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David Low
28 Feb, 2007

Wii's GameCube region lock busted

Wii News | No Freeloader required for region free backwards compatibility.
Sometimes, fiddling with your new toy can be useful. And it seems that by fiddling with their PAL Wii, some clever chaps have achieved something not thought possible with an un-modified console. A user of a certain forum (that we won't name because of some questionable activities there, legally speaking) who goes by the handle 'dolqube' apparently decided to experiment with his Wii console's GameCube boot function. And he found that it's actually possible to run original NTSC GameCube discs on a PAL Wii console without modification, and without the use of Datel's Freeloader software.

The method goes like this: Pop a PAL GameCube disc into the Wii, and head to the 'Disc Channel'. A GameCube logo should be up on the screen. Point the Wii Remote's cursor over the 'Start' option so it's highlighted, and while keeping your hand steady, press the eject button on the Wii. For about one second, the 'Start' option will remain active. In this window of time, hit the A button on the Wii Remote and then swap out your ejected PAL GCN disc with an NTSC (Japanese or USA) disc, which the Wii will accept into the drive.

If you get it right, the Wii should boot up in GameCube mode and run your NTSC game! We've tried it with several different games from both the USA and Japan, and after learning the timing, we got every game running on our PAL Wii first time.

What's great about this trick is that unlike many 'disc swap' import tricks in the past (such as those that worked on the Sega Saturn and the original PlayStation) this one doesn't require any physical modification of your console, and probably won't even harm it since the Wii is simply using its own disc loading mechanism the whole time. Apparently the reason it works is that the Wii takes a couple of seconds to power itself down to GameCube mode, but for the sake of brevity it tells the disc to boot before the transformation is complete. It is the window between the two that allows this trick to work.

But will it work with imported Wii discs? PALGN's resident 'import crazy man' Chris Sell has tried and can't get it to work. So it seems not for now, but we'll keep you updated.

Thanks to PALGN forum moderator Cerebral for the tip on this excellent Wii trick!

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59 Comments
7 years ago
This article could get you in alot of trouble you know icon_sad.gif .

But it wont icon_smile.gif .
7 years ago
Wonder if Nintendo will address this.

Also I wonder when the 'next big patch' is due from Nintendo. I'd like to see a good number of things fixed in a patch (ie VC 16x9 support etc).
7 years ago
That's pretty awesome. I'm gonna go try it out now.
7 years ago
You guys don't want us talking about torrents on the forum yet this is front page news.

icon_confused.gif icon_eh.gif icon_unsure.gif icon_eh.gif
7 years ago
crestfallen12 wrote
You guys don't want us talking about torrents on the forum yet this is front page news.

icon_confused.gif icon_eh.gif icon_unsure.gif icon_eh.gif
Theres a difference, ones a glitch, the other is piracy
7 years ago
renegadesx wrote
crestfallen12 wrote
You guys don't want us talking about torrents on the forum yet this is front page news.

icon_confused.gif icon_eh.gif icon_unsure.gif icon_eh.gif
Theres a difference, ones a glitch, the other is piracy
The community, who are not affiliated with PALGN staff, talking about an episode that hasn't aired on aussie TV yet is the devil while circumventing Nintendo's desired region locking is ok?
7 years ago
retroman wrote
This article could get you in alot of trouble you know icon_sad.gif
We've discussed it, there's nothing illegal here. This only does what the Freeloader already did anyway.

leonmc wrote
I'd like to see a good number of things fixed in a patch (ie VC 16x9 support etc).
Dude, you'll have to give up that dream, because it's never going to happen. VC games all run in their original resolution.

crestfallen12 wrote
You guys don't want us talking about torrents on the forum yet this is front page news.

icon_confused.gif icon_eh.gif icon_unsure.gif icon_eh.gif
Torrents of copyrighted material are illegal. Using a trick to play legitimate imported games on un-modified console is in no way illegal.
7 years ago
David wrote
crestfallen12 wrote
You guys don't want us talking about torrents on the forum yet this is front page news.

icon_confused.gif icon_eh.gif icon_unsure.gif icon_eh.gif
Torrents of copyrighted material are illegal. Using a trick to play legitimate imported games on un-modified console is in no way illegal.
But still is Nintendo going to turn around and say, "Hey PALGN, good find!"
7 years ago
renegadesx wrote
Theres a difference, ones a glitch, the other is piracy
Exactly. Region unlocking is legal. Downloading pirated content is illegal. There's zero contradiction there.
7 years ago
What's your point crest? It's pretty simple, one's illegal and one isn't. Whether or not Nintendo like it, they have no legal recourse. Whether or not television networks/show producers like it, they do have legal recourse against those who pirate their shows.
7 years ago
nevermind the fact that modding a console in order to play imported games is a protected activity in Australia.

(note: IMPORTED, not PIRATED.)
7 years ago
crestfallen12 wrote
But still is Nintendo going to turn around and say, "Hey PALGN, good find!"
Maybe if it helps them to stop this from happening, yes. We're just reporting the news.
7 years ago
ObsoletE wrote
nevermind the fact that modding a console in order to play imported games is a protected activity in Australia.

(note: IMPORTED, not PIRATED.)
Perhaps not for long... (sadly)
7 years ago
Sweet, I'm famous. It's all falling into place.

- Name mentioned in Palgn article
- Car photographed in local paper
- ???
- Profit!
7 years ago
Spanca wrote
ObsoletE wrote
nevermind the fact that modding a console in order to play imported games is a protected activity in Australia.

(note: IMPORTED, not PIRATED.)
Perhaps not for long... (sadly)
In January, the Federal Government passed amendments to the Copyright Act that explicitly make modchips legal. They would have to pass another amendment to revoke this, so I can't see them doing it any time soon (and the ACCC would go crazy if they tried).
7 years ago
That is terrific news.

Quite often we get starved of a nice release in ANZ and knowing we can get a perfectly legal NTSC title to work on our PAL machines is welcomed news indeed. Simpler mechanisms or software to take the tedium out of this "balancing act" like process should be just around the corner with any luck.

Meanwhile Ive not been keeping upto date regarding the effectiveness of Freeloader - I'm hoping its solid???

Shame we have to resort to such silly antics to make our purchased software titles to work. Are you listening Nintendo?
7 years ago
don't suppose anyone can post a vid of how to do this... I'm not having much luck....
7 years ago
Cerebral wrote
Sweet, I'm famous. It's all falling into place.

- Name mentioned in Palgn article
- Car photographed in local paper
- ???
- Profit!
Cerebral - You could be in the upper echelon of gaming in no time!
Just remember Kevin Mitnick has done well from writting a book or two. Need an agent? icon_cool.gif
7 years ago
ooooh it worked!
uuhh only problem is RE4 is about the side of a postage stamp on my screen... (well, that's exagerating... it's like... 1/3rd the screen size)

what's the deal with that...?


I tried starting it up in progressive scan mode by holding down the red button to see if that'd fix it... just caused the machine to freak out.
7 years ago
Cookie wrote
Meanwhile Ive not been keeping upto date regarding the effectiveness of Freeloader - I'm hoping its solid???
Yeah. The newest release of Freeloader works perfectly with the Wii (although, it obviously only works with Gamecube games).

It's nice having another option, though. This trick isn't quite as convenient as Freeloader, but if you only have one or two NTSC games, then it will do the job just fine, and save you $30.
7 years ago
Cookie wrote
Simpler mechanisms or software to take the tedium out of this "balancing act" like process should be just around the corner with any luck.

Meanwhile Ive not been keeping upto date regarding the effectiveness of Freeloader - I'm hoping its solid???
The latest Freeloder works perfectly on a PAL Wii (I thought I'd just mention that to cover myself on the issue!). And yeah, it's probably best to get one if you're going to play imports reasonably often anyway, it's just easier.

Xentri wrote
don't suppose anyone can post a vid of how to do this... I'm not having much luck....
Just hit 'start' a fraction of a second after you hit eject - as soon as you hear the 'eject beep' actually. Then concentrate on swapping the discs, and you should get it.
7 years ago
Marlor wrote
Spanca wrote
ObsoletE wrote
nevermind the fact that modding a console in order to play imported games is a protected activity in Australia.

(note: IMPORTED, not PIRATED.)
Perhaps not for long... (sadly)
In January, the Federal Government passed amendments to the Copyright Act that explicitly make modchips legal. They would have to pass another amendment to revoke this, so I can't see them doing it any time soon (and the ACCC would go crazy if they tried).
My understanding is that while it was made legal recently, post-High Court decision, the US is pushing for that to be reversed (and thus reverting to the original laws or something similar) as part of the free trade agreement.
7 years ago
Wow get this for a work around...

I used the glitch you guys mentioned to launch my old version freeloader... and then used the freeloader to launch RE4 and it would let me put it in progressive mode and showed correctly in 480p...

so I guess those of us who have old freeloaders can use 'em...

I'm guessing maybe it's putting a 480p on a 576i display if you don't force it with the freeloader with this game... as that's what the TV says... that's why the game only takes up part of the screen
7 years ago
where can i get cheap NTSC games? - ive been looking for a while now - you would think gamecube games would be cheap but they're not.
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