The Switch’s Hidden NES Golf Game and the Future of Emulation

Could a hidden game be important for the future of the Switch?

With Mario Odyssey coming out next month and recent surprise announcements like Doom and Wolfenstein II, the Switch is a busy console. But there is something flying a little under the radar that might be important as well.

Recently, data miners discovered that a NES emulator, complete with a copy of Golf, is hidden within every single Nintendo Switch console. Whether Nintendo put this in as an Easter egg or as a system test that they never removed isn’t clear. But what’s interesting about this is that the game has been updated to support motion controls. This is a feature that Nintendo had not added to any of their Virtual Console games up until this point. So what does this mean for the future of emulation on Nintendo consoles?

Though we don’t yet know of Nintendo’s plans for Virtual Console games on the Switch, we know that they are willing to experiment. I remember that they updated Pokemon Snap on the Wii’s VC to enable pictures to be sent to the system’s message boards, replacing the feature in the original to take your pictures to Blockbuster to be printed out. Nintendo seems willing to change aspects of older games to integrate them into modern technology. Motion control support seems like a logical step forward.

Nintendo has already announced in the past that certain retro games will feature online play when released on the Switch. This seems to extend beyond simply adding leaderboards and weekly challenges – online multiplayer and co-op might be coming. And with Golf receiving motion control support, we can assume that other games will get the same treatment. Imagine punching your opponent out in Punch-Out!! just like you can its successor on the Wii. Or alternatively, you might beat up thugs in River City Ransom or Double Dragon. Maybe you could use the gyro function to shoot down ducks in Duck Hunt? Or maybe Super Glove Ball for a laugh?

And if these games are successful with motion controls, I predict something even greater will come from this. Beloved franchises might rise from the dead. F-Zero fans have been waiting for over a decade for a new game. If the Switch gets a port of the SNES original, and you can steer with the Joy-Con, might this pave the way for a new F-Zero game? Of course, this might all be mere hopeful wishes. But you never know.

Of course, this is assuming that Nintendo even wants to shift focus onto motion controls in the first place. The Switch doesn’t seem to be relying heavily on the Joy-Con motion controls – at least, not as much as the Wii was. And perhaps, as I mentioned, this could just be Nintendo testing out the controls and leaving the files in the system. But if it’s the first sign of a bigger cause, then those keeping eyes on Nintendo’s movements might be pleasantly surprised.

It’s an exciting prospect, to say the least, and one that I really hope Nintendo capitalizes on. Of course, the motion controls should be an optional means to control the games. Forcing motion controls on games is a practice that has killed many Nintendo-exclusives before. But I have faith that Nintendo will deliver in this regard. Time will tell, but that little hidden treasure that the fans have uncovered might indicate something greater in the wind.

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