A step-by-step guide on how to softmod the Wii for free and without using a game exploit, applicable to all versions upto System Menu 4.3, covering NTSC-U, NTSC-J, PAL and Korean consoles.
The goal of this guide is to result in a softmodded Nintendo Wii with the Homebrew Channel (HBC) – the main hub for launching and installing homebrew applications without having to use exploits everytime – and the common custom IOSs to run various homebrew applications. It’s very easy to softmod the Wii and takes only 10mins.
This guide has been tailored to use BannerBomb and Wiibrand – two exploits that have been developed to launch the HackMii Installer without a game to softmod the Wii. BannerBomb works on System Menu 4.2 and lower, while Wiibrand is needed for System Menu 4.3
What is needed to softmod the Wii
- SD card or SDHC card (System Menu 4.0 or higher)
- Computer with SD card reader
- ModMii software
- BannerBomb / Wiibrand
- System Menu 4.3+ – Wiibrand (All regions)
- System Menu 4.2 and below – Bannerbomb (NTSC-U, NTSC-J and PAL)
Update the Wii (optional but recommended)
When researching how to softmod the Wii, pretty much every guide will say not to update the Wii unless necessary, but if you are able to and are not running System Menu 4.3 I recommend that you update your Nintendo Wii before performing any hacks. This not only makes sure that you are fully up-to-date with the Nintendo Wii Channels but also installs IOS58 which improves USB read speeds and is required by some homebrew applications (IOS58 can also be installed separately if you do not wish to update but I see no reason not too). I also suggest doing this before you softmod the Wii since the Homebrew Channel will use IOS58 to run, without IOS58 the HBC will use another one (probably IOS61) and you may find that you need to reinstall it before some homebrew will work, such as WiiMC.
Once you are on System Menu 4.3 you must use the Wiibrand method for using the HackMii Installer to softmod the Wii. Of course, if you can’t update you Wii for some reason then stick with the BannerBomb exploit.
Download the Files and Prepare the SD card
To softmod the Wii you need the necessary software. Download and install ModMii onto you PC, launch it and follow the wizard typing until you get to the “Choose an activity” screen. Select the option for “ModMii Classic Mode”, click “Next” and type “I agree” again on the opening screen.
ModMii Classic Mode is a text based application requiring you to type menu options to select them. Start by typing 1 to select page one. Cycle through the pages by entering on a blank entry and type the corresponding tag to add the file to the download queue.
Select the following files:
- Page 1
- 36a = IOS36v3351
- Page 2
- HM = HackMii Installer
- MMM = Multi-Mod Manager
- 236 = IOS236 Installer
- BB1 = BannerBomb v1 (for System Menu 4.1 and below)
- BB2 = BannerBomb v2 (for System Menu 4.2)
- WB = Wiibrand
- On the Wii go to Wii Settings -> Internet -> Console Settings and make a note of the Wii’s MAC address.
- Enter the MAC address into the ModMii window and press enter
- Select the appropriate region for your console and press enter to return to the download page 2 option screen
- Page 4
- 24956 = cIOS249-d2x-v8-final
- 25057 = cIOS250-d2x-v8-final
Once all files are added, press D to preview the download queue and then Y to confirm. All files will be downloaded to the COPY_TO_SD folder in the ModMii directory.
Place the SD card into your card reader and back-up any existing data on it, then format the card to FAT32. Copy the contents of COPY_TO_SD to the SD card, but move the IOS36v3351.wad from the wad folder to the root of the SD card.
If you already use this card on a Wii you may already have a private folder on the card, in which case you can either copy this onto your PC and then format or rename this folder to privateold, perform the hack and rename it back afterwards. I recommend starting with a blank card, backed-up and formatted, to ensure their is no confusion.
Formatting your card with erase all data so it is important to make sure that all data is backed-up first.
Your SD card should now contain (atleast):
- apps - Folder containing HackMii Installer, IOS236 Installer and Multi-Mod Manager
- private - Extracted from Bannerbomb or LetterBomb exploits
- boot.elf – Extracted from the HackMii Installed
- privateold (optional) – Renamed folder for existing Wii files
- wad – IOS249d2x56 and IOS250d2x57 wad files
- IOS36v3351.wad - Needed for IOS236 Installer
Now to actually softmod the Wii…
Load the HackMii Installer
Place the SD card into the Nintendo Wii and follow the guide for the Bannerbomb/Letterbomb exploit.
- On System Menu 4.1 or lower, go to Settings -> Data Management -> Wii -> SD and the exploit will execute automatically.
On System Menu 4.2, go to the SD card menu and the exploit will execute.
- If is shows “Load boot.dol/elf”, if works and you can click YES to run it. Otherwise, go back to the Bannerbomb site and download the next version.
- Open the message board and browse to ‘yesterday‘ – which ever day that is.
- Click on the envelope that stands out from the others and wait for the HackMii Installer to start.
Install the Homebrew Channel
On the installation screen you will be presented with several options. Depending on the age of your Wii you may only have the option to install BootMii as IOS.
- Select continue on the first screen.
- Go to Homebrew Channel > Install the Homebrew Channel and select Yes to install. Wait until it says “finished”.
- If possible, install BootMii as boot2 (which gives you the best brick protection). If not, install it as an IOS (which will give you NO brick protection on its own).
- Return to the main menu and choose Exit to reboot the Wii.
If you have installed BootMii as boot2 the BootMii menu will load everytime while the SD card is in the Wii (with the BootMii files on it). To prevent this, rename or move the BootMii folder on the SD card, but keep them safe so BootMii can be accessed at a later date if needed.
If you have installed BootMii as IOS, this will be available to load from within the Homebrew Channel.
In order to use wad managers, cIOS installers or back-up loaders on your softmodded Wii you need to make use of a security hole known as the Trucha Bug, which allows homebrew users to bypass Nintendo’s security checks. The IOS236 Installer will install a patched IOS36 in IOS slot 236 to restore the Trucha Bug on updated Wii consoles allowing the custom IOS to be installed.
- With the SD card still in the Wii, open the Homebrew Channel and Launch the IOS236 Installer.
- Press A to continue with the installation – if you get an error saying it can not find the file, make sure you copied the IOS36v3351.wad to the root of the SD card.
Custom IOSs, such as IOS249, changes the way the Wii is able to access data meaning that homebrew can be run from a USB hard drive instead of the SD. At time of writing the latest release of the d2x cIOSs is d2x-v8-final.
- Open the Homebrew Channel and launch Multi-Mod Manager.
- Tap down the bottom option and press A to confirm the change of IOS – select 236.
- Select Wad Manager and you should see the cIOS files and the forward channel downloaded by ModMii in part 1 of the guide.
- Press 1 to install them all (installing the fowarder now saves coming back later).
- Press the Home button to exit to the System Menu.
It does not harm to have multiple cIOSes installed and Hermes cIOS222/223/224 had added some additional compatability in the past. These files are also available to download through ModMii and can be added at a later time if you find you have problems with the above cIOS installations (I haven’t).
Enjoy playing your softmodded Wii
With the Homebrew Channel installed, and some cIOSs installed as well, the Nintendo Wii is now ready to run homebrew applications from an SD card or USB hard drive. If you intended to use a USB loader for running backup games I recommend using Configurable USB Loader – follow my guide on installation and usage