It looks like each Nintendo Switch console has a hidden emulator, designed to run the NES game Golf – but the mystery goes deeper than that. Industrious hackers believe the game’s existence could be a tribute to departed Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata.
News first appeared when a member of online community GBATemp randomly had Golf appear on their screen. Iwata was a programmer on the 1984 game, and found a way to compress the data so that an 18-hole course could fit on a cartridge.
Hackers digging into the issue found that the Switch has a hidden NES emulator referred to as “Flog”, with some “suspicious code” in the home menu.
“The code looked for the date July 11th, and the code right before seemed to enable the ‘Joycon sixaxis’ motion sensors,” said hacker Plutoo in a report from Ars Technica.
Pluuto went on, saying that the code was a “secret handshake,” that would unlock something on the Switch’s homescreen on July 11, with the correct motion input.
Iwata passed away from cancer at age 55, on that exact date. The motion control layout also matched the CEO’s iconic hand gesture, which he used during a Nintendo Direct stream.
Reversing the name of the emulator (Flog), also spells “Golf.”
Getting the game to run on any day that isn’t July 11 is troublesome however. If the system has been connected to the internet and updated, manually setting the clock isn’t enough to trick it. Hacker Fiskerdin apparently got the game to run on their unboxed Switch.
“I booted the unopened Switch up, did the setup procedure, and decided to try it out the gesture which was posted,” they said over email, via Kotaku. “I simply put both Joy-cons parallel to each other and pointed towards the ground, then raised them in a vertical position and waited, the screen turned blank, an audible cue was played, and then I was greeted with the Golf menu.”
There’s also a video showcasing someone getting Golf to work, via the above method.
Nintendo have yet to comment. It looks we'll have to wait until July 11, 2018 to find out for ourselves.