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Update: A couple of things. First, this story was altered with some clarifications. Second, Rabet has since released how to use the Tubehax method on his blog, if you wish to check it out. 

The new Youtube application for the Nintendo 3DS comes with an interesting exploit that can turn the handheld device region-free. It has been reported by Wired UK that a hacker named Jordan “smealum” Rabet has discovered an exploit that uses the Youtube app on the 3DS to bypass restrictions on the machine. Rabet has showed off the exploit, dubbed “Tubehax” on twitter, where a short video was posted showing a custom-built homebrew launcher on the 3DS.

The exploit removes some restrictions on the 3DS hardware. The exploit also unlocks the 3DS from it’s region-lock, meaning NTSC and PAL games can be played on the same system.

Rabet is responsible for a previous hack to the Nintendo 3DS involving the game Cubic Ninja by Ubisoft. The Ninjahax more or less functioned the same way as the Tubehax, allowing players to transform their 3DS systems into a region-free system, and to run homebrew and emulator software. Rabet at the time stated that “I don’t care if people pirate in their private lives, but I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t want to release something others can use to steal someone else’s intellectual property. That’s not what I want. I wouldn’t release something that could be used for piracy… it’s just not something I want to do.”

The game Cubic Ninja has since been pulled from the market by Nintendo, but prices for an original boxed copy have now skyrockteted, making Cubic Ninja one of the most expensive 3DS titles out there. The Ninjahax is also still viable, recently getting a new update that makes it compatible with 3DS Firmware versions 9.2 or higher.

Rabet is also responsible for the removal of Ironfall: Invasion, another 3DS eShop title that was used to exploit similar hacks as both Cubic Ninja and Youtube. Ironfall: Invasion was removed from the 3DS eShop last week. 

Rabet, on his own website, discusses how the Tubehax is only usable for homebrew applications. Homebrew games are user-created content that allow fans to create their own titles on closed systems. Homebrew games are legal, and have been used by amateurs to create their own titles, and innovate with mechanics. For the 3DS, the homebrew scene is rather small, and development kits are expensive for the system, meaning smaller games and apps are often left in the dust. 

According to Rabet ” These exploits run strictly in userland, meaning that we do not have full control over the console, and therefore cannot run pirated software.”

However, opening up the console does make it vulnerable to emulators, such as blargSNES. These emulators, which can use Rabet’s open system, allow players to emulate software and play them on the 3DS, including games on the Nintendo eShop. While not officially opening the door to piracy, as the SNES titles are not on the 3DS eShop, it is still opening the console for pirating software for use on the handheld. Other emulator software also exists for NES and Game Boy titles, which are sold on the 3DS.

Rabet has yet to release the information regarding how to exploit the system with Tubehax, but he has posted a sneak peak on twitter showing off part of the exploit.

So what do you think? Is Rabet doing a good thing here, or is this just opening up floodgates for piracy? Leave your comments below.


Robert Grosso

Staff Writer

A game playing, college teaching, erudite-minded scholar who happens to write some articles every so often. Have worked as a journalist, critic, educator and blogger for over five years now, with articles published (as user editorials) on Game Revolution and Giant Bomb as well as a contributor for the websites Angry Bananas and Blistered Thumbs. Now making TechRaptor my home.