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Pin Eight Home: RAnT

Why there is no Wii section

by Damian Yerrick

There is no Wii section on Pin Eight because Wii is a closed platform. Nintendo has stated on its web site that it does not allow anyone but a business that is already established in the mainstream video gaming industry to develop for Wii. Furthermore, Nintendo has shown an intent to shut out "homebrew" developers who take advantage of errors in a system's security to "jailbreak" the system, or get their own code past its lockout mechanism.

I wanted to get into the Wii homebrew scene. At first, I thought Nintendo would tacitly tolerate Wii homebrew as it had with the DS, letting the DS jailbreaks work for years on end. Nintendo updated the DS firmware's security only once prior to the DSi release, closing the first jailbreak ("PassMe") with updated firmware on new units starting in the third quarter of 2005. By the time the Wii came out, adapter cards incorporating both the "NoPass" jailbreak and a microSD reader made developing and running freeware on a DS almost easier than on Windows Mobile.

Enter Wii. At the start of 2008, the latest Wii firmware was version 3.2, and the Twilight Hack jailbreak allowed anybody with a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess to run freeware from an SD card. But four updates in March, June, October, and November of 2008, Nintendo released a few updates to Wii Menu and IOS (the microkernel running on the Wii's I/O coprocessor) that closed the holes. Team Twiizers, the group behind Twilight Hack, updated the jailbreak within a week each time it was affected. But the intent was clear: Nintendo intended to close the hole and keep it closed. Once Wii Menu 4.0 came out in March 25, 2009, it took well over a month for the homebrew wizards to replace Twilight Hack with Bannerbomb.

But I see no killer reason for Wii homebrew. The advantage of DS homebrew is that PDAs are fairly expensive, and they have no directional pad for traditional game control. But a Wii is just an overclocked GameCube with more RAM, a 512 MB flash chip, and a USB Bluetooth adapter soldered onto the motherboard. For traditional games, the kind that use the Classic Controller or the Wii Remote sideways, one could use a PC with USB game controllers plugged into a hub. To use the Wii Remote with a PC, one could use a USB Bluetooth adapter that supports wiiuse and a wireless replacement sensor bar.

With the restrictions that console lockouts impose on creativity and user interaction, I can really see only two big advantages for consoles over PCs: consoles have a guaranteed minimum level of hardware performance, and consoles include composite and S-Video outputs for SDTV sets as a standard feature. The introduction of the Aero interface in Windows Vista Home Premium has clarified the former: if a game can run on a PC with the Intel GMA 950, then it can probably run on any PC that can run Aero. As of 2009, many PCs are still sold without an S-Video jack, but inexpensive scan converters to downsample VGA signals and the growing market share of HDTV sets that can display VGA have made PC gaming more attractive.

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