Contemplating Jailbroken hardware and why I'm so keen on recommending old games

Now that I've cracked my 3DS, I feel like I'm ready to take on other challenges—jailbreaking a WiiU, for instance. The WiiU was concurrent with the 3DS, after all, and I imagine it's probably quite a bit cheaper to get one these days than it was before. Plus, something about a "commercial failure" despite selling tens of millions of units. I mean, certainly, there's the Cemu emulator, but there's also the ability to play WiiU games at 100%. My last encounter with that system was on Hanukkah 2013 and it didn't go well. I still had an old-style CRT television set and WiiU was designed to not work very well with that old technology. So, for a start, I had to do most of my playing on the Gamepad. And, yeah, I can understand where iPad users were coming from, saying it was dumb to have a tablet screen that you couldn't even go into the next room with, but that's in history now. Obviously, the Nintendo Switch corrected the design blunders of the WiiU... but, there's also the fact of the WiiU being the last of Nintendo's home consoles to have zero advert integration!

That's the big thing about all these old consoles: they're from a time before it was possible for your devices to spy on you. It wasn't even until the Wii in 2006 that internet connectivity in gaming consoles was ever taken any kind of seriously. By using the last-gen consoles, you're spackling over the corporate feudal spyhole, making it that much harder for it to maintain its profile on you. The only way anyone would be able to tell what you're playing is if your ISP sells the bit of your data that says "this person downloaded X, Y, and Z games from the Redump Hoard", and since we're all using VPNs now, that's just not going to happen either.

The other bit is, games haven't really gotten any better since the 7th generation. Oh, of course, graphically it's a marvel of polygons and shaders—but that's just eye-candy to bring you into the App Store. Once you've actually spent the $45; sorry, $55; sorry, $65; sorry, $75; sorry, $150 on the game and you launch it, it's really no better in terms of gameplay than a GameCube game. In fact, it's a little bit lower-quality in places you expected improvements to occur. Take Doom for example. This is a 30-year-old game with relatively low-fi graphics, so it's easy to look at it and go, "ew, cringe!" But, the gameplay is super-fast, the action is immediate and constant, and, if you know the right cheat code to enter, you have access to everything. There are no paywalls, no DLC, no freemium quotas to exceed; just you, a kickass shotgun, and a planetoid full of demons that want to kill you. Compare that to any modern FPS game and see how it measures up. Even the big-name franchises—Mario, Zelda, The Sims—have gone downhill in overall quality as timetables get shorter and staff gets leaner. Most developers don't even bother trying anymore and just put out a shitty-quality gacha game whose only incentive to play is you get a busty anime girl to smile at you when you drop another $10. Prices are going up, quality is going down; eventually you will spend $500 to look at a screenshot.

The idea that old games are bad by dint of being old is corporate propaganda. They need you to buy the latest'n'greatest games and platforms because they have forgotten how to make money in any other way except false advertising and data-scraping. The truth of the matter is that, all those "retro-inspired" games can't hold their liquor in comparison to the truly retro games. You can still blow 4 hours on the N64 version of Ocarina of Time, and Nintendo knows this. Why else would they have re-released it so many times? Why would they have re-released Super Mario Bros. 13 (going on 14) times if they weren't convinced that people were going to queue up for it? And, you want to talk about "bad graphics"? With the exception of the Super Mario All-Stars version, nearly all re-releases of this game are its original 1985 incarnation, with 3 colours per sprite, not to exceed 8 unique colours onscreen at a time. The last time they released this game was on the NES Mini in 2018. Two-thousand and eighteen. And people bought it! With graphics lookin' and sounds soundin' like that, they bought the damn thing so quick, it never saw a store shelf. The entire run was exhausted in 16 hours. So, my question now is: if you're willing to drop $60 for a dedicated game system, why can't you just use an emulator? I mean, sure, there were a few people who bought it with the intent of hacking the firmware and installing 250 more games onto it before flipping it like a condo; but there are kids who are playing these old games and enjoying them. Rather than taking part in a new-age Cabbage Patch Riot the next time Nintendo launches a game system or relaunches the Classic Mini series, step back and ask yourself, "Is it really worth it? What can this do that an emulator or a hacked last-gen console cannot?" If the only answer is related to graphics and sounds, you're better off without it.

If you're looking for an economic reason to go with old tech, the biggest one I can think of is the sheer enormity of the historical game libraries, from 1977 all the way up to about 2017, all available for free! 40 years' worth of games, all available to anyone with either a home computer with an emulator or a jailbroken last-gen console. If you had a jailbroken WiiU and 3DS, you would be able to play games from 23 different platforms. The fact that they're all pretty old is entirely immaterial—they're good, that's all that matters. Well... not all of them are good. There are some pips, some flops, and some industry-shattering failures in here. But the point is that each one of those developers earnestly tried to make a good game. Even if they didn't accomplish it, they didn't have to resort to hucksterism to trick people into continuously spending money. E.T. for Atari 2600 may have been a terrible game, but at least you didn't have to wire Atari $5 to get an unlock code every time you fell into a hole. Thanks entirely to the No-Intro and Redump archiving consortia, you can run 4 decades of games for nothing but the cost of an unlimited internet connection with zero risk of encountering malware or an undeclared cannabis-themed hack of Super Mario 64.

Also, there's the slavery. Remember how I was talking about Congo-Kinshasa last month? Nintendo is right up there with Apple, and Samsung, and Microsoft, and Sony, and everyone who makes an electronic device, in sourcing their raw materials from slave-worked mines in the Congo. As I mentioned in that post, the solution to the problem is quite simple: stop throwing away perfectly good technology every 3 months because the corporate feudal state tells you to. The greater demand there is for completely new electronics, the greater workforce is required to mine all that shit, and the more people the corporate feudal agents kidnap from the surrounding countries to work in the Congo coltan mines. I don't need to go over all that again, but the fact that anyone can look at the treatment of Black people as expendable meat robots in the mines, say "oh, how sad", and then go and order an iPhone SE or Nintendo Switch Lite is incredibly troubling. We have at this very moment armchair activists using their brand-new Samsung Galaxy S23 to post about how bad things are in the Congo, and they don't see anything ironic about that. Refurbished, reconditioned, and overstock last-gen electronics carry no moral censure. Certainly, at the time, the companies that built them probably took advantage of people in this way, but this particular device was either not able to be sold by the company, thereby depriving them of the profit from selling it, or was discarded and picked up by a refurbisher. Obviously, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, but the greater sin is to continuously generate great heaping piles of electronic waste while demanding more, fully anticipating that, in 3 months time, it too will end up on the pile. Whereas, continuing to use your Windows 7 laptop that you bought for school in 2011, replacing the odd part here and there, will save you money and will save the life of a Central African child who is no longer compelled into servitude by the Industry.

Which brings us to our final point: money. The prices of everything are going up, while wages have stagnated since 2007. Giant multinational corporations are seeing huge profits while their workers are forced to take 2 jobs just to come up short at the end of the month. You, also, have financial problems—do you buy a new winter outfit or do you get your car's serpentine belt repaired? Do you buy bagels and lox for Shabbat or do you buy a (license to a) Nintendo Switch game? At the end of the day, all these shiny new devices are expensive. Instead of buying your kiddo a Nintendo Switch for their b'nei mitzvah, you find a like-new Wii U down the shops. It's a little expensive, but if you can jailbreak it (and you can jailbreak it), you won't need to buy any games; whereas you'll need to keep paying and paying and paying for access to Nintendo's SaaS subscriptions. For the same amount that you would pay for 2 Switch games and a year's worth of NSO+EP subscription fees, you can also get the Super Smash Bros. GCN controller and adapter, then run Nintendont and download some GCN ISOs.

TL;DR, old games are better, more reliable, more private, and infinitely cheaper than current-gen games. No surprise lootboxes or gacha elements, no premium DLC, and no corporate control. New paragraph and H1 tag for emphasis...

There is no reason you need to pay and pay and pay.
Save money. Buy aftermarket. Jailbreak. Sleep well.

Thank you, and have a happy new year.

--29 December 2023--