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All Nintendo Switch consoles have a secret NES emulator

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Image used with permission by copyright holder
The Nintendo Switch has a NES emulator built into it known as “flog,” though it doesn’t appear to be used by anything at this time. It could be that this is the system that will help run original NES games on the modern Nintendo console when they launch on the new online service at some point in 2018.

Although Nintendo’s new Switch console is proving to be a pretty solid success story for the Japanese company, arguably its biggest boost in recent years have come from less likely sources. Alongside millions of downloads of mobile apps built on Nintendo properties, it also created a huge buzz around its hard-to-find NES Mini Classic. Who’d have thought that 30 years after their debut, NES games could be so popular?

Of course original NES games have been available in a digital capacity on various emulators for years now, but Nintendo has put some real effort behind them in recent years and it’s looking to do the same in 2018 when its Nintendo Switch Online service launches. For that though, it will need an emulator of its own and it looks like most Switch devices won’t need much of an update to run it.

During explorations of Nintendo Switch hardware, modders have discovered a whole ream of system modules, applets, and data archives, but they also stumbled upon an NES emulator. Called “flog,” we’re told that every retail switch comes with the emulator pre-installed, though as it stands, it doesn’t appear to be used by anything in an official capacity (thanks NintendoEverything).

While this is good news for those who missed out on buying an NES Mini Classic or for those who want to play NES games on the go in the near future, it does raise the question of why Nintendo has yet to make those games available to Switch owners. If the NES emulator is already a part of the system, couldn’t Nintendo have expanded its launch lineup of games with a number of original NES games?

We do know Nintendo is planning to leverage online play to augment those retro games and an expansive library of classic titles could help push the new online service when it debuts. For now though, all we know is that the emulator is there and should be ready to go whenever Nintendo decides to pull the retro trigger and release its NES library on modern gamers in a portable guise.

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Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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