Hacking the Wii v3.4U

March 28th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

I’m probably the last person in the Universe to hack their Wii to install the Homebrew channel. Nonetheless, I did it this weekend, and while the documentation on the process is generally complete via resources like WiiBrew, I did run into a few bumps along the way. Below are my notes from the process, for others who might run into the same issues as I.

  • The Wii only supports SD cards. MMC (MultiMedia) cards, while having the same form-factor and looking deceptively like SD cards, will result in getting a mysterious “There is nothing inserted in the SD slot” error. This was unfortunate for me, as I had an old MMC lying about which would have served this purpose extremely well. I had to steal the SD card from my trusty Nikon D50 to make this project go at all.
  • You can back up your existing Zelda save game. Just copy the ‘/private’ directory form the SD card once you’ve copied your save game onto it.
  • When running the Twilight Hack I noticed that once I backed out from the Wii System Settings to the Wii System Menu and ran the game, the Twilight hack had disappeared and Zelda prompted to create a new savegame. The problem, it turns out, was pressing the “Home” button on the Wiimote and clicking “Wii Menu” there, rather than repeatedly pressing the on-screen “Back” button. The Wii System Settings is itself part of the Wii System Menu. v 3.4 of the Wii System Menu software deletes the unauthorized savegame when it’s started, and pressing the “Home” button and clicking “Wii Menu” there causes the Wii System Menu to actually relaunch, rather than just go up a couple of layers in the menu structure.
  • It’s possible to keep the Twilight hack and all the rest of your homebrew stuff on the same card; just keep other stuff out of the private/ directory to keep things separate. You can also only have one boot.dol file on there at a time, but if you install the Homebrew channel and the Browser, hopefully you won’t need to re-run the Twilight Hack very often.
  • Once I had the Homebrew channel installed, my first order of business was to install Homebrew Browser. I quickly realized that there’s not much intelligence built into the Browser, and it will allow you to download and run tools which don’t work with your System Version. For example, there are separate versions of DVDX in the Browser, one for v 3.4, and another for all previous releases. I erroneously attempted to install the DVDX for all previous, which, naturally, errored out. The two versions aren’t particularly clearly marked. Look closely before you download and install.
  • DVD playback works, but is far from smooth. It looks like the DVD is being transcoded, on-the-fly into another codec. Either that, or the CPU can’t keep up with decoding the DVD. In my short test, I noticed extreme encoding artifacts. I’m not sure how the DVDX architecture works, but it doesn’t seem to just be decoding the DVD’s MPEG format, but rather making it into something else. Clearly, more research is needed here.

Overall, I’ve been very impressed with the Wii Homebrew scene so far, and the software I’ve played with has been entertaining, if not incredibly polished. I’ll keep this post updated with more notes and pitfalls as I go along.