- 26 September 08: Bushing and Marcan have started to sell SaveMii, a recovery dongle that fits into the GC memory card port and allows recovery disks to be run. Hackmii Announcement
So your Wii is bricked
When powered on, your Wii displays nothing but an error message, or nothing at all? We may have just the solution for your problem. There’s a good chance a nifty little piece of hardware can allow you to fix your system. We call it SaveMii.
Most “bricks” are the result of poor error checking or bugs in the Wii’s System Menu. For example, if you have installed a system update off a wrong region’s disk, the System Menu will only display an “Opera” error message and halt without running disks anymore. SaveMii will let you break out of this condition.
SaveMii allows to skip most of the System Menu startup process, especially the part that fails and halts the boot process. Instead, it causes the Wii to directly run software off a disk. Depending on the Wii’s system version, and whether your Wii has a modchip installed, this allows you to either run a system update off a legit Wii disk, or a custom-made disk containing updates or homebrew tools.
SaveMii is a small dongle that is plugged into a Wii’s Gamecube memory card slot. It mimicks a test interface that is believed to be used in Nintendo’s own facilities (dubbed “Waikiki” by Nintendo).
When the System Menu is started and such a device is found, much of the System Menu’s code is skipped. Instead, the System Menu checks the validity of the disk, runs an update from the inserted disk if present, and then tries to start a diagnostic – also known “autoboot” – disk.
This will allow updates from legit Wii disks to fix the system data. Or, if the Wii’s system hasn’t been updated to version 3.3 yet and is equipped with a modchip, even run custom-made disks containing updates or homebrew tools to modify the system.
Team Twiizers is proud to announce the new SaveMii recovery dongle. This simple device plugs into the GameCard memory slot of any Wii, and will force the Wii into a special “Recovery Mode”. This mode will allow software updates from game discs to be installed, and will boot autoboot discs for those with drivechips installed.
The target audience for this device is people who own Wiis which were bricked by installing an update from a disc from the wrong region. In the case of a semi-brick, this can be fixed using one of the semi-brick fix discs we made, or by just trying to play a newer game (and letting the system install the included update). In the case of a fully-bricked Wii, that is not possible because the system will display the Opera error message before it tries to read from the disc.
Take a look at ChipD’s demonstration video:
It will hopefully be useful for some other recovery scenarios as well; for systems that can boot fakesigned discs, you will be able to boot them and execute whatever code you want. You will probably only need to use it once or twice per Wii; after that, you can keep it as a souvenir, or in case you accidentally brick your Wii again, or you can sell it to a friend.
For more details, please refer to the official site and, in particular, its Wii Troubleshooting page. It should help you determine whether SaveMii will be useful to you. If you do buy one, please be patient and give us a few days to ship – we’re still ironing out the kinks in the process. The lead time on the boards is about 3 weeks, so once our existing stock is gone you’ll have to wait a bit before ordering more. We’ll try to get a new order of boards in soon.
A couple of answers to questions we expect to be asked:
Q. Will this let me play warez? Is it some sort of modchip?
A. No. In this “recovery mode”, the system will boot fewer disks than it would in normal operation (in particular, it will only completely boot debug (”autoboot”) discs). However, it will boot those disks in cases where it wouldn’t boot anything before.
Q. How does the device put the Wii into a recovery mode? Aren’t you patching the system via the memory card port?
A. The recovery mode is built in to the System Menu, and it just checks for the presence of a device with a specific behavior. We can’t do anything other than trigger this menu. This also only works if the Wii can get as far as the System Menu – it won’t help if you’re having trouble earlier in the boot process.
Q. Are you guys selling out? Are you trying to make a profit out of the misery of others? Why not sell a kit?
A. We don’t think so. This isn’t something like a “PowerSaves” SD card, where we’ve taken a normal piece of hardware and copied some files to it, and then passed it off as a “hack”. This is a device that we spent considerable time designing and testing; we then spent a lot of money in advance to have a batch of PC Boards professionally produced. Each device is then professionally hand-assembled by bushing or myself (we make them in our kitchens, but I bet you won’t be able to tell). We think you will be happy with the result; for those of you with otherwise-useless Wiis, this will save you a considerable amount of money.
Additionally, you will be supporting Team Twiizer’s efforts on other projects. We will continue to strive to produce free software-only tools when technically feasible, and high-quality, reasonably-priced hardware when appropriate.
Q. What about the boot2 recovery you have been writing about?
A. When we first started talking about the boot2 recovery loader (which we’ll call BootMii), we wrote that it would be a “long-term” project, and we weren’t kidding. Eventually, it will be a much better solution than SaveMii, for it will be able to fix many more problems you might encounter. It will also be very invasive, requiring physical access to the NAND chip if your Wii is already bricked, and it’s nowhere near ready yet. We feel that SaveMii is a good interim solution while we continue working on our boot2 replacement. For those users which have already bricked their Wiis, it has the considerable advantage of not requiring you to open your console. Once BootMii is available, you will be able to use it to “brick-proof” existing Wiis (via a simple software install), and you will be able to flash it to bricked Wiis using a hardware NAND programmer. Or, if the brick is fixable by using SaveMii, it will probable be easier for you to fix it that way and then install BootMii using software.
Q. Why aren’t you releasing the source code / schematics?
A. If history is any indication, we would just end up like PassMe did in the early days of the Nintendo DS. Modchip companies would just start using our design to manufacture cheaper, prettier-looking, better-advertised versions. While they will certainly clone this device at some point, at least this way it will take them a little longer.