One of the most desirable games on Nintendo’s 3DS right now is a title of which you’ve probably never heard. Cubic Ninja rocketed to the top of Nintendo’s digital download charts after a game developer and Nintendo modder realized it could be used to hack the handheld to play custom games (often called homebrew) as well as other types of “unauthorized” software. Nintendo pulled the game from its store, but the secret is out.Cubic Ninja isn’t some fly-by-night piece of software with secret backdoors into the 3DS. It’s a platformer developed by AQ Interactive and published by Ubisoft. It’s just a quirk of the game’s design that allows the necessary exploit (called NINJHAX) to be injected. Cubic Ninja includes a QR code scanner that can load saved games and level designs. This is how the homebrew channel is installed, with a custom QR code.The homebrew channel allows 3DS owners to bypass region locks on physical games, play games designed by other users, and yes, download pirated content. The man behind NINJHAX, Jordan Rabet says that isn’t why he released the exploit. He just loves games and wants people to be able to make and share their own.As soon as Rabet tweeted the name of the game that was necessary to load the homebrew store, copies of Cubic Ninja more than doubled in value. The original price for the game was $20, but Amazon sellers started asking for $40-50 immediately. More copies have since popped up for as much as $130. It’s supply and demand–very few physical copies of Cubic Ninja were ever produced for the 3DS. Nintendo also took quick action to remove the game from its online digital download store, constraining supply even further.If you can find a copy of Cubic Ninja, the exploit will still work just fine, but that may not be the case for long. Nintendo issues occasional updates to the 3DS firmware, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next one patches this hole.
In the late 1930s, archaeologists in northern Alabama rushed to excavate a now-submerged Native American site at the confluence of the Flint and Tennessee rivers, racing the rising tide brought on by the newly built Guntersville Dam. Dozens of artifacts were discovered, then sealed up in paper bags and kept at the Alabama State Repository. There they gathered dust until 70 years later, when a team of archaeologists and chemists came looking for a particular item noted in the repository catalog: FS74, an engraved smoking pipe or “medicine tube,” carved from limestone.With the support of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the researchers had been examining ancient Native American pipes for years, using a chemical analysis technique called mass spectrometry to look for traces of plant material left behind. Their hunt, which was meant to shed light on the religious and ritualistic history of smoking, had already yielded tobacco and jimsonweed residue in pipes dating back a few hundred years.But when they tested FS74, they hit the jackpot. The team found clear traces of nicotine, a tell-tale compound within tobacco, in residue ringing the inside of the pipe. Animal bones found alongside the pipe were dated to between 1685 and 1530 B.C.E., indicating the pipe is the earliest evidence yet of tobacco smoking in North America, the researchers report today in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Scientists found 3500-year-old traces of nicotine inside this limestone pipe. By Michael PriceJun. 15, 2018 , 4:50 PM Americans have been lighting up for more than 3000 years, ancient pipe reveals inga spence / Alamy Stock Photo That suggests the band of early Native Americans who lived here were growing and smoking tobacco at least 1000 years earlier than previously thought—around the same time they were first domesticating food crops like sunflower and squash. The findings raise the possibility that the plants grown for ritual use might have played an important role in the region’s early forays into agriculture. Stephen Carmody read more