Back in July, we reported that home brewers on the Switch Brew forum had discovered an NES emulator encoded into every Switch. It was theorized at the time that the emulator, called “flog,” would be used to run classic NES games that Nintendo had already announced it was re-releasing with its Switch Online service.
Shortly after the emulator was discovered, a user who goes by "Setery" on the GBATemp forum claimed to have somehow activated NES Golf on her Switch. Setery said she didn’t know what she did to get the game to start and kicked herself for not taking pictures or video of the game in action. Ars Technica called it “The Setery Mystery.”
Many had doubts about the claims but despite the skepticism, home hackers began looking into the strange emulator again. Sure enough, a version of NES Golf was found embedded within flog ("golf" spelled backwards). Some were even able to get it working outside of the Switch environment by running “jail-broken” binaries independently.
How to activate the game, however, remained a mystery.
The required joycon motion is approx 1.5 seconds long. Not sure which screen you have to be on. Haven't been able to trigger anything myself— plutoo (@qlutoo) September 18, 2017
Plutoo, one of the original users that helped uncover the emulator, dug a little deeper and found some code in the Switch menu involving a JoyCon motion sensor and the date July 11. It was theorized that performing a particular movement with the JoyCons on July 11, which happens to be the same day that Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata died, would activate the emulator and maybe the golf game.
The theory sparked users on GBATemp to try various gestures including golf swings to get the game to unlock. Nothing seemed to work but at least they got some exercise as Plutoo joked on Twitter.
mfw I've given 100 people their daily exercise— plutoo (@qlutoo) September 19, 2017
As it turns out, both the date and gesture theories were spot-on.
Some people tried resetting the date on their consoles. The problem with this is that once a Switch connects to the internet and syncs with network time, flog will “know” the actual date even if the user changes it. The only way to get around it is to use a Switch that has never connected to the internet.
Apparently, another user who goes by fire3element happened to have a Switch that he never opened. Setting the date to July 11 on the pristine console, he eventually stumbled upon the correct unlock gesture as demonstrated in the video below.
The movements seem similar to those that Iwata would give when saying, “Direct to you” during Nintendo Direct events. It also makes sense considering Iwata worked on NES Golf in his early days at Nintendo.
At this point, nobody has been able to confirm if fire3element’s video is legit. If not, it is a very convincing fake as he can be seen activating the game after several attempts and controlling golfers with the JoyCons.
If the video is authentic, this little Easter egg is a rather touching tribute to a beloved member of the Nintendo family. Satoru Iwata served as CEO of Nintendo for 13 years before succumbing to cancer in 2015.