Select "Backup Options”. It's the first option on the main menu. Press "A" to select it. This allows you to backup all the work you've done to hack your Nintendo 3DS or 2DS. This will protect you in case anything happens to your system and your unable to boot it up (Brick). You'll need at least GB of free space available on your SD card before starting.
Select “SysNAND Backup”. It's the first option on the Backup Options menu. Press "A" to select it.
Press . This confirms and starts the backup process. This will take a while. Make sure your 3DS or 2DS is plugged in.
Return to the main menu. Once the backup is complete, press "A" to continue. Then press "B" to return to the main menu.
Select "Exit". It's at the bottom of the main menu. Use the D-Pad to navigate the main menu and press "A" to select "Exit" at the bottom.
Press to continue. This locks the SysNAND write permissions.
Select "[M:] MEMORY VIRTUAL". The menu options are on the top screen. Use the D-Pad to navigate the menu and press "A" to select [M:] MEMORY VIRTUAL.
Select "Boot9.bin. Again, the menu options are on the top screen. Select "Boot9.bin and press "A" to select it.
Select “Copy to 0:/gm9/out”.. This option is at the bottom of the menu on the bottom screen. Use the D-Pad to navigate the menu and press "A" to select this option.
Press to continue. This returns to the main menu of GodMode9.
Press . This displays the Action menu.
Select "Power off system". This turns off your system.
Reinsert your micro SD card in your computer open it. After your Nintendo Switch powers down, remove the SD card and put it back in your computer.
Navigate to the "out" folder in "gm9". The gm9 folder is on the root of the micro SD card. Double-click that folder to open it. Then double-click out to open it.
Paste the files in a safe location on your computer. It's important to keep a back up of these files. If anything ever your 3DS or 2DS is unable to boot and you've found it had become an expensive paper weight, you can use these files to restore your system. You may even want to make several backups of these files. Find any safe location on your computer that you can remember. Right-click and click Paste.
Navigate back to the "out" folder in "gm9". It's the folder you just copied from. Navigate back to the "gm9" folder on the root of your micro SD card. Then open the "out" menu.
Delete the following files. If you want to regain some of the that's being taken up on the SD card, you can delete the "<date>_<serialnumber>_sysnand_###.bin" file and the "<date>_<serialnumber>_sysnand_###.bin.sha" file. Be sure to leave the other two files.
Reinsert your micro SD card into your 3DS or 2DS and power it back on. Congratulations. You have successfully hacked your Nintendo 3DS or 2DS. But wait. If you want to protect yourself from being banned by Nintendo, continue on to the next step.
For support in English, ask for help at Nintendo Homebrew on Discord.
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3DS firmware was recently released. Here’s what you should know:
- If your device is running Luma , it is % safe to update.
- If your device is on an older Luma version, you should update Luma before you update your device to
- No homebrew titles are known to have been affected by this update. They will work as they did on
- If your device is currently stock on , you will have to update your 3DS to the latest firmware () in order to install custom firmware. The previous method that used the browser no longer works because Nintendo enforces a browser version check that cannot be bypassed on
Q:I am on the latest system version. Is my device hackable without any external hardware?
A: Yes! The latest firmware () has a free method for getting CFW named Seedminer.
Q:What devices is this guide compatible with?
A: The instructions are the same for all retail 3DS, 3DS XL, 2DS, New 3DS, New 3DS XL, and New 2DS XL devices. If your system version string displays as “”, then you may have a developer unit.
Q:How risky is hacking my console?
A: Bricks are now effectively impossible unless you are purposely trying to brick your device.
Q:Can I run awesome homebrew and emulators with this?
A: Yes! This guide will install a few useful homebrew applications, including Universal-Updater, which acts as a homebrew app store.
Q:Can I use this to play games from other regions?
A: Yes; Luma3DS will automatically ignore the region check for cartridges and installed titles. Some games may need to make use of Luma’s locale emulation feature in order to work properly on out-of-region devices.
Q:Will I lose any features if I install CFW?
A: No. Devices with custom firmware can still use the eShop and run physical cartridges as any other 3DS can.
Q:Can I keep my NNID?
A: Your NNID will not be affected by this guide.
Q:Will my 3DS be banned for having CFW?
A: There was a ban wave in May that banned CFW users from online play (eShop access, NNIDs, and Nintendo Accounts were unaffected), seemingly at random. A ban wave at such a scale has not been seen since. That being said, we don’t know what Nintendo may have in store in the future. At this time, we don’t think that bans are something that you need to worry about.
Q:Can I do this without a computer (e.g. an Android phone)?
A: All you need is the ability to put files on a compatible SD card!
Q:What size SD card can I use?
A: You will need at least GB of free SD card space to follow this guide in its entirety. While the 3DS is officially compatible with SD cards up to 32GB, larger SD cards can be used if they are manually re-formatted as FAT It is not recommended to use SD cards greater than GB due to known issues with GBA graphics and custom themes.
Q:I heard about this thing I have to pay for (Gateway, Sky3DS, ntrboot, R4, etc). Is that something I need?
A: No. Custom firmware can be installed for free on the latest firmware without any hardware devices. In fact, 3DS-mode flashcarts like Gateway and Sky3DS are not recommended because they are obsolete and may carry ban or brick risk.
Q:What’s the difference between custom firmware and homebrew access?
A: Historically, the 3DS used to have userland homebrew access through older exploits like ninjhax. The level of system access granted with userland allowed you to run basic homebrew and emulators, but did not allow you to (easily) modify games or dump cartridges. It was also a lot less stable, with homebrew often ungracefully crashing and requiring a full reboot. Custom firmware grants a far greater level of system access while also being more stable than homebrew-only entrypoints.
Q:Is it safe to update my 3DS to the latest version with CFW?
A: If you are using Luma3DS, your custom firmware loader (boot9strap) will never be removed when performing a system update. There have been updates in the past that have resulted in Luma3DS crashing on boot, so it is a good idea to wait a couple of hours to ensure that the latest update will not temporarily render the device unusable until Luma3DS is updated. System updates can be performed the same way as they are on a stock 3DS: through System Settings, Safe Mode, or the update prompt when the update is automatically downloaded.
Q:How do I upgrade my SD card?
A: Copy and paste your SD card contents to a new SD card formatted as FAT For GB cards, an allocation size of is recommended. SD cards larger than GB are not recommended due to known issues with GBA graphics and custom themes.
Q:Can I system transfer with CFW?
A: Yes, system transfers can be performed through the official System Transfer function to other consoles with CFW (inconsistencies may occur if the target console is stock). Tickets for illegitimate titles (homebrew) will not transfer, but can be made to reappear with faketik. Make sure that you do not perform a wireless transfer, as this will delete illegitimate titles. CFW will remain on both consoles.
Q:How do I change the system language of a Japanese 3DS?
A: The only way to change the system language of a Japanese 3DS to a language other than Japanese is to perform a region change. Note that this is very likely to break the Nintendo eShop on your device, which means you will be unable to update your games whether they are in-region or out-of-region.
Q:How do I update homebrew applications?
A: It depends on the format of the homebrew application. Generally speaking:
- Homebrew in CIA format can be updated by installing the new CIA, which will usually overwrite the old one. If the old CIA is not overwritten, you can delete the old one from Data Management as you would any other 3DS title.
- Homebrew in 3DSX format can be updated by replacing the 3DSX file in with a fresh copy. If the homebrew application includes additional assets, you may need to place that folder somewhere else. Refer to the documentation of the homebrew application.
- For updating Luma3DS, see this page. For updating GodMode9, see this page.
Q:How do I update games from outside of my 3DS region?
A: You will need to dump the updates from a 3DS that has the updates installed. The Nintendo eShop only contains updates for the console’s region (a Japanese 3DS will only have updates for Japanese games).
Q:Help! Something bad happened and now I cannot boot…
A: Please look at the troubleshooting guide. Uninstalling CFW when your device is in an unbootable state is not recommended, as it is very likely to lead to a brick.
Q:I modded my device x years ago. What should I do?
A: It is recommended that you upgrade your setup to a modern, boot9strap-based one. Follow the Checking for CFW guide to see how to upgrade your setup.
Q:My setup works for me. Why should I upgrade it?
A: The vast majority of modern homebrew (such as Checkpoint and BootNTR Selector) have only been tested on modern, boot9strap-based setups and may not work entirely (or at all) on older setups based on menuhax, A9LH, or Gateway. In addition, depending on your setup, you may be unable to safely update to the latest firmware. Modern, boot9strap-based setups allow for greater level of system access than previous hacks, including the ability to dump your console’s bootrom.
Q:Will I lose anything if I upgrade my setup?
A: Your old setup (including your EmuNAND, if you have one) can usually be directly migrated to boot9strap with no data loss. If you have data that is particularly important to you, it would be a good idea to make a decrypted backup of your save data before upgrading your setup with a tool like JKSM.
Q:How do I move saves from an existing Gateway setup to a more modern setup?
A: See this thread.
When Nintendo officially ended production of the 3DS in September , it wasnt exactly a surprise. For one thing, some variation of the handheld system had been on the market since Which is not to say the product line had become stagnant: the system received a considerable mid-generation refresh, and there was even a more affordable variant introduced that dropped the eponymous stereoscopic 3D effect, but nearly a decade is still a fairly long life in the gaming industry. Of course Nintendos focus on the Switch, a hybrid device that blurs the line between console and handheld games, undoubtedly played a part in the decision to retire what could effectively be seen as a competing product.
While putting the 3DS out to pasture might have been the logical business move, a quick check on eBay seems to tell a different story. Whether its COVID keeping people indoors and increasing the demand for at-home entertainment, or the incredible library of classic and modern games the system has access to, the fact is that a used 3DS in good condition is worth more today than it was when it was brand new on the shelf this time last year.
In short, this was the worst possible time for me to decide that I finally wanted to buy a 3DS. Then one day I noticed the average price for a Japanese model was far lower than that of its American counterpart. I knew the hardware was identical, but could the firmware be changed?
An evenings worth of research told me the swap was indeed possible, but inadvisable due to the difficulty and potential for unexpected behavior. Of course, thats never stopped me before.
So after waiting the better part of a month for my mint condition 3DS to arrive from the land of the rising sun, I set out to explore the wide and wonderful world of Nintendo 3DS hacking.
Joining The Fun
Heres the best part about homebrew on the 3DS: every version of the hardware, no matter what region its from or what firmware version its running, can be hacked with just an SD card and some open source software. Whats more, since Nintendo has now moved on to bigger and better things, its fair to assume that the community has won. Theres no new hardware revision coming, and even if Nintendo felt inclined to push out another firmware update just to confound anyone running unofficial software on their 3DS, theres no way they could force you to install it. Its a party, and everyones invited.
There are various exploits that can be used depending on the current firmware your 3DS is running, but the easiest and most expedient method of getting your 3DS running non-Nintendo software is through a vulnerability in the systems Internet browser. With the appropriate files on the SD card, you just need to point the 3DS browser at a specific URL to trigger the exploit. Thanks to the browsers ability to read QR codes, you dont even need to type it in: just scan the special code, and youre on the way to homebrew nirvana.
To be clear, theres still quite a bit more you need to do. Getting the files on your SD card and triggering the exploit is only the first phase. Before its all said and done youll need to restart the 3DS a few times, put more files on the SD card, and install a number of programs on the system. None of its difficult, but there are a dizzying number of steps and it would be easy to get lost without a good guide.
Thankfully, members of 3DS community have produced some of the most comprehensive and user friendly documentation Ive ever seen. The guide theyve created walks you through each step of the process in exacting detail, and as long as you dont skip any steps, in the end your system will be loaded up with the latest version of the Luma3DS custom firmware.
Personally, when I hear the term custom firmware I think of something like DD-WRT or Aaron Christophels work with Xiaomi Bluetooth thermometers. In other words, firmware replacements that leave you with essentially a completely different device. So part of me was surprised when I rebooted my system into Luma3DS and everything appeared to be exactly the same. I even wondered for a minute or two if Id done something wrong.
After a closer look at the projects GitHub repository, the situation became clearer. While the community refers to it as a custom firmware, it would be more accurate to say that Luma3DS patches the systems stock firmware to enable an extended feature set. A major part of that is enabling the user to install and run non-Nintendo applications, but theres also a system menu, accessed with a special button combination, that lets you tweak more advanced settings.
With Luma3DS installed, the 3DS retains % of its original functionality. You can still play all your games, connect to the eShop to download new titles, and play online with others. Its apparently even safe to install an official firmware update with it installed, though again, its unlikely any more of those are coming down the pike.
Getting the Goods
Generally speaking, 3DS software comes in two distinct forms. Smaller tools and programs are likely to be offered as a file, which is a self-contained executable that you can run through a tool called Homebrew Launcher that gets installed along with Luma3DS. This works well enough for one-off applications, but can become annoying as it takes several steps to start the software from a cold boot.
The alternative, preferred for larger and more complex pieces of software, is the CTR Importable Archive (CIA) or file. These archives contain not only the software itself, but the necessary metadata to actually install them as if they were an official game or application downloaded from the Nintendo eShop. Since software installed via CIA appears on the 3DSs main menu, its much faster and easier to access than going through the Homebrew Launcher first.
But theres a catch. Installing a CIA file isnt as easy as just dragging and dropping it onto the systems SD card. The archive needs to be properly unpacked by a so-called title manager, the most popular of which is known as FBI and runs on the 3DS itself. Once unpacked and installed, the original CIA file can be deleted, as otherwise each application would end up taking up twice as much space as necessary on the SD card.
Its a bit awkward, but there are a few tricks to speed up the process. For one thing, FBI can load a CIA file from the local network or Internet by scanning its URL from a QR code, thereby removing the need to manually place the CIA file on the SD card prior to installation. This has become a very popular way of distributing homebrew on the 3DS, and youll often see these codes posted on messages boards or GitHub.
Even still, unpacking a CIA on the 3DS itself is rather slow due to the systems inherent hardware limitations. For those who arent willing to wait, there are projects such as that allow you to process CIA files on your computer. Running on a vastly more powerful processor and with the benefit of high-speed access to the SD card, these tools can get software installed and ready to go on the 3DS in a fraction of the time it would take with FBI.
Just like the custom firmware installation process, switching your systems region is very well documented. I had no problem getting the US firmware on my 3DS, though it should be said the process takes considerably longer than getting Luma3DS installed in the first place. Unfortunately, once the region is switched, you can no longer access Nintendos official services for purchasing software, downloading updates, or playing online. That said, local wireless multiplayer with American consoles works as expected and you can still run physical retail games.
Ive noticed a few odd glitches as well, though nothing really critical. One time, the system claimed it needed to install a firmware update, and then after a minute or two of downloading files, tossed up an error message. The firmware will also lock up after I check the system notifications, but they are fairly annoying in the first place so I just turned them off.
So is switching regions worth it? Id say that depends on how you plan on using the system. If youre more interested in running your old favorites through RetroArch than you are playing modern games, absolutely. But if you want to get the most out of the system, including its various online functions, the downsides from switching regions will likely outweigh the financial savings.
A Rekindled Interest
Before buying this 3DS, it had been over a decade since I owned a portable console. I barely have time to play games at home, let alone on the go. But the incredible back catalog of titles that are either directly playable on the system or can be run through one of the open source emulators available for it, was extremely compelling. Add to that a wide array of original homebrew games and the ongoing effort to port Linux to the system, and it was just too much to pass up. Installing a custom firmware on the 3DS turns an excellent system into an incredible one, and these days I find myself spending quite a bit of time fiddling around with this dual-screen wonder. Im even thinking of updating to one of the later models of the 3DS, but thatll be a story for another time.
While its always difficult to predict the future, its not hard to imagine that the Nintendo 3DS may well be the last true portable game system. Smartphones and tablets have largely taken over the market, and while the Switch is technically mobile, it just cant compare with the svelte clamshell design thats been a hallmark of Nintendos portables since the Game Boy Advance SP. So if this is the last of the purebred portables, at least we can say that the homebrew community is making sure it goes out with style.
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