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Gamers are already hacking the Nintendo Switch Online NES emulator

NES Switch Online - Rom Swapping PROOF

The Nintendo Switch Online subscription service was launched just a few days ago, giving paying members access to online multiplayer, as well as a selection of classic NES games with added online features. While you’re only supposed to have access to 20 games with a subscription, hackers, in an unsurprising move, have already cracked the emulator and begun adding their own.

According to Twitter user KapuccinoHeck, the emulator used to run the NES games on Nintendo Switch is very similar to the technology used in the NES Classic and SNES Classic, both of which were cracked and loaded up with additional games almost immediately after release. The database containing the game files is written in plain text, making it easier for uploading more ROMs afterward, and there’s even the possibility of getting the games to work online with a friend.

YouTube videos have already been shared of additional games being played on the Switch, including Battletoads. Since the Switch is connected to the internet — unlike the NES Classic or SNES Classic — we wouldn’t be surprised if the company found a way to disable this ability in the future, but players are certainly taking advantage of it right now.

Nintendo fans’ willingness to add more games like this is likely reinforced by the lack of a traditional “virtual console” on the Switch. Previous Nintendo systems going back to the Wii allowed players to purchase digital versions of classic Nintendo games and emulate them on their current system. Given the power of the Switch, it seems like technical issues wouldn’t get in the way of this being possible, but Nintendo has shared no details or plans on such a system being implemented.

If you start up your Switch and try to play online without a subscription right now, you’ll be given some bad news, but a yearlong membership will only set you back $20. Games currently available in the NES vault include Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, and a subscription is also the only way you can access cloud saving on the system. Just don’t let your membership lapse or your cloud save data could be lost for good.

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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