Shall We Play A Game?

Hacking a NES Classic

Talk given at BSides Cape Town - 1 December 2018 with Ross (@HypnInfosec) on hacking a SNES Classic

Original Abstract

Weaponizing the NES Classic - a look into the hardware and how the console was hacked, cross-compiling and porting binaries, and some evil bash scripting for good measure.

The NES Classic is a modern re-make of the popular “Nintendo Entertainment System” from the 1980s. This talk will briefly discuss the ARM based hardware in the device, explore the work done by “madmonkey” and others allowing us to root it, and explore ways to port or compile software for it.

After manipulating the games in this limited environment we’ll add WiFi hardware and drivers, and some common penetration testing tools - turning this toy in to a hacking tool.

Although the device in this talk is intended for gaming there are many parallels with other embedded hardware devices, especially with the rise of ARM chipsets in modern computing. Our hope is that this talk will not only be light hearted fun, but will also inspire others to attempt embedded device hacking by lowering the barrier of entry and demystifying some of the processes.


Some of my notes taken while attempting to figure out how the Hakchi tools worked and other interesting ways to hack/mod the console.

NES Classic Hardware
Boot / FEL / FES / NAND Dump

Ross’s blog post on this talk
Github Repo with code/scripts

Youtube Video

See also