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Bored with your Wii? Softmod it!

I bought a Nintendo Wii back when they first hit the market. About 6 months later, I sold it because I grew tired and bored of it. It was so exciting at first, but the novelty wore off and I got tired of lugging the thing around to everyones' houses who wanted to play it but didn't want to fork out the cash to buy one themselves. Fast-forward to a few weeks ago where I ended up buying another one since there have been a ton of games released for it and I wanted to start taking advantage of the workout games (they really do work; Gold's Gym Cardio Workout is the main one I use and even though I feel like a fairy doing it sometimes, I find myself tired as hell and sore the next day).

Well, I also purchased Punch Out, Mario Kart Wii, Mario Party 8, Zelda: Twilight Princess (which I had before and wanted again), and... shit, I can't think of the other game right now. Maybe it's that Gold's Gym one... anywho. I love Punch Out and Mario Kart Wii but I found myself wishing I could do more with the console. Well, I decided to take a look at what the Wii community had come up with in terms of hacking the console and boy was I ever delighted to see how far things had come since I first bought a Wii!

One word for you: Softmod.

Two more words for you: Wii Homebrew.

The end result of said wordage:

1 - My Wii can now play regular DVD's (if you have one, you know it won't play DVD's) via a homebrew MPlayer port to Wii.

2 - I can play GB/GBA, NES, SNES, Sega, Neogeo, etc. games via homebrew emulators (yes, that means you can play all those TOSEC and Goodset collections you've got floating around for every older console prior N64).

3 - I can back-up my games to an external drive via the USB ports on the back of the Wii. Conversely, I can load the game images off the USB drive (hint, hint).

4 - Lots of homebrew games, apps, etc.

There's more I could list, but those are the main things I take advantage of. Being a techy guy and understanding just what homebrew and jailbreaking are, I knew what I was in for even though I wasn't familiar with what the hell I was doing while converting the Wii. I found a great tutorial, followed it, then spent the entire next day studying how it worked, why, and essentially learned all about how the Wii works. The result has left me knowing much more about the Wii than I ever intended on... and it's awesome! With that being said, if you're interested from this point forward in doing this with your Wii as well, I want to help you through everything. There was a lot of trial-and-error on my behalf to get to the point I'm at with it now and I'm not one to just go through a bunch of crap without sharing my lessons with others. Hopefully, this will make things easy for you.

Ready to unlock your Wii's potential? Firstly, you need to have your Wii connected to the internet (but make sure you turn WiiConnect24 OFF before you do this). Be aware first that it's very possible that you can fuck up one of two ways: Bricking or Semi-bricking your system.

Brick: Your system is fucked and all it's good for is being a literal brick; sitting there, broken with no functionality. Luckily, even this is fixable now where you would have previously had to send it to Nintendo and pay 70 some-odd dollars for them to flash your system back to factory settings. That doesn't include the price of shipping, either.

Semi-Brick: Your system is only partially fucked. =) Some things will work, others won't... but it's fairly easy for you to pull a do-over.

If you happen to brick or semi-brick your Wii, there are various methods out there to potentially fix you up but they depend on your locale (NTSC-U if your Wii is USA, NTSC-J if your Wii is Japanese, and PAL if your Wii is European), if you do or do not have certain applications installed, etc. This is one scenario where Google will help you immensely. Try search terms such as: Unbrick NTSC Wii or Unbrick PAL Wii or Unbrick Semi-bricked Wii

Bearing the aforementiond in mind, first and foremost, READ CAREFULLY and DON'T RUSH(unless we're talking about the band, Rush, who I love more than anyone; so, if that's the case, then Rush away)! The following link will take you to the tutorial I followed. This guy has done an excellent job with his write-up, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. If you have any questions in regards to his tutorial, make sure you scroll to the bottom of it where - chances are - you will *probably* find someone who has already asked your question, followed by someone who has answered it. Oh, and you have two choices as for which tutorial you follow: Pre-System Menu 4.0 or System Menu 4.0 and higher. There are a couple of ways you can tell, but the quickest way is to look at your Wii's Homepage and compare it to one of the following 2 pictures (the difference to note is if you see an SD Card Menu next to the bottom-left Wii button or not). Click the link below the picture your Homepage resembles to be taken to the appropriate tutorial:

Pre-System Menu 4.0

Pre-System Menu 4.0 Tutorial: How to Store/Load Wii Games via USB Hard Drive (pre-system Menu 4.0)

System Menu 4.0+

System Menu 4.0+ Tutorial: How to Store/Load Wii Games via USB Hard Drive on System Menu 4.0

Alright, if you did everything right, then your Wii is ready for homebrew and backing up to/loading data from a USB drive! At this point, spend some time checking out the Wii Homebrew Wiki:

Link: WiiBrew

You'll find information about every homebrew game and application out there. Great reference.

Now, from this point, I did the following:

1 - Install the Homebrew Browser (different from your Homebrew Channel): The Homebrew Browser allows you to download and install (most) Homebrew games and apps straight from your Wii! That means you don't have to download every app or game to your SD card from your computer, then transfer it to your Wii to run and/or install. Once you install the Homebrew Browser, you can search by category: Games, Applications, Emulators, etc. Don't browse through the Homebrew Browser when downloading a file as it has a tendency to crash (just an annoyance; it won't mess up your system as anything you're downloading is downloaded to your SD card and not to your system). If you want to play DVD's (you unlocked this functionality via DVDX during the process of running through that tutorial), download MPlayer Christmas Edition. You can use it to load movies, music, etc. off of a USB drive, SD card, or straight off a DVD!

2 - Run Dop-IOS: WARNING!!!!!: DO NOT mess with any of the IOS files that are noted in Dop-IOS as a, "stub." Those are IOS files your Wii uses for system functionality. You can brick your system in a heartbeat if you mess with those IOS versions and don't understand what you're doing! Now, unfortunately, this application isn't on the Homebrew Channel, so you'll have to download it to your SD Card and run it from WAD Manager on your Wii. You can read about Dop-IOS and download it from here. Basically, IOS files are files your games use. There are different versions (e.g. IOS35, IOS36, IOS56, etc.) and it's best if you just install all the IOS files you don't have. Likewise, if you *do* have a certain IOS file installed, make sure it's the most current revision of it. Dop-IOS is a very intuitive program; it will tell you what you do or do not have installed, which revision it is, what the most recent revision is, etc. One thing to note is that when you install IOS files via Dop-IOS, it'll ask you if you want to patch them. Select, "no." The patch is a bug called trucha. An explanation for it can be found down towards the bottom of the page in the, "Miscellaneous Points of Mention" section. Point number 4, to be exact.

Miscellaneous Points of Mention:

1 - Homebrew games and applications can and will crash. It happens, so don't wig out when it does! All you need to do is hold the power button in on your console for a few seconds and it'll turn your system off. Hit power again and you're fine.

2 - I can't stress this enough: DO NOT mess with system IOS files unless you know EXACTLY what you're doing! I'm *extremely* familiar with this stuff now and I still don't mess with the system IOS files! There's really no need unless you want to get into customizing your System Menu or installing a new System Menu altogether (I have no interest in that, personally). Dop-IOS is a great reference to find out which files are system files, because it lists them as a, "stub."

3 - If you try to run a game from the actual DVD and it tells you that you need to do a System Update, it means you don't have the IOS file it needs to run and that's all there is to it! Even if you think you've installed them all and you have their latest revisions, CHECK AGAIN with Dop-IOS! I couldn't get Punch Out to run and I got so frustrated because I did the whole Dop-IOS thing. Well, I got up the next morning with a fresh brain, loaded up Dop-IOS and noticed I had 2 IOS files that weren't the latest revisions! In updated them and voila: No more complaining from even the most recent games. As new games come out, new IOS files will inevitably be created. Dop-IOS pulls directly from Nintendo's update service (acronym: NUS), so if you ever get a complaint from a game that you need to do a system update, fire up Dop-IOS and check to see if there's a new one!

4 - Are you wondering what the hell, "trucha" is and why there isn't an 'n' between the 'u' and 'c' (maybe it's just me, but I kept wanting to call it, "truncha" when I first saw the term)? Trucha is essentially a bug which allows the homebrew thing to happen in the first place. It also is used in IOS files to allow you to play custom versions of Wii games. Game modders mod certain games (such as creating a blood/gore patch for Manhunt 2 that isn't in the original), thus changing the signature of the game. All that you need then is a trucha-patched IOS file that the game uses and you're set.

5 - Softmod or Modchip? Well, that depends. I'm completely cool with softmodding right now, but there are a *ton* of modchips out there that essentially do everything softmodding does, only without all the hassle(hoff). They all offer something uniquely different, though - each with their own pros and cons. The first benefit with all modchips is the ability to play game backups off of DVD-R's (something you can't do through softmodding alone). Some of the chips even snap in place these days, so you don't even need to solder the chips to the board. Personally, I have my eyes on the upcoming version of WiiKey, but if you want to look into a modchip, there's a great site that compares and reviews many of them:

6 - There are differences between loading a game from the DVD and loading a backup. If you put a game DVD in and start it, it checks your Wii for the IOS file it needs. If it doesn't find it, it will tell you that you need to do a system update. But, if you load a game via an image on your USB drive from a USB loader, it uses the cIOS you installed (the 'c' simply stands for, "custom"). ALL homebrew uses the cIOS (currently at revision 14, but always installed as IOS249 on your Wii). If you have an older revision of IOS249, the game may complain and give you an error message. Just find the latest version of IOS249 from Waninkoko's site (he's on the frontline of Wii softmodding). If you try to load a game image and it gives you a blue screen with the message, "Error 002," you need to go to the settings page of your USB loader application and enable the, "Error 002" fix. Most current USB loader applications have that fix.

REMEMBER: A game telling you that you need to do a system update simply means you don't have the IOS revision installed that the game needs! Dop-IOS is your friend! If a game tells you Error 002, enable the fix in your USB loader. If it complains of anything else, make sure you have the latest revision of cIOS (IOS249) installed!

Links to Reference:

WiiBrew (Wii Homebrew Wiki): Click Here to Visit
WiiHacks (Wii Hacking Community): Click Here to Visit
WiiSO (Wii Game Community): Click Here to Visit

Whew. That's a lot of writing right there! I'm sure there are things I didn't cover and I could very well come back to update this, but please, please, please do feel free to comment below with any questions or suggestions you may have regarding this article. I promise you I'm not one of these dickheads who's going to say, "Google is your friend, you n00bin." I'm 27, not 17. lol. I may tell you that I've already answered your question if you ask something that's already written here, though, so please read through this entire article if you have any questions!



  1. You are so right about that. I was all out bored with my Wii untill I discovered softmodding (and the coverflow app in particular). It has just given new life to my wii - no I think its even better than my unmodded xbox 360 :O Doesnt beat my ds with R4 though XD But I really like the homebrew channel - thats why I created :)

  2. thank you so much for this post. it will really help wii users. :)