How to play Xenoblade Chronicles if you live in America

We American RPG fans can do nothing but grit our teeth this week as we watch Europeans tear open their brand new copies of Xenoblade Chronicles, which Nintendo released for Wii in PAL territories today.

The Japanese role-playing game has received impressive critical acclaim in the European press, garnering a solid 91 on Metacritic. This should be fantastic for everyone involved -- except Nintendo won't bring it to America.

Despite outcries from both fans and media -- and the Wii's dismal software lineup for 2011 -- Nintendo of America has remained stubborn, insisting that it has "no plans" to release Xenoblade in the United States. The same goes for The Last Story and Pandora's Tower, two other hardcore Wii titles that have both been lined up for Europe. By the way, we reached out to Nintendo of America once more, who had no comment as of publishing time.

Xenoblade, developed by the minds at Monolith Soft (also responsible for Xenogears and the Xenosaga trilogy), may join the ranks of Mother 3, The Last Window and Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland as a game that Nintendo refuses to bring here no matter what anyone says. But don't worry, Yanks. There are other options out there.

Since the game is available in English, all you have to do is get your hands on a European copy. Problem is, Nintendo region-locked the Wii. If you have an American Wii, you can only use it to play American games -- until you hack it.

It should be noted (and we can't stress this enough) that you should not use your hacked Wii to illegally download or pirate games. That said, we want everyone to be able to play fantastic games like Xenoblade, no matter where they live. So here's how you can import European Wii games and play them on your American Wii.

Where to get the game:

Though you might have some luck at an import store like Video Games New York, plenty of British websites will deliver to U.S. shores. Check out GAME, Zavvi, or ASDA. You might have to dish out a few extra bucks for overseas shipping, but just consider it reparations for when your ancestors stole their colonies.

Now, there are many ways to hack your Wii, but we'll be focusing on the easiest: a brand new program called Letterbomb. (Special thanks to NeoGAF for helping out with some of the instructions here!)

What You'll Need:
  • A Wii with updated firmware (version 4.3)
  • An SD/SDHC card
  • A PC reader for your SD/SDHC card (this is built into many modern computers)
  • An Internet connection for your Wii
  • Your Wii's MAC address (this can be found in the Wii menu by going to Wii Options/Wii Settings/Console Information)
  • An external hard drive and USB cable (optional)
What to Do:
  1. Go to this website and type in your MAC address. Your System Menu version should be "4.3U," for United States. Keep "Bundle the HackMii Installer for me!" checked and type in the captcha. Then click either "cut the red wire" or "cut the blue wire" – it doesn't matter. (Hacker humor, isn't it great?)
  2. You should now have a file named Insert your SD card into the reader, then extract the contents of to the card by unzipping the file with WinRar or a similar program, then dragging everything into the SD card's folder.
  3. Take your SD card out of your reader and insert it into your Wii.
  4. Open up your Wii messages by using the Wiimote to click on the envelope on the bottom right. Now hunt through the folder until you find a red envelope with a bomb inside of it. (More top-tier hacker humor!)
  5. Click on the envelope. It should automatically install the HackMii Installer. You'll be presented with a series of prompt messages – read them, pressing 1 or A when asked. Choose to install the Homebrew Channel. (You might also want to consider installing BootMii, which will back up your files in case something goes wrong.)

Now you have a hacked Wii. We're almost there! You just have to install a few pieces of software, and then you'll be playing those sexy European games on your plain old American Wii. First up, IOS236:
  1. Put your SD card back in your computer reader. Then go to this website, download the zip file and extract the files to the sd:/apps directory in your SD card.
  2. Make sure your Wii does not have any GameCube memory cards inserted.
  3. Put the SD card in your Wii and run the IOS236 Installer from the Homebrew Channel. Follow the directions and press 1 or A when prompted.
  4. Assuming you're still connected to the Internet (like we told you before), select "Download IOS from NUS." Continue following the instructions and press 1 or A when prompted.
  5. At Step 2, press 2. Remember, you're not a thief.
  6. Finish up the installation.
Next you'll want to install D2X, a custom "IOS" system (the operating system the Wii uses to access hardware features).
  1. SD card goes back to computer! Now download this zip file and extract its contents to the sd:/apps directory in your SD card.
  2. Put the SD card in your Wii and run the D2X CIOS Installer from the Homebrew Channel. Follow the directions and press 1 or A when prompted.
  3. Select IOS236.
  4. Now we're going to get into a bit of technobabble, so bear with us. You'll want to select the latest version of D2X, which is v6. Then select 56 for the cIOS base and 248 for the cIOS slot. Press A when prompted, finish up the installation, then press A again to go back to the menu.
  5. Once again, select the latest version of D2X. This time, select 57 for the cIOS base and 247 for the cIOS slot. Finish up the installation and exit to the menu.
Finally, it's time to install Configurable USB Loader, which will allow you to install games onto an SD card or external USB drive. This not only lets you play import games (like Xenoblade), it will eliminate all of those pesky disc loading times if you want it to.
  1. Download the .zip file from this website and unzip it. Move everything from SDUSB-Loader_cfg# #/inSDRoot to your SD card.
  2. Download the meta.xml file from this website and put it on your SD card in sd:/apps/USBLoader. It will ask if you want to replace the current version of meta.xml. Say yes.
  3. Put the SD card in your Wii. If you have an external USB hard drive, plug it into the USB port that is closest to the outside edge of the Wii.
  4. Open up the Homebrew Channel and run Configurable USB Loader. Select your device as either SD or USB (wherever you want to store your game files). Select your partition as FAT32.
  5. Make sure the IOS is set to 248. Press buttons as prompted to install the loader.
  6. Point the Wiimote at the bottom of the screen to open up a menu bar. Head to System/Settings and make sure to save your settings.
At this point you have two options. You can either install your games directly to an external hard drive or just run them from the disc.

To install the game directly: Insert your copy of Xenoblade and press the + button to install it.

To run it from disc: Make sure the line "device=SDHC" is somewhere in the "settings.cfg" file. Push the - button to access the menu, then select the "Boot Disc" option. You can then tweak the settings for your game. For more options and help configuring all of your program's options, check out "README-CFG.txt" in the zip file you downloaded earlier.

Now you can play Xenoblade! Enjoy.

Remember, this application is only for playing legitimate copies of the game, which we expect you've ordered online by now.

Reasons Not To Pirate Xenoblade:
  1. It's illegal.
  2. It's morally wrong.
  3. Monolith Soft deserves your money. So does Nintendo of Europe. Remember, they were all nice enough to not only make this great game, but to translate everything into English for us.
  4. Your friends will hate you and your family will disown you and all your teeth will fall out.

Jason Schreier is a freelance writer/editor based out of NYC. He's a contributing writer for and spits out words for all sorts of other sites and publications, including the Onion News Network, Kill Screen Magazine, and G4TV. Also he's been thinking about getting a puppy.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.