The Wii is Hacked One Step Further, Region-Free Soon?

A group of people at the recent 24C3 (24th Chaos Communication Congress), an annual conference held in Germany where hackers (along with other people) gather together, have managed to achieve a full memory dump of the Wii. This have given them access to the encryption and decryption keys used to prevent any software tampering. Before this, only custom Game Cube type code could be run which meant limited access to the Wii’s hardware such as its motion sensor. Now with these keys, hackers can run any code they want on the Wii with complete access to the console’s hardware.

From this video, you can see the team managed to patch a copy of Lego Star Wars with their own code and run it on the Wii. However, the Wii still has to be chipped because even though they now have the software keys (i.e. keys that tell the console the software code is valid), the DVD drive will still refuse to read any media without the disc protection used at the factories (i.e. discs that haven’t been “marked” as authentic). Current mod chips available for the Wii makes the drive by-pass this check so that unauthenticated “backup” discs can be used.

In other words a mod-free solution similar to the PS2’s Swap Magic, which makes the console region-free and writeable media usable, is still some time away. Unless someone can find a way to run homebrewn code without a disc. Only people with chipped Wiis will be able to reap the benefits of running their own applications using the console’s hardware at this stage.

Of course, even we do end up with a swap disc solution, Nintendo will end up releasing new firmware updates to detect and blacklist such discs by then. You could stick to an old firmware but as we all know, you always have to update it to play the latest games. Only way I can see around this is to create a swap disc that allows access to code stored on a USB drive. That way, any new firmware can be patched up before being flashed to the Wii and it will make any future code updates easier.

It would be great if that happens because I can then start importing some Japanese only games! Not that I have any I want to import at the moment since the ones I want to play are coming out in English and with extra content too…

It will be interesting to see how things develop. Maybe we’ll have the next barrier, the disc protection broken next year ready for a software based mod. Keep up the good work guys!

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