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Modders miffed: Teardown shows NES Classic Edition will be difficult to hack

nes classic edition will be difficult to hack teardown reveals nesclassicinnards
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Gamers awaiting the upcoming release of Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition plug-and-play console got an early look at its underlying technology this week when GameSpot’s senior reviews editor Peter Brown tweeted a photo of the miniature unit’s internal circuit board.

Fans hoping to hack the console to run games it wasn’t designed to play may be out of luck, however, as the NES Classic Edition’s design will likely prevent any attempts at softmodding.

As expected, the NES Classic Edition does not share any hardware in common with its 1980s-era predecessor, the Nintendo Entertainment System. Instead, Nintendo opted to deliver its included titles via emulation, and the device’s internal configuration favors simplicity, limiting the options available to amateur console modders.

Notably, the NES Classic Edition stores its games and emulation software on a flash memory chip, making it difficult if not impossible to mod the system without physically cracking it open and breaking warranty in the process.

“Unless you want to desolder flash memory from the motherboard,” Brown said, “it looks like it’s impossible to add new games to NES Classic.”

“The NES mini will not be much fun to hack I’m afraid,” Twitter user ArcadeTV adds. “The 4GBit Flash has an OTP-Area with security features that are not in the Datasheet.”

Console modding enthusiasts once held out hope that the NES Classic Edition would be as easy to hack as Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U consoles. Hackers previously devised softmodding solutions for both consoles, allowing users to jailbreak their units to enable region-free gaming and homebrew support, among other unintended features.

Wii and Wii U softmodding technology later progressed to the point where users could mod their systems simply by inserting an SD card loaded with exploit software. Wii U users in particular have a lot to gain by modding their systems, as the console boasts the ability to play Nintendo’s entire library of GameCube games natively after jailbreaking.

The NES Classic Edition, which includes a selection of 30 pre-installed 8-bit games, launches at retail in North America and Europe on November 11.

Danny Cowan
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