NES Switch Online is already hacked. Should anyone be surprised?

Rom Universe

Well, that didn’t take long. Nintendo Switch Online’s NES app has already been hacked, less than 24 hours after Nintendo launched the service.

YouTuber DevRiv posted a short video where he boots up a Battletoads ROM, which was not one of the 20 NES games available at launch.

In the same Polygon post that reported the hack is a video showing another user accessing Kirby’s Adventure through the included River City Ransom game. Apparently, hacking the Nintendo Switch Online is not very difficult a task and there will no doubt be a ton of videos and/or written instructions available very soon, if not already.

In an interview with Polygon, Kapu told the website that pretty much anyone will be able to see the same results on their own Nintendo Switch Online service.

For someone without prior experience in running Switch mods, getting all of it set up at first is a bit of a process, but nothing too hard with proper instructions. After an initial setup it’s insanely easy to swap out ROMs and add entirely new ones.

We’ve been here before

This should come as little surprise to anyone paying any attention to Nintendo, the hacking scene, or both. The SNES Classic Edition was hacked. The NES Classic Edition was hacked. In fact, Nintendo Switch Online’s NES emulator runs on the same architecture, something Kapu pointed to regarding the hack.

I should probably make myself clear: I do not think this is entirely a BAD thing, I just find it a bit silly that they advertised this as if it were a big feature of the online when it’s really a quick port of an existing emulator packaged with some ROMs.

The Nintendo Switch itself was hacked. Nintendo has since taken strides to patch those hacks up, but a community rabid for free access to the Big N’s intellectual property continues its work with breathtaking speed.

The Yuzu Switch emulator, in particular, has shown incredibly quick progress handling taxing games like Super Mario Odyssey. While I wouldn’t want to play a game in this current state, the fact that it has gotten this far this soon should both excite those who are pro-hack and worry those who aren’t (such as Nintendo, one would assume).

Meanwhile, the Wii U has long since been hacked, as has the 3DS. The 3DS’s eShop was, in fact, accessible for years through a custom firmware application called FREeShop (get it?), which only recently finally got patched by Nintendo.  And on and on.

Hacking has been rife throughout the gaming industry for decades. I first heard about the SNES9X emulator when I was in high school in the mid-’90s. What should surprise people, and concern companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, is just how damn fast it’s happening.

What does the future hold for services like Nintendo Switch Online, which are being manipulated from the outside in less than 24 hours? Will it be possible for Nintendo to patch? Could they go as far in retaliation as to shut the service down? Is the hacking scene big enough to warrant that?

Is it worth it for you?

Personally, I know enough people who won’t bother attempting to hack their systems. This is either because it’s deemed inconvenient, they’re worried about screwing up their systems, they’re worried they’re going to get in trouble, or a combination of all three. This is perhaps the reason why it took so long for Nintendo to finally address the 3DS FREeShop debacle. But, with the hacking scene moving at a breakneck speed, it seems harder and harder for companies to keep pace.

How do you feel about this latest hack on a Nintendo product? Is it something you would try to do for your own Switch? Or, do you think this is some murky moral waters you won’t be jumping into? Let us know how you feel in the comments.

John Dunphy
John Dunphy has written, edited and managed several newspapers, magazines and news websites in both the United States and South Korea. He's written about local government, food, nightlife, Korean culture, beer, cycling, land preservation, video games and more. His love of gaming began with the Atari 2600 but truly came of age on the Super Nintendo. Looking at his staggering surplus of console and PC games yet to be played, he laments the long-ago days of only being able to buy one $70 32-megabyte cartridge and playing it until his hands ached.