Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

A Hidden Vintage Game Has Been Found—Inside Nintendo’s Latest Console

It’s a secret tribute to a beloved former CEO.

<em>Golf</em> was first released for the Famicom, the Japanese version of the NES.
Golf was first released for the Famicom, the Japanese version of the NES. Bryan Ochala/CC BY-SA 2.0

When you die, how would you like to be remembered? Each person probably has a different answer, but you could do worse than having a secret video game hidden in millions of homes all over the world, dedicated just to you.

As Polygon, Gizmodo, and others are reporting, a version of the classic 8-bit game, Golf—dating all the way back to 1984—has been discovered, hidden in the code of Nintendo’s latest console hit, the Switch. The easter egg seems to have been placed in the new hardware as an homage to the old game’s creator and Nintendo CEO, the late Satoru Iwata. Before he became the leader of the company that saved video games from oblivion, Iwata coded games for the iconic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), such as Golf, which he managed to fit on one of the console’s low-storage cartridges with an innovative compression tool of his own design.

Uncovering the tribute is no easy task. In fact, in the console’s code, the game isn’t even called Golf. It’s called “Flog.”A complicated series of inputs is required to unlock the game, including setting the date on the console to July 11, the anniversary of Iwata’s 2015 passing, and mimicking a motion he famously did during a 2014 press video. Holding the Switch’s controllers (called Joy-Cons, but we’re not calling them that), you must raise them up toward either side of your head, and then extend your arms out. If all of the steps are performed correctly, Golf will play automatically.

While it is a sweet tribute to one of video gaming’s more influential figures, it is far from the first time a memorial has been written right into a video game. For example, in Dungeons & Dragons Online, players can find a tombstone for the game’s creator, Gary Gygax; Borderlands 2 features a character based on a fan of the game who passed away from cancer; and after Leonard Nimoy’s death, Star Trek Online installed Spock statues in-game to honor him. There are many more examples.

Golf doesn’t play as well on the Switch as it once did on the NES, but as a memorial it plays perfectly.