Satoru Iwata is the former president of Nintendo, who died on July 11th, 2015 due to complications from a bile duct growth. His passing was like shockwave to the game industry and community, and prompted numerous tributes from players, developers, and even companies all around the world. And it looks like even some Nintendo engineers came up with a really neat tribute to their former president.
A few weeks ago, some hackers made a really interesting discovery: there is actually a NES emulator hidden somewhere in the Firmware of the Nintendo Switch. But the thing is… the Virtual Console service hasn’t been launched yet… in fact, Nintendo hasn’t announced anything at all on the matter! Shortly after, it was discovered that all consoles came up with the NES game Golf, for some reason.
And pretty recently, the final pieces of the puzzle finally fell in place, and it was found that the presence of that game was actually a pretty cleverly hidden tribute to Satoru Iwata. In order to launch the game, you have to do the following:
- the date has to be set to July 11th (this can only be done manually if you are yet to connect your Nintendo Switch for the first time. If you already have, you have no other choice but to wait until July 2018!)
- you have to take both Joy-Cons in your hands, and do the “Directly to you” motion Satoru Iwata always did in the Nintendo Direct presentations.
If you’re successful, you will hear the iconic “Chokusetsu (直接, lit: “Directly”), from the “Chokusetsu Otodokeshimasu (直接お届けします: lit. We will deliver (news) to you directly)”, a sentence Satoru Iwata always said at the beginning of Nintendo Direct presentations.
Here’s a video showing the tribute:
This hidden Golf game is most definitely not a mere coincidence or some test/debug thing for the Virtual Console, because the unlock conditions (date of death, Chokusetsu voice clip) are way too specific to not be intentional.
Also, Golf isn’t just any old NES game: it’s a game Satoru Iwata programmed himself, after several software companies declined Nintendo’s offer to port it to the NES (something they thought was impossible due to memory limitations, check out this interview translated by schmuplations for more details!).
It’s not clear if Nintendo ever intended this tribute to be discovered (especially since it was only found after hackers looked at the Firmware of the Nintendo Switch… something they obviously don’t want anyone but their own engineers to do!), and it’s unlikely we will ever find out why it was added in the first place. For more details on the journey leading to the discovery of this tribute, check out this article over at arstechnica!
Still, it’s a pretty neat tribute, that shows the late Nintendo president is still in the heart of many. In Japan, fans are called this Golf game an “omamori” (good luck charm), that was added to all Nintendo Switch consoles to look over them… a pretty powerful image, considering Satoru Iwata worked hard on the Nintendo Switch, but died more than a year before it was even unveiled.
Golf is imbedded in the Switch firmware and JP internet is calling it an “omamori” or charm from Iwata (he coded the game himself)
— Justin Epperson (@sprsk) September 20, 2017