Who remembers the first time they played Animal Crossing on the GameCube? I know I do! Well, it would seem Nintendo hid a very interesting little feature that was just discovered, twenty years later. The in-game NES emulator can actually be used to play any NES ROM that was stored on a physical GameCube memory card. How cool is that?
James Chambers, a security researcher, was the one to make this fascinating discovery. He detailed his findings and how he came upon it in an extensive blog post earlier this week.
Previously with the in-game NES emulator, you would need to find other separate in-game ROMs to utilize it and you were a tad restricted.
So Chambers headed to the developer menu for answers and stumbled upon a gold mine. He realized that activating the in-game NES through the menu actually causes the game to mount and search the player’s memory card for valid NES ROM files, using functions like “famicom_get_disksystem_titles” and “memcard_game_list.”
He described spending a great deal of time debugging through an emulator. Chambers was finally able to decipher the specific file format needed to get Animal Crossing to recognize NES ROM files stored on the memory card, which involves inserting specific checksum, file name, and ROM header values in certain locations before the game data itself.
Surprisingly, he was able to load games such as Mega Man, Pinball, and Battletoads onto the GameCube through the in-game emulator, as well as a homebrew test ROM. To think, this happened two decades after Animal Crossing first came onto the scene! That is very very impressive and I am sure players who still play and have their GameCube and a copy of Animal Crossing handy will try and do this themselves.
Can you imagine if this method for loading additional NES files into Animal Crossing through the memory card had been made public back then? We would have had an NES Classic Mini way sooner!
For those who want to attempt this now, worry not — Chambers was kind enough to provide the code that lets you generate your own Animal Crossing-friendly NES ROM files. You can also test out those files for yourself using a virtual memory card loaded into the Dolphin emulator or on an actual GameCube using special memory card hardware.
What do fans think of this discovery? Will you try this out instead of picking up the NES or SNES Mini?
Having been a huge Animal Crossing fan from then until now, this makes me want to turn my own GameCube back on and try this out. It is a shame we had to wait so long for this to be made known, but as the saying goes, better late than never.
Kudos to Chambers for doing all the legwork to not only find this but share it with the public! Had he not it might’ve stayed buried for another twenty years!
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Tarah Bleier is a freelance writer, editor and content creator from Toronto. As a graduate from Centennial College’s Journalism program, she has written for Tribute.ca, and Factinate.com and recently for Geek Enthusiast Magazine. In her free time, she loves gaming, cosplaying, prop making and attending as many conventions and geeky events as she can. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she has been a contributing writer of The Planet Observer for many years before becoming its Assistant Editor last year. Her work can also be seen on The Geekcast Radio Network where she has been a podcast host and writer.