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Nintendo Switch Units Hide Tribute to Satoru Iwata

September 20, 2017

By: Luigi Savinelli


This weekend many outlets reported on a rather unusual find that was the talk of the day in many console hacking forums. Apparently, a working copy of Golf for the Nintendo Entertainment System is included in all the Nintendo Switch units, as well as the emulator needed to run it. Hardware tinkerer only managed to access the code of the game and the emulator and run it via "unofficial" methods that include jailbroken consoles and external binaries. This discovery sparked, among the aficionados, the search of the secret to run the game on stock hardware. This hunt for the secrets of the Switch unburied many details about Golf. From what emerged, it would seem that the game and its relative emulator has been included in the consoles as a tribute to the memory of Satoru Iwata, beloved former president of Nintendo and original programmer of the NES title.

Users of console hacking forums worldwide started to dig deep into the problem and eventually found out, after quite a number of false starts, that two prerequisites are needed to start the game "officially". First, the game will only start the 11th of July, the day of Iwata's passing. You can't even cheat by setting the system's clock to that day either. If your Switch ever connected to the internet, then it will be able to check if it's actually the correct day. Secondly, you need to perform a certain gesture with the joycons; Iwata's signature "Direct" gesture. Performing these two actions will trigger a voice clip in Japanese taken from a Nintendo Direct presentation.


Both the requisites to start the game are linked to Iwata. That and the fact that Golf was programmed by Iwata himself link to the fact that the game has been embedded in the console as a tribute to the late president of Nintendo. A lucky charm of sorts so that Mr. Iwata may still be able to watch over his company.

It is unclear, at this point, if this little feature was supposed to be a secret for Nintendo employees or if the company intended to reveal it at some point, maybe at the anniversary of their president's departure. It's of little importance now anyway. At the end of the day, it's a very old game that can be played on any emulator that can be found under the bright sun of the internet. The point of the matter is that the people at Nintendo loved Satoru Iwata to the point of wanting him to protect his own legacy even from the other side and the whole community still remembers him fondly to this day. It would be hardly surprising if a lot of people decided to spend few minutes of their day every 11th of July playing Golf on their Nintendo Switch in memory of a great man.