71 posts tagged piracy
Small victory for homebrew software in Europe ⊟
The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that it’s legal to circumvent encryption systems on your video game console, so long as you’re not doing it to play pirated games. So if you were to use unauthorized devices to run media programs or homebrew games, you won’t be breaking the law.
This issue came up in a lawsuit between Nintendo and Italian retailer PC Box, the latter of which had been bundling DSes and Wiis with devices that bypassed the consoles’ encryption security. PC Box was able to successfully argue that those devices enabled users to run unauthorized software (e.g. MoonShell media player, Homebrew Channel).
Here’s 3DS homebrew loaded on a custom channel ⊟
Between hackers finding a way to disable the 3DS’s region lock, and people seeing their handhelds “bricked” when using modified launchers on flashcarts (as is required for the mentioned region-lock hack), it’s a busy month for people using Nintendo’s portable in unauthorized ways.
And here’s another development! Famous 3DS hacker Smealum can be seen in this proof-of-concept video loading homebrew software (Yeti3D adapted to work with the touchscreen, circle pad, and 3D screen) on a 3DS through a custom channel he’s created.
Smealum explains why this is a big deal:
Hackers found a way to disable 3DS region lock ⊟
This isn’t the same development that allowed pirates to load likely bootlegged ROMs from other regions on their 3DS — this new trick enables you to play a legit imported cartridge on your system. Again, this is not for piracy whatsoever and it does not play ROMs, just retail games.
Like most 3DS hacks lately, you need a 3DS with v4.1-4.5 firmware, so if you have updated your portable in the last nine months, you’re out of luck. By using a DS or 3DS flashcard compatible with the legacy firmware, you can run a special patched launcher file that modifies your system to load cartridges from other regions. You can even install more recent firmware afterward to play imported games that require it (with a few caveats for online play that might require game patches from region-specific eShops).
3DS flashcard bypasses region locking
I didn’t take the Gateway 3DS flashcard seriously at first due to a number of flaws: requiring separate MicroSD cards to load each game, working with only eight-month-old firmware, and offering no support for homebrew or out-of-region games.
The device’s team, though, is showing off an “alpha build” to address some of those issues. In the first part of this video, you’ll see firmware-spoofing support — you still need a 3DS with version 4.5 firmware or older to run the card, but it can now play games that require the latest system update, like Mario & Luigi: Dream Team.
And in the video’s other two parts, the Gateway team demonstrates how a system from one region can play a game from another. There’s a growing campaign against the 3DS’s region locking online, and the group behind it argues that one of the primary reasons why people buy these devices that Nintendo calls "illegal game copiers" is to play releases from other countries. I doubt this development will change anything, but one can hope.
This could be the first 3DS flashcard
I say “could” because who knows if this is legit, what with this news coming out of nowhere from a company no one’s heard of, but this demonstration video looks credible. Gateway says its device supports both standard and XL 3DSes, and works with any back-up ROMs. It’s disappointing that the first product of this sort seems geared more toward piracy (which, we must once again remind you, we absolutely do not support) than homebrew purposes…
MaxConsole claims this video was put together before the Gateway team created some kind of “game manager” for the device, hence all the MicroSD switching you see here. However, there is also speculation that Nintendo could easily cripple the flashcard with a firmware update due to the presumed nature of its workaround (which doesn’t look like it would even circumvent the system’s region-locking).
DreamRift’s Peter Ong (Epic Mickey 3DS) explains why gamers should be worried about 3DS hacking and piracy on the system, arguing that publishers are hesitant to try anything new when funding projects for platforms plagued by piracy.
Not everyone’s happy about the 3DS hacking news
Opponents of the Nintendo 3DS’s region-locking and homebrew-blocking welcomed yesterday’s news that hackers have made great strides in working around the system’s security. You can see evidence of that in the above image posted this morning, which shows a custom 3DS notification (with a nod to The World Ends With You).
Though hacker Neimod is against allowing his 3DS exploit to be used for loading commercial software, some are worried about the piracy implications of this latest development. Jools Watsham, head of Mutant Mudds maker Renegade Kid, believes this could nonetheless pave the way for 3DS piracy:
"Piracy on the Nintendo DS crippled the DS retail market, especially in Europe. … If piracy gets bad on the 3DS, we will have no choice but to stop supporting the platform with new games. …
The good news is that Nintendo has the ability to put up a good fight against pirates due to 3DS system updates and such. Let’s hope this is enough to stop piracy.”
More Nintendo 3DS hacking progress
Hackers have reportedly made considerable gains in breaking open the 3DS since their breakthrough a week ago, when someone finally managed to breach the handheld’s protections and run custom code on the device.
Coder Xcution is showing off homebrew tests like the image above, and now another hacker named Neimod claims to have full control of the system in kernel mode with an unmodified 3DS and an exploit that uses a specific retail game.
While he says this exploit could be easily patched, Neimod notes that “with full kernel control, anything is possible,” including circumventing the 3DS’s pesky region lock. He adds that he has no interest in allowing others to use the hack to load pirated software.
3DS homebrew/hacking progress
Noted game console hacker Yellows8 claims to have circumvented the 3DS’s securities and run custom code on the device, according to this photo he took as evidence. He was able to run this code with the latest firmware installed, though technical issues disabled the 3D LED and have so far prevented the system from displaying graphics.
I’m uncertain how Yellows8 pulled this off, but GBAtemp member SifJar shared this thought to put the news in perspective:
"There are only two known vulnerabilities for code execution, and both would most likely be patched at once, so I’d guess it’s unlikely there’ll be a release unless another, more unique, vulnerability [is] found for Yellows8 (and those he chooses to share with) to use for further exploration once the released exploit is patched."
Nintendo has managed to keep homebrew and pirated 3DS software off its system for nearly two years now, and I imagine its engineers would be quick to release an update that would kill this latest hack.
You know that unexciting firmware update your 3DS automatically downloaded last week and prompted you to install when you opened your system?
It might not have seemed like much at the time — Nintendo’s changelog for version 4.4.0-10U is characteristically vague — but the update permanently blocks almost all flashcarts, according to SuperCard. They would know, being a manufacturer of these devices!
Nintendo has rolled out a new firmware release for the 3DS across all major territories, but before you get excited, according to the company’s Japanese site, the only notable addition is there are more character options for your password when storing credit card data on eShop.
Other than that, there’s the vague mention of “improved system stability and convenience” in this 4.2.0-9 update’s change log, and you should know by now what that means — several flashcart owners have reported problems loading their devices after installing the firmware.
Anyone else surprised that the Nintendo 3DS is more than a year old now and hardly any progress has been made by would-be 3DS pirates or homebrew developers? Nintendo’s persistent efforts to lock out these devices probably has a lot to do with this.
Super Mario 3D Land's non-game-related surprises aren't limited to the absence of a full physical manual; Japanese copies offer a new 3DS firmware upgrade, v2.2.0-4.
Initial reports indicate that the update is mandatory to play the game, and that it adds anti-piracy protections designed to block flashcarts. It’s also said to add a button in your Friends List that lets you join a buddy’s game in progress (presumably if the game has an online multiplayer mode and support for this new feature).
[Update: Other Friends List enhancements include the ability to quick scroll through your list when holding down left/right, and your friends that are currently online will now appear at the front of your queue.]
It appears that this is not the same 3DS firmware as the one planned for release later this month, which will introduce video recording, 3DS-to-3DS software transfers, StreetPass improvements, and a bevy of eShop features (demos, DLC, etc). We will update this post if we hear more news about this firmware.
See also: More Super Mario 3D Land stuff