Home Gaming Huge Nintendo legacy console leak reveals a treasure trove of information

Huge Nintendo legacy console leak reveals a treasure trove of information

3 min read

Nobody keeps a secret like Nintendo, as the Japanese company is notorious for having a grip so tight on the inner workings of their company that they could use it to squeeze juice from a rock. What does rock juice taste like? That’s another secret that only Nintendo knows the dark and horrible answer to. Said grip must have loosened slightly lately, as data miners struck gold with a thick vein of Nintendo secrets that were thrown up on 4Chan.

While the bulk of the current upload is focused primarily on the original Wii console, having that source code for the 2006 console is the equivalent of winning the powerball jackpot for anyone with an interest in emulation. The data dump also included details on older Nintendo consoles, such as the N64 and the too good for its time GameCube. “The biggest and craziest thing in this leak is the datasheets, block diagram and Verilog files for every component,” wrote ResetEra forum user called Atheerios, via Kotaku.

Verilog is a hardware description language; is used to describe circuits via code, so with this we can learn how every single piece of the Wii was made.

Here’s the crib list of what has been leaked…so far:

  • Source code for boot0/1/2
  • Block diagram/datasheets for every system component & Verilog for AES/SHA
  • Documents from BroadOn describing feature planning and implementation + APIs + docs for internal software
  • Full IOS SDK
  • Source code for IOS (IOS is the Wii Operating System)
  • Planning docs for implementation of the system from 2004-2006
  • some wii sdk library source code (DVD, EXI)
  • source code and info on manufacturing and publishing systems
  • some misc. nintendo stuff (internal WPAD SDK from 2005, Wii Overview from RVL_SDK 1.0)
  • “sdboot”, a special manufacturing version of boot2 which loads data from the SD card; is very buggy and likely exploitable for boot2 code execution on all Wiis (it is retail signed)
  • gamecube and ique stuff as well (internal gamecube docs including physical disc layout, massive 2GB+ iQue dump including full CVS for that as well)

What does all of this mean exactly? Well think of it this way: If you wanted to, you could literally build your own Wii console. You’d also have to duck a cease and desist round from Nintendo’s legal snipers, but that’s a problem for the tomorrow version of you. You might also be wondering why anyone would even be interested in such old code, and that’s a valid question.

It all leans into the tricky topic of preservation and emulation, teetering on a line that is suspended over a bridge of piracy. Nintendo has long been criticised for how it manages to sell the same game twice to fans, with each new console usually seeing classics from yesteryear repackaged and resold on that newer system every couple of years. Heck, I’m well aware of this: My Nintendo 3DS is home to several Pokémon games from a generation when handheld gaming required a steady stock of disposable batteries.

As a history lesson, the data is a fascinating dive into how Nintendo operates, revealing the cutest of tech demos that were used to highlight the power of their consoles at the time:

I’m looking at this story from the angle of preservation (Holy crap, all the Pokemon information from this leak!), and while there will be some people who leverage the data for more nefarious purposes, it’s still fascinating to see just how Nintendo works on a technical level. There’s a lot that Nintendo gets right when it comes to gaming, but proper historical preservation of their titles for the fans, isn’t one of them.

At least now we finally know why friend codes are so gosh dang unwieldy:

Last Updated: May 5, 2020

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