A security researcher unearthed perhaps one of the most interesting video game secrets of all time, as he discovered a working NES emulator hidden inside Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube.
The 17-year-old console recently made headlines again because hackers enabled a Nintendo GameCube emulator on the Nintendo Switch. The new discovery, meanwhile, reveals that there has been a NES emulator in the Nintendo GameCube all this time.
NES Emulator In Nintendo GameCube's Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube, released in North America in September 2002, came with an emulator that allowed players to enjoy classic NES titles by obtaining them in the game. The Animal Crossing NES emulator, however, has a secret.
Security Researcher James Chambers found that the NES emulator did not only play games acquired within Animal Crossing, but it can also be used to play NES ROMs that are stored on the Nintendo GameCube's memory card.
Chambers detailed the discovery in a highly technical Medium post. In a nutshell, Chambers was looking for hidden developer menus in Animal Crossing when he found that accessing the in-game NES ordered the game to look at the player's Nintendo GameCube memory card. After a fair amount of work, Chambers was able to determine the necessary file format needed to get Animal Crossing's in-game NES to recognize NES ROMs in the memory card.
Among the games that Chambers was able to load in the hidden NES emulator in Animal Crossing include Pinball, Mega Man, and Battletoads. The security researcher was even nice enough to release source code on GitHub to allow players to create NES ROM files that may be played in the Nintendo GameCube title.
Nintendo Emulators And Retro Games
Hackers have always been trying to crack Nintendo consoles to run emulators and retro games, with the latest attempt being the injection of Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, and Game Boy Advance emulators into the Nintendo Switch.
Fans of Nintendo emulators, however, will be finding it harder to play their retro games on the Nintendo Switch, with Nintendo recently starting to roll out Nintendo Switch units with added protections to prevent hacking.
The legitimate way to play old Nintendo games on the Nintendo Switch will be through the Nintendo Switch Online service, which has been described by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime as the Virtual Console successor. Of course, there is always the option to purchase the NES Classic Edition, which recently returned to store shelves.