Cube protection cracked by pirates?

Great, so you've downloaded a pirate game - now lets see you play it.

Hackers working on breaking the copy protection systems employed by Nintendo's GameCube have caused a stir by posting binary images of several Cube games to the Internet - but their claims are more than slightly exaggerated.

Several sources are today reporting that online piracy group "StarCube" has effectively broken the thus-far impregnable security systems of the GameCube, with CD images (called ISOs) of popular games being made available online.

The group itself, however, admits that there's presently no way of playing its "ripped" disc images on a GameCube - or on any other piece of hardware for that matter - and suggests that its release of the pirated files is designed to be of informative interest to other hackers only. Some sources have reported rumours that the pirate discs can be played on the Panasonic Q, as it reads standard DVDs, but in the absence of any proof whatsoever of this claim, we'll put that down to wishful thinking on the part of the pirates.

That hasn't stopped plenty of people from getting excited (or in some cases, angry) over the prospect of pirated GameCube games. However, this isn't even a very major step in that direction; although Cube discs are very difficult to copy, other more scrupulous groups have successfully managed to do so in the past, but have not posted illegal files based on their efforts in the way that StarCube has.

The proprietary discs used by the Cube continue to make copying of its games nigh-on impossible. Were it not for this, piracy would be a worrying spectre for the GameCube; with such small discs, the files for "warez" copies of Cube games would be much easier to download than most PS2 or Xbox titles.

Thus far, the PS2 has been relatively unaffected by piracy, mostly due to the high cost of installing mod chips to the system. The Xbox, however, appears to be suffering greatly from the problems of piracy, with cheap and easy to install mod chips plentiful on the market, and applications in existence which will allow PC-style piracy by copying an entire game to the Xbox hard disc.

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