Console Hacking (Softmods)
I'm someone that likes having full control over the hardware I own. This comes to a head when it comes to my gaming consoles. I learned about hacking consoles several years ago with my 3DS. Since then, I've hacked my Vita, Wii, PlayStation Classic, and I'm constantly looking at Nintendo Switch hacking news to see any progress in the scene. I want to share with you all a bit of extra detail on what console hacking is all about.
When most people refer to hacking their game consoles, they usually mean having 'custom firmware' installed. Many consoles nowadays have some form of security on them to make sure only approved programs can run. Installing Custom Firmware is a way to bypass the security so anything can be run without issues. There are risks involved, but for me, the benefits make it worth it.
For many, being able to run custom software is a big reason why they hack their software. Homebrew can range from homemade games to utilities that boost performance to screen capture tools to ports of games like Doom. The possibilities for homebrew are pretty much endless, and will help keep some of your favorite consoles alive. For developers, they are able to learn more about how the system is designed to run. For users, the system gains more features than ever before. Some of my most used homebrews are custom themes, VitaDock, emulators, and the aforementioned Doom ports.
Have you ever wondered how that one YouTuber was able to do a Pokémon randomizer? Or maybe you prefer playing a JRPG with the original Japanese dub? With custom firmware, it is possible to make these changes.
Game Dumps & Backups
This is the bread and butter of why I enjoy having hacked consoles. When I started university, I gained an appreciation for digital downloads for games. At the time, I was primarily gaming on my PC, so it made the most since to just use Steam. Being able to have so many games on the machine ready to run without having to scramble for a disc is a great convenience. As I shifted back to console gaming, I continued buying games digitally. This was extremely useful with my 3DS, so I wouldn't have to carry multiple cartridges if I couldn't decide what to play. However, a major limitation of digital games is the lifespan of the storefront. For example, when the Nintendo Wii Shop went down last year, any games bought could no longer be downloaded. I realized it was always going to be important to have physical games, just to keep them going into the future. With the help of custom firmware, many consoles are able to 'dump' the ROM from the physical game to an SD card. An added bonus to this is I can keep any discs or cartridges in great condition since they will no longer be in use (how many times were you unable to play that PS1 game because the disc was scratched up?). This does get into a bit of a legal gray area, but I personally prefer using my own games as backups and keeping them on the shelf for collection purposes.
Originally, hacking consoles seemed pretty nerve racking. But I'm happy to have made the jump. I use my Vita fvita community could make simpler terms for stuff. Like “ How do I install backups ” is pretty confusing for a total noob.or most gaming, since it is the most convenient to take with me. It's a glorious system that still has a lot of life in it, even though Sony dumped it so quickly in the west.
One of my favorite sources for Homebrew information has to be Modern Vintage Gamer (Youtube). As a homebrew developer, he has more insight into exactly how things work than I ever will. His videos are short and informative, and I wouldn't know half the technical details of hacking if it weren't for him. The hacks.guide website is constantly updated with the most up to date information on hacking 3DS, Vita, and Wii consoles. Lastly, all of the devs and pen testers that make hacking possible.