Everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch Homebrew: Hacks, Emulation, and more

In the past, all major handheld consoles have been hacked: PSP, PS Vita and also the (New) Nintendo 3DS (XL). But what about the Switch, the Switch Lite and the Switch OLED? We'll explain what you should know about homebrew hacks for the three Nintendo consoles.

What is Homebrew/Custom Firmware?

Homebrew“ or even “Custom Firmware (CFW)“ represents software that was developed by users and not authorized by the official console manufacturers. The goal of homebrew is to push the limits of a console programmed by the manufacturers. For example, a “New Nintendo 3DS” with homebrew software can also launch NES, SNES and Gameboy Advance games. So you basically have a console that supports a lot of games from different platforms.

Advertisement

Homebrew on consoles can be compared to rooting Android smartphones or jailbreaking iPhones.

Why is homebrew for the Nintendo Switch so interesting?

Homebrew is particularly interesting on the original Nintendo Switch because you can also play your (retro) games on the large TV screen using the TV dock function.

A switch with homebrew software can, among other things Play games from the following consoles:

Gameboy (Color)Gameboy AdvanceNESSNESNintendo 64Sega Mega DriveSony PlayStationScummVM

Advertisement

A switch with homebrew can have the following additional functions:

Play games on emulators (see examples above)Better save game management: Load and save save slots as well as export and import to SD card.Install mods and apply them to gamesChange and install themes and designsDownload free homebrew apps via homebrew launcher, which have new functions Add (similar to the Google Play Store on smartphones) Play videos, music and podcasts Internet browser Use Google Play Store Install Netflix and Amazon Prime Stream Steam games on Switch Create backups Install other operating systems (Android, Ubuntu, Lakka etc.)

The risks and consequences of Nintendo Switch homebrew

Every time you modify your Switch operating system, you run the risk of damaging the console.bricked“. This means you can make the console unusable at the software level (Softbrick). Many soft bricks can often still be fixed. However, if a repair is no longer possible, it is called a repair Hardbrick and the console can no longer be saved.

We generally recommend NOTto install Homebrew on your Switch. If you use pirated copies in combination with emulators, you are supporting copyright infringement. There is also a risk that Nintendo will detect the manipulation and your Nintendo account and console will be blocked from Nintendo eShop and all other services.

Many of these SNES games can also be played on the Switch without homebrew:

How to install homebrew software on Nintendo Switch?

On Github, Google and YouTube you can find many instructions on how to hack a Nintendo Switch and under what conditions it even works. The first models of the original Switch were “relatively easy” to hack. A vulnerability in the Nvidia Tegra chipset was exploited for this purpose.

According to Reddit you can Recognize serial numberwhether your own switch can be hacked (at least theoretically). Usually, custom firmware like Atmosphere is installed, which allows you to use the new homebrew functions. But this only works if the custom firmware version (Athmosphere) Your original, current installed firmware version is supported. A USB cable (USB-A to USB-C), a PC and a microSD card with at least 32 GB of free storage space are also required. Here you should generally check whether the methods currently still working at all.

Notes: With new firmware versions, Nintendo is also closing possible vulnerabilities in old firmware versions that could have been exploited for a hack.

What happens if Nintendo blocks your console?

If Nintendo notices that your console is hacked, it can be blocked. Then you have to expect the following consequences:

You can no longer play your Switch games via the “Nintendo Switch Online” service. You can no longer download system and game updates for the Switch (but this is possible via Homebrew)

Depending on the custom firmware you have installed, you can take measures to reduce the likelihood of a ban.

Why is the Nintendo Switch Lite or OLED so difficult to hack?

While you can boot the Gen1 Switch into recovery mode with a simple RCM jig, where unsigned code (not allowed by Nintendo) can then be executed, this hardware security vulnerability has been fixed in the Switch Lite and Switch OLED. These consoles can no longer be hacked like this.

In order to equip these two consoles with custom firmware, you instead need special mod chips that are soldered into the housing. But this is only for professionals. A simpler method may be found later, but as it stands, there is only the mod chip method for the Nintendo Switch Lite and OLED.

Advertisement