Softmodding Video Game Systems

…and why it’s addicting.

For me it’s the feeling of accomplishment when you make a machine do something that it wasn’t built to do.  Some people like to take things apart and put them back together.  I like to softmod, whether it’s a Nintendo DS, old school Xbox, or a Wii- there’s something to be said about the feeling you get when you beat the system.  Play Super Mario World on my Wii?  No problem!  How about Goldeneye 007 on the Xbox?  Yeah!  Multiple player!

With the internet it is so easy to find instructions on how to softmod almost anything you can imagine.  I’ve even found myself trying to turn my iPhone into an old school mac which is quite silly but something I feel needs to be done.  Why?  I need to play Sierra adventure games and the ScummVM app just doesn’t work how I would like it to.  Granted, I’m no genius- I’m following other people’s instructions on how to add this file or alter that, apply this patch for linux which is only accessible after saving on a particular level of this game.  I wouldn’t say that softmodding is for the faint of heart though as something could possibly go wrong and you would be left with a brick instead of a Wii.  That’s a very expensive doorstop that used to provide hours of gaming fun and now is little more than a paper weight.  I think the risk is part of the addiction.  You’re doing something risky that voids your warranty and puts your entire video game system and all the games you have purchased at risk.  On top of that certain softmods might be considered illegal, especially if you’re doing them to play burnt games.  (Disclaimer: NERD TREK does not condone piracy or illegal activity.)

What was the most difficult softmod I’ve ever performed?  While trying to get a Linux install which was disguised as a saved game onto a Xbox memory card we had to clip the wires of a USB cable and open up a Xbox memory card then solder the wires to specific connections on the card.  We were then able to pop the USB into the computer and load the files onto the card using a program meant for cheats that you normally have to possess a specific piece of hardware to make this function.  The saved game went flawlessly onto the card, we popped the card into the controller complete with USB cable hanging out the end and loaded the save, viola- LINUX!  Once Linux is in it’s all over, or should I say all beginning for the original Xbox.  If you have one of those older units kicking around, by all means make use of it again by loading it up with all kinds of great emulators and ROMs so you can experience some of the old school gaming systems all over again!  You can also rip your Xbox games directly to a  hard drive (which you can replace with a 500GB+ if you so desire) for faster load times and easier access.  It’s important to place your Xbox near a router so you can plug it directly into your network so you can FTP to your Xbox hard drive and drop/move/delete files.  That will save you a TON of time.  I think I’m rambling on about the Xbox because it’s one of my favorite mods and I’m damn tired right now!

I’m going to be posting some specific articles on how I softmodded my systems.  Does anyone have a preference?  Would you like to hear about my experience softmodding a PS2, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, DS, iPhone, or iPad?  There’s more, but let’s start with those for now!

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games /, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.