New Hack Allows The 3DS To Run Homebrew Games And Apps

New Hack Allows The 3DS To Run Homebrew Games And Apps

The likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have gotten better over the years at securing the consoles from external modification, though persistence (and a bit of smarts) can get you a long way. The PS3 eventually fell thanks to some determination and now the Nintendo 3DS has been hacked, so to speak, allowing users to run unsigned code on the platform.

Unsigned code, better known as “homebrew”, often takes the form of games and application written by non-approved developers. It also opens the doors to porting popular open source software — media players and emulators predominately — so the device can live a more flexible existence.

While the hack, called “Ninjhax” is the work of a number of people, the main person responsible is an individual by the nickname of “smea”. Similar to the famous “Twilight Hack” that allowed Wii owners to run homebrew without tinkering with the actual hardware, Ninjhax uses an exploit found in the game Cubic Ninja to do its work.

Along with a 3DS (or one of its variants), the hack itself and the aforementioned title, you’ll need to be running a firmware version between 4.0.0-7 and 9.2.0-20. Then it’s a matter of generating QR codes within Cubic Ninja — eventually this will trigger the exploit.

Obviously it’s still a new frontier and work is ongoing to provide an SDK for curious developers. Until then, I’m sure some will find more immediate uses for the hack, though their legality is questionable.

Ninjhax [Smea’s Devblog, via TechCrunch]


  • I just hope that they can disable the region lock. Actually, that and some tools to be able to back up and transfer your data, I hate having everything packed, encrypted and tied to the console like it is. That’s pretty much all I used Wii homebrew for, playing out-of-region games and backing up my data.

    Hopefully there’ll be some cool games for this too. StillAliveDS was freakin awesome.

    • There’s a card for the 3DS that’s mostly used for pirating, but it can also allow you to play out-of-region retail games (if that’s your thing). As for backing up data, one of it’s features is that it boots up an “EmuNAND”, which is basically a version of the 3DS stored on your SD Card, so any save games and such are stored on that. I believe there is a way to get that transfered between systems

      • Yeah, I snagged a model 3DS XL with old firmware so that I could easily do hardware-based backups to keep that exploitable firmware available in case of the need for one of those flash cards. Things get a little messy though with how they encrypt save data, meaning you can’t use them to play games that were last saved on a non-hacked system and vice versa without it calling the save corrupted and erasing it for you. Made me want to hold off until a better option came along.

        • Sounds like you’re a bit more in the know with things than me. Might I suggest something? The way the Gateway-3DS works is that it takes a backup of your current firmware, and then kind of launches into a virtual version of that firmware. Then you upgrade that virtual firmware to the latest without updating the actual real firmware.

          Based on this, if the original backup takes the save games with it (Which I imagine it does), wouldn’t your non-encrypted save games get auto-updates with the updates, and become encrypted with the update process?

          • I dunno, it’s been a while since I’ve checked up on it so things very well could have changed in the meantime. From memory it’s all good for the whole emuNAND thing, you can lift a copy of all the stuff on the 3DS itself and use it for the virtual version. The cart games only have some of their extra save data stuff saved to the SD card, the “main” game save generally goes on the cart itself. And because they didn’t have access to the new save method, all the games from… I think somewhere around Pokemon or Luigi onwards will get saved using the old method, so a non-hacked 3DS won’t be able to play them. And that just kind of defeats the purpose of all this stuff, half the point is to try and have contingencies to escape the whole “everything is tied to this console” thing once something goes wrong.

  • Please tell me a search term to use for the cart that will allow my 3DS XL to read US region cartridges, I’m moving to the states shortly

    • I would say ‘how to remove 3DS region lock’ but as far as I remember, you can’t do that, you have to buy a new console if you move regions…

    • Take a look at the Gateway 3DS. At the moment, they need your 3DS at version 4.5 or lower, but their latest news post suggests that in a few months they’ll be running on what is the latest at the time (9.2?)

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