This guide will walk you through all the steps needed to mod your Wii U. We will be going from a stock Wii U to a fully modded console.
Why should you softmod your Wii U?
Modding your Wii U offers you a whole range of benefits including: –
Homebrew & Emulators
Game backups helping to keep your discs safe & the ability to back up your own games directly to your console or hard drive using Disc2app.
Virtual Console support, you can play your Wii & Wii U Virtual Console games in HD, including the ability to play games currently not available on the Wii or Wii U.
The ability to make your Wii U play games from any region including Japanese exclusive games.
The ability to play your GameCube & Wii Back-ups.
The ability to apply custom patches and mods to current games you own.
The ability to use third-party controllers with your Wii U, including the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.
*DISCLAIMER ABOUT BRICKING*
Please be aware that although the risk is incredibly small, as with all modification of system software there is a chance you could end up bricking your console! Make sure to always read all prompts with care and do make backups where possible!
What do you need to softmod the Wii U?
A Wii U running Firmware 5.5.0 and above (If your Wii U’s firmware is lower please update before proceeding.)
An SD card, ideally 16gb or 32gb (Micro SD to full SD adapters work fine!)
An external Hard drive or suitably large USB thumb drive. This where we will be installing all our games files etc so the bigger the better. Personally, I use a Maxtor 1TB HDD and I still have a ton of space.
A ‘Y-USB cable’, This will be needed if you are using an HDD. The Wii U’s USB ports do not provide a lot of power. The Y cable will allow you to get power from both USB ports at the back of the Wii U. A USB thumb drive has no moving parts and doesn’t need as much power, so you won’t need an additional cable if using one.
A method to transfer files to SD, ideally a PC, but I guess you could use a MAC or Android device also.
A legitimate DS game purchased from the eShop. This is the cheapest I used Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training (Known as Brain age in the US.)
How to mod your Wii U - Method
First, we need to go onto the eShop and download your exploitable DS game. This is an integral step to having your softmod become permanent. Brain training / Brain age is the cheapest. You want to have this installed internally on the Wii U’s memory. Do NOT install this on a USB drive.
Afterwards, we will deal with Nintendo’s automatic firmware updates. Nintendo can send an update automatically to your Wii U over the internet, this could patch the exploit we are about to install. There’s no ‘Turn off automatic updates option’ from the system settings so we will need to change our DNS settings. This is very easy to do: –
Go to ‘system settings’ – ‘Internet’ – ‘Connect to the Internet’ and press X to show your network connections. For each connection you use you will want to: –
Tap the connection – ‘Change settings’
Move across to find the ‘DNS’ button – Change this to ‘Don’t Auto-Obtain’
For the DNS IPs enter: –
Confirm and save and all updates will now be blocked!
Now, we need to format the SD card. We need to make sure the SD card is formatted as FAT32 with an Allocation Unit Size of 32K. The easiest way to do this is to use a free formatting software like guiformat. You can download it here. (Make sure you select the right drive to format!)
Once formatted, create a folder called ‘install’ and one called ‘wiiu’ on the root of your SD card. We need to copy over the Homebrew Launcher Installer https://github.com/wiiu-env/homebrew_launcher_installer/releases payload file to our SD card. Download the payload.zip and extract the payload.elf and copy over to the ‘wiiu’ folder.
Get the 1.4 version of the Homebrew Launcher here https://github.com/dimok789/homebrew_launcher/releases/tag/1.4. Download and extract homebrew_launcher.v1.4.zip and copy the contents to the root of your SD card. This will copy an ‘apps’ folder inside your ‘wiiu’ folder.
Next, we will download Haxchi & CBHC https://github.com/FIX94/haxchi/releases/latest (Coldboot Haxchi). Extract both .zip files to the root of your SD card. Inside the newly created ‘haxchi’ folder you will find a file called config.txt. Open this up with notepad and delete all the text in there and cut and paste (Without quotation marks): –
save this file and close it.
Download the latest version of WUP Installer GX2 http://wiiubru.com/appstore/zips/wup_installer_gx2.zip . You will be using this program a lot to install homebrew and games. Extract this .Zip file to the root of your SD.
Inside the ‘install’ folder on your SD make a new folder called ‘hbc’. Download the homebrew_launcher_channel.v2.1.zip https://github.com/dimok789/homebrew_launcher/releases/tag/v2.1. Extract and copy all the files inside into the newly created ‘hbc’ folder. This will allow us to install the Homebrew Channel.
Finally, Download Wii U NAND Dumper. This will allow you to make a back up of your NAND and may help you recover from a bricked system. It’s always good practice to make a backup! Extract the contents to your SD card.
Eject the SD card and insert it into the Wii U. Start up your Wii U as normal and open the internet browser. You need to enter the following URL:
Click ‘Run Homebrew Launcher!’ button and wait around 20 seconds. You should now be at the homebrew launcher menu. If the system freezes you can hard reset by holding down the power button for 10 seconds and try again.
How to backup up your Wii U’s NAND
Now that we are inside the homebrew launcher it’s time to back up your Wii U’s NAND. Launch the Application ‘nanddumper.elf’. Once booted you will be at this screen: –
Select everything as <YES> besides ‘Dump MLC (8GB/32GB). Personally, I wouldn’t bother with this but it’s up to you. Dumping the MLC is optional and will make a complete back up of your Wii U’s current memory. If you are modding a standard 8gb Wii U (White) you will need a memory card at least double the size of the dump. So, a 16GB for a white model and a 64GB for the 32GB black model. If you do decide to make a full back up, then be prepared to wait as this will take hours.
Press A to start the back-up and wait for the system to reboot. This could take some time. Once the Wii U reboots turn the console off and remove the SD card. On the root of your SD card, you will now find the files ‘otp.bin’, ‘slc.bin’,’slccmpt.bin’, & ‘seeprom.bin’ (If you backed up your MLC you will have numerous MLC files also) copy these over to your PC and keep them safe. You can use these to help you recover data if anything goes wrong and they are unique to each Wii U so do NOT lose them. Once backed up you can simply delete the files created to free up more space on your SD card.
Plug your SD card back in your Wii U and load up the internet browser and homebrew launcher once again. Navigate to Haxchi and launch it. You should see your DS title like below: –
Press ‘A’, read the warning and press ‘A’ again, this will install Haxchi to your Wii U. You will now be taken to the Wii U menu and will notice that Haxchi has been installed where your DS game was originally. Click on Haxchi to run and we will once again be rebooted to the Wii U system menu. We now can run unsigned code, install additional programs have access to various custom firmware features. Currently, we must run Haxchi each time we want to enable these features. This is time-consuming and a pain, so we are going to install CBHC (Coldboot Haxchi) to permanently enable these features.
Coldboot Haxchi installation
Coldboot Haxchi works by setting your system to automatically launch our exploited DS title as the system boots. This saves us from having to launch it manually each time, but as the DS game is set to launch instead of the Wii U’s UI it can be a little riskier. DO NOT REMOVE OR DELETE THIS ONCE INSTALLED, hide it in a folder on the Wii U menu (I dragged mine to the last page in the Wii U menu), Also do not transfer this your USB via the system menu as it will not work. If you remove, modify or delete this you will essentially brick your console, you have been warned!
So, things to make sure of before proceeding: –
Your DS title (Now Haxchi!) is installed to your Wii U’s internal memory.
The DS game is an officially purchased, genuine game from the eShop.
Make sure there are no USB devices attached to the Wii U.
If any of these three steps are skipped, you run the risk of bricking your console!
With that said, on to the installation;
Enter the Homebrew Launcher by selecting Haxchi and holding down the ‘A’ button. Select CBHC installer and load. This is very similar to installing Haxchi, select our DS game and press ‘A’ be sure to read the warnings and press ‘A’ to continue the installation.
Once installed your system will take you back to the main menu. We now need to reboot the Wii U to set up how the exploit automatically boots.
Upon rebooting, we will be at the CBHC menu. Move down to “Autoboot: Disabled” and press ‘A’ until it changes to “Autoboot: System Menu” then select Boot system Menu and press ‘A’.
You now have a permanently modded Wii U with Coldboot Haxchi. Reboot and you will notice that the Haxchi app now has a red triangle. As I said earlier, never delete, uninstall or move this app to USB. Drag it to the last page of your Wii U menu and make a folder and hide it in there. Also do not ever delete the user who purchased the game!
The Homebrew Channel
Now we have Haxchi running we are going to want an easier way of running homebrew. The best way to do his is to install the Homebrew Channel.
Reboot your console and press the ‘home’ button while CBHC is launching. Select the Homebrew Launcher from the menu and then load up WUP Installer GX. From here choose Homebrew Channel and install, make sure you install this to NAND when prompted. Once the Homebrew Channel has finished installing you can press ‘Home’ a few times to be returned to the Wii U main menu.
You have now successfully fully modded your Wii U with Coldboot Haxchi and can use the Homebrew channel to launch any homebrew you like.
In the second part of this guide you can find here where I explain how to dump your Wii U games and run Wii U game backups. We also go into detail on how to mod your Virtual Wii allowing for even more exciting stuff!
You can find part 2 here!