Wii hacking

Johnny Chung Lee, a CS grad student at Carnegie Mellon University, has done some very cool things using the Wiimote and custom code running on a PC, including a multi-touch interface and a virtual-reality headset. However, the holy grail of Wii hacking is to run custom code on the Wii itself, and take full advantage of the system hardware. Last week, that goal came one step closer:

In the video, a man stands on stage at the 24th Chaos Communication Congress before a screen showing a projected image of Lego Star Wars on the Nintendo Wii. He seems nervous. “Some day we’ll have a nice Linux bootable DVD,” he tells the crowd as he awkwardly moves around the menus. Then the screen goes black, and a small bit of code—really just a moving cursor with coordinates—comes up on screen. “We can show you we do have code running; this is running in Wii mode, not GameCube mode,” the man says. “We do have access to all the hardware.” The crowd begins to applaud. It’s an initially unimpressive display, but if you know what you’re looking at, it’s a lightning bolt. Soon after the video went up, the word went out: the Wii has been hacked.

Here’s the video of the hack:

As Ars notes, whoever these guys are, they still haven’t released code yet to let others verify, but even if this is a hoax (unlikely) it stands to reason that someone else will achieve the same thing soon. Doing so means that people could write native games for the Wii, of course, but also let people run custom applications and who knows what else. Looking just at what a lone grad student has been able to come up with using only the Wiimote, it’s clear that the full creative potential of a fully-hacked Wii is far from realized. The original code name for the Wii, Nintendo Revolution, seems more and more fitting. Kudos to Nintendo for not getting in the way (so far).