In a hilarious twist of fate, the creator of Nintendo Switch jailbreaking software SX OS—which helps gamers play pirated games on the console—has been caught slipping anti-piracy countermeasures into its own code, Nintendo Life reports.
Nintendo’s gotten more serious about its quest to combat piracy on the Switch, going so far as to say it has banned “modified Nintendo Switch” consoles entirely, according to Kotaku. As Nintendo’s anti-piracy method uses encrypted certificates to verify a game’s legitimacy, pirated games and modified consoles can be immediately detected and banned from the company’s online servers.
Team Xecuter’s $25 software helps Switch owners circumvent Nintendo’s restrictions, enabling gamers to play pirated games for free. But Nintendo Life reports that Team Xecuter’s tool ironically includes potentially console-paralyzing code to discourage the free distribution of its own software.
Researcher Mike Heskin says he discovered the Switch-bricking feature while investigating the SX OS source code. Heskin then intentionally triggered the feature, designed to punish freeloaders, and bricked his own Switch. The code in question works by locking the Switch’s internal memory using a randomly generated password, Heskin said. By preventing access to its internal storage, Team Xecuter’s code could turn the Switch into more or less a colorful doorstop.
Heskin, who offered a more in-depth description of the code on his blog, was able to save his console from its useless state after disabling the password lock. According to Heskin, even users who paid for a copy of SX OS could screw up their console, though the odds are apparently pretty low unless you’re doing some significant tinkering.
“Regular users won’t be able to restore the NAND normally,” Heskin said in his tweets about the software. “You need to mess with raw MMC commands to either unlock or force erase the eMMC.” In other words, don’t try this at home.