Last weekend, a user calling themselves yellows8, posted an intriguing discovery to SwitchBrew.org, a site dedicated to finding ways to hack the Nintendo Switch. Hidden on every Switch console is a mysterious game called Flog, which turns out to be an emulated version of the 1984 NES game Golf upgraded with motion controls. An even bigger mystery was finding a way to actually play the game, and it turns out it’s far from easy.
Why Golf? Satoru Iwata was Nintendo’s fourth president and CEO, but he was also a coder, and in 1984 he created his own data compression tool to squeeze a golf game, complete with 18 holes, onto an NES cartridge. Unfortunately, on July 11, 2015, Iwata passed away from complications resulting from a bile duct tumor he had had removed a year before. It’s not known how the NES Golf game found its way into the Switch’s firmware, but accessing it reveals it was almost definitely put there by someone at Nintendo as a tribute to Iwata.
Unfortunately, launching Golf isn’t as easy as just entering the Konami code, or any combination of button presses. For starters, as testers on the GBA Temp forums and SwitchBrew have discovered, the Switch’s internal clock first has to match the date of Iwata’s passing, July 11. If you’ve ever connected your Switch to the internet, there’s currently no way to access the Golf game, because the console’s internal clock automatically syncs itself to network time. But if your Switch has never been online, that internal clock syncs itself to what’s been user-specified in the settings, which means you can simply hop into the Switch’s settings and dial back the clock to July 11.
It gets a little easier after that, but only slightly. With the date adjustment made, you need to head back to the Switch’s main menu, and detach each Joy-Con. With a controller in each hand, you then need to reproduce a very specific motion that Iwata had used in a Nintendo Direct presentation. With both arms down, hold each Joy-Con pointing downwards, and then raise your hands until the controllers are in front of your face, in a vertical position. If you’ve done everything right, after holding that pose for a moment, the classic NES Golf game will supposedly automatically launch, as several videos posted online, including one from the BBC, have shown.
Unfortunately, the success rate for getting this to reliably work has been abysmal. As SwitchBrew points out, there is additional Switch criteria that needs to be met for this Easter Egg to be revealed, and so far no one has been able to figure out exactly what those are. Some testers have also been trying to find ways to completely reset their internet-connected Switches back to factory conditions, but that involves dismantling the units and removing backup batteries, which doesn’t seem worth it?
Only a handful of testers have managed to get Golf to load, and so far no one has posted a complete, unedited video of the entire unlocking process (including the BBC). To make matters worse, the game doesn’t seem to be completely finished, and actually playing a round using motion controls and the Switch’s Joy-Cons has proven to be confusing. It’s a fun Easter Egg, but your time will probably be better spent unlocking all of Breath of the Wild’s secrets instead.
Update, 1:39 p.m. EST/EDT: According to Kotaku, earlier today, YouTube user fire3element posted what appears to be a complete walk-through of getting the Nintendo Switch to load Golf, including updating the system’s date, and the requisite Joy-Con motions.