This page contains a brief overview of console modding and flashcarts. Game Tech Wiki may also have useful information.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Issues
- 3 Consoles
- 4 Handhelds
- 5 Resources
Flashcarts- Flashcarts (FC) are specialized cartridges that uses flash memory rather than read-only memory, meaning that it's reprogrammable. These are only available for cartridge-based systems as newer disc-based systems have DRM protections installed to only allow the disc reader to accept certain disc formats (meaning you can't simply burn a game image to a CD and expect it to work).
Modding - Modding (sometimes referred as "homebrew-ing" or "hacking") usually exploits some flaw in the system in order to achieve things that were never intended, in most cases to allow to load games from an external device to the system or launch "homebrew" applications. There are two types of modding:
- Softmod (SM) - Exploits a flaw found in a game or the systems software. Softmodding is usually safer and easier to perform in most cases, but there's still always that risk of bricking your console.
- Hardmod (HM) - Exploits a flaw found in the consoles hardware. Requires you to open up your console and perform some modification to the board itself. May involve some soldering, but isn't always the case. A popular form of hardmodding is the installation of modchips in order to bypass DRM protections on disc-based consoles, or installing SD/USB readers to systems that lack them in order to load homebrew applications. These are normally more technical and have a higher chance of bricking/damaging your console.
In regards of modding - You are at risk of rendering you console unusable, aka a "brick", when attempting to mod it. Each system is different in terms of difficulty, so use you judgement when deciding if you want to mod it or not and to follow each step carefully during the process. Any form of modding will void your warranty, though this is normally only a problem for newer systems, and may be difficult to resell if there's no way to "un-mod" it.
In regards of flashcarts - Flashcarts can only be purchased online and there are normally no official "reseller" for them, so take caution and avoid scammers. Another thing to avoid is cheap clones which are common for EverDrives. EverDrive firmware has DRM in them to verify real EverDrive hardware being used and will brick clone EverDrives. You should only buy directly from KRIKzz, or from one of their official reseller. Clone EverDrives will generally require you to use an older firmware with crippled functionality. If the price seems too good to be true, then it's probably a fake.
PSIO (~$112) Requires internal modification and an available parallel port. Requires serial number and linked email account to get firmware updates.
Disc Swap Method (YouTube it) (can damage optical drive with excessive use)
UniROM Requires parallel port and cheat device.
Free McBoot Requires any one of the following:
- PS3 Memory Card Adaptor
- Agent Under Fire
- AR Max/AR Max EVO
- CodeBreaker Only compatible with fat PS2s and slim PS2s with model number SCPH-700xx.
- PS1 GameShark/GameShark
PS3 Modding (HM/SM)
3K3y ODDE (HM) ($90, only recommended for unhackable consoles. Soldering required.)
EverDrive N8 NES (FC) ($109) Uses SD cards and receives support, including fan-made mappers, such as the Sunsoft 5B. Some mappers support save states. These mappers can cause issues on very early NES systems manufactured before 1987. Supports Game Genie codes.
EverDrive N8 Famicom (FC) ($109) Uses MicroSD cards and is the exact same product as the above.
PowerPak (FC) ($135) Uses CF cards to play games. Supports Game Genie codes. Does not receive any updates anymore, but is still a good option if you need to use Compact Flash cards instead of SD cards. Also has a built-in NSF player. Fan-made mappers are available, including ones that support save states, but these are unofficial.
Look at the compatibility chart to see if the games you want to play are supported, and which cart supports them. Expansion audio is supported by both carts, but a modification to the NES is necessary to support it. The Famicom does not require this modification.
SD2SNES PRO (FC) (USD $197+) Has an FPGA to support some special chips, along with MSU-1 support (exceptions being SPC7110 chips, Sufami Turbo games, and the Hayazashi Nidan Morita Shougi series). Will play large ROMs such as Star Ocean and Tales of Phantasia. Firmware updates can be downloaded here.
Super EverDrive X5 (FC) ($89+) No special chip support. A good option if you do not care about special chips.
64Drive (FC) ($199 including CIC chip) Supports ROMs up to 256MB (2Gb) in size, includes RTC, possible future 64DD support with no need for ROM conversions. Much better option for developers than the EverDrive due to USB and WiFi support, along with a debugging button on the back, but is also a great choice for casual users along with the cheaper EverDrives. Also supports the separate UltraSave, which can dump/write saves from real carts to the 64Drive. 100% compatibility with all released games.
EverDrive 64 v2.5 (FC) ($106 including CIC chip) Supports ROMs up to 64MB (512Mb) in size, although the SRAM is stored at the end of the ROM, which corrupts 64MB games that use the entire ROM and also saves (Pokemon Stadium 2 is the only known example), no RTC, 99.9% compatibility (no Animal Forest due to lack of RTC, and Pokemon Stadium 2 due to the previously mentioned SRAM/ROM sharing). Must reset before powering off to save. Also includes support for 64DD cart conversions.
EverDrive 64 v3.0 (FC) ($174 including CIC chip) Supports ROMs up to 64MB (512Mb) in size, includes RTC, 100% compatibility with all released games, no need to reset before powering off to save.
With all three options, the UltraCIC II supports multiple CIC types. This is useful for Rareware games such as Banjo Tooie and Donkey Kong 64, removing the need for hacks.
POT Tweak (HM) is needed to run burned DVDs in combination with another mod. Ritek G04 mini DVDs are recommended for this purpose, as other brands can wear out the laser. The GameCube can read full-size DVDs if the top lid is removed/modified/replaced.
SDload (HM) (Requires Action Replay, no soldering required)
Numerous game exploits (SM) Most need a softmodded Wii or another homebrew capable GameCube to write the exploited save to an SD card. Homebrew and games are generally launched from a memory card to SD adapter in slot 2, sometimes called an SD Gecko. The SD Gecko does not have access to DMA like the DVD drive has, so many games will lag/freeze, especially when using streaming audio or during FMVs. This can be bypassed by burning DVDs or by getting a Wii ODE such as a WASP Fusion along with a GameCube adapter, although no Wii ODE is being produced anymore.
XenoGC (HM) (Quick Solder Board, ~$10) Simple modchip
Swiss is a homebrew utility that can launch burned games, homebrew and games from an SD Gecko (supporting SDHC) or ODE, and can force options per game. Highly recommended.
Complete Softmod Guide (SM): Probably one of the safest and easiest console to mod (provided you follow everything correctly).
Some notable applications that can be used are:
- USB Loader GX - Useful for running Wii games off a USB drive and can also rip disc images to a HDD.
- Nintendont - Used to play Gamecube games off a USB and even allows for official hardware to be used, provided your Wii has these ports, such as memory cards, GCN Microphone, GBA-link cable, etc.
(Note: these programs require additional installation setup before they can be use)
vWii (Wii mode) (SM) is hackable. vWii Soft Mod Guide. Only install IOS modules if they state they are compatible with vWii as otherwise, you WILL brick your Wii U. Note that there isn't a way to unbrick vWii currently.
Nintendont is a launcher for GameCube games in Wii mode. Works for the Wii and vWii, and supports any HID-compliant controller.
Loadiine is a backup loader for Wii U firmware 3.0.0 - 5.5.1, and supports loading games from SD. As it loads games via the Mii Maker app, which doesn't use online features, it cannot play online at the moment. It only supports DLC if you bought the DLC first. It doesn't support Wii VC injection (i.e. Xenoblade and friends for Gamepad controls).
The Wii U is easily hackable even on the latest firmware and does not even require permanent software mods to install or boot installed games. Simply accessing the homebrew launcher via the browser exploit is enough to get to installing and playing (but requires a wifi connection and can be unreliable. More permanent CFW hacks can be done by installing Haxchi, though this requires the legitimate purchase of a DS VC game). Through the use of injectors, you can install Wii and Gamecube games directly to your Wii U home menu. Injection of Wii homebrew apps is also possible, allowing you to install Nintendont to your Wii U home menu directly and therefore play GameCube games via Nintendont without any vWii modding (though launching Nintendont requires CFW to be running, and therefore Haxchi is recommended but not technically necessary). See the guide for more details on accessing homebrew, and this thread for details on injection.
An exploit was found early in the Switch's launch which not only made it vulnerable but multiple NVIDIA Tegra devices also. Since then Nintendo has released patched versions of the Switch which are currently "unhackable" at the moment. You can find out if it's been patched by the serial number. Be warned that you will be at risk of being permanently banned, especially if you try and pirate games, after hacking your Switch.
SX Pro by Team Xecuter (HM) (~$60) - A dongle that launches its own custom firmware and attaches to the charging port of the Switch. Useful for launching backups and homebrew applications. It works on any Switch that hasn't been patched or was released before June 2018. Ironically the product itself contains an anti-piracy measure that "bricks" the system if you try reverse-engineer the dongle . That and the fact that it contains stolen code from other open-sourced projects have left Team Xecuter with a bad image in the homebrew community.
RCMloader ONE (HM) (~$20) - It's a dongle similar to the SX Pro expect it can load three different payloads: Atmosphere, ReiNX, and SXOS. It will only work if your Switch hasn't been patched (aka purchased before June 2018).
Atmosphère (HM/SM) - CFW for the Switch. Currently supports firmware up to 4.1.0, though an exploit has been found for firmware 4.2.0-7.0.1 no usable code has been released for it. This guide appears to be the easiest to follow to install CFW.
ReiNX (HM/SM) - Another CFW for the Switch. Again, similar install situation as mentioned before (unpatched, low firmware, etc.). This one appears to be developing an easier way of loading backups.
Switch hacking is still being worked on, so be sure to stay up-to-date on any new information.
Master EverDrive (FC) ($77) Can also play SG-1000 games.
Mega EverDrive X7 (FC) ($166) The premium option complete with an FPGA, save state support, supports up to 15MB (120Mb) ROMs, Sega CD memory card functionality, saves without reset, and has near instant load times, includes a pause button for Master System games, along with some other possibly useful features.
Mega EverDrive X5 (FC) ($89) Supports Sega CD memory card functionality, supports up to 7MB (56Mb) ROMs, has near instant load times, saves without reset, and includes a pause button for Master System games.
Mega EverDrive X3 (FC) ($45) A no frills flash cart for those on a budget. Has near instant load times, supports up to 7MB (56Mb) ROMs, and must reset the console to save games before powering off. Uses the exact same PCB as the Mega EverDrive X5, so it may be possible to mod it to be an X5 if you are skilled at soldering and can find out what the necessary parts are.
All 3 carts can play Master System games.
PCB v3 (HM) ($40, For Saturn models: Model 1 and Model 2 64pin IC) (Dead link)
SSIC8B (HM) ($37, For Saturn models: Model 2 32pin IC and Model 2 Sanyo) (Dead link)
Rhea (HM) From the creator of the GDEmu. Works with 20-pin Saturn models.
Phoebe (HM) From the creator of the GDEmu. Works with 21-pin Saturn models.
All PAL models, 3020 models, and Dreamcasts that came in a white and orange box can play burnt CDs without modding. Some 3030 models can, but not all, and Dreamcast that came in a black and blue box can't.
DC-SD ($18) Cheap, but compatibility is not great. Also requires the use of a loader. (Dead link)
GDEMU (HM) (~$122) Also uses SD cards. Emulates the disk drive itself, so compatibility is great. Will only work with certain model Dreamcasts, so be sure to check which one you have before ordering. The creator makes them in batches and you have to pay attention to get on the pre-order.
USB-GDROM (HM) (~$175-230) Uses any USB 2 media to load images from. Region Free, compatible with GDI, ISO, and CDI images. Works with all VA0 & VA1 models.
PC Engine/Turbografx 16
Turbo EverDrive V2 (FC) ($86)
USB for 3DO (HM) (~$165-295) Uses any USB 2 media to load images from. Various boards for the various 3DO models.
Game Exploit (SM) (Requires: Original MechAssault, Splinter Cell or 007 Agent Under Fire)
Hotswap Method (HM)
various modchips available
earlier models can be soft modded then TSOP flashed.
DVD Flashing (HM) (No homebrew, only useful for pirating games)
Reset Glitch Hack (Advanced users only) (Dead Link)
JTAG (Better tut needed)
ModMyClassic (HM/SM): a group dedicated to modding "Classics/Minis" of popular consoles. So far they only support the NES/SNES Classic and the Playstation Classic, but seems to be planning on expanding to other systems like the C64 Mini and the NeoGeo Mini at some point.
Don't use PRO-C2 listed there, use PRO-Cfix3 instead. PRO-C2 has a bug that breaks PSN PS1 EBOOTs.
Alternatively, you could try LME instead.
Henkaku (SM) is the only homebrew enabler for the Vita and Adrenaline is the ePSP CFW which allows to you run PSP games and homebrew. As always, wololo is the place for anything new in the PSP/Vita scene.
There are multiple ways to install henkaku depending or your firmware version:
|1.03 - 3.57||✗||Update to 3.60/3.65|
|3.61 - 3.63||✗||Update to 3.65|
|3.65 - 3.68||h-encore||~90%||PSN Account, Computer||
|3.69 - 3.73||h-encore²||~25%||PSN Account, Computer||
Game Boy (Color)
El Cheapo SD (FC) ($52) Supports mappers MBC1, MBC2, MBC3, and MBC5, no RTC until version 2.0 is released, accepts microSD cards, supports games up to 4MB (32Mb), has 128KB (1Mb) SRAM (big enough for LSDj). Saving must be done manually in the menu before loading a new ROM (both saving to SD and loading from SD). There are other cheaper versions with lesser ROM sizes available (for example, if you don't care about Game Boy Color enhanced/exclusive games).
USB 64m smart card (FC) ($42) No RTC, only one .sav stored at a time (alpha hack available, but deletes saves on occasion), issues when having GBC and GB games in the same bank, and not the easiest to use. Only uses an MBC5 mapper, and tries to fake other mappers. There are game-specific hacks to fix any issues caused by this. Multisave menu, hacks Supports ROMs up to 4MB (32Mb). Two ROMs at a time are supported when not using a menu. IMPORTANT NOTE: This flash cart uses 3.3v flash chips directly wired to the 5v Game Boy bus. This could shorten the life of the cart and/or the Game Boy.
EverDrive GB (FC) ($88) No RTC, supports the use of MicroSD cards, mappers MBC1, MBC2, MBC3, MBC5, Game Genie cheats, individual ROM sizes up to 8MB (64Mb), and saves for each game.
DITTO mini (FC) ($90–$145) works with a bundled USB flasher. The cheapest version is a bare PCB with no case; you are supposed to unscrew an official cartridge to use its shell. It has 2 MB of capacity, but it can only handle one ROM at a time. It is able to hold saves for games that have this feature, but it can’t send the savegame back to the computer. The flasher only works with Windows. Multi-game, save backup and macOS support are planned to the future.
(90€) was the first publicly available Pokémon mini flashcart. It was handmade on demand by an enthusiast. The flashcart had 512 kB of capacity and was able to handle multiple ROMs. It worked with a bundled USB flasher, which was made of gutted Pokémon mini cartridge connectors in the earliest revisions.
Game Boy Advance
EverDrive GBA x5 (FC) ($110) has a Real-Time Clock and supports any standard GBA ROM file (no patching required).
EZ-Flash Omega (FC) ($60) has a Real-Time Clock and supports any standard GBA ROM file (no patching required). Users report that you must wait 3-5 seconds after saving in-game before turning the console off to avoid corrupting the save data, this is because of how the cart saves to the SD card.
DSTWO+ Flashcard (FC) ($53.99) Only Nintendo DS flash cart that has decent to good GBA and Super Nintendo emulation depending on the game due to the DSTWO+ having its own processor, but also drains your battery when using them. Works on the DSi's latest firmware and supports MicroSDHC.
R4i GOLD (FC) ($17.99) One of the various R4 clones, but unlike the majority of them, these aren't that bad. Make sure the URL displayed on the flashcart are http://r4ids.cn/ or http://r4idsn.cn/ or else you'll be getting a shitty counterfeit card. Supports DSi's latest firmware and support MicroSDHC. Be sure to update Wood Firmware as soon as you get it.
R4 (FC): If you don't have a Nintendo DSi and are okay with the 2GB MicroSD limit you might as well go with the original R4, although you're most likely going to get a clone because the original R4 team disbanded shortly after the R4's release. The clone cards (although not the greatest) get the job done, just be sure to get an R4 flashcart and not an R4 SDHC, R4 dual core, etc. Usually found for around $5-$7, does not support DSi or MicroSDHC. The R4s usually come with Wood Firmware but if they do not be sure to install it for a much better-recommended experience. Has recently gotten a new lease on life thanks to Boot9Strap (see below) making it possible to use ancient flashcards like the R4 on the 3DS.
If using an older or clone flashcart, it is still possible to get firmware updates, albeit third-party, to work with newer games. To see the (very) expansive list of supported carts plus download links, go here: RetroGameFan firmware
HiyaCFW (SM): The DSi is really easy to homebrew, all you need is an SD card. Once modded, you can install TWiLight Menu++ which can play NDS ROMs or DSiWare off your SD card and also includes various console emulators that work to some degree. The only issue is if the SD card is bigger than 2GB you won't be able to boot into the original menu and the developer of Unlaunch, one of the programs used to hack the DSi, disabled the sound of the original menu because he thought it was "annoying", which makes it feel less nostalgic.
CFW (SM) ($0): Boot9Strap (formerly known as Sighax) gives full control over the 3DS, and CFWs such as Luma3DS run on top of it. This is the best method if it is available, as it is free. See Plailect's guide for up to date information on the required firmware and the methods used to install Boot9Strap. There have been reports of people using CFW being banned, so take proper precautions and try avoiding online functionality.
freeShop is homebrew used in combination with the above hack to download games directly from Nintendo's server, so long as you have the necessary titlekeys.
As of system update 11.8.0, changes were made on how download request were dealt with to the server. Normally, freeShop (or any program like it) simply sends a HTTP request to the server and the server responds by sending the content. The program then makes a spoof ticket to trick the 3DS into thinking it's a legitimate download and proceeds to download the request. The system update made it so the 3DS now has to send an encrypted version of this ticket back to the server which then checks it before being allowed to download, rendering freeShop unusable as the server will quickly know the ticket is not legit.
DSTwo+ Flashcard (FC) ($53.99): NDS flashcard, only have access to 'NDS-mode'. Note: You may need to update some flashcards with an NDS before you can use them on a 3DS. You should under no circumstances use the 3DS functionality of this card, or you will risk bricking your 3DS. Install Boot9Strap/CFW instead (see above)
If you have an NDS flashcard that was patched out by a previous 3DS/DSi update or never worked on 3DS/DSi, the latest version of Luma3DS will allow you to use it; follow the "A9LH to B9S" section of Plailtect's guide above to update your CFW. If you don't want to update, you can try using the TWL Slot-1 Launcher for cards that were blocked by updates or the R4 Stage2 TWL Flashcart Launcher for NDS/NDSL only cards. Note that both of these require CFW to be enabled already to install these.
Gateway (FC) (~$60): Can be used for Homebrew, backups, and CIA installation, with EmuNAND support to upgrade to the latest 3DS version. Only works on versions 4.1-10.7.0. New 3DS requires either Cubic Ninja or Ocarina of Time 3D to use. CFW is a superior option, and it is free.
SKY3DS/SKY3DS+ (FC) (~$75): Works on all firmware (as of 11.4.0), as it emulates a real card. Only useful for backups/piracy, as homebrew will not work, although Ninjhax will work with Cubic Ninja as a ROM. Non-upgradeable. The blue-button version will support unlimited games, whereas the red-button version will only support 10 games forever (even if you switch out microSD cards), although this has been cracked. There is also an orange button version, SKY3DS+, which supports recent anti-piracy in games. Use this one where available, if going this route. Clones are available (QQ3DS which comes with a DS flash cart DS support, r5sdhc). If playing games online, you will need a private header, which can be retrieved from any physical 3DS cart. You will be banned from Nintendo's servers otherwise.
EverDrive GG (FC) ($77)
- RetroRGB's guide (ROM / Flash Carts page with links to various custom carts for many consoles)