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First Wii Mod Chip Shipping Out

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the enjoy-your-indie-games-with-waggle dept.

Wii 58

Via Ars Technica's Opposable Thumbs blog, and their commentary on the device, a review of the first Wii mod chip at the MaxConsole site. The review offers step-by-step instructions for putting it in place, and then rates the resulting options opened up by the device. Most interestingly the chip is apparently updateable via a DVD, allowing for new functionality to be released for as time goes on. At $50 and with just a little soldering to get in place, the Wii CycloWhiz sounds like a great deal for anyone looking to do some outside-the-box thinking with Nintendo's console.

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Updateable via DVD? (-1, Flamebait)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906048)

Too bad the Wii doesn't have DVD support.

Re:Updateable via DVD? (4, Informative)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906066)

You appear to have mistaken "DVD Movie Playback" with "Support for the DVD disk format". The Wii has a DVD drive.

How very awkward.

Re:Updateable via DVD? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906110)

Well, I guess it depends on how much room there is in the firmware for this modchip, but I'd suspect that one of the first useful applications (besides playing downloaded/pirated ROMs) would be some DVD/other video playback software.

Re:Updateable via DVD? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17907486)

You appear to have mistaken "Floppy Disk" with "DVD Disc" - or less redundantly, Digital Versatile/Video Disc. n00b.

Re:Updateable via DVD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17914286)

What the fuck are you talking about?

Re:Updateable via DVD? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17906592)

Hopefully they've put some type of restriction on this (like you have to jumper it to enable the updates). Otherwise it would seem Nintendo could just have games wipe the chip on bootup.

Re:Updateable via DVD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17911172)

And then you could sue Nintendo for destroying your property. The fact that you have the chip installed doesn't mean you're using it for games piracy. They better don't do that.

Glass

Re:Updateable via DVD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17915652)

And that's why the games will display a splash screen that says, "Your system must be updated to play this game. Would you like to update now?" Then, when the user clicks "Yes," Nintendo is absolved of responsibility.

Don't think it's that easy? Sony's been doing it with the PSP and Microsoft's been doing it with the Xbox for quite a while now.

So how long for homebrew? (1)

neo8750 (566137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906108)

So how long till we get some homebrewed stuff for the wii floating around? it should be interesting to see what appears from this. Also anyone else thing about how nice of a media center this could be i mean it already has a remote not a controller. =)

Re:So how long for homebrew? (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906336)

So how long till we get some homebrewed stuff for the Wii floating around?
It will be a while still. This chip doesn't allow for homebrew, just backups. They advertise it as running Gamecube Homebrew, but the Wii has been capable of that since day 1 without a chip.

Re:So how long for homebrew? (2, Informative)

Torne (78524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906438)

They advertise it as running Gamecube Homebrew, but the Wii has been capable of that since day 1 without a chip.
Only NTSC Wii's can run Gamecube homebrew without a chip - it requires an Action Replay to boot the loader, and the PAL Action Replay is not compatible with the Wii for some reason, it refuses to recognise it as a gamecube disc. You can't use an NTSC Action Replay in a PAL Wii as the region protection is not bypassed until you already booted it. :)

So, there is still some value in this for homebrew if you live in a PAL region.

Re:So how long for homebrew? (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906976)

I didn't know that, though there are other Homebrew methods beyond Action replay, like using Phantasy Star Online or Max Drive Pro... do those not work on PAL Wiis either?

Re:So how long for homebrew? (1)

nbehary (140745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17907596)

Don't know what Max Drive Pro is, but the PSO hack involved the GC broadband adapter, which the Wii does not support or emulate from what I understand.

Re:So how long for homebrew? (1)

Torne (78524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17910008)

I didn't know that, though there are other Homebrew methods beyond Action replay, like using Phantasy Star Online or Max Drive Pro... do those not work on PAL Wiis either?
I don't believe the Max Drive Pro's boot disc works on a PAL Wii either - it's based on the same security data as the Action Replay so it's extremely likely that it is also not recognised (and I've not seen anyone anywhere claim that it *does* work). As the other poster indicates, you can't use PSO either as the Wii doesn't emulate the Cube's modem/network adapter and thus the few online Cube games don't work at all, even for just playing normally.

If someone knows a way, I'd be interested to hear it, as there are a few Cube homebrew apps I'd like to be able to run without having to drag my Cube back out of the parts box. :)

Re:So how long for homebrew? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17919688)

I believe that reason is Nintendo of Europe preventing the Wii from reading discs that can bypass the GC's region protection. How else are they going to overcharge us by 50% for games?

Re:So how long for homebrew? (1)

Torne (78524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17920834)

US and Japanese Wiis still read the US/Japanese Freeloader/Action Replay just fine.

Yes, games are pretty much universally more expensive in Europe and this is an economic motive for stopping EU consumers from importing US games, but if they can prevent cracking region protection, surely you'd expect them to include this in *all* consoles - there's no particular reason for them to want to allow anyone to use imports (otherwise they wouldn't have a region protection system in the first place).

It's more likely that it's a simple incompatibility between Datel's reverse-engineered process for making valid Gamecube discs (which must by necessity produce different data on the disc for different regions, as the disc always has to appear to be from the correct region) and the Wii's implementation of the Gamecube disc verification system. They are unlikely to bother to test if all the many different versions of Datel's reverse engineered discs work ;)

Re:So how long for homebrew? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922476)

I think NoE just cares more. Japanese have no real reason to import because they get everything first and Americans get the cheapest games and have a language barrier to importing from Japan for getting stuff early. However, Europeans pay so much for games that importing actually ends up cheaper and games come out earlier in the US with a much lower language barrier. Europeans just have a lot more incentive to import stuff than other regions.

Plus I recall a US Nintendo representative claiming the Wii was region free with a European Nintendo representative claiming the opposite shortly after which leads me to believe that the Wii was planned to be region free until NoE started pushing for a region lock.

I doubt the signature section is that different between the three regions.

Re:So how long for homebrew? (1)

Torne (78524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17934474)

Oh, that's quite plausible too, but still.

It's not a matter of the format being different, it's which game they ripped off the valid barcode from and how accurately they reproduced the error pattern that goes with it. The source of the valid barcode was different for each region, so they could easily have got tolerances better on the NTSC versions just by chance.

Unfortunatly (2, Insightful)

Tainek (912325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906146)

There is still no chip for imports, as much as i love my Wii, i Refuse to pay $80 a game (UK)

Hopefully a *>Pal Chip will come soon...

Re:Unfortunatly (1)

khchung (462899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17916806)

Same here in Hong Kong, but worst. There is no local HK version of Wii here (there is one for PS3), so we have the choice of buying the US version or the Japan version Wii console and Wii games. Which sounds great... until I find out that the US Wii cannot play Japan Wii games, and vice versa (thanks to the dumba** idea of stopping game imports).

So effectively we have 2 parallel, mutually incompatible consoles called "Wii" with their sets of incompatible games. I can buy the US version which is more expensive and with fewer games available, or I can buy the Japan version with more games that I cannot understand a word.

So I elected not to buy it at all, maybe until someone hacks a version that can play both.

Re:Unfortunatly (1)

scumbaguk (918201) | more than 7 years ago | (#17918998)

Sorry but you do not pay $80 you pay £39 which buys you roughly the same as about $55 would in the USA.

It's only a weakness in the dollar and strength of the pound which allows you to make such extrodinary claims.

Summary (4, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906166)

The modchip works. It lets you play Wii and GC backups. It lets you play GC imports, but PAL games don't work on NTSC without GCOS, the first version of which was just released for the Wii. It makes SOME PAL games work on an NTSC control. No idea about NTSC on PAL. Wii imports DO NOT WORK. It's $50. Personally I'd wait for the next version, unless you're buying it only to play backups. I want region unlocking.

Free Loader (1)

the dark hero (971268) | more than 7 years ago | (#17907678)

I had success using the Free Loader disc for my import Gamecube games on the Wii. This isn't a solution to unlock the region coding for Wii games, but it only costs maybe $10ish.

Re:Free Loader (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17920718)

Doesn't work on a PAL Wii, though.

Re:Summary (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17916422)

Personally I'd wait for the next version, unless you're buying it only to play backups. I want region unlocking.

I talked to Guyfawkes, someone who's involved with this modchip project, about 10 days ago, and he told me that I'd be better off waiting a month or two, when a better version would come out, before buying this thing.

If I remember correctly he mentionned that currently the modchip makes you have to change discs by hand while they're spinning, as future versions will get you rid of that burden.

No homebrew though. (5, Informative)

noretsa (995866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906174)

From the article it sounds like this hack is very similar to the XBox360 DVD firmware hack in that it tricks the system into thinking the disc is a different type than it really is (pressed as opposed to DVD-R). However, the executables are still signed and the only thing this enables is "back ups" aka piracy.

This strategy will not enable custom user applications which is what a lot of us really want. However, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Even though the executables are signed, it is likely that the data on DVDs is unencrypted. Maybe by modifying this data a more effective exploit can be found?

So backups are now obsolete? (1)

Concern (819622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17932688)

I just don't get it. Sure, the sleazy publishers associations can talk a line about how there's no such thing as a backup (or at least a legitimate one), but why do we actually slurp it up and start regurgitating it ourselves?

I back stuff up, and play the backups. I've been doing this since the 8-bit days.

Backups are not a myth. They're not a euphemism. They're a simple practical thing that people should do, especially people with little kids. And no matter who lies to you about it, you have a right to make them.

If this very simple, practical right endangers someone's revenue model, the answer is not to try some futile measures to prevent it (or even try to outlaw it), but to get a new revenue model. And the publishers (obviously) don't even need to, since there has never been a working copy protection system in the history of mankind, yet they seem to be doing just fine anyway.

Next we'll be talking about how libraries are illegal because people can share media using them. Sheesh.

Fact check: summary, articles all inaccurate (5, Informative)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906258)

- The Wiinja chip [wiinja.com] was announced first.
- No chip is actually shipping yet to end users -- CycloWiz has however been shipped for review to MaxConsole. Foundmy lists it as being in stock starting Thursday [foundmy.com] .
- The CycloWiz appears to be selling for around $40, not $50.
- The CycloWiz (NOT CychloWiz) is NOT firmware upgradeable.
- The WiiKey [wiikey.cn] is reportedly firmware upgradeable.

The Wiinja requires wires to older it in, while the CycloWiz has a "quicksolder" interface that lets you directly solder the chip to the motherboard. (I think I'd prefer wires -- but you can still use wires with the quicksolder interface.)
The WiiKey supports both, apparently -- I assume this means that you can solder the chip using wires if you prefer and that the chip facilitates this easily by having pads for soldering wires directly.

I love the smell of BIAS in the morning (5, Insightful)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906412)

I would suspect the Max Console review is a bit inaccurate... considering the shop that manufactures and sells the chip also runs the servers that host Max Console... No conflict of interests there or anything.

Also Firmware upgrades via DVD was supposedly added to the CycloWiz [cyclowiz.com] at the last minute, you're right on your other accounts though.

Re:Fact check: summary, articles all inaccurate (2, Insightful)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17908820)

I would be somewhat hesitant about a modchip like the WiiKey that can be firmware upgradable via DVD. What's to stop Nintendo from including a flash in future games and/or WiiConnect24 update that would flash the mod to render it useless?

Re:Fact check: summary, articles all inaccurate (1)

feed_me_cereal (452042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17916064)

for the cyclowiz, that would be the hardware switch that enables/disables reprogramming

Re:Fact check: summary, articles all inaccurate (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17912466)

he CycloWiz (NOT CychloWiz) is NOT firmware upgradeable

so the instructions that coems with it are BOLDLY LYING then?

you solder in a switch for upgrading by booting with a DVD that has the new firmware on it per the instructions in the installation manual.

http://www.teamcyclops.com/install.pdf [teamcyclops.com] for the manual.

So who has reverse engineered the chip and determined that the makers are lying and it's not upgradeable?

50 bucks (-1, Troll)

Intangible Fact (1001781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906350)

Does it upscale graphics to HD? This is equivalent to putting a new high performance computer chip in a Geo Metro with a stock engine & transmission.

Custer's Revenge (2, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906390)

The first two words about "unauthorized" games on any platform needs to be this. If you haven't seen Custer's Revenge, you need to understand that this was a completely unauthorized independently developed game for the Atari 2600. It sold out before the Atari lawyers managed to get a TRO stopping sales of the game, it was that popular.

Of course, it was an incredibly lame game. But, it was the first game that really showed what people wanted on a video game - naked women. And men with huge penises.

If it wasn't pulled by Atari the morning it appeared on store shelves, it probably would have been blocked by local or state action. And might have stopped sales of the game console itself. Things are a little bit looser now, but still there is the opportunity for an independent developer to release something so utterly vile as to enrage people.

Because of this manufacturers are pretty careful to make it very, very difficult to release such unauthorized games. This of course means the primary purpose of such mod chips isn't to allow anything except piracy.

Re:Custer's Revenge (2, Interesting)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906730)

of course means the primary purpose of such mod chips isn't to allow anything except piracy.
Yes, allowing the Wii to play backup discs will enable piracy, but the intention is to play backups (insert comparisons to guns for murder, CD-R/DVD-R drives for piracy, etc.)

Similar example in a computer repair department: Instead of plugging the monitor in and out every time we work on a different PC, we attach a VGA extension cable to it and use that. Eventually, the pins get bent or the cable gets snafu'd and the monitor has a red tint to it. If the extension cable weren't there, we'd be out a monitor. Instead, we just replace the cable and all is well. Same thing. Instead of potentionally destroying my $40-$60 game, I can use a backup. When it gets to where the drive can't read it anymore, simply make another copy. The original is always safe. I do this with all my CD's and software (either making copies or shoving ISO's on the file server).

I agree it does have the potential for abuse, but so do a lot of things, even the Wii without a modchip [wiihaveaproblem.com] . :)

Re:Custer's Revenge (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921068)

Yes, allowing the Wii to play backup discs will enable piracy, but the intention is to play backups

Realistically 90% or more will buy this thing to warez stuff, not because they care so much about their precious originals. Optical discs don't die that fast unless mishandled, most likely your console will give out before your games do.

Re:Custer's Revenge (1)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921740)

Optical discs don't die that fast unless mishandled, most likely your console will give out before your games do.
That's all well and good . . . unless children are involved. I have CD's and DVD's that have been moved around, laid around, set on things, dropped, and are no longer useable. I finally got tired of it and make an ISO of every one I have because I know something will happen to them eventually.

If you've ever rented games (or even some DVD's) from a rental store, then you'll know what I'm talking about. I've had to return several because my console just wouldn't read them; even some movies jump occasionally because of scratches (and some are new releases that haven't been out but a few days). Turn them over and they're scratched to hell. I've managed to repair a couple enough to play, but they're mostly lost. Some households just manage to tear up technology quickly. :P

Re:Custer's Revenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17906766)

That's nice and all, but we have a platform free of any manufacturer oversight and Digital Restrictions Management technology already, coupled to a distribution method which is very nearly immune from any kind of legal interference. PC + internet allows you to develop and distribute virtually any software you want, and there are a lot more PCs than games consoles*.

*Although if your program requires very high-end 3D and a multicore CPU there may be more xbox 360s, I don't know the numbers.

Re:Custer's Revenge (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17907212)

Because of this manufacturers are pretty careful to make it very, very difficult to release such unauthorized games. This of course means the primary purpose of such mod chips isn't to allow anything except piracy.

Uh, the real reason they want to make it hard to release unauthorized games is that they don't get licensing fees when one is sold.

Re:Custer's Revenge (3, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17908228)

If it wasn't pulled by Atari the morning it appeared on store shelves, it probably would have been blocked by local or state action. And might have stopped sales of the game console itself. Things are a little bit looser now, but still there is the opportunity for an independent developer to release something so utterly vile as to enrage people.

Surely the same could be said for DVD players though?

Seriously though, copy protection is there to stop piracy. Mod chips are there to aide piracy. All this bullshit about "backups" or imports etc., is simply that - bullshit. While there may be people who actually do play backups, it's pretty clear what the vast, vast majority are sold for.

I wonder if Nintendo and MS wouldn't be better off doing what Sony did and dropping regional controls altogether. It's one less excuse for modchip makers to hide behind. That's probably one good reason Sony did it in fact.

Re:Custer's Revenge (1)

Mr. Hankey (95668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17908870)

I wonder if Nintendo and MS wouldn't be better off doing what Sony did and dropping regional controls altogether.

You bet. This is the only reason I'd even consider a modchip. I have Japanese software for my DS, why not on the Wii console?

Re:Custer's Revenge (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#17918980)

I know several people who do exactly that, use backups...
A lot of people buy games consoles for kids, and kids are very good at destroying or losing flimsy media like DVDs... So you make them a copy they can destroy, then you only have to worry about the machine itself.

Copy protection is there to increase sales, not through preventing serious piracy, but through casual copying (we used to copy amiga games when i was at school) and through lost/damaged media, or people with 2 or more consoles in the house who want to play multiplayer with their kids etc. They will never stop the serious warez groups, or the organised warez vendors in places like china.

Nowadays the average schoolkid has very few games, and if he wants to play multiplayer with his friends at school each of them has to buy the game seperately... When i was in school, us poor kids pooled our resources so i had many more games than I would have otherwise.

I guess we need space garbagemen (0, Offtopic)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906498)

We only need to send a bunch of weirdos [wikipedia.org] into space and have them clean things up [wikipedia.org] a bit, and problem solved!

Re:I guess we need space garbagemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17906690)

We sure do! [slashdot.org]

But if it's updatable via DVD... (1)

wikthemighty (524325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906812)

...how long will it be before official games attempt to "update" it?

Re:But if it's updatable via DVD... (2, Interesting)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17907266)

I could just be paranoid but what I would be afraid of is people posting 'images' of games that actually bricked your system...

You really only have to be successful with a couple hundred/thousand systems before word gets out and the average consumer will be afraid to install a mod-chip and download games.

Re:But if it's updatable via DVD... (1)

lmnfrs (829146) | more than 7 years ago | (#17907378)

That is probably illegal or at least very gray-area. (..read: ianal)
Modchips with disc-flashable firmware are hardly a new thing, so I suspect one of the console manufacturers would have already tried this if they thought they could get away with it. For example, the PSP firmware updates could be automatically flashed over hacked firmware making it difficult to revert to an older, exploitable, firmware version.
What it probably comes down to is, they know some percentage of people will freak out and shut off their system or yank the power cord, probably rendering the system useless. I.e. manufacturer-caused brick/PR nightmare.

Re:But if it's updatable via DVD... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17912546)

as soon as the games come with a mechanical arm to flip the mechanical enable update switch.

I am guessing that no programmer on this planet is Uber enough to code that in.

Little More Risk than I Would Care to Afford (1)

duffbeer23 (710118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17907210)

I've never modded any consoles but know those who have so I'm sure it wouldn't be a major undertaking. However, it took me this long to get my Wii, I don't think I'm going to perform any "surgery" on it.

DVD Video Playback (1)

Mizled (1000175) | more than 7 years ago | (#17907550)

I could just be paranoid but what I would be afraid of is people posting 'images' of games that actually bricked your system... You really only have to be successful with a couple hundred/thousand systems before word gets out and the average consumer will be afraid to install a mod-chip and download games.
If you want to download games I suggest using sites similar to Piratebay.org were people leave comments on quality of file. I'm considering doing some game backups for my Wii so I dont ruin the originals when going to friends houses but I really want DVD video playback support. I may wait a few months and see how the Wii modchips advance. Anyone know if any Modchips or Third party software is in development for the Wii to play DVD Videos and DVD Video backups? I'm certainly not paying another $250+ for a new Wii at the end of this year just to play DVDs. It has a DVD Drive, just no DVD video software. :(

Let me play imports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17907602)

I'm waiting for a solution that will let me play this http://www.play-asia.com/paOS-13-71-z3-49-en-70-1t 4w.html [play-asia.com]

Once they have that, be it freeloader, modchip or otherwise. I'm sold.

Watch DVDs? (1)

funkify (749441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17909412)

Will any of the mod chips available allow you to watch DVDs on the Wii?

Re:Watch DVDs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17910368)

Not yet. This will not happen until we can run our own unsigned code.

Homebrew stuff? gyroscopic masturbation? (1)

Phusion0 (665359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17909666)

How long until there's homebrew stuff you ask? Why does my mind go directly to the gutter? How hard would it be to write a XXX rated game and how many sexual maneuvers could you .. uhm.. execute with the Wiimote.. Just a thought.

The two faces of Slashdot game coverage (2, Interesting)

Dorceon (928997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17914502)

Face 1: Games are getting uncreative. There are too many Maddens and not enough Shadows of the Colossi. Down with EA!
Face 2: Yay, modchips! Now we don't have to pay for games!
Madden's margins are so fat it can afford to lose 10% of all sales to piracy much more easily than more creative fare that needs those sales to live, especially when it weeds the competition out of the industry. To paraphrase, a rising tide lifts all ships, but a hurricane sinks the small ones first.

Re:The two faces of Slashdot game coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17918610)

Many people want mod chips to run homebrew such as emulators (in the case of the Wii for non-Nintendo systems of course), media center applications or just to plain toy around with developing their own games. It's an unfortunate consequence of anti-piracy technology (application signing) used by the console manufacturers that currently all modchips only activate the playing of backups and not of random applications.

The chip in Argentina (1)

ericlondaits (32714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17914784)

I live in Argentina, where the coming of the chip is the only shot the Wii has at being popular here. Chips tipically enable the use of pirate games, and that's the only reason the PS, PS2 and X-Box were able to take off.

The Argentine versions (there are two) of eBay are currently selling Wiis at about 700 U$S a pop. That might sound expensive to you, but it's worse if you consider that 700 U$S is considered to be quite a decent monthly salary here. Games are selling for about 100 U$S. Once chipped Wiis start showing up the machine will probably stay expensive for a while (though it should eventually drop to about twice whatever you're paying in the US) but games will cost between 7 and 3 U$S each (which is the typical street price for X-BOX and PS2 copied DVDs).

WiiKey (1)

Soiden (1029534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17917136)

I think WiiKey has more future. Besides, it was made by the same guys who made Xeno, the GameCube modchip.
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