Switch Has Hidden Game, Could Be Tribute to Satoru Iwata

Switch Has Hidden Game, Could Be Tribute to Satoru Iwata

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.


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Comments Comments (9)

Posted by AdamC
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 10:11 AM
Haha that's awesome
Posted by czk51
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 10:17 AM
Admittedly I only 'went nintendo' shortly after his passing when I got my first 3DS, but in seeing this yesterday I watched some old vids, tributes etc. What a legend, and a touching feature.
Posted by Coddfish
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 12:36 PM
Not just the unlock method, but the choice of game is a nice tribute to Iwata.

Iwata was the programmer for Golf, and it was one of his first games for Nintendo. It was a particular achievement for him because he had to engineer his own compression system to fit an 18-hole course on a NES cartridge.

This is from an interview from 1999:

"I had to fit the data for 18 [holes] into an extremely limited memory. That alone was a major challenge—it was an era when data compression wasn’t often done, so I wracked my brain to come up with my own compression routine. Actually, Nintendo had planned to release a Golf game on the Famicom when it was first released, and they shopped the idea out to several software companies they knew, but they all declined and said they couldn’t fit an 18 hole course into such a limited memory. I heard about that and, rather recklessly, said “I’ll do it!” (laughs)"

Posted by Unfathomable-Ruination
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 5:22 PM
This is amazing!!
Posted by jmduknz
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 9:47 PM
Awesome little gem. Particularly if it really was intended as an omamori. Reminder set for 7th July to check it out.
Posted by Rocky1986
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 6:10 AM
Thats incredible.
Posted by captain X nz
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 8:21 AM
Switch is owning things this year, nice one Ninty.
Posted by ModifiedSoul
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 8:32 AM
and now i have something to do while i wait for Poken
Posted by Bank
On Sunday 24 Sep 2017 4:51 PM
Nice going MattCod, thanks for the sco0o0ps!