The Nintendo Switch has made its fair share of hacker headlines since its release in 2017. Within about a year, jailbreaks allowed for custom apps to run on the system. They even found a hidden version of NES Golf buried on there. Nintendo is certainly no stranger to passionate gamers taking matters into their own hands, considering all of the amazing, and very illegal, home-brew titles and unofficial online services. So with the Switch online service just kicking into gear this week, it was only a matter of time before hackers got down to business. We just didn’t think they would crack it this quickly.
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Much like the SNES Classic before it, hackers have already found a way to add games to the Nintendo Switch Online NES emulator. That’s less than 24-hours after its release.
As a quick refresher, Nintendo Switch Online is a paid subscription service required to play just about all Switch online games. It also comes with cloud saves and a library of 20 classic NES games. It includes everything from Mario Bros. 3 and Donkey Kong to The Legend of Zelda and River City Ransom. While they are essentially the same games your remember with new online multiplayer elements, twenty games isn’t enough. We all wanted to see a much larger selection of options, not to mention SNES games. Having said that, some people just aren’t going to wait.
Apparently the Switch NES emulator works very much the same as the NES Classic’s. This has allowed hackers to easily increase their library of NES titles on the service. The next day after it all went live, videos started surfacing with games running on the Switch that weren’t supposed to be.
Modder KapuccinoHeck gave more details on how the whole thing works. According to the modder and some cohorts, the Switch emulator uses simple .nes files and a plaintext database listing all of the official NES titles. By simply tampering with these files and adding some new ones, the group of hackers were able to get Kirby’s Adventure running. We have also seen other modders running Battletoads as seen above.
But before you get too excited here, it’s not as easy as it sounds to make this all happen unless you’re an intelligent (and courageous) hacker like these folks. Not only is it a series of complex steps to even hack the Switch, which is required to exploit the emulator hack, but you’re dancing with the devil as well. KapuccinoHeck told Kotaku you’re very likely to get your Switch account banned from doing this, so beware.