How To Add More Games to the NES Classic

The hype around the NES Classic in 2016 was huge, and as expected, units are already selling for excessively high prices on eBay. The console shipped with 30 games pre-installed, primarily first-party releases from Nintendo. But worry not — there’s now a way to add more games to your NES Classic!

Like many a good hack, this one spawned from a forum community. [madmonkey] posted on GBX.ru about their attempts to load extra games into the console. The first step is using the FEL subroutine of the Allwinner SOC’s boot ROM to dump the unit’s flash memory. From there, it’s a matter of using custom tools to inject extra game ROMs before reburning the modified image to the console. The original tool used, named hakchi, requires a Super Mario savegame placed into a particular slot to work properly, though new versions have already surfaced eliminating this requirement.

While this is only a software modification, it does come with several risks. In addition to bricking your console, virus scanners are reporting the tools as potentially dangerous. There is confusion in the community as to whether these are false positives or not. As with anything you find lurking on a forum, your mileage may vary. But if you just have to beat Battletoads for the umpteenth time, load up a VM for the install process and have at it. This Reddit thread (an expansion from the original pastebin instructions) acts as a good starting point for the brave.

Only months after release, the NES Classic is already a fertile breeding ground for hacks — last year we reported on this controller mod and how to install Linux. Video of this ROM injection hack after the break.

25 thoughts on “How To Add More Games to the NES Classic

      1. For me it’s the original Castlevania. I’ve made several huge pushes to cross this off my bucket list, even making it to the big guy himself at the end. But alas this is a game I cannot win.

        I love how hard it is. I feel like the controls are fair, you just need to be super good to succeed.

  1. Congratulations Nintendo! You’ve made an NES-shaped MK808 set top box.

    I’m surprised they made it so easy since Nintendo has historically been diligentabout locking down consoles.

    1. They put so much effort into locking down their other consoles to keep it hard for pirates.

      They’re not so concerned about this one because NES emulators/clones have been readily available for decades. Hell,people even made NES emulators for the GBA.

    2. What are you talking about? None of the Nintendo Consoles have ever had good security measures.

      The NES lockout chip was a joke. 3rd Party Game devs easily defeated it with a voltage spike.

      The SNES and N64 had all sorts for Floppy drive and ZipDisk loaders that piggybacked off the CIC chips in game carts.

      GameCube was quickly and easily broken as well via Action Replay and Memory Slot with an SD card.

      Then they took that same design and added bluetooth and a slight CPU and GPU upgrade and called it a Wii, which was also full of security holes including the original ones from the Gamecube.

      Nintendo has never been good about locking their stuff down.

  2. Major points for effort, but honestly it sounds so much easier to just gut the NES Classic and put a Raspberry Pi 3 with RetroPie in the shell. Hundreds of NES games, plus SNES and Genesis, and you can even use wireless controllers.

    1. I think it would be easiest, and most beneficial for everyone if nintendo would just re-release the NES. Right now there are so may reasons to not waste money on this, it is like dancing with a hand on your ass.

      1. Easier to get a flash cart like Power Pak or Everdrive. No need to wire up the controller or change the internal of the NES deck. No need to make custom anything, any old NES controllers and stuff will work. Just load with ROM, software, insert memory card, insert flash cart, still get the same old blinking LED. Only drawback: no HDMI.

      1. Once you include the SD card, power supply, case, and controllers, the price is probably on parity. Plus there’s the time that you spent to build it all.

        I’m not saying that I’d buy it, but I can see why plenty of people would, especially as gifts. I’ve made retropie based boxes before, but I’d be hesitant to give them to a friend. The Nintendo thing is less likely to flake out due to some random issue, and if it does, I’m not on the hook as the sole tech support for the thing.

        1. More so actually. RP $35, PB $8, HDMI $6, SD $12, Case $8, Contr x2 $16 == $85. This all excludes tax. and it’s dead even. Any changes above basic and it’s more expensive. However, it’s also way more capable. I just made one for my brother in law, and had all systems up to N64.

      2. Were you under the impression that Nintendo is not a for-profit toy company? Are they not perfectly within their rights to sell their own intellectual property and put a price on it? And for bonus points: Are you familiar with the concept of “economic value”?

  3. So in the Famicom there’s a secret easter egg message – https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/11/nintendo-hid-a-secret-message-in-the-famicom-mini/

    ‘It’s a cute, tongue-in-cheek message that calls back to Nintendo’s history and acknowledges the passion that went into building the Classic consoles. “This is the hanafuda captain speaking,” it reads, referncing Nintendo’s original business of selling Hanafuda game cards. “Launching emulation in 3.. 2.. 1. Many efforts, tears and countless hours have been put into this jewel. So, please keep this place tidied up and don’t break everything!”‘

    1. … and a u-boot that understands the NAND, which the “stock” one doesn’t. This is pretty much a story about compiling a capable u-boot, modifying initramfs, and a small set of bash scripts.

      There’s so much strange misinformation about this, it’s uncanny. For example, pretty much every outlet reports that you “require a savegame in Super Mario Bros’ slot 1” as if it was a technical requirement. You don’t. The programmer of the original set of bash scripts just uses the presence of that file as a trigger to invoke the modifications so you can choose to boot up in an unmodified state.

      And the linked Kotaku article is a completely different beast. It goes from somewhat accurate information straight to making it an interview of some chiptune artist. Garme Jurnalizm, everyone.

  4. I had a thought on this. The image that is flashed should work across all the classic minis out there. Wouldn’t it be possible to put together a web interface that would let you select the roms you want and it would automatically spit out a ready to go image for flashing? I know things like this exist for Linux images. I think I just found a fun weekend project if I can get my hands on one of these.

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