4 hacker-friendly gaming consoles you should get right now

Sega Dreamcast,homebrew,

We’ve seen some great strides towards having proper PS3 emulation on PC, allowing gamers to put the console in the cupboard but still play their cherished titles. But what about the other way around? What about emulation and general homebrew on consoles?

There have been a ton of consoles that feature homebrew apps, but these are arguably at the top of the pile when it comes to being bedroom-friendly (for bedroom coders, we mean).

Microsoft Xbox

The original Xbox was basically a PC in a fancy box, owing to its Intel Pentium chip and 8GB/10GB internal hard drive. So was there any surprise that hackers managed to get the console to run all sorts of software and hardware?

For one, the console’s hard drive could be upgraded, giving you oodles of space to play with. Then there were the custom dashboards and accompanying software, allowing you to run everything from N64 emulators to XBMC and DVD playback.

The expanded hard drive is also a boon for those wanting to rip their existing games to the console. This way, you can preserve your discs. It also enables piracy, but we don’t condone that.

Sega Dreamcast

Sega’s final proper console played host to a variety of killer titles, ranging from Shenmue and Skies of Arcadia to Quake III: Arena and Power Stone. And the good news is that you don’t need to add a modchip or anything like that to run homebrew.

In fact, the console can pretty much run this type of software out of the box, with the hardest part being the burning of discs. And the console allows you to run NES, SNES and other emulators too (make sure you own those games etc).

Between the Xbox and PSP, there are quite a few consoles that can comfortably run homebrew

But the Dreamcast might be the most prolific when it comes to original games long after the console’s demise. In fact, the machine still sees games being produced for it, with four titles either released or scheduled for release in 2017. Some of the more prominent original titles released for the machine include Volgarr the VikingPiers Solar and the Great Architects and Beats of Rage.

PlayStation Portable

Is the PSP the most modified handheld gaming system of all time? It might just be the case, with the console quickly becoming a haven for tinkerers.

The PSP generally requires you to have a PC and specific software to run homebrew on it, but there’s a ton you can do with the console after this step. You can indeed play PS1 games on the console, making it ideal if you’ve got games that didn’t receive the whitelist treatment.

Otherwise, the ability to copy your PSP games to memory card, run other emulators, play original games and overclock the processor are just some of the things you can do with a modded console. The latter is particularly noteworthy, as it means you can get better performance in resource-heavy games/homebrew.

Nintendo Wii

Between the Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3, Nintendo’s console was perhaps the easiest to hack and tinker with. In fact, on earlier consoles/firmware, all it took was the Twilight Hack, which was enabled by walking backwards in Twilight Princess.

Once hacked, you had quite a few apps at your disposal, such as the GeeXboX media player, MPlayer video app, a ShoutCast app, an alarm clock, an app to weigh stuff via the Wii Balance Board, an FTP utility, a spirit level for the Wii remote and a Twitter client. Amazing stuff.

The hacks also enabled the playback of backup titles via disc or SD card (but again, you’ll want to own these games to avoid legal troubles) and various emulators (Mega Drive, NES, N64 and more).

Featured image: Cecilia Forbes via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0, resized) 



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