In recent months we've been following the efforts of Smealum, a hacker who's been developing a homebrew channel for the 3DS. As it approached its final stages of development it was emphasized that although the channel will not run illegal 3DS ROMS, it will support homebrew games and apps. The fuzzy moral ground comes with plans for emulator support and, potentially, the ability to run game carts from any region, overriding the system's region locking.
As it got closer to arrival Nintendo announced the New Nintendo 3DS models, and the developer delayed progress until the new system was released, in order to check it didn't have additional security to block the prospective channel. Smealum has now tweeted the following picture to show that it's taken very little time to gain access to the new model, displaying the message "well, that didn't take long...":
So, what does this mean? It suggests that we're back to the stage where an unofficial homebrew channel isn't far away from the 3DS. With Nintendo updating the system so regularly we expect the dance of system update and homebrew updates to be ongoing, while the actual uses of the channel will become clearer and definitively proven. Should it actually support emulators and even region-free gaming, then it'll enter even murkier legal waters, though it's said to use a specific and readily available 3DS cart as its boot-up, so it won't be using the widely banned flashcards that were prominent in the DS era.
Nintendo will no doubt be watching closely and working to shut down security weaknesses to limit the practicalities of this homebrew project.
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