Ironfall Invasion is a third person shooter released by indie developers VD-Dev as a free download to the US and European 3DS eShop at the beginning of August. Unremarkable – but it has recently been removed due to an exploit – called IronHax – developed by homebrew developer Jordan “Smealum” Rabet which allows loading custom software onto the device.
Homebrew software is akin to unlocking a phone from a particular network allowing the user to, in the case of a console, circumvent security and upload new code to the device. The desired homebrew may be able to access games normally region locked, as this title allowed, add a second operating system to allow new functionality or emulate other consoles and play their games.
Why would Nintendo find the use of homebrew software such a problem? Well aside from the problems mentioned above – largely to do with piracy – the use of such software can allow alteration of a console’s coding, which can damage the console or allow the playing of pirated games.
This isn’t the first time Smealum has been involved in the creation of homebrew software for the 3DS. His first foray into homebrew for the system was the culmination of a year long project. It used the then out of print game Cubic Ninja to achieve similar goals. This has led to cases of people pirating games and running unauthorised emulators on the 3DS. Even further back on the DS, he made versions of Portal and Minecraft for the device and in the future is looking to do work on Super Smash Bros 3DS. Not bad, we suppose, for someone who’s doing this in their spare time during a Computer Science Master’s at Stanford University – but he’s probably not too popular at Nintendo.
You know what they say – there’s no such thing as bad publicity – and between the hack being announced and Nintendo pulling it from the 3DS eShop, the free game was allegedly downloaded several hundred thousand times.