An inventive hacker has found a way for to play games on a PlayStation 2 console just by burning them onto DVDs. The PS2 was released back in 2000 and is the best-selling console of all time. Since then, many attempts at hacking the console to run homebrew software have come out, with many of them relying on hardware-based exploits such as the use of a memory card, a HDD expansion bay, or opening up the console to modify it.
CTurt previously tried to hack the PS2 by exploiting the demo disc that shipped with some PAL region PS2 consoles during its first few years of release. The demo disc contains Yabasic, a simple Basic interpreter, that could be exploited to make the PS2 run homebrew software without having to open it up or use specific hardware. While the exploit was successful, the process of implementing it was impractical and it was only limited to the PAL version of the console.
CTurt goes into detail about this latest hack in a blog post on GitHub. In the post, CTurt explains that since he was a kid he’s always been interested to find out whether it would be possible for people to burn their own homebrew games and launch them on an unmodified console the same way official discs would be used. He goes on to reveal that he was able to successfully achieve this goal by exploiting the console’s DVD player functionality by intentionally corrupting specific processes in video playback then using that opening to bypass the console’s copy protection and load the homebrew software.
In videos CTurt uploaded with the blog post, he shows being able to run an SNES emulator as well as “backup” copy of Shadow of the Colossus. CTurt concludes that the exploit could be further developed to find more generic entry points that make it easily compatible with a larger variety of PS2s with different firmware versions. He also says that the “generic attack scenario” could possibly be utilized on other similar consoles from the PS1 up to the PS4 as they all “support some combination of burned media.”
Regardless of its implications, CTurt’s work is pretty impressive. Being able to burn your own games or homebrew software onto a disc and just play it on your game console definitely sounds like an interesting idea. But with the rise of digitally purchased and downloaded games as well as the advent of digital-only consoles, such as the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition or the rumored digital-only Xbox Series X, the popularity of optical media for video games may eventually wane and exploits like these may no longer be viable.
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