Hidden NES game on Nintendo Switch honors the late Satoru Iwata

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    Earlier this month, hardware hacker “yellows8” on Twitter discovered an NES game hidden deep in the recesses of the Nintendo Switch’s system files. The file, cryptically named “flog,” or “golf” spelled backwards, is an NES emulator with a ROM copy of NES Golf. No one knew why it was there. News outlets reached out to Nintendo with no response. Some speculated that the emulator may be a preliminary version of the Switch’s upcoming virtual console service. But hardly a week after the news, fans have deciphered the meaning of Nintendo’s secret Easter Egg.

    The Golf ROM is a tribute to the late Satoru Iwata, who served as president of Nintendo until his death from a bile duct growth in 2015. Mr. Iwata, well-loved among Nintendo fans for pioneering the Kirby and Super Smash Bros. franchises, programmed Golf by himself in 1984.

    In honor of Mr. Iwata, Golf is only available on the Switch on July 11, the date of his passing, every year. Switch owners eager to try out Golf have to wait until next year (or find a console that hasn’t yet accessed the Internet and set the date to July 11 in the system settings.) On Iwata’s death anniversary, navigate to the Switch’s home screen, hold a Joy-Con controller in each hand and replicate Iwata’s famous Nintendo Direct gesture — arms out, hands thrust toward the screen, “direct to you” — to prompt the console to load Golf.

    According to yellows8, the Switch port of Golf has been updated to support the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers, including motion controls. Nintendo has not yet incorporated motion controls in any of its virtual console software, so fans may have that added functionality to look forward to with Nintendo Switch Online’s launch next year. The exact release date of the service has not yet been announced, but according to the company’s website, subscribers will have access to a slew of classic Nintendo titles among other features (such as online play and voice chat) for $19.99 (USD) per year.