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Nintendo 3DS Hacked Using Obscure Game

Smealum demonstrates his Ninjhax exploit of the Nintendo 3DS using the game Cubic Ninja by AQ Interactive and Ubisoft.

Smealum demonstrates his Ninjhax exploit of the Nintendo 3DS using the game Cubic Ninja by AQ Interactive and Ubisoft.

Ever heard of a game called Cubic Ninja? Probably not. Following its release in 2011, the puzzle game for the Nintendo 3DS handheld console quickly faded into obscurity. Until this month, that is, when hackers discovered that a unique bug in the game could let people run their own code on the 3DS.

For three years, the Nintendo 3DS had remained impervious to hackers' attempts to crack and modify it. The Cubic Ninja bug lets people run "homebrew," slang for unauthorized code, on the console, allowing the use of pirated or unauthorized games on the 3DS, as well as user-created games and software. 

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An online hacker known as Smealum created an exploit (a piece of software designed to exploit a specific flaw) for the Cubic Ninja bug called ninjhax, demonstrated in the below video.

The exploit has exploded Cubic Ninja's popularity. While the game cost about two dollars on Amazon last month, it's now going for $40 or more.

The code for Smealum's exploit is also available on his website, though potential users should know that running homebrew on the Nintendo 3DS will probably void the warranty. Any pirated or modified software may also be illegal.

Nintendo can push out over-the-air 3DS updates, so it's probably safe to say the company will fix the bug soon.

Meanwhile, people have already developed homebrew software for the Nintendo 3DS, including a SNES emulator for running SNES games on the 3DS, a 3DS adaptation of Minecraft and a GameBoy emulator for playing Game Boy games.

Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can follow Jill on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, onFacebook and on Google+.