Ever since hackers discovered that a copy of NES Golf is present on every Nintendo Switch console this past weekend, countless individuals have been working to uncover why it was placed there and how Nintendo intended for gamers to be able to naturally access the easter egg. Now, some members of the community believed they’ve figured it out, but it’s going to take a while for most of us to test it out. And that’s because, if they are correct, this is no mere easter egg—it’s a touching tribute to late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata himself.
After exploring the code and working through numerous scenarios, the consensus is that
NES Golf is designed to only be accessible on one day of the year: July 11th, the anniversary of Satoru Iwata’s passing. You can’t just fake this by resetting your system clock, however—it turns out that the Switch has a hidden secondary clock, one that automatically syncs up to the current date whenever the system first connects to the internet. This is the date that the NES emulator checks against, meaning that if you have ever connected your Switch to the internet at all, you’ll be unable to check this out until July 2018 rolls around.
But the date isn’t the only thing needed to access this, and it’s not the only connection to Iwata. Once the date is correct, gamers must go to the home menu, detach their two Joy-Cons from the system, and then make a very specific motion with their controllers: Iwata’s iconic “directly to you” hand motions. That is, you hold your Joy-Cons horizontally in front of you, pointing forwards, then move them to point vertically. Hold them there for a bit, and the Switch should accept the input and open the emulator and
NES Golf for you.
Note that if you haven’t connected to the internet, you’re in luck; in that case, the emulator will check against the system clock that you can reset that at will. This has allowed at least one person to accomplish these steps already, and you can check out the result in the video below.
Furthermore, whether this was Nintendo’s intention or not, it seems the Japanese side of the internet believes this game’s inclusion to have an even deeper meaning than just being a tribute or easter egg for fans to find. According to Justin Epperson, the Senior Associate Producer for 8-4 (a Japanese localization company), many think that Nintendo included the game to function like a Japanese shrine charm—one that will keep the spirit of Golf‘s original programmer, the one and only Satoru Iwata, watching over the system forever.
“Golf is imbedded in the Switch firmware and JP internet is calling it an “omamori” or charm from Iwata (he coded the game himself)
“In Japanese culture omamori are bought at shrines for various reasons, if you keep one close to you it will protect you or give luck
“So the idea is Nintendo imbedded Iwata’s game to watch over every unit and thats fuckin me up good rn. That man was loved.”
— Justin Epperson
Dang… I first learned about this story an hour ago and have been thinking about it ever since, and even with all that time to process this, I’ve still got tears in my eyes from writing that last part. I honestly don’t care if Nintendo intended for it to be an omamori or not; that’s my head-canon now. And no matter what, it’s definitely looking more and more like this is an elaborate and beautiful tribute to one of gaming’s greatest creators and innovators, one for whom Nintendo still holds the greatest of respect and love to this day.
I know I’m not alone in believing that Iwata will watch over the Switch, and whatever Nintendo consoles may follow it, for a long time to come. Feel free to share your own thoughts, beliefs, and tears in the comments below.