Fans of the early-2000s era GameCube version of the original Animal Crossing likely remember the game including a handful of emulated NES titles that could be played by obtaining in-game items for your house. What players back then didn’t know is that the NES emulator in Animal Crossing can also be used to play any generic NES ROM stored on a GameCube memory card.
The key to opening Animal Crossing‘s NES emulator is the game’s generic “NES console” item. Usually, this item simply tells players who try to use it that “I want to play my NES, but I don’t have any software” (separate in-game items are used to play the NES ROMs that are included on the Animal Crossing disc).
Tom Murphy explains how he got a Super NES game running on an unmodified NES.
At this point, we’re used to modern computers being able to perform near-perfect emulation of older gaming hardware via software trickery. The latest project from Tom “Tom7” Murphy, though, seems poised to coin its own definition for “reverse emulation” by running a playable Super NES game on actual unmodified NES hardware.
Murphy breaks down this wizardry in a pair of detailed videos laying out his tinkering process. Though the NES hardware itself is untouched, the cartridge running this reverse emulation is a heavily customized circuit board (ordered from China for about $10), with a compact, multi-core Raspberry Pi 3 attached to handle the actual Super NES emulation.
The Pi essentially replaces the PPU portion of the cartridge, connecting to the NES via a custom-coded EEPROM chip that tells the system how to process and display what would normally be an overwhelming stream of graphical data coming from the miniature computer. Only the CIC “copyright” chip from the original cartridge remains unmodified to get around the hardware’s lockout chip.
Japanese gamers and manga aficionados and every combination thereof will get a treat this summer with the release of a NES Classic Edition loaded with games from the pages of Weekly Jump. The beloved manga mag is celebrating its 50th anniversary and this solid gold Famicom is part of the festivities.
There’s basically no chance this Jump-themed NES will get a release in the US — first because hardly any Americans will have read any of these manga (with a couple exceptions) and second because even fewer will have played the Famicom games associated with them.
Familiar… and yet…
That said, this nurtures the hope inside me that we will at some point see other themed NES Classics; the original has, of course, a fantastic collection — but there are dozens more games I would have loved to see on there.
You can hack the thing pretty easily and put half the entire NES library on it, but Nintendo’s official versions will have been tested and perhaps even tweaked to make sure they run perfectly (though admittedly emulation problems aren’t common for NES games).
More importantly it’s possible these hypothetical themed consoles may come with new accessories that I desperately need, like a NES Advantage, Zapper (not sure how it would work), or NES Max. Perhaps even a Power Glove?
In the meantime, at least if you missed the chance to buy one the first time around, you can grab one come the end of June.
Nintendo said the console go on sale again across the U.S. on June 29, with the SNES Classic also set to be available until the end of this year. It isn’t clear what the situation will be outside of the U.S., however.
The news is welcome but not entirely a surprise. Nintendo said last September that it would bring both consoles — which were originally supposed to be one-offs — back in 2018 following a positive reception and strong sales.
The company originally killed off the hit NES Classic Edition with an announcement last April and it had originally said that the SNES version would not live beyond 2017. The NES system was a surprise hit last year, but the SNES version was even more popular. Nintendo previously revealed that it sold more on launch day in August than the NES sold in the whole of last year.
“Fans have shown their unbridled enthusiasm for these Classic Edition systems, so Nintendo is working to put many more of them on store shelves,” Nintendo said last year.
The two classic systems are part of a new focus for Nintendo, which includes the top-selling Switch console and its first moves into mobile gaming via Pokémon GO and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. The company recently clocked impressive financial returns — including a 500 percent jump in annual profit — as the strategy begins to pay off.
Gamers of a certain age probably remember that Nintendo worked with Maxis to port a version of the seminal SimCity to the brand new SNES in 1991. What most gamers probably don’t realize is that an NES version of the game was developed at the same time and cancelled just before its planned release.
This weekend, Switch owners learned their consoles are apparently holding a hidden copy of the NES game Golf, along with a built-in NES emulator designed to run it. But Switch hacker yellows8 and others who have been able to run that emulator say they’ve only been able to do so via “unofficial” methods that let them run jailbroken Switch binaries independently.
Now that the emulator is widely known to exist, a few diehards and hackers are engaged in an obsessive quest to discover if there’s an “official” way to launch that emulator on stock hardware. While that quest hasn’t borne fruit yet, the search itself is a fascinating look into the subculture of console hacking and the fast-moving world of rumor and conspiracy theory that often surrounds it.
Surprisingly enough, yellows8 probably wasn’t the first person to launch NES Golf on the Switch. That title likely goes to Setery, a user on the GBATemp console hacking forums who posted about the game mysteriously appearing on his system back on July 22. As Setery tells it: