Earlier this month, a hacker discovered that an old Nintendo game from 2011, called “Cubic Ninja,” could be used to hack into the company’s handheld game system, the 3DS.
Using the game, hackers could install “homebrew” software onto the 3DS. Nintendo quickly pulled it from the digital download store, according to VentureBeat. That made the game hard — but not impossible — to find.
Homebrew refers to games, apps, emulators, etc., made by consumers and that can be downloaded onto the 3DS. Homebrew software isn’t sanctioned by Nintendo.
Some retailers are cashing in on how popular this old, (and until now) forgotten game is. You can buy a used copy of “Cubic Ninja” at GameStop for up to $US39.99. On Amazon it’s going for as much as $US130. “Cubic Ninja” was only $US5 as recently as last week, according to Polygon.
Although the fear is that the hack could make it easy for people to download pirated games, it wouldn’t be possible with “Cubic Ninja.”
“I don’t care if people pirate in their private lives, but I don’t want to be a part of it,” Jordan Rabet, the person who found the hack, tells Eurogamer. “I don’t want to release something others can use to steal someone else’s intellectual property. That’s not what I want. I wouldn’t release something that could be used for piracy … it’s just not something I want to do.”
Instead he’s hoping that the exploit in “Cubic Ninja” will make people want to develop more homebrew games for the 3DS. Right now he’s even working on a 3DS version of “Minecraft.”
It’s not a surprise that Nintendo pulled “Cubic Ninja” so rapidly from its e-store. The company has a strict policy against emulators and piracy. But still, a quick firmware patch could render the game’s exploiting powers useless.
“It’s just a vulnerability in a game to access a vulnerability in the system firmware. All they’d really need to do is patch the firmware and then the game doesn’t even matter,” Rabat says.