Dataminers have discovered references to numerous Super NES games in the files for the Switch's "Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online" subscription emulation service, suggesting the company could be planning to expand the system's emulated offerings in the future.
Switch hacker KapuccinoHeck—who has previously shared mods and hidden data for Splatoon 2 and other Switch games—used Twitter to link to the text of a file full of internal string variables purportedly stored in the NES Online's file system. Fellow modder OatmealDome confirmed that file's authenticity via Twitter. Though Ars has not been able to independently verify the file's existence in the Switch's NES Online app, the information comes from hackers who have provided reliable data-mining information from Switch games in the past.
In addition to information about the current NES Online software selection, the shared file also includes references to the following Super NES games, many of which include extensive descriptions of those games in Japanese and/or English:
A full 13 of the games listed in the file are also included in the Super NES Classic Edition, including the exclusive Star Fox 2. But the NES Online file includes many games that are not available on Nintendo's previous plug-and-play device (and vice versa), suggesting this is not just a data artifact copied and pasted from a previous emulation project.
In addition, OatmealDome says on Twitter that they found an enumerated variable in the NES Online files listing "four emulator types"—two for the NES and SNES Classic, and two others named "Hiyoko" and "Count." While the "Count" type may simply be a counter variable, the "Hiyoko" type suggests yet another Nintendo system may be planned for Switch emulation at some point.
The inclusion of this hidden Super NES metadata doesn't necessarily mean those games will be emulated on the Switch any time soon, if ever. But this isn't the first hint Nintendo is interested in getting emulated Super NES games running on the Switch. In fact, the company promised Super NES games would be part of the Switch's emulated offerings when it first announced the Switch's online service two years ago. In June of 2017, though, the company said that Super NES games merely "continue to be under consideration" for the service.
In a similar data-mining discovery last month, hackers found Sony's PlayStation Classic contained references to dozens of games that may have been tested during the device's development. If one more example pops up, we'll be willing to officially call "emulator developers leaving interesting breadcrumbs in their files" as an emerging trend.