Its now March 2009 and time for a new State of the Homebrew Scene for 2009.
Because we are the only dedicated homebrew Network on the web covering just about all scenes, I feel its a good time to give a low down on each scene and some pointers about where they are going from my point of view.
First off though lets remind all that homebrew is not the same as warez.
Also I would like to point out that each scene owes its life to the many hardware and software hackers who discover the exploits we come to enjoy so much today, they are then followed by the many worldwide coders who make the homebrew scene a free and enjoyable place to hang out and make friends etc.
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Lets take a look at each scene.
The Xbox360 has been the Next gen console that's been out the longest and while there has been advances we still have not seen any homebrew breakthroughs for this System apart from an Hello World and a Linux Bootloader, Microsofts XNA platform is at the moment the only "Homebrew" for Xbox360 with many games and the odd emulator such as a Spectrum emulator and a port of ScummVM, the only downer with XNA is that its not free at all. If the 360 is ever fully cracked then Nintendo64, Playstation 2, Xbox and Dreamcast Emulation should be very doable in time.
related xbox360 links -
DCEmu Xbox 360 News
XNA Developer Centre
The most powerful console of the next generation is a console that you can install Linux on but for most Linux is too complicated, for a short time there was quite a few BD-J Homebrew releases which used a exploit in the java on the PS3 to release games and some emulators on the PS3, this was killed off by Sony when they released a new firmware. As of this time there has been some unconfirmed reports of exploits working on the PS3 but nothing set in stone so for now the only homebrew for the PS3 is the Linux you can install. Via the PSN Store you can pay for and download PS1 games and for those who love the older releases at least its a way to play something other than PS3. The PS3 when cracked (Lets hope we get a custom firmware like the PSP) should be capable of PS2, Dreamcast, N64 and Xbox Emulators at full speed.
related PS3 links -
DCEmu PS3 Evolution
Gizmodos Linux on PS3 Tutorial
Yellow Dog Linux
Nintendo`s Wii console is already an emulation fans dream, via the Virtual Console you have the ability to play N64, Snes, Nes, Gamecube, Megadrive, PC Engine, Neogeo, MSX and recently Commodore 64 games make the console a great place for fans of retro gaming albeit at a price for each game.
However the Homebrew Community has thrived over the last year and as long as your willing to install the Twilight Hack, which requires you to have a copy of Zelda for the Wii and an SD Card, youll soon be enjoying homebrew on the Wii via the Homebrew Channel. There is a potential risk of bricking but as always ask first. The amount of emulators, games and applications on the Wii grows every day and the 16bit generation ie the Snes, NeoGeo and Megadrive are all emulated very well. Out of all the next gen consoles this is by far the best for emulation and homebrew, the only downer is that Nintendo are releasing updates to thwart the homebrew scene and mainly those who pirate. The Wii should be capable of full speed PSX and N64 emulation in the long run and at this time both consoles are being worked on. The long term future should be great for fans of homebrew on this console.
related Nintendo Wii links -
DCEmu Wii News
Sony Playstation Portable
The PSP Homebrew scene although not quite as popular as it was a year or so ago is still the biggest homebrew scene in the world, the releases of Games, Emulators and applications are in their hundreds with most of the consoles emulated on the PSP with a N64 emulator being top of the pile. The Custom Firmwares (which enable full speed playstation emulation) made by Dark Alex and the Pandora Battery have made homebrew accessible to all but the owners of PSP3000 (apart from a small exploit) consoles. The PSP scene has slowed of late but the console has a future like no other with a very powerful system that for emulators beats all handhelds at this time.
related PSP links -
DCEmu PSP News
PS2 Dev Forums
The Nintendo DS
The worlds biggest selling handheld console at this time but surprisingly still not the most popular for homebrew fans. A Flash Cart is all you need for homebrew on the DS.
Once you have the hardware above then the DS with its touch screen has several hundred homebrew releases for it but with the touch screen, microphone and rumble addon you have an excellent base for games and more, not to mention the wifi mode.
As with the commercial games the DS cant match the PSP for pure power but it can easily bypass it in the innovation dept just like the commercial scene. With the DS you can also play the many hundreds of excellent GBA Homebrew Releases.
DS Homebrew has seen many releases such as Quake, Duke Nukem 3D and the recent coding competitions from the likes of Neoflash have added many more to a great homebrew scene. The Long term future of this console looks to be very assured, it will never win any contests for emulation but for gaming and applications its in a niche of its own. The release of the DSI should bring more interest for homebrew developers but will Nintendo let any amateur release for their system, who knows.
related Nintendo DS links -
DCEmu Nintendo DS News
The Pandora which should be available sometime in April (at this time) looks like a DS but comes with a keyboard, dual analogue and is considered to be the ultimate handheld, this console $#@! pocket pc hybrid is the most powerful to hit the market and already we have seen many emulators released. The console when released should shake the homebrew scene to the rafters with perfect emulation across most consoles and in time we should see N64, PSX and Dreamcast Emulation, this console is as powerful as the original Xbox.
related pandora links -
DCEmu Pandora Homebrew
The Wiz or GP2X Wiz has some are calling it is a GBA Micro sized console that's a more powerful version of the GP2X, apparently GP2X homebrew with a recompile should work on the 500Mhz console, there's already a lot of games and emulators released and when the console comes out it should have quite a following, like the Pandora above this should be the dawning of a new era in the homebrew scene.
related gp2xwiz links -
Wiz at Play Asia
GP2X - The Linux Based Homebrew Console
The GP2X is a console that was made for homebrew fans and coders, it has a worldwide base of people coding Emulators and Games for it and with 2x200mhz cpus and 64megs ram it sure can deliver the goods. The GP2X has a fantastic amount of emulators and games both original and ports, emulators for Snes and Megadrive and Neogeo are extremely advanced and recently the system was the first to have Sega Mega CD/32X Emulation on a Console, a ground breaking first for any handheld.
The GP2X has slowed in the last year but still a scene with lots of new releases, the biggest problem is there's no new hardware being produced and the scene will not expand in size, the fact that many gp2x coders are moving to Pandora and Wiz also will effect this system. The long term future will continue to see multiple releases per month at least until the Pandora/Wiz are released.
related GP2X links -
DCEmu GP2X News
The Dreamcast is still the only non handheld Console to gain a massive legal scene without the use of modchips, the releases to date stand at over 500 and amongst them many ports of commercial games and awesome emulators, the scene has slowed a lot in the last year or so but it continues to pump out releases. Because of the fact that you don't have to Chip the console it makes the Dreamcast a cheap system to get emulators etc working on.
The future of the Dreamcast scene is pretty much as it has been for a year or two with several releases per month and that trend will continue because of a hardcore of coders that continue to support the supposed long dead system. The Dreamcast refuses to die
related Dreamcast Links -
Sega Dreamcast News
Chuis Development Site
The GP32 is the first Gamepark console released and is still quite a powerful handheld with a back catalogue of hundreds of games, applications and emulators for it. The console is still getting a few releases but this is another console with a quiet future.
related GP32 links -
DCEmu GP32 News
The GBA may not see any commercial releases these days but the last year has seen a few quality homebrew and some emulator updates, the future of GBA seems a quiet one mainly because more dev's move to the DS, the back catalogue of GBA Homebrew is one of the most impressive of any scene.
related GBA links -
DCEmu GBA News
The Gizmondo scene in the last year has died a death, the rumours of a new console coming out continue to be rumours and the last year has seen virtually no releases at all, despite this the console does have some great features but for homebrew your better off looking somewhere else. The long term future even if a new console is released looks dire.
related gizmondo links -
Alternative Handheld Emulation
The most powerful console for the last generation of consoles has a massive range of full speed emulators and ported games for it, The best way to get homebrew to run is with the fitting of a Xbox Modchip, the shame about the Xbox scene is that 99% of the homebrew released are made with the Official SDK, so that means no sites can legally host the releases, at one time there were multiple releases on a daily basis but now its slowed to a trickle, the Xbox really needs the creation of a Legal SDK so that it entices more coders to release projects on the powerful console. If your after full speed emulation then this is the homebrew console to get. Sadly the long term future looks very quiet, the recent release of a new version of the OpenSDK might mean we see a fully legal homebrew and emulation scene for the Xbox.
related xbox360 links -
DCEmu Xbox News
The last year of the Gamecube Homebrew scene has been fantastic, remember you dont need a modchip to play homebrew and emulators on the gamecube, the last year has seen emulators such as GBA, Snes, Nes, Genesis, NeoGeo and more released and because the Wii and Gamecube are very similar it has and will continue to be a very active homebrew scene mainly because of the Wii.
related Gamecube links -
DCEmu Gamecube News
The PS2 Homebrew scene has had a great year for homebrew releases, the release of Memor the modchip on a memory card has enabled homebrew on any PS2 without the need to modify it, recent releases such as PS2Doom add to the many games, emulators and applications for the console and whilst it many never see releases by the shed full the PS2 is now a good console for those wanting to sample Snes, Megadrive, Nes and Gameboy Emulators. The year ahead should see the same steady progress that this year has seen.
related playstation 2 links -
DCEmu PS2 News
Ipod Touch / Apple iPhone
The most popular phone and music player of the last few years has seen releases into their thousands for the app store, on the homebrew front its pretty much down to zodttd for bringing us all the emulators so far for the apple iphone/ipod touch, the touch screen does make emulation rather strange, great for snes, gba and systems where theres not loads of buttons but too complicated for say N64/PSX emulation. The long term future looks very interesting because this phone is selling like mad but homebrew wise its a different kettle of fish to most and in the last year we haven't seen many coders interested apart from those who want a living out of the Ipod Touch/Iphone so for homebrew this may not be a great console.
related Ipod Touch/Apple Iphone links -
DCEmu Apple News
The Worlds most popular music player has had little to no new releases in a year since the arrival of the iPhone/ipod touch and homebrew on the system looks less likely in the future because of this. Long term hopes look dire.
related apple ipod links -
DCEmu Apple News
The Sega Saturn is another console for which you'll need a modchip for or use the swap method so no easy way to play homebrew, via a coder named Rockin-B the Saturn has a site with nearly 100 homebrew releases and although its never going to be a massive scene its great to see the console still getting some loving. Some of the best releases include a 3D Mario Game and the Snes Emulator for the Sega Saturn. Long term hopes will see sporadic releases.
related sega saturn links -
Sega Saturn News
Heres a console much like the Nintendo DS with its Touch Screen but its also a Pocket PC type device so you get the best of both worlds, the homebrew scene for this console has dried up massively since Tapwave gave up, it does boast some great emulators and games though so if your after a homebrew console and a pocket PC device then this is for you. Long term future looks extremely dire now.
related tapwave zodiac links -
Alternative Handheld Emulation
The Ultimate Zodiac Guide
Skeezix Codejedi Site
The 32X has never been a popular console but in the last month or so we have seen a port of Wolfenstien 3D and a Gameboy emulator released for the system, the console will never be massive but its great to see homebrew finally arrive.
related sega32x links -
Sega Saturn News
The homebrew scene is now bigger than its ever been and whilst consoles like the PSP have probably seen their heyday the console along with the Nintendo DS have massive followings so the homebrew scenes should last for years to come, the inclusion soon of the Pandora and Gp2X Wiz should give both consoles a run for their money. Overall winner in my opinion will be the Pandora, this console is just so damned powerful.
Those looking for homebrew on a console now have the Wii, Dreamcast, Gamecube and PS2 all of whom dont need modchips to run homebrew, for the sheer amount of releases the Dreamcast takes some beating but this year the Wii will most likely cement its place as the king of Homebrew consoles.
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