Homebrew allows your Wii U to run applications that Nintendo did not intend for you to run. This includes emulators, custom games, and mods. You can even install backup copies of your games on a hard drive and run them from there.
This process is long, but it is not too complicated and the average user can complete it. You don’t run any risk of damaging or crashing your console with regular homebrew, so it’s completely safe.
Homebrew is a great way to breathe new life into an old console. There are a lot of cool things you can do with a modified console.
- Emulators: Do you want to play Nintendo 64 games on your Wii U? With emulators, Wii U can play almost any Nintendo game that isn’t exclusive to 3DS or Switch.
- USB game charging: You only have between 16 and 32 GB of space on your Wii U, which is enough to install a few games on the fast internal storage. Homebrew allows you to load hundreds of games from USB storage, which you can download yourself from the drive. This allows for hacking, but that’s not the main focus.
- Cemu : Homebrewing your Wii U is the only way to legally play Wii U games on PC, and with Breath of The Wild now running much better on Cemu than it does on Wii U and Nintendo Switch, there’s every reason to do so.
- GameCube games: Nintendo simply flipped a switch to disable GameCube games from running on your Wii U. The functionality is still there but disabled from within Wii Mode. You can turn it back on and make full use of your console.
- Mod Kits: there’s an active cutscene for Smash 4 mods, including one called Melee HD that completely changes the gameplay. Homebrew is the only way to modify games.
There’s too much content to go into detail here, but we’ll describe how to get your console home-made and to a point where you can start installing whatever you want.
Prepare your SD card
You will need to get the homebrew files onto your Nintendo Wii U. To do this, you will need an SD card reader. If your computer doesn’t have one, you can get an adapter on Amazon for less than $10.
There are two paths you can take with the homebrewing process. The first uses a browser exploit to execute arbitrary code and load the homebrew launcher. From there, you can install a custom firmware package called Mocha CFW, which removes code signing and allows you to install the homebrew channel as an app on your Wii U. Once that’s done, you can jump in and out of homebrew apps without any trouble. issue.
The problem is that if you restart your Wii U, you will have to redo the browser exploit. This is annoying, especially on the latest firmware, where the exploit has a lower success rate. The solution to this is another exploit called Haxchi to overwrite a Virtual Console DS game and turn it into a makeshift home launcher, replacing the browser exploit entirely. But you’ll need a legitimate DS game, there’s no way to hack it, even with home magic. Currently the cheapest DS game on the Nintendo eShop is Brain Age, at $6.99, although others are compatible. You can also make your Wii U run the exploit at boot, called Coldboot Haxchi, but it’s not necessary and it’s one of the few things that risks bricking your console, in other words rendering your Wii U hardware useless.
You’ll need a few files, regardless of which path you choose:
- The payload to execute when you run the browser exploit
- The homebrew startup channel, which is loaded by the payload. download both
- The Home App Store, technically optional, but will allow you to install future apps solely from your Wii U.
.zipfiles, put them in a new folder, like this:
Unzip all, delete the
.zipfiles and you should have something like this:
Next, we will move on to the SD card. You’ll want to make sure it’s formatted as FAT32 , with an allocation unit size of 32,768 (32k). You will also need to use an MBR partition and not GPT. Also for some reason it can’t name the SD card
Once it’s formatted, you’ll need to create a couple of empty folders to put the homebrew files in. you will need to do
/install/hbcwhich should look like this:
/installfolder is used to install custom channels into the Wii U Menu, which we’re using for the homebrew channel. The
/wiiu/appsfolder is used for home applications.
Drag the folders
homebrew_launcherof your downloads to
/wiiufolder (not to the app folder inside it).
Open the content of the
homebrew_launcher_channel.v2.1 folder and select them all. Drag everything to
The resulting file structure on your SD card should look like this:
If it matches, you’re ready to go. You can download everything else much more easily onto your Wii U once the homebrew launcher loads.
Loading the Homebrew Launcher on your Wii U
The initial exploit loads through the browser, so you’ll need to make sure your Wii U can connect to the internet. Open the Internet browser on the Wii U and navigate to
wiiuexploit.xyz. You may want to bookmark this. If this particular site is down or not working for you, there are plenty of other homegrown exploit hosts out there.
Once you’re here, click the button to run the homebrew launcher.
If it worked, your console should boot into the Homebrew Launcher app from the SD card. If it freezes, you will have to hold down the power button to turn off the console and try again. Freezes are completely random and much more common on the latest system firmware. Don’t be surprised if this takes a long time, and make sure your SD card is formatted correctly if it takes more than ten attempts.
Installing The Homebrew Channel
The homebrew channel is an easily accessible loader for the homebrew launcher. Even if you are just using Mocha CFW, it will allow you to jump in and out of games and applications without having to run the lengthy browser exploit process to access homebrew features.
From the homebrew launcher, the home screen, open the homebrew app store.
Search for “Mocha CFW” and “WUP Installer G2X” in the app store and install them both.
WUP Installer GX2 is used to install channels and apps to your Wii U home screen. Since we can’t do that without code signing disabled, we’ll need to load into Mocha CFW first.
Quit the homebrew app store and load Mocha CFW. Your Wii U should reboot and display the Mocha splash screen while you reload.
Once you’re running custom firmware, it’s time to install the homebrew channel for a more permanent solution. Run the browser exploit again, open WUP Installer GX2, select “hbc” and press “Install”.
It will ask you if it should be installed on NAND or USB system, choose “NAND”. This installs the homebrew channel from the
/install/hbc/ folder on the SD card to the Wii U system memory. If it fails with “DSi Exception Has Occurred”, please restart your console and try again.
If it worked, you can exit Homebrew and return to your Wii U home screen. You should see a new “Homebrew Launcher” icon.
Now you can load in and out of the homebrew launcher whenever you want and install any other homebrew apps you’d like to use. Note that the “Homebrew Launcher” channel only works when you’re running Mocha CFW, so if you shut down your console, you’ll have to run the browser exploit again and reload Mocha.
Optional: Haxchi installation
Haxchi replaces the browser exploit with an easy to run channel on your home screen. This step is completely optional, but it will save you the hassle of running the browser exploit every time you shut down your console. This is especially important if you are running the latest system firmware, as the browser exploit may require a couple of tries before it works.
Please note that Haxchi requires you to pay for a legitimate copy of a Virtual Console DS game.
You will need to put a few more files on your SD card:
- The latest version of Haxchi.
- This custom configuration file.
Haxchi_v2.5u2.zip file and unzip it. Inside you will find two folders: one containing Haxchi’s data in
/haxchi/and one containing the Haxchi installer in
drag all the
/haxchi/ folder to your SD card and drag the
haxchi folder to folder
/wiiu/apps/ your SD card
/wiiu/apps/ . Alternatively, you can download the Haxchi installer from the homebrew app store, but you’ll still need the other
By default, Haxchi will try to load a custom firmware, but we can block this behavior with a
config.txt different file. Replace the configuration file in the
/haxchi/ folder with which you downloaded. You can set this to load Mocha automatically, but for now, it will be manual.
After that you can load the homebrew launcher again and open the Haxchi installer. The installer is a command line prompt that will ask you to select a compatible game. Press the A button to select the game.
If you don’t see one here, you’ll need to download one from the eShop, the cheapest being Brain Age at $6.99.
Another message will appear asking if you are sure you want to install. Press A to install everything.
Once done, you should see a new channel on the home screen that replaces the DS game called “Haxchi”, which you can use to load the homebrew launcher instead of the browser exploit. If you want to load the homebrew launcher from the “Homebrew Launcher” channel, you’ll need to run Mocha after running Haxchi.
If it’s still too much to do each reboot, you can upgrade to Coldboot Haxchi, but it’s possible to brick your console if you don’t do it right, so we won’t recommend it.