WADs and ISOs: The Warez Connection talk by bushing

WADs and ISOs: The Warez Connection

http://hackmii.com/ news from bushings blog!

June 1st, 2008 by bushing · 16 Comments

There still seems to be some confusion about why we turn our noses up at WAD-manipulation tools, so I think an analogy is in order. A WAD Installer is like an ISO Loader.


WAD files and ISO files are very similar, in fact. They are container formats (like ZIP files and TAR archives), which means they can contain all sorts of different things — some good and wholesome, some evil and foolish. Unlike other containers, WADs and ISOs are generally used for self-contained, bootable content. You know, like warez.

Of course, this is not always the case and there are exceptions. You can download a bootable Linux ISO (for your computer, and eventually for your Wii). I made some semi-brick fix ISOs, and we also made some Homebrew Channel Installation discs available, too. This doesn’t change the fact that the reason anybody in the world wants an ISO Loader for their game console is so that they can rip a game disc into an ISO, put it up on BitTorrent, and trade with their friends without “wasting money” on recordable media. I don’t believe there is much argument on this point.

What about WADs? Well, what kinds of things come packaged as WADs?

  1. Firmware updates from Nintendo
  2. Ripped VC games
  3. Homebrew Channels
  4. Ripped WiiWare games
  5. … er, I think that’s about it.

Nobody is using a WAD Installer to install firmware updates from Nintendo. Almost nobody is using a WAD Packer to create new firmware updates. Real, genuine “Homebrew Channels” are almost nonexistent, and for good reason — they’re really tough to make when you don’t pirate existing Nintendo content for your banner file or NANDLoader. They offer more convenience than using the Twilight Hack to launch your homebrew, but that added convenience is almost never worth the added risk of bricking your Wii.

The technical reason that WADs and ISOs are mainly used for piracy is that they are the easiest ways to rip published content. When you download some random shareware program for your computer, it comes as either an executable file, or maybe an installer. The same holds true with Wii Homebrew.

However, if you’re trying to pirate a game, you pretty much have to stick with an ISO or a WAD, because the code for these games assumes that they were packaged that way, never to be modified. Therefore, people have created ISO loaders … and WAD Managers … to make it easier to trick this code into believing it is running as originally packaged.

Don’t get me wrong — it takes some hard work and clever hacking to write ISO loaders and WAD-manipulation utilities. However, you won’t catch me pretending that a WAD Installer is a “decidedly positive cause”.


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