So much for Freeloader

Well, this very short era of international enjoyment of Wii titles comes to an abrupt close. After having enjoyed the Gamecube version of this region-freeing boot-disc I took the plunge and bought the Wii version, which, at first, seemed to work fine and dandy on the single US game I tried to play on my JP Wii.

Emboldened by this success I purchased two more titles. These, however, failed to load properly, so a quick email to the CodeJunkies support email address was in order. Here begins a tale of futility. The email bounced back an auto-reply instantly, telling me all problems were discussed on their support website and that that would be the end of this email conversation. After finding the site through a link in the email, rather than from their website, I lodged a ticket and started my wait.

They are keen to point out their helpdesk system is not an instant message service, but neither is it, I daresay, a service of handwritten parchment, encoded by the Enigma machine and hand-delivered by the royal tortoise. It took an astounding two weeks before I received a reply, which included the reminder it was not an instant messaging service. The reply was of course, useless, stating they couldn’t guarantee all games would run using the Freeloader and that this was stated in the manual too. Which it was. Still, maybe I’m spoiled in this digital age, but I’d expect a helpdesk to respond a little more punctually and be, well, helpful.

However, by that time Nintendo continue to tighten its grip on the Wii by releasing a new firmware to ostensibly deal with the infamous Zelda save game data hack, but which also rendered the Freeloader 100% useless. So now I have a product which doesn’t work as advertised. “We can’t guarantee the Freeloader will work with every game” can now be replaced with the line “We can guarantee the Freeloader won’t work with any game”.

Of course, part of my beef is with Nintendo, who, inexplicably, require me to purchase a full US console if I am to enjoy US Wii games in Japan. Well, I say inexplicably, but it could just be a clever ploy to make geeks buy the console twice, though it is probably more the usual kind of paranoia rather than a business strategy. But considering CodeJunkies’ helpdesk system is slow and utterly unhelpful and even had the temerity to very subtly suggest I might not be running an "original game disc", I have no qualms hereby recommending any readers of this blog not to bother with their product. It doesn’t work and they don’t care.

What with the PSN pre-paid cards not out yet in the US and no online store selling the XBLA point cards (that I know of), the life of a global gamer and importer remains a painful and disappointing one. On top of that the PC now seems to have its own form of region locking, with the demo version of Spore’s excellent Creature Creator being sold to specific regions only. I was not allowed to buy the English version from Japan but had to make do with the localized Japanese version, which doesn’t even come with the English components provided. Personally, I am thoroughly sick and tired of too many people trying to control my purchasing habits for no reasonably explicable motive.

And one of the reasons people pirate software, it is said, is due to the convenience of it. That is a sentiment I can totally understand. If people continue to want my money, maybe they should consider allowing me to actually purchase items I want.

16 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you regarding these useless and utterly ridiculous region locks.
    The amount of expats living abroad is insignificant compared with the amount of locals so... why do they care anyway? They are loosing customers as opposed to getting new ones really. Besides, anyone who says that the movie industry, record labels, etc are losing tons of money because of piracy is just bollocks. Everyone knows that people who "pirate" a.k.a. "share" stuff never had the intention of buying the original content in the first place ANYWAY.

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  2. I just got the Freeloader myself, so I share your frustration in Nintendo's decision to block its use.
    I've not updated to the "new and improved" firmware (what good does it do for any customers?), and obviously I won't until I've completed the imported games I want to play. Does Wii firmware install itself from game discs? If that's the case, I guess I won't be buying games released after mid-June 2008 anytime soon.

    By the way, can anyone here confirm if Okami works with the Wii Freeloader?

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  3. The best is, that the hack is still working. The new firmware just checks Zelda Savegames for illegal variable lengths and deletes them.

    JC, if you happen to talk to someone who actually has a hand in decisions like using region codes, could you ask them for their reasoning?

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  4. I agree with region-lockout being a pile of bullshit and chips. It's also kind of baffling as I've been able to play games from any region on my Nintendo handheld system for years, so it's strange that they'd make the Wii unwilling to play any games outside of its original region.

    I can remember when I called Nintendo to ask if the Gameboy was region free, the operator said yes, and sounded surprised that I'd actually know Japanese and would be willing to buy a game they obviously had no intention of translating.

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  5. If you need Xbox points then you should check ebay. I've bought them before at $15 and just had the person email me the code.

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  6. That's the only thing some of these updates do: lock out region-openers. In the Wii's case, it may or may not be necessary, but with the PSP, not having the current firmware can keep you from playing newer games.

    I have a Freeloader for my GameCube for one whole game. I was hoping for a Wii Freeloader (Wiiloader?) in case Japan released a must-have-but-never-export, but I don't think CodeJunkies will bother trying to keep up with Nintendo's updates.

    I'll keep a good thought for you, nonetheless.

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  7. kg, yeah, newer games usually come with the latest firmware, and, I'm sorry to say, the US Okami was one of the two titles that refused to load properly for me even before the firmware update. :(

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  8. This is one of those few times where I heartily endorse modchips.

    Or would, if I could ignore the consensus that most modders are pirating scum.

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  9. I have an useless disc of uncensored No More Heroes and a freeloader... or should I say no more No More Heroes... I kinda saw this coming, that whole freeloader for Wii thing is a big deal between Nintendo and Codejunkies.

    You see, the wiiloader was suddenly there, from out of nowhere, just one week prior to the American release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
    Nintendo, knowing that Europe would have to wait as usual, saw an import oppertunity and made it possible for Codejunkies to publish their freeloader. Me myself living in Europe (Netherlands) know from the people around me that SSBB is imported en masse. Now, a week before the offical European release of SSBB the wiiloader is suddenly no longer capable of doing it's thing. So all my importing friends are going to buy a second copy of SSBB. I tell you, I am not the type for conspiracy theories, but this one is soooooo obvious.

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  10. The Twilight-Hack is working again, I think. If you're willing to spend some time (10 mins from the sound of it - I've not tried yet) You can install the Homebrew Channel which should survive Wii updates.
    You can get a region free program that might be willing to let you play foreign games, even if it doesn't you can guarantee that there are legions of internet people who will be able to answer any questions you have, possibly even with an instant messaging service.

    more here> http://wiibrew.org/

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  11. You think you got problems? I live in Argentina, where an "official" Wii is worth USD 700 and each game, USD 70.

    I find it funny that people think region locking drives customers away, or that they should focus on piracy. It is a matter of licensing, local taxes and the profitability of every local Nintendo branch.

    Of course, you cannot expect "geeks and otakus" to understand that ;-)

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  12. The point of region locking is to allow publishers to practice price discrimination (in other words, to price games differently in different regions.) Note that Amazon will refuse to ship game products outside the region they are intended for.

    Keen players can obviously get round this by bying foreign consoles and importing discs from friends.

    One reason why publishers are keen on digital distribution is that it makes region locking easy.

    By tracking the MAC code of your console and the IP address you are at, they can know which region console you have and where you are geographically. Then they can deny access to online content.

    If they want...

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  13. @ReyBrujo
    You just forgot that Argentina uses one of the three regioncodes, probably the US one.
    Your problem are just the taxes, shipping and people trying to milk the customers.

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