As promised, Nintendo’s Switch Online service finally went live yesterday. One feature that had Switch owners particularly excited was its library of classic NES titles. The selection of games is somewhat limited right now… but hackers have already solved that little problem.

That’s right. It took less than 24 hours for Switch modders to figure out how to add ROMs from their own collections. Unsurprisingly, there’s already a video showing Battletoads running on the emulator. Another features Kirby’s Adventure, and there will no doubt be numerous others popping up in the coming days.

Switch hacker @KapucinoHeck found the process of adding ROMs surprisingly easy. One key reason is that Nintendo appears to be using garden-variety .NES files, the very same ones that enthusiasts have been running on their emulation systems for years. It also helps that Nintendo left the database of compatible games in plain text format.

Before you get too excited about the possibility of running any .NES ROM you please on your Switch, there’s a catch. As of now it’s only possible to add games if your Switch has been jailbroken.

That remains a somewhat complex process. It also carries the risk of having your account banned, so most modders caution against doing it. KapuccinoHeck told Kotaku “I would highly advise against anyone else doing it as I’ve been told there’s a lot of data from the app being sent to Nintendo and that it has a fair few legitimacy checks that occur at random.”

As easy at it was for hackers to crack open the Switch Online library, the exact opposite appears to be true for patching. It reportedly won’t be all that simple for Nintendo to patch the vulnerabilities that made this hack possible.

For now, however, you may want to stick to the official offerings on your Switch and save any unsanctioned emulation for an Android device.

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Lee Mathews

Computer tech, blogger, husband, father, and avid MSI U100 user.

One reply on “Switch Online NES emulator hacked to run unofficial ROMs”

  1. They can’t patch the hardware exploit to hack the switch, with a software fix, but the sloppy code securing the NES Online library could easily be patched. However, once you hack your switch you can just run an NES emulator anyway.

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