If you played the original Animal Crossing on GameCube, you'll likely have fond memories of its ability to play certain NES games through earning in-game items for your home. By nabbing special gifts from villagers, finding them hidden on the island, or via special giveaways from Nintendo's website, players could find 'games' that could be played on their in-game NES console. As it turns out, this console was actually a fully-functioning emulator capable of much, much more.
Security researcher James Chambers has discovered that the NES emulator in the game can actually be used to play any NES ROM stored on a GameCube memory card - not just the ones present inside Animal Crossing itself. Chambers has found that loading up the in-game NES causes the game to search for any compatible NES ROM files with functions such as "famicom_get_disksystem_titles" and "memcard_game_list."
From there, he was eventually able to work out the specific file format needed to allow the game to recognise NES ROM files stored on a memory card and, after a bit of emulation wizardry and debugging, managed to load Mega Man, Pinball, and Battletoads onto the system through Animal Crossing. If you're interested in how this all worked in more detail, we encourage you to take a read through Chambers' full report - although it's a very tech-focused read.
Does this mean that Nintendo initially had plans to support more NES games through memory cards? Was this an early attempt at a Virtual Console-style setup that never quite got up and running? We'll never know.
Do you have any memories of Animal Crossing on GameCube? Make sure to share your thoughts with us below.