Pimp Your Wii with Home Brew Apps

About a year ago, I hacked my Wii, installing the Home Brew Channel via the Twilight Hack (it made me buy the game, which is meant to be one of the best on the Wii, so it’s all good Nintendo – though I haven’t really got into the game – I hate the wide eyed characters, its just so clichéd). However, I didn’t really find much use for it and let it die when the Wii updated itself (incidentally, this is a risky thing to do because depending on the version of the hack you installed and what you installed afterwards, a Wii System Update can brick your Wii..).

Recently, after having too many sleepless nights with the baby, I decided I needed to hack something. In my internet travels I came across this program, USB Loader GX, that allows you to backup your Wii Games to an external hard drive and load them all from one USB drive, no need to change discs any more. Now that sounds seriously cool.

So, following the rather detailed excellent ReadMii from USB Loader GX, I was able to re-install the hack, install the Home Brew Channel and then install the USB Loader GX program. A Word of Warning: Doing this invalidates your warranty and seriously risks turning your Wii into a fancy paperweight if you aren’t very careful. Also, do not use the Wii System Update function, since it might also brick your Wii, bear this in mind before proceeding. You can still access the Wii Network and the Shop after installing this hack, at least for the moment.

Essentially, the install process is:

  1. Use the Banner Bomb technique to install the Home Brew Channel (Home Brew software) via the HackMii installer.
  2. Install various hacked and custom IOS (essentially Operating Systems) and cISO (custom OSs) on your Wii, giving Home Brew software greater access to your Wii.
  3. Install USB Loader GX.
  4. Prepare a USB hard drive to use (formatted either via Fat, NTFS or WBFS), I chose WBFS as I have loads of spare hard drives and it is the most flexible with the Wii.
  5. Connect the hard drive to the Wii and load USB Loader GX.

Once done, you then need to copy all yours games to your Hard Drive. I found that for some reason the Install function of USB Loader GX (where you copy the game to your hard drive) didn’t work for me. So, instead I used a tool called DVD Dumper, following the tutorial from here. That site actually contains lots of useful guides, I recommend it for a good background read. There is a version 1.3 of the DVD Dumping tool, but the dev has given up development and 1.2 seemed to work well, over WiFi anyway. Bear in mind it takes about 2.5 – 4 hours per disc, depending on the speed of your connection – shame Nintendo never added an Ethernet port really.

The process was pretty easy and basically goes like this:

  1. Load DVD Dumper via the Home Brew Channel.
  2. Choose Network Dump and insert your disc.
  3. On a computer, type your Wii’s IP Address in to FireFox (don’t use IE), your Wii’s IP Address is given to you on screen by the DVD Dumper program.
  4. Click on the link to download the inserted game as an ISO and save the file.
  5. Wait 3 hours and go do something good, go running, mow the lawn, vote Lib Dem.
  6. Connect your already prepared USB hard drive to your computer and load WiiBackupManager.
  7. Copy your ISO from your computer to your hard drive using WiiBackupManager.
  8. Connect your hard drive to your Wii, load USB Loader GX, highlight one of the new cover-less games, press 1 to choose to download the covers, let it do its stuff and finally you are good to go!

It should be noted that this technique can also be used by naughty and bad people to download copies of games from the internet and play them, without paying for them. People, this is stealing. If you didn’t buy it, you have no right to use it or play it. I know these days most internet users feel it is their right to download stuff for free if they want, but, there is no way round it, this is stealing and is only harming the industry you love. Don’t do it. Please only use this program to backup games you already own to a hard drive (this in itself is probably illegal, but as I don’t share my games with anyone, I don’t think I am really doing anything wrong).

The Home Brew Channel also gives you access to loads more cool stuff as well. Simply follow this guide to download and install the Home Brew Browser. It allows you to browse, install and update all the cool stuff that people have written for use on the Wii, including old school game ports, media players (including the GeeXbox) and a load of other weird and wonderful stuff. Get stuck in and be the envy of all your boring Wii System Menu version 4.2 friends, so long as you don’t mess up along the way and end up with a nice white brick 😉

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