Over the weekend, data miners said they discovered a copy of Golf, the 1984 game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, in the system directory for the Nintendo Switch. This would mean every console has a copy of the game. Nintendo hasn’t confirmed or commented on the game’s presence, but there’s a very touching theory as to what this is all about.
Golf was programmed by the late Satoru Iwata, the former Nintendo president who died in 2015. Justin Epperson, a senior producer for the Japanese localization company 8-4, Ltd. said Japanese Twitter believes this to be a kind of memorial to Iwata.
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
Again, Nintendo hasn’t verified any of this (last comment to us from a representative was, “We’re working on it,” which usually means no comment.) Even though one Twitter user has since posted a video of Golf being played on a Switch (supposedly the game has been updated to accommodate Joy-Con controllers) it’s unclear just how to launch it.
SwitchBrew, which found the file (called “flog”) even says that the game cannot be launched unless the system’s date is set to July 11, the day Iwata died in 2015. If you take a Switch online, however, the clock is synchronized by the internet — and this cannot be changed later, making this impossible to verify today unless one has, effectively, a brand new Switch.
A quiet gesture to Iwata, left behind for fans to find, is not only a heartwarming explanation, it’s a reasonably logical one, too. Nintendo has left hidden messages before, (including in the code for last year’s NES Classic Edition) and there’s no question Iwata was a revered figure. Also, Shigeru Miyamoto — who designed Golf, by the way — gave an interview to Time earlier this year in which Iwata was called “the head of development,” for the Switch, meaning that important people at Nintendo believe this is Iwata’s legacy.
“I think that the idea of Nintendo Switch being a device you can take out and anywhere, and the idea of it being a system that really allows networking and communicating with people, I think that’s something Mr. Iwata put a lot of emphasis on,” Miyamoto said.
So, this isn’t official, and unless and until Nintendo says something, it can’t be said as a fact. But the idea of a someone making a tribute to a longtime friend, and every Nintendo fan with a Switch carrying the memory of the man who built their console, is very sweet indeed.