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How to Hack Your Wii for Homebrew Games and DVD Playback

Want to play emulated games on your Wii?  How about DVD playback?  Here’s how to use the SmashStack exploit to hack your Wii with the latest system menu and enable all of that and more!

And yes, in case you are wondering, this does work with the latest version 4.3 firmware update.

Before we get started, it’s important to mention that this guide will modify the software on your Wii, which will void the warranty, and there’s a chance that you could make your Wii console unusable if things go wrong. We didn’t have any problems hacking our own Wiis, but your mileage may vary. Be sure to read the entire process carefully before starting.

What You’ll Need

The SmashStack exploit requires – you guessed it – Super Smash Bros Brawl in order to execute it, as well as one GameCube controller, and you can borrow both from a friend or find them cheap online.

You’ll also need an SD/SDHC card for all of the homebrew (“home brewed” apps) you want download—I’d recommend at least a 1 GB card to make sure you have enough space. It’s also a good idea to check out the Wiibrew Compatibility Page for your SD card, in case you want to ensure maximum compatibility.

Let’s Get Started with Hacking the Wii

There’s quite a few stages in this process, and you should read through everything before beginning to make sure that you’ve got a full understanding of everything that needs to be done.

Update Your Wii Firmware

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you update your Wii to the latest version, which as of this writing is version 4.3, through the System Menu. Do it now, so you don’t have any issues with the rest of the process.

Prepare Smash Bros

In order for the SmashStack exploit to work, you need to make sure you don’t have any custom stages in Super Smash Bros Brawl saved.

If you play Brawl, you can backup all of your stages onto an SD Card, then move all of its contents onto your computer for safe keeping until after we’re done.  This includes the default custom stages and downloaded stages, so if you don’t play Brawl normally, you will still need to either delete or move those stages.

IMG_8124 copy-0

Make sure that your Wii is stage-free before continuing.

Get the Hack Ready

To actually perform this hack, you’ll need to download, extract, and move the hack onto your SD card using your PC. Here’s the file that you need to download, and we’ve provided multiple mirrors just in case one of them goes down:

Download SmashStack Hack: [mirror 1] [mirror 2] [mirror 3] [mirror 4]

Pop the SD card into your computer and download the SmashStack exploit and the HackMii Installer (version 0.8 at the time of this article), both included in the zip file. Then you’ll need to move the files like this:

  • Unzip the Smashstack.zip file and copy the Private folder to the root of your SD card.
  • Unzip the hackmii_installer.zip file, and copy the wiiload folder and the boot.elf files to the root of your SD card.

It should look like this once you’re done:

sshot-16

Perform the Actual Hack

Time to get things started!  Put in the SD card into your Wii and load up Super Smash Bros Brawl.

All you have to do is open up the stage editor, and it automatically executes the exploit!  You should see a black screen with text that will eventually look like this:

IMG_8124 copy-2

Press the 1 button when prompted and you’ll see what you can install onto your system.

IMG_8124 copy-3

BootMii is a boot loader, and is primarily only useful for Wii’s that were bought sometime before mid-2008. In concept, it’s similar to GRUB/LiLo, but the shining quality is that it allows you to backup your Wii’s system memory so that you can restore it if things take a turn for the worse.  It’s primarily for more advanced functions that most people don’t actually need, so we’ll skip this.

Either way, hit continue and go ahead and select the option to install the Homebrew Channel. Let it do its thing and you should see the following screen:

IMG_8124 copy-4

Hit continue, and then hit exit.  It’ll load up the Homebrew Channel, but it’s looking mighty bare right now, isn’t it?

IMG_8124 copy-8

Install the HomeBrew Browser

Pop that SD card back into your computer, and let’s install the Homebrew Browser, which is a graphical repository that will allow you to browse for various apps, download, and install them right from your Wii console!  You’ll need to perform the following two steps, using the files that you downloaded earlier:

  • On your SD card, create a folder entitled “apps” (without the quotes, of course).
  • Unzip the homebrew_browser_v0.3.9.zip file (from the zip file we provided earlier) and move everything into the apps folder you just created.

Now stick the SD card back into your Wii. Be sure your Wii is able to connect to your Wireless network, then launch the Homebrew Channel. You should see something like this:

IMG_8124 copy-10

Click on the Homebrew browser with your Wii remote, and you’ll get a screen that looks like this:

IMG_8124 copy-11

Don’t panic.  The Homebrew Browser is just caching some images for the apps you can browse and download.  Once it’s done, you’ll be able to browse lists of apps.

IMG_8124 copy-12

Click on any app to see more information about it and install it.

Setup DVD Playback

To play back DVDs and other media files, we’ll take a look at MPlayer CE, which can play back media files from your SD card as well as standard DVDs. Click on Media to open up the media category, scroll down until you find it, and select it.

IMG_8124 copy-13

Here you can see details like the author, the version number, the version date, and ratings.  Click on Download to begin the installation process.

To quit the Homebrew Browser, bring up the menu by hitting the Home button on your Wii remote.  Here’s a screenshot of MPlayer CE in action:

image

Other Applications You Can Install

You aren’t limited to just playing back DVDs with the HomeBrew channel—there are quite a few other apps you can install. Here’s a short list to get you started:

  • Brawl+ Updater:  Installer/updater for a custom mod for Super Smash Bros Brawl.  I suggest taking a look if you really like Brawl.
  • Quake:  Wii Quake port
  • WiiDoom:  Wii Doom port
  • Wii Web Server: Very light-weight, and despite alpha status is very stable
  • Wii2600: An Atari 2600 VCS emulator
  • FCE Ultra GX: An NES emulator
  • Snes9xGX: An SNES emulator

Most of the emulators will require copying ROM files into a roms folder within the emulator folder on your SD card, but every emulator will be different, and you should read the WiiBrew Application page to understand more about how each one works.

Just to show you that it does in fact work, here’s an action shot running The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past:

IMG_8124 copy-15

Photos by Kay Walling Photography, image editing by fellow author Eric Goodnight.

Important Note: Don’t Update Your Wii

It’s very important to note that once you’ve hacked your Wii, you probably shouldn’t allow the firmware to be updated anymore, or else your system could stop functioning or have problems.

Head into the System Menu and make sure that your console isn’t going to check for updates, and don’t install any if you are prompted to—at least not without reading through the WiiBrew site to make sure the hack will continue to work.


Have you tried hacking your own Wii to play emulated games and applications? Would you recommend it to others? Share your experiences with your fellow readers in the comments.

Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 10/6/10

Comments (63)

  1. rctgamer3

    Note: SmashStack only works with the NTSC version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, If you are in Europe (like me) or just don’t have Super Smash Bros. Brawl you can use either Yu-Gi-OWNED! (http://wiibrew.org/wiki/Yu-Gi-OWNED!) or use Indiana Pwns (http://wiibrew.org/wiki/Indiana_Pwns).

    It’s not illegal to distribute the HackMii installer, but the team behind it (Team Twiizers) don’t want it mirrored on other sites. You can always get the latest HackMii installer on bootmii.

    Note [READ THIS, IMPORTANT!!]: Wii’s bought after summer 2009 can’t play DVD’s anymore. You won’t be able to play DVD’s nor backups. (Technical details: They removed the DVD function from the DVD drive on the newer type DVD drive called D3-2).

    Note; If you want to play DVD’s on a program that doesn’t support “IOS58″ you will need DVDX (only available for Wii’s before Q3-2009).

    Anyway, nice tutorial ;-)

  2. rctgamer3

    *You can always get the latest HackMii installer from bootmii dot org.
    Forgot to add .org, lol.

  3. Conor Duffy

    You may also wish to look at a tool released by X-Flak called ModMii (http://gbatemp.net/t207126-modmii-for-windows). It can legally acquire all the files nessessary to modify any version Wii, upgrade/downgrade to a particular firmware, populate your sd card with common apps like usb loaders, media players, etc, and generate step by step guides to hack your wii

  4. Torengo

    http://wiibrew.org A great resource for everything Wii homebrew

  5. Akshay Bilolikar

    I hacked my Wii a long time ago using an old hack called Banner Bomb. It worked fine, but a year later I bricked my Wii by moving some file I didn’t know anything about. Hack your Wii, just don’t do anything you don’t understand without instructions.

  6. Atomsk

    Indiana Pwns also works well when softmodding the wii with the homebrew channel.

  7. Atomsk

    Also I wouldn’t update to the new revision of 4.3 because there are reports that the 2nd revision of the system menu deletes the HBC and any other form of modification. Also if you need to be on 4.3 I suggest using a program called Pimp My Wii to update the latest ios without losing the homebrew channel.

  8. Ian

    I’d recommend WiiMC over MPlayer CE nowadays. (See Wiibrew.org)

  9. alex

    actually installing bootmii is a nice thing to do even on newer systems, it allows you to block all updating of the wii, so that way you dont accidentally remove your softmod

  10. hakkers

    how do i load my burnt games i have hbc installed what else do i need to get them to run?\

  11. nic

    How about japanese consoles?

  12. Rob

    So how do I load my backed up Wii games? Is it possible to load them through an iso file on the SD card or on an external HDD. I can’t find any guides for this.

  13. Rita Davey

    At this point, I am not downloading games or anything. However I d have this site bookmarked for further use.
    Thanks so much,

  14. James

    Does this work for 4.3U?

  15. Steve

    Yes I just successfully did this on the newer 4.3u today…

  16. Joe

    I just did this today with a standard wiimote. Thanks for the info!!

  17. chris

    Will RawkSD work with 4.3u? I just updated today and have actually never used RawkSD but it sounds super cool.

  18. MarcusFenix

    Nice…it worked perfectly. Should also mention that if you have anything on the SD card, your should probably remove it completely off before starting or your Wii will hang and throw this annoying buzz sound.

  19. Marayas

    Did anyone used the game cube controller? Is only for playing th eemulator games? or do you need it for the hacking process?

  20. John

    Help, I can’t bring the boot.elf onto the root of the SD card! What o I do?

  21. John

    I’m using a 4 GB SD card that Brawl won’t allow me to store anything on because it’s too big. Will this stop the hack from working?

  22. Eric

    When I open the stage editor, nothing happens. It just stays at the stage editor screen. Not only that, but I can’t do anything. I’m stuck there until I power down the Wii. No annoying buzzing sound, just the stage editor song continuing, but I am stuck.

    I cleared my 2Gig SD card prior to doing all of this. I already knew how to use Smash Stack to load up Brawl hacks, which works fine for me. I wanted to use the HBC however and following these instructions, it’s not working for me. 4.2 on the Wii. Please help, thank you.

  23. Frank

    Once you got the HBC running grap install USBloader GX .

    Grap your external hard drive and use wbfsmanager (http://wbfsmanager.codeplex.com/) to format it to a readable Wii system disk.
    Start usb loader and put a original gamedisk in the DVD drive.
    Now choose to install a game. The game wil get backed up to the usb drive and after installing the game will be playable from the hard drive.

    So eject your game disk and put them away safely. You game play your game backups now from the harddrive (which the advantage of faster loading !)

  24. Japzone

    If you need more information on Softmodding(Hacking without hardware) your Wii then go to:
    http://www.wiibrew.org
    That’s where you should go for your basic Homebrewing Needs.

  25. jerry

    ok, so i follow all of your steps, i have wii with 4.3, and when i get to hackmii install it shows on ur site both hbc and bootmii can be installed, well it shows me that hbc can be installed and bootmii can only be installed as ios. also at next step when config comes up in hbc apps, i get error, “read error -116 occurred. retrying. any ideas?

  26. Joshua

    When i go on the homebrew browser, the config screen says:”Read error-116 occured. Retrying…”
    HELP!

  27. Cameron

    Hey I got the “Read error -116 occurred. Retrying…” message as well. Any suggestions?

  28. ryan

    woah. the moment i read about the error ^ jerry joshua and cameron ^ got i got the same one. is it a network problem?

  29. YatriTrivedi

    Error -116 is indeed a networking error. It means that the homebrew browser cannot connect to the proper website to download the various files it needs to function. If your wii’s Internet connection is fine, it may be that the website is down. If you go to the homebrew browser website, download the latest version, and manually place it in the correct folder on your sd card, it may solve this problem. The newer version has built-in mirrors.

  30. cj

    I’m also getting the error message. What should I do now?

  31. David

    Hey, rctgamer3, are you absolutely sure about the no-playing of DVDs and backed-up games on Wiis purchased after Summer 2009? Is there any other identifier I can go by to make sure my Wii does/does not fall under this batch? I bought it in December of 2009 and was all prepared to initiate this exploit. Totally disappointed now if I find I can’t take part after all :(

  32. Sir Tank

    Had the some problems, but I just took the individual files from within the homebrew_browser folder (boot.dol, icon, loop, settings) and placed them in the apps folder. Also, I downloaded version 0.3.9b from codemii.com.
    Hopes this helps.

  33. rctgamer3

    @David

    You can play backups on your Wii, just not burnt ones. Nintendo fixed the bug that made it possible to play burnt games, so you’ll have to use a kind of USBLoader, or a WODE (wodejukebox.com) to play your games from a hard-drive.

    About watching movies, i think it’s possible now, but you’ll have to do some more stuff (easiest to do on 4.3, if you are on 4.2 or lower use IOS58 Installer first, then reinstall HBC)

    1. Press the home-button on your Wii-Remote in the Homebrew Channel and check which IOS it’s using. If it isn’t IOS58, go to the HackMii installer (the installer thingy with the scam warning at the beginning), and reinstall the Homebrew Channel (Uninstall, then Install HBC). Now check the IOS the HBC is using again. It should be IOS58 v****.

    2. If you don’t have mPlayerCE already, get it from the Homebrew Browser thingy. You should be able to watch movies now :)

    About the Homebrew Browser errors, if it doesn’t work, try downloading the latest version, see below.

    Useful links:
    http://wiibrew.org/wiki/Homebrew_Browser –Homebrew browser
    http://bootmii.org/download/ –BootMii/HBC installer
    http://gbatemp.net –Forum with lots of tutorials
    http://widget.mibbit.com/?server=efnet.xs4all.nl&channel=%23how_to_geek&noServerTab=0 –I’ve set up a irc chat if you have any questions, feel free to ask them there ;)

  34. bob

    ok i keep getting the error 116 message help please!

  35. bob

    nevermind i figured it out

  36. w3lg

    can u play iso`s from an external HD with this hack or can i burn the games to a disc ?

  37. alan

    Hey Guys,
    I bought my wii a year ago and ther version on it is 4.3U.
    I had hell of time searching and doing every instruction to hack my Wii for HDC but no luck.
    i’m using 2g Kingston SD and downloaded almost all game exploits like yougi etc..
    when i go into my SD i can see the game exploit there but when i copy/move from SD into my wii system game wouldn’t show up there.
    Can someone let me know what is going on? Can u describ it step by step?
    Tnx.

  38. HaisseM

    Alan,

    You’re doing something wrong :) but I’m sure you know that. Considering I have 4.3 up and working my first question would be what does your SD card look like? I mean what files are on there and where are they located?

    Next how far into the process are you? Do you have the homebrew channel working yet? Lastly what type of external hard drive are you using?

    Got a bunch more questions but lets see if you respond to this 1st

  39. brad

    Conor Duffy ~ your suggestion and link were PERFECT!!! Totally easy to follow and now I have a softmod wii and didn’t have to pay some dude to do it and learned a lot in the process ~ Thank you so much for your helpful post!!!!! Copied below:

    You may also wish to look at a tool released by X-Flak called ModMii (http://gbatemp.net/t207126-modmii-for-windows).

  40. Pam

    So I got to where I load the HomeBrew Browser, and after the part that says
    IP address of http://www.codemii.com successfully retrieved
    I get this
    Read error -116 occured. Retrying…

    So I let it retry and I keep getting the same error. Does anyone know what I can do to fix this?

  41. HaisseM

    Pam,

    Sounds like the encryption on your wireless is blocking it…. You’re using WPA2 right?

  42. JI

    what about game cube games and emulators?

  43. pete

    I installed HomeBrew a few months ago and setup and external hard drive with all my games including my Netflix disc and all was right with the world.

    Recently I got an email from Netflix that the disc will no longer work after 2/16 and I should download the new Neflix app. However when I tried to download it, it said I needed to update my Wii.

    Has anyone safely updated your Wii without messing up HomeBrew?

  44. LostBrew

    I got stuck at the -116 error when loading the homebrew browser. After much reading I ended up going to http://www.codemii.com/download/ and downloading the latest version of the browser per YatriTrivedi’s suggestion. Once I had replaced the older version with the latest in the apps folder of my SD card it went right past the -116 error and loaded fine.

  45. loverly89

    Ok even after reading all the comments on here i still cannot get past the 116 error… What am i doing wrong?

  46. loverly89

    Think my card is not big enough, damn.

  47. levi

    im trying to get homebrew on my wii i got indiana pwns on there now but it saids that boot.elf is not fond but its on my sd card what sould i do please help

  48. Jeff

    To anybody that’s having a problem with the 116 error go to http://www.codemii.com/download/ and download the latest version of the browser. Replace the old file and it will work, much thanks to LostBrew for making that suggestion.

  49. Ryan

    After the crack, I am not able to play super smash bros brawl in Multi player brawl mode. The wii freezes and needs a hard reset, is anyone else experiencing this?

  50. alan

    Can someone help? When i get to the stage builder in smash bros brawl the game freezes, it does not run the hack…what am i doing wrong?

  51. Stephen

    I’m having the same problem as “Eric”. When I open stage editor nothing happens!

  52. kay

    to the two above my post:
    I had this SAME issue. I had just bought a brand-new Wii and rented the super smash brawl. Apparently I had never chosed to create a save file for it on the card. After I did so AND deleted the files mentioned in the tut, it ran perfectly. It was freezing and making a noise in stage builder without executing anything.

  53. M@

    Awesome instructions very easy to follow. I was getting the 116 error but found the solution thanks to LostBrew and Jeff!!! Thanks Nintendo for making you jump through F’n hoops to play a damn DVD!!!!!

  54. Spencer

    Which app uploads codes to your game and how do you upload games?

  55. Spencer

    I keep getting error #002 when I start my game?

  56. JLuthor

    I can’t get past the Twilight Hack Load screen. The last and only thing that changes is that it states “Valid ELF image Detected”. Any suggestion on what I have to do to get passed this?

  57. Baj

    Awesome tutorial. Easily the simplest one around. Just softmodded my wii (4.3U). I used a 2gig microSD using a Kingston SD adapter.
    Folks who can’t bring up the exploit screen via the stage editor – make sure you delete (or backup to SD card) ALL the custom stages, even the stored ones.
    Also, for HBB, download from the 0.3.9c from codemii as previously suggested.

  58. Willie B

    Terrific! Thanks for the hack, YatriTrivedi’s comments were useful too as I had the 116 read error.

  59. Riff raff

    I’ve installed everything with the most up to date versions, and I’ve got a 4.3u, but for some reason I still get that 116 error and it won’t connect…HELP! The little wireless signal icon in the HBC is lit up, but the frog one next to it isn’t…idk if that helps…

  60. joe

    well how can you put homebrew on 4.3u without using any games???? that will help everyone out

  61. Bradley

    You can use the new letterbomb. Takes minutes to do and no errors at all! You only need an sd card that can be half a megabyte and after download wad manager and download wads and use wad manager to make them programs on the menu not needing anything to run them! (wads are virtual console or wiiware games)

  62. Jay

    Okay. So I have a new boot1 4.3u wii….i have installed homebrew channel but not yet homebrew browser. I have a friend that has a softmodded wii and about 30 games backed up to a usb harddrive. My question is….. Do I need bootmii installed on boot2 in order to play those games. Or can I just download usbloader and good to go?

  63. PJ

    Ok I replaced the old homebrew browser with the new 1 and I got pass the “error -116″ message! Now I’m getting a “failed to receive the homebrew list” message….suggestions anyone?

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