot.elf". Now fire up your Wii and go to SD Card menu in the bottom left of the home/channel screen. Insert your SD card. It should pop up a dialog asking you to "Load boot.dol/elf?" to which you should say yes. This will install the Bannerbomb exploit which is what makes Homebrew possible. Bannerbomb will then run the "HackMii" installer which installs the Homebrew Channel. It can also optionally install DVDx (which lets you use apps that use the DVD drive: recommended) and BootMii (which protects against bricking). Once that is done, you will have a new Channel on your home screen called "The Homebrew Channel," and the geeky fun can really begin!

Apps to Check Out

Here are some other apps to check out once you have Homebrew running:

  • The Homebrew Browser: An app that lets you browse and install homebrew apps to your SD card straight from your Wii; without this, you have to remove the SD cards and copy apps onto it using your computer.
  • Gecko OS: Lets you play Wii discs from other regions (DVDx required). Additionally, Gecko OS now includes "Ocarina" a homebrew cheat app, reminiscent of Action Replay or Game Genie.
  • MPlayer CE: A media player for Wii (DVDx required) that includes playlists and DVD movie playback.
  • Wii-Linux: No hardware hack would be complete without the obligatory Linux build!

Have you used Homebrew on yourt Wii? Do you have any tips or apps to suggest? If so, leave a comment below.

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Mike Keller

PC World (US online)
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