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Switch’s hidden Iwata tribute removed in latest update

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Nintendo Switch’s hidden copy of Golf, a Nintendo Entertainment system game from 1984, appears to be gone from the console as of its latest firmware update. Members of the Switch’s datamining community found that Nintendo appears to have wiped Golf’s source code from the game, removing what many thought to be a loving tribute to its programmer, former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata.

“Switch update 4.0.0 stubs ‘flog’ — all code to launch it removed, and flog executable overwritten with (signed) garbage,” wrote user SciresM, who often shares findings from Switch hacks on Twitter.

We’ve reached out to Nintendo about the seeming removal, although the company has been reticent to acknowledge the emulation before.

“Flog” is the file name assigned to the emulator that ran Golf, which the same hacking community identified back in September. It reportedly could only be accessed through highly unconventional means: The Switch’s system date had to be set to July 11, which was the day Iwata died. But players can’t change the internal clock once they’ve connected their Switch to the internet, so very few owners were able to demonstrate Golf running on the system.

Those who did showed another possible requirement to activate the game: holding the Joy-Con controllers and pointing them outward, as Satoru Iwata often did in Nintendo Direct presentations.

With “flog” gone, so too is the Switch’s most obscure, touching reference. Nintendo has long declined to confirm or outright acknowledge the Golf emulation — with Nintendo of America president coming the closest to talking about it in a Kotaku interview — but it was certainly nice to think that a little part of Iwata lived on inside of the Switch, the first console Nintendo has released since his death in 2015.

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