Notes from inside your Wii

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Nintendo WFC ban rumors

March 21st, 2009 by marcan · 31 Comments

We have read reports and been spammed on Wiibrew with the claim that Nintendo is banning Mario Kart users from the online WFC mode if they have The Homebrew Channel installed.

There is very little information regarding the claimed issue. However, considering HBC is not a prerequisite for Mario Kart online cheating, nor does it have any direct relationship with it, and especially considering the ease with which we could change HBC’s Title ID, I think it’d be incredibly foolish for Nintendo to do this. They aren’t the brightest of the lot, but they’re not that stupid.

I have succeeded in playing a perfectly normal WFC match on-line with Mario Kart while HBC (1.0.1) was installed. There was no sign of trouble or errors at all.

Unless we get multiple, verifiable reports of people who have never cheated at Mario Kart or performed any modifications whatsoever, and who do not have and have never had any other installable homebrew other than HBC and no other modifications (that means no region changes, no downgrades, no IOS16, no cIOS, no warez launchers, and no other unofficial channels), no modchip, and a legit, in-region copy of Mario Kart, I am forced to conclude that whoever made this claim hasn’t done their research properly.

I would like to remind you that we in no way condone on-line game cheating. Try playing like a normal user a few times. I just got a golden mushroom without having to patch memory and screw up other players; I’m sure you can too.

Tags: Wii

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 TheStorm // Mar 21, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I have never had any issues with Mario Kart since I installed HBC but I will try it our as soon as I get home from work. Also I have never used cheats with Mario Kart so that shouldn’t be an issue.

  • 2 SuicideCraze // Mar 21, 2009 at 11:01 am

    I find this hard to believe. As you stated, the HBC isn’t required to cheat and I’d be very surprised if Nintendo don’t know that. It’s pretty obvious they keep track of the goings on in the homebrew scene as proven by their attempts to block the twilight hack and fixing the signing bug. The only reason I can think of for them to do this without people cheating or having pirate VC games, warez launchers etc is as a warning, “Hack your Wii and you can’t play Mario Kart online”, which I don’t think they’d do.

    For the record, I’ve got HBC 1.0.1 installed and I also only every play a backup copy I made of my legit Mario Kart (I play that game far too much so I want to preserve it) and I’ve not had a problem yet.

  • 3 pokeman7452 // Mar 21, 2009 at 11:07 am

    For clarification, Nintendo does seem to be banning (error code 20102) WFC hackers. The issue is that some say it scans for HBC. http://www.mariokartwii.com/f7/solution-repairing-error-code-20102-hackers-ban-40450.html

  • 4 wiisixtyfour // Mar 21, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I’m pretty sure Nintendo only bans if you get caught cheating online.. Not for having the HBC installed. It doesn’t even seem like it could even be possible for them to check for the title “HAXX”. I read the post that was spammed on wiibrew and it doesn’t look like they know what they’re talking about. At all.

  • 5 Link // Mar 21, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    I am the developer of WiiRd I cheated in Mario Kart Wii offline before and once in a private match (friend match). I for my part never cheated in public matches and I can say I am not banned. I did multiple test races yesterday.

    I do have a modchip! I assume on my side that Nintendo detects item and speed hacks.. those should be easy to detect on server side. However, I am playing with an in-region original so I cannot talk for imports etc. .

  • 6 marcan // Mar 21, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    My Mario Kart is out of region (my Wii is technically the import; I bought the game here) and I was able to use it fine using Menuloader, so at least the mere fact of being an out-of-region game doesn’t seem to be relevant. I can’t vouch for any of the other methods of loading imports though.

  • 7 Whibo // Mar 21, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    The error 20102 by the mouth of nintendo : http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/wfc/en_na/ds/results.jsp?error_code=20102&system=Wii&locale=en_US
    There are no other language descriptions so it is a new error code.

  • 8 Ibrahim Awwal // Mar 21, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I played several games of Mario Kart last night online, and I have HBC but no hacks/cheats of any sort. Seems like they are only targetting actual cheaters.

  • 9 zetetic // Mar 22, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Surely the race time would be the simplest test of cheating, they must have fairly large sample size of lap times.

  • 10 djdynamite123 // Mar 22, 2009 at 1:57 am

    So they should target cheaters, they ruin the game, yet they try forcing blame on homebrew….huh wtf

  • 11 Rambytes // Mar 22, 2009 at 2:54 am

    This is my story:

    – I have a D2Pro chip inside for 1 year now
    – I have cheat OFFLINE with Ocarina, to unlock all the characters
    – I have the Homebrew Channel 1.0.1 install

    I’ve try to play ONline and work like a charm… no problem, no ban, no error code of wathever. I’ve try to deconnect and reconnect to the WFC twice, and i’ve play twice ONline without any kind of problem.

    I’ve NEVER cheat ONline, only offline to unlock characters and tracks, that’s it.

  • 12 Blue-K // Mar 22, 2009 at 2:58 am

    “This error code indicates some type of unauthorized activity has occured in an online feature of a Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection game”

    Looks for me like they say it’s DURING an Online game…so only Cheating/Region-Free Hacks, maybe? If they would search for the HAXX-Title: Then I’m simply take a WAD of the HBC, and make a new Title…problem solved…I can’t live without my GuitarFun, MPlayer-CE and Co…:P

    Well, Nintendo now starts with Banning (or it looks like that), but again, they’re going a wrong way if they go for the HBC…let’s see what will be true…

  • 13 QuadPro // Mar 22, 2009 at 5:43 am

    I have a so-called ” backup loader” installed on my Wii, but I’d really like to remove it. All my games are original, non-imported versions. Also, I don’t have any pirated WiiWare etc. I was just interested to see whether it would work. There is stuff like IOS16 etc. installed. Is there a way to get everything back to normal, i.e. no hacked IOS versions etc.? I would like the Homebrew Channel to keep working though. πŸ™‚

  • 14 emailtoid.net/i/586e1ff1/… // Mar 22, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I’ve got two things to say.
    Apparently 3.2 users do not have to deal witih this issue if they weren’t banned yet. My friend owns a hacked wii with 3.4 installed on it and my wii is hacked as well and has 3.2. We both tried “cheating” online (experimental purposes) and my 3.2 wii did not get banned. However my friend’s wii DID get banned. (Later got unbanned by reformatting). It might have been some confusion, but I think 3.4 came with a feature that allowed Nintendo to scan through your wii.

    My second statement is that the bans are not rumors. The error code “20102” bans you from unauthorized activity.

  • 15 marcan // Mar 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    We aren’t doubting that people are being banned. Iff Nintendo made changes that enable them to scan for HBC, that would be interesting to investigate.

    However, we have no interest in on-line cheating. As long as people are being banned for cheating (whether HBC has anything to do with it once cheating is identified, or not) we aren’t going to do anything about it. If HBC is indeed being used as part of the determination, that’s interesting, but we aren’t going to change our ticket just to help the cheaters avoid being banned.

    Things change if HBC is getting people who are using an otherwise pristine Mario Kart banned. But there are no reports of that ever happening, so as far as we are concerned HBC is safe and the banned users likely deserve what they got.

  • 16 wiisixtyfour // Mar 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm


    Just use AnyTitle Deleter and delete all the non-legit stuff.

  • 17 Remadon // Mar 22, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Ha! If they are just targeting cheaters, I Like it! Im sick of getting cheated against online.

    honestly, why cheat? sombody give me a good reason.

  • 18 cr08 // Mar 22, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I really think it’s just a lot of hot air and finger pointing coming from those who are actively doing the cheating. If you notice: So far no one has been able to come through and definitively say that they have been banned, have HBC, but have never cheated. Just a lot of people confirming they do have HBC, never cheated, and haven’t been banned.

    Nintendo’s not stupid and I’m sure they aren’t aimlessly banning people as claimed. And I’m sure they also realize that the HBC is far from a pre-requisite for cheating. In fact, just about every single homebrew app out there can be wad’ed and loaded into the system through the Twilight hack, no HBC in sight.

    There’s also the very simple and poignant explanation that the Wii homebrew community has always been ripe with rumors from day one, often those rumors being misdirected or just completely unfounded. This one is no different until there is, as mentioned, solid evidence. And so far, no one has yet to come forward proving it. Just a lot of evidence building against it.

  • 19 WiiBlaster // Mar 22, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Well i honestly dont like cheaters but just for conformation I’ve tried just about everything to get myself banned, Mario Kart Online cheating the works, Have HBC Installed and everything, They must be doing Wave banning, is the only thing i can think off. I dont care if they Block Cheaters either way, But i would like to now what they are looking for inorder to ban you.

    PS: I’m not doubting people getting banned, I just can’t seem to get myself banned πŸ™

  • 20 Kilroy // Mar 22, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I’ve had Mario Kart since this Christmas and have had the Homebrew Channel installed since its first public release. As you probably could have guessed, I’ve also had no problems whatsoever when playing online with Mario Kart or any other game. Never used any cheating programs or anything else of that sort.

  • 21 Link // Mar 23, 2009 at 12:39 am

    @cr08: Like Rambytes and me said.. it seems they only surveil the online matches.. I even went that far to admit I used cheats in a friend match (I should note: of course all my buddies knew I would and they also were) and I can still happily race.

    I guess I may take marcan’s side. Online cheating is a no-go – though I am not sure how he stands to online cheating in friend matches where everyone knows you will. Public cheating and thus destroying the game for those who just want to regularly race… or battlle.. not supported by me and on my forums – where many cheat codes have their origin – are forbidden (codes only for online purposes will even be deleted.. but you know.. one guy posts, the Internet spreads faster than the moderators can react πŸ™ ).

    Basically we wanted to see how chaotic it would get.

  • 22 cr08 // Mar 23, 2009 at 4:56 am

    On a side note: Although knowing Nintendo, their attempts to eliminate cheating will be mostly for naught with the more determined hackers, I am pleased to see something is finally being done about it especially considering how basic the WFC service is.

    Up to this point, the 1st party WFC based games have all had a lot of vices that have made it more a chore to play online than anything unless you have enough active friends on your friend roster to isolate yourselves with. Brawl has had the nasty lag management sometimes resulting in the games so much as freezing completely for 15 minutes if bad enough but other times just enough constant and subtle lag to throw off the oft needed precise button commands/actions. Mario Kart of course has the known cheating tricks (Even the DS version was bad for this), and those are just two out of a number of WFC titles that are in the bin of ‘could have been good, but texas sized holes ruined it for everyone’ games.

    It’s really been ages since I have even played any of the available WFC games online for these exact reasons. As stated, it feels more like a chore than anything to even have a good time online.

    I put hopes on that Nintendo can effectively cull the hackers/cheaters to a discernible amount for the sake of improving their reputation a bit. And maybe this will instill some smarts in them that a more elaborate online service like Xbox Live to have a little more control over these things.

  • 23 WiiMan // Mar 23, 2009 at 5:22 am

    It’s funny how they call themselves hackers, when they are just plain cheaters.

  • 24 leafgreen386 // Mar 23, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I’ve heard reports of people being banned for hacking in other games, as well. Namely, brawl online, as in… with friends. As I’m sure most people are aware, cheating in brawl won’t really do anything for you; if you don’t have the same codeset as your opponent you’ll just desync. Code matches have become increasingly popular in some circles, although this recent error code has created a cause for concern for those who participate in these matches. I don’t mean some small scrappy group of friends playing this, either. At this point there are probably one or two thousand people playing this game using a unified codeset. As this movement is still young, it would suck to see it get hurt because of something like this. Sure, people would still be able to play with this codeset in their homes, although online makes it far more accessible for many people who don’t have anyone around them to play with.

    A thought I had was that they may use WiiConnect24 in order to check your wii, and that if you had it disabled, it may stop them from being able to detect the use of codes. This is pure conjecture, though, and hasn’t been tested by anyone, yet (that I know of). The user in reply #14 on this article stated that his friend got banned while using a 3.4 wii while he was fine using a 3.2 wii, so it looks like version menu may also have something to do with it.

  • 25 RobotMenace // Mar 24, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I’d have thought if Nintendo could scan your NAND in on-line play they would search for cIOS installs rather than the HAXX ticket. I mean, do you really think they care more about Mplayer and FTPii or warez and cheats? I hope they are wave banning so all these idiots who are posting and following “tutorials” to install a GeckoOS wad and use AnyTitle Deleter to get rid of HBC so they can apparently cheat without fear of getting caught learn they have no one to blame but themselves. Take some responsibility for your own actions. Some of us actually like how simple WFC is, and it’s encouraged us to play on-line because we can just play the game and forget about having virtual social lives to make up for our lack of a real life one. The cheats out there seem to think it’s only a game so it shouldn’t bother us. Well the fact that it is only a game and you feel the need to win at any expense rather than learning to loose gracefully(it is a good life lesson) and still enjoy yourself is what gets 99% of people out there angry

  • 26 Sven // Mar 24, 2009 at 3:58 am

    Well, they could only introduce such a system to new games. They won’t be able to fix older games. marcan explained this in another post a few weeks(?) ago.

    WiiMan :
    Those end-users at gbafail^H^H^H^Htemp also call themselves hackers even though all they can do is install software made by others. They probably think it’s cool πŸ˜›

    RobotMenace :
    It’s unlikely that they can just patch your online game to do stuff it was never designed for. They most likely just check for certain things (like if you always get blue shells) and ban you based on those facts.

  • 27 RobotMenace // Mar 24, 2009 at 6:17 am

    @sven I didn’t say they could, I don’t think they can, I said IF they could…

    And yes I agree, I think they work out server side who the cheats are

  • 28 Comedy // Mar 24, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Well I’m online in MKW right now. I have PAL MKW Disc on 3.2 USA Wii with a modchip, HBC is installed but I didn’t use it to run the game. I would think they have something on the server side to spot unusual activity.

  • 29 HyperHacker // Mar 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    If you want to play online with your friends, and all use the same cheats, maybe someone could hack together an alternate NWFC server to use for that purpose.

  • 30 initrdgz // Mar 26, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I doubt that the game was programmed to send information on all the titles the wii has over WFC. It isn’t like the PSP where you can download an update that will make it check, so I don’t really think that’s an issue, but you never know. Newer games may. However, as you said, having the homebrew channel installed doesn’t mean we are cheating. If they did start banning us for it, maybe we could sue >=)

    (Don’t quote me on that last part. Just so _I_ don’t get sued, that last part is a joke.)

  • 31 nintendude // Apr 23, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    I have to agree: it’s best to (at least) first play a few WFC matches of say Mario Kart the “fair and square” way first before cheating to win. After all, gaining skill in a game the normal way makes it more fun to play against others that are good like you (or suck).

    And to add to initrdgz’s comment: I agree that games won’t check to see if you have Homebrew installed on your Wii or if you’re using it while online and send that info to Nintendo. Plus, I don’t think that Nintendo would go out of their way to start banning cheaters left and right for cheating; they have more important things to worry about.

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