What Is “Homebrew” And What Does It Do?

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Whenever you see a crazy mod on a Nintendo Wii or 3DS console, you can safely assume that homebrew is behind it. Homebrew has been around for quite some time, and continues to be put to use; many people who still frequently use their Wii consoles do so because of what homebrew can offer.

There is a lot that can be done with homebrew, but in order to fully recognize just how broad its uses are, it’s important to learn the basics about it.

What Is Homebrew?

Homebrew is an easy-to-install hack that allows consoles to run software and other mods that were either not licensed or allowed on Nintendo consoles. 

It can be as simple as running pirated games, installing emulators on the Wii, or to play DVDs on the console. It can also be used for elaborate game modding, and even to change the physics in a particular game’s engine. The uses with homebrew range dependent on one’s skill and interests.

Early on, homebrew mods were much more crude and difficult to set up, and with the frequent Wii updates that Nintendo dished out, a lot of modded consoles were at risk to become bricked. With the invention of The Homebrew Channel, installing homebrew has never been easier, safer and user-friendly.

What Can Homebrew Do?

On top of the uses mentioned, such as people able to install software that Nintendo wouldn’t have allowed, homebrew is the foundation for some pretty major mods for the Nintendo Wii.

One of those is Project: M, a mod of Super Smash Bros. Brawl to make it play more like Super Smash Bros. Melee. It is one of the most sophisticated fan mods in history, and the competitive scene that rose up around it rivaled even the main games in the Smash series. Development of Project: M was halted in December 2015 to avoid further legal problems with Nintendo.

Another use of homebrew is the Wiimmfi Project, which reactivates online servers for Wii games after Nintendo shut down the servers in 2014. Wiimmfi doesn’t improve the quality of the servers, but rather replicates the experience as it was when Nintendo’s servers were active. As a result, games such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl still suffer from intense latency, but Mario Kart Wii remains incredibly popular, bringing in hundreds of players daily.

The Risks Of Homebrew

As homebrew is a mod that’s not sanctioned by Nintendo, system updates can completely brick a console that has homebrew installed on it, as this was Nintendo’s way of fighting against homebrew Wiis. 

It’s also worth noting that homebrew itself, while more refined than it was in the past, is still a foreign entity to the Wii; this means that there’s always a risk that a Wii can be damaged or bricked by trying to install homebrew on it. It’s important to note these risks to anyone looking to get involved with homebrewing their Wii.

How To Get Started

There are many good guides on the internet on how to get started with homebrew. It’s important to remember that the actual homebrew coding is free, and you should be skeptical of anyone trying to sell packages or deals in relation to homebrew. Having said that, all methods for setting up homebrew will need:

  • A Nintendo Wii
  • An SD card
  • Computer with internet access

There are also several forums and communities that are a great place to get connected with people and to explore what homebrew can offer you.