Game Console Hacking Review

Hacking video game consoles is a popular pastime for many gamers. It's amazing what some of these people have discovered by opening their systems and looking around. "Game Console Hacking" puts all the information you need in one convenient place. It's not just a great source for those who have already taken their systems apart either. The basics are all here too.

Starting with an introduction by the father of home video games himself, Ralph Bear, the book wastes no time in getting to the good stuff. The first chapter covers all of the basics, from necessary equipment to protection. From then on, it's all about the systems. The list of consoles is impressive including the Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, the unforgettable NES, to the most recent consoles like the XBox, PS2, and the Game Boy Advance. There's also a section for the hacker friendly, import only, GP32. Those who really want to learn can check out the appendix on electrical engineering (two more appendixes are available on the web; links are provided in the book).

There's likely information here you have never known about. Author Joe Grand is known throughout this small underground section of the industry for creating some really unique items for the retro gamer crowd. The first hack tells you how to make your Atari 2600 into a full-fledged modern PC. If that sounds like something out of your league, you can always take on a more sensible project like changing the color of the LED on your NES.

Those without an interest in the classics can still do plenty with their modern consoles and Grand (along with his co-authors Frank Thorton and Albert Yarusso) provides numerous options. The XBox remains the friendliest console this hobby has seen for sometime and likewise gets the biggest section in the book. Convenience is the key here as you can add a reset switch to your controller and or a Live communicator to a wireless controller. More savvy owners can run Linux even without the modchip (which you can also have help installing with this book).

Every mod is broke down into a few sections and is aided by multiple pictures. Though all black and white, you won't miss a detail. The Nintendo section has a brief history of the company, but oddly, they are the only ones to gets this special treatment. Each chapter finishes with various web links that can provide more information.

And that's the books biggest flaw. Everything included here is available for free on the web if you look in the right places. Granted, you won't find all of this in one place, but it is there. The system roster is also a bit weak, missing more modern stuff like the Gamecube and older systems like the Genesis. The Genesis has a wonderful S-video mod that is nowhere to be found and the Gamecube can be tweaked to play imports.

In the end, Syngress has published a wonderful 600-page book written by some of the best. Regardless of what era of gaming is your interest, this book probably has you covered. Even if you've never touched a soldering iron, "Game Console Hacking" will get you there.


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