Finding a clear and concise guide for loading homebrew software on a game console is almost always impossible—the info is always changing as homebrewers battle new hack-blocking software updates (like Nintendo's recent doozy), and it's scattered across countless gamer forums that you don't want to have to sift through, trust me. Thankfully, the Wii's homebrew scene is fairly stable, and took only a few days to bounce back (mostly) intact after being temporarily shut down last week. Here you'll find a guide for easily getting homebrew up and running on any Wii, even if you've run the recent updated, to play old-school emulated games and watch video on your Wii. It's easy, trust us.
The gear you will need:
• A copy of Zelda: Twilight Princess
• SD card (2GB max) and reader
• Twilight Hack software [download v0.1 beta 1]
• Homebrew Channel software [download, beta 9]
• Homebrew Browser [download v.0.2.3b]
Note: links fresh as of October 31, 2008. If you're here a few months after that, check each project's linked site for any new versions.
First things first, if you haven't updated your Wii since October 23, 2008, don't do it yet. Follow our guide here without updaing, and then follow these instructions to install a tweaked version of the 10/23 update that won't kill your brew. Now, on with the guide.
Load up your SD card
Now, there are programs like the Wii Brew SD Installer that will grab or come bundled with the necessary files and will set up your SD card in a fairly automated fashion—but those programs can often be as confusing as the homebrew code itself and are rarely multi-platform, so I find it easier to go at it fully manual-style, which really isn't that hard at all and is more likely to work perfectly. Here are the steps:
1. Unpack the Twilight Hack zip file and copy the "private" directory to the root folder of an empty SD card.
2. Unpack the Homebrew Channel zip file and copy the "boot.dol" file and "wiiload" folder to the root of your SD card as well.
3. Create a folder on the root of your SD called "apps." Unpack the Homebrew Browser zip file and put the "homebrew_browser" directory and all its contents in your "apps" folder. Your SD card should look like this:
Time For the Twilight Hack
I think someone told me the intricacies of how the Twilight Princess hack works once, and I understood it not one iota, which is fine, because you don't need to understand it to use it. So let's just leave it at that, and go on with the knowledge that this is one of the weirdest backdoor hacks you're likely to come across. If you don't own Twilight Princess, it's good, you should, but a rented copy will work just fine too. Before you do the hack, make sure you've played Twilight Princess at least once and have a data file saved.
4. With the SD card you just prepped inserted, go into the Data Management interface and delete your previous Twilight Princess saved game (you should back it up first to the SD card or you'll lose it). Copy over the Twilight Hack save file from the SD card.
5. Before you put in the Twilight Princess Disc, look at the bottom: in the first dark band after the data portion of the disk, there will be a printed number. If it ends in 0A-0, you will use the TwilightHack0 save; if it ends in 0A-2, you use TwilightHack2.
6. Fire up Twilight Princess and select the correct save file. Once the game loads, walk backwards. The Homebrew Channel loader will fire up immediately—follow the onscreen instructions for a couple button presses and your Wii is official ready to brew. And now, feel free to switch to an SDHC card over 2GB, because the latest Homebrew Channel includes SDHC support. (But your Wii proper will still be unable to read it).
Grab Some Apps
The SD card we've prepared here comes with one app, the Homebrew Browser, which thankfully is a Wii Shop-like conduit to many, many more apps that can be downloaded and installed directly on the Wii without ever removing the SD card. You can also manually download and install individual homebrew apps can simply copy the directories they come in to your "apps" folder on the SD card, and the Homebrew Channel will recognise them automatically. The Wii Pack Generator is a great source for directly downloading apps, and it has a few that aren't listed in the Homebrew Browser.
7. Since the Homebrew Channel stores all of your added apps and data on the SD card, the first app I would download is ftpii, which is an FTP server for the Wii that allows you to login from any computer on the same network and access the SD card. This is awesome for loading movies or more apps to the card without having to physically swap it back and forth from your computer to Wii. To install an app simply fire up the Homebrew Browser, find it in the listings, and click "Download" for it to show up on your main Homebrew Channel menu automatically.
8. For videos, install MPlayer. There are a couple versions - you want the "dvdlib version." Then you can dump media files (I tested a few non-HD DiVX and MPEG videos, all worked great—but the Wii choked on the 1080p MPEG No Country For Old Men trailer I tried) onto your SD card and play them on your TV. No high-def, but if the Wii is your main machine, this is nice.
9. And, most important, SNES9X. Plays Super Nintendo ROMs without flaw. Essential. There are emulators for tons of other consoles, from the Genesis to N64.
One Small Catch, Now
DVD playback via DVDX is one of the only things that hasn't been updated to work with the newest Nintendo update. When it does, you can install it simply via the DVDX listing in the Homebrew Browser (we'll update this guide), and play DVDs through MPlayer. Custom WAD and backup installers (read: game pirating gear) are also not yet fully adapted to the new block, but you weren't going to be messing with any of those anyway, right?
So there you have it. With a few minutes of tinkering, you now have a Wii that can play just about every vintage video game system imagineable, play your downloaded, ripped or DRM-free purchased videos on your TV, and world of other tricks. We'll update this guide should anything change.