The GameCube version of Animal Crossing contains a basic Nintendo Entertainment System emulator capable of running a selection of included games, such as Balloon Fight and Donkey Kong, but it appears the software Nintendo used is quite a bit more versatile than previously believed. A security researcher has managed to use an exploit that allows users to play additional NES games on the GameCube via memory cards.
Security researcher James Chambers found that the generic NES Console item available in Animal Crossing — thought to just be for decorating your house — actually attempts to scan your GameCube’s memory card for relevant ROM files.
Chambers discovered that the function responsible for handling furniture items was actually also responsible for handling a screen transition to the NES emulator in the game. By exploiting the way the game responds when a certain function is listed as zero — the plain NES console appears to give this function — and then tricking it into loading a ROM as a save file, Chambers was eventually able to get Animal Crossing to run additional games, such as Mega Man. There were several crashes along the way, but his solution appears to work for nearly every NES game and he uploaded his memory card file creator code to GitHub for other users to access.
Nintendo fans have been attempting to exploit the company’s consoles and games for decades, beginning back with cheating tools like the Game Genie and GameShark. After the GameCube came and went, the emulator software Dolphin was created to run the console’s games on a PC, eventually supporting Wii games, as well. Through the use of an exploit on Nintendo Switch, hackers were even able to get the emulator running on Nintendo’s latest console. This was due to an unpatchable exploit with the system’s Tegra processor, though it appears that latest batch of Switch systems have made this exploit impossible.
If you want a more elegant way to play old NES games, the NES Classic Edition recently went into production again. The plug-and-play system contains 30 classic games, including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Super C, Final Fantasy, and Metroid.