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PSA: You can now put custom ROMs into Animal Crossing’s NES emulator

An enterprising security researcher has discovered that GameCube classic Animal Crossing features a fully functional NES emulator, and has even worked out how you can easily load your own ROMs using the GameCube’s memory cards. 

The method is fully outlined in James Chambers’ Medium post (via ArsTechnica), and essentially involves using a specific file name, checksum, and ROM header alongside the standard NES ROM file.

We always knew there was an NES emulator contained within Animal Crossing, which you could use to play a limited number of classic games. You’d find these games in a variety of locations ranging from Nook’s Lottery to simply being buried underground around town.

But what’s interesting here is how the original game checked your memory card for any valid ROM files. Chambers hasn’t modified the original game at all to get this functionality to work, he’s just placed files on a memory card in a format that the game can understand.

A snapshot of Nintendo’s past

We have no idea what this functionality was originally intended for, but there’s speculation that Nintendo might have intended at one point to sell classic NES games packaged on GameCube memory cards in the days before internet-connected consoles allowed the Virtual Console to flourish.

Obviously this a horribly impractical way of actually playing old games, especially in a world where the Virtual Console now exists alongside the likes of the NES Classic Mini, but it’s an interesting snapshot into Nintendo’s early plans for repurposing its retro library.

Now the thing I’m most excited to see is how the Wii/GameCube’s Dolphin Emulator handles this obscure functionality. Over the years the software has gotten so accurate that it’s even able to boot up the Wii’s Netflix app and browse content from the Wii Shop. Getting an emulator working inside the emulator would be a similarly impressive feat.

Can you think of anything more impractical then playing an NES game inside Animal Crossing? Let us know @TrustedReviews. 

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