Earlier this month, the gaming community uncovered an NES game lying dormant on the Nintendo Switch. At the time, people speculated it was there as part of a broader emulation service to come, something Nintendo would spring on fans with a big, “Surprise!” Turns out, there’s a much more touching story behind the game’s presence.
Apparently, the inclusion of NES Golf is the company’s way of paying tribute to the late Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, regarded among Nintendo fans as an icon and pioneer.
Iwata passed away at the young age of 55 on July 11, 2015, though his presence and joyful demeanor still runs through Nintendo’s DNA. That’s where NES Golf comes in, a game Iwata helped program back in the ‘80s.
It appears NES Golf can be unlocked by anyone who owns a Switch, but it apparently has to be done on the anniversary of Iwata’s death. A video on YouTube from fire3element demonstrates how NES Golf can be accessed.
The game can seemingly be temporarily unlocked by performing a specific gesture using the Switch’s Joyn-Con. The gesture, fittingly, is one Iwata was known for during Nintendo Direct presentations; it’s a gesture that’s inviting, genuine, and tender, as if Iwata was saying he made something specifically for you.
As many people have noted, Nintendo’s tribute to Iwata may be a nod to the Japanese tradition of Omamori, typically small amulets that are said to provide luck and protection. By including NES Golf on every Switch console, it could be Nintendo’s way of allowing Iwata’s spirit to live on while bringing luck and protection to Switch owners across the globe.
Nintendo hasn’t officially commented on the intention behind the presence of NES Golf, but the company doesn’t have to. It’s a touching and heartbreaking way to memorialize one of the world’s most iconic figures. I know what I’ll be doing next July 11.