Notes from inside your Wii

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WADs and ISOs: The Warez Connection

June 1st, 2008 by bushing · 53 Comments

There still seems to be some confusion about why we turn our noses up at WAD-manipulation tools, so I think an analogy is in order.  A WAD Installer is like an ISO Loader.


WAD files and ISO files are very similar, in fact.  They are container formats (like ZIP files and TAR archives), which means they can contain all sorts of different things — some good and wholesome, some evil and foolish.  Unlike other containers, WADs and ISOs are generally used for self-contained, bootable content.  You know, like warez.

Of course, this is not always the case and there are exceptions.  You can download a bootable Linux ISO (for your computer, and eventually for your Wii).  I made some semi-brick fix ISOs, and we also made some Homebrew Channel Installation discs available, too.  This doesn’t change the fact that the reason anybody in the world wants an ISO Loader for their game console is so that they can rip a game disc into an ISO, put it up on BitTorrent, and trade with their friends without “wasting money” on recordable media.  I don’t believe there is much argument on this point.

What about WADs?  Well, what kinds of things come packaged as WADs?

  1. Firmware updates from Nintendo
  2. Ripped VC games
  3. Homebrew Channels
  4. Ripped WiiWare games
  5. … er, I think that’s about it.

Nobody is using a WAD Installer to install firmware updates from Nintendo.  Almost nobody is using a WAD Packer to create new firmware updates.  Real, genuine “Homebrew Channels” are almost nonexistent, and for good reason — they’re really tough to make when you don’t pirate existing Nintendo content for your banner file or NANDLoader.  They offer more convenience than using the Twilight Hack to launch your homebrew, but that added convenience is almost never worth the added risk of bricking your Wii.

The technical reason that WADs and ISOs are mainly used for piracy is that they are the easiest ways to rip published content.  When you download some random shareware program for your computer, it comes as either an executable file, or maybe an installer.  The same holds true with Wii Homebrew.

However, if you’re trying to pirate a game, you pretty much have to stick with an ISO or a WAD, because the code for these games assumes that they were packaged that way, never to be modified.  Therefore, people have created ISO loaders … and WAD Managers … to make it easier to trick this code into believing it is running as originally packaged.

Don’t get me wrong — it takes some hard work and clever hacking to write ISO loaders and WAD-manipulation utilities.  However, you won’t catch me pretending that a WAD Installer is a “decidedly positive cause”.

Tags: Wii

53 responses so far ↓

  • 1 ... // Jun 6, 2008 at 4:36 am

    bushing, there are chips that won’t let you upgrade from the DVD.

    steve, so if I make a copy of a product I own I’m stealing since I’m not buying the backup copy…

    Do I write in Engrish or you don’t understand what I wrote about the open source?

    There is very little in common between the two cases so I won’t even try to compare them – if you think there is no difference between them and make me explain it to you I’ll probably have to insult you and/or your father in the progress.

    Then how about if I invent a product that have the same recipe and start selling it, is that stealing too?

  • 2 . // Jun 8, 2008 at 11:52 am

    The argument that denying a company of money = stealing is entirely indefensible. What if I write a review of a game, calling it a complete waste of time and money, terrible graphics and gameplay, and 50 people decide not to buy the game after reading my review. I’ve deprived Nintendo of $2500 (!) but I’ve certainly done nothing illegal, and most people would agree that I’ve done nothing immoral either. And a sale not gained is not even comparable to a sale lost, regardless of what “IP law” (a complete mess, right now) says.

    As to the recipe example, that’s why we have trademark law, to prevent people from misrepresenting products. It has nothing to do with “stealing.”

  • 3 John Gaines // Jul 13, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Everyone has a point here and I respect all your views. Nintendo has the right to protect their product and some of you have a point in protecting your investments by making “back ups”.

    In my case, I only buy original discs but I am guilty of having a modchip. I bought my console from back home- the u.s. and since I’m an ex-pat working overseas, I had it modded so I can just buy pal games locally.

    My mistake was a simple update and boom, my wii was semi bricked. I paid for all my games. I am just glad my wii is back to normal except for duplicate channels. Thanks Bushing for the fix!

    I don’t think having a modchip can be equal to piracy if I pay for my original games, although I am guilty of cross-region purchase. My point is, there are tools we can put to good or bad use, in the end, we are responsible for our own actions.

    I believe Bushing’s decision to release the fix for semi bricked wiis is commendable and it would be a big PR disaster for Nintendo if they ask that it be taken down.

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