Software Developer and Application Security Consultant
Dumping the ROM of the Most Secure Sega Genesis Game Ever Created
Pier Solar and the Great Architects is a 2010 Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) game released on actual cartridges for use on real consoles. Created by the Genesis community's greatest homebrew developers, it is protected from ROM dumpers by dedicated hardware covered in epoxy. The game cartridge also contains unique hardware for saving game progress, making PC emulation further difficult. The equipment and hardware experience necessary to defeat this protection is beyond most people, including myself. Desperate and unwilling to give up, I had to rely only on the skills at my disposal -- reading and writing code. I will provide a brief overview of the Sega Genesis hardware (of which I knew nothing before starting this project), explain the thought process in trying various methods to dump the ROM, show the assumptions and evolution of my understanding in how the protection worked, demonstrate the game running in an emulator modified to support the cartridge's save-state hardware, and explain the code behind how the system can be attacked using nothing but a Sega CD, Game Genie, and homemade parallel cable.
Brandon Wilson is a U.S. software developer and application security consultant with over ten years of professional experience, and hacker of random things like game consoles and TI graphing calculators. An avid tinkerer of anything USBrelated, he has spoken at DerbyCon and numerous local conferences on this and other subjects, and appeared in the Wall Street Journal and several other publications. He also collects DMCA takedown notices for fun.