Few in the games industry were as revered or beloved as Satoru Iwata, a programmer who rose through the ranks to serve as Nintendo's president until he passed away in 2015. And now, it appears his spirit lives on by way of an elaborate Easter egg hidden in the Nintendo Switch.
Over the weekend, several in the Switch homebrew and hacking scene dug into some suspicious code and reportedly found a way to unlock a secret NES emulator. The emulator itself was called "Flog," and seemed to be tied to two things: the date July 11, and a specific gesture that needed to be made with the Joy-Cons.
One of the hackers who was investigating the matter told Kotaku (opens in new tab) that they noticed the date coincided with Iwata's death, and that the gesture was seemingly the same as Iwata's famous "direct to you" motion, which he often performed during Nintendo Direct presentations.
As for what "Flog" meant, reverse the word and you get "golf" - as in the 1984 NES game programmed by Iwata. Indeed, it seems that if you can convince your Switch that the date is July 11 and make the "direct to you" gesture, NES Golf will fire up and be totally playable.
I say "seems" because there's a few roadblocks here that make it difficult, if not impossible, for most users to access. If your Switch has ever been connected to the internet, changing the date on the system itself won't work. Even if you initialize the system and disconnect from the web, the Switch's authentication measures will know you're lying. For this to work, you need a virgin console, unsullied by the internet's touch.
Nintendo has also not offered comment, ergo no official confirmation or denial. Still, videos of the emulator running certainly look pretty convincing:
Justin Epperson, who works for Japanese localization company 8-4, wrote on Twitter (opens in new tab) that the Japanese circle of the internet is referring to the emulator as "omamori." In Japanese culture, omamori are small charms designed to bring good luck and offer protection. So in a way, the spirit of Iwata is literally with you and your Switch, helping protect it. Pretty neat, and a very touching tribute.
This situation reminds me of the times I'd read or hear about a cheat code back in the '90s / early '00s and the excitement of trying it out for myself, even if it was impossible. You know, like when it was said that you could bring Aeris/Aerith back to life or unlock Sonic and Tails in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Only this trick is (apparently) real.
Unfortunately, my Nintendo Switch has been connected to the internet and thus the trick won't work for me. But if you've got a console that's still out-of-the-box fresh, I invite you to try this out and see if it works for you.