Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Getting into DS homebrew @ PocketGamer

It was a wild evening, and one we've been excited about recreating on the DS ever since we got hold of some flashcarts.

Oops! While our sobriety will attest to it not meaning quite what we thought, DS Homebrew is nevertheless an exciting, potent concept – with the right kit, fans at home can now make code that runs on the DS. Including your DS, if you buy the hardware.

The implications are massive. Linux, emulators, mp3 players: the same community who made all those available on PCs are focussing on your console. Games are being made without time or licensing constraints. Obscure Japanese role-playing games on the Game Boy have been hacked and translated.

In fact, the giddy feeling's actually not too dissimilar to the one we had that July evening. And neither is the headache. If an infinite number of monkeys can reproduce the works of Shakespeare, then that leaves a lot of rubbish to wade through. It's no different with homebrew.

But we're tough. We're up to the challenge. Stick with us while we begin to scratch the surface.

Nintendo, like all the major console manufacturers, does its best to make sure you can only run the games it approves (and is renumerated for) on your DS. This is done by putting a digital signature into licensed code, which your console then looks for before booting any software. No signature and the machine won't boot.

DS hackers have got round this with various techniques, the most popular of which (though not the easiest to use) is called FlashMe, which enables you to overwrite the machine's firmware with code created by hackers.

With this alternative firmware, you can get rid of the health and safety screen, fade the backlight and run unsigned code – well done, Neo: you made it.

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