Seeing as Nintendo have seemingly ruled out a Virtual Console for the Switch, it’s nice to know theres a few good options via homebrew.
For those not in the know, the Switch has been blown wide open. There’s a bootrom exploit called ShofELF2 (https://fail0verflow.com/blog/2018/shofel2/) that runs before the Nintendo Switch OS (known as Horizon) is loaded through a recovery mode that is native to the nvidia tegra. This means the exploit is unpatchable. Firmware version doesn’t matter. The only way for NIntendo to fix it is a new revision of the Tegra which so far has not been introduced into Switch consoles.
Basically, there’s nowhere further to go with exploits - this is all you could ever want! What does it mean? Custom firmware (being worked on), dual booting, linux, and…a whole load of homebrew.
Booting into recovery mode is easy enough - you just need to turn the console on while holding power and volume up while pins 10 and 1 on the right joy con rail are connected. This can be done either by modding a joycon, using a paperclip, or using a 3D printed jig like this:
You can then send a payload to the switch via a PC (windows, mac, linux) or android phone. For example, you boot Linux or a custom firmware this way, and then it’ll stay loaded in place of the standard OS until power runs out. As the switch has fantastic sleep mode, this isn’t really an issue for most.
So, what’s in the works right now?
Custom Firmware / Alternative OS’s
Atmosphere - Custom Firmware
Allows booting into the homebrew menu via the switch OS, currently hooked up to the image gallery button on the home menu. Not yet released, but fully open source and the full release is planned within the next month or so.
Full Retroarch linux distro. Full OpenGL hardware acceleration, should run everything you throw at it. The Switch can run Dolphin quite well via Linux just to give an idea…
Not out yet, but keep an eye on https://twitter.com/natinusala and https://gbatemp.net/threads/dev-launchmycraft-ported-lakka-to-the-switch.503646/ as it’ll be out soon.
Various distros work. Here’s an example:
Ubuntu works too. Full hardware gpu support, but everything’s a bit new, some little issues with sound, joycons and bluetooth that need working out. Turns the Switch into a legit tablet PC. And yes, dolphin and Retroarch work!
One thing to bear in mind is that Horizon (switch OS) keeps an eye on battery levels for calibration - so far Linux does not, of course. So when you boot linux, expect to have to unplug and plug the battery back in otherwise the Switch OS may think…30% is 0%, for example. This will get sorted out in time.
SNES Classic Style Homebrew Launcher
Custom firmware that replicates the SNES classic’s set up. Should be awesome for a true homebrew/retroarch set up. Not yet released but working nicely at early stages.
Savegame backing up / editing
You can backup savegames. You can also edit them - there’s a few apps already for Xenoblade, Mario Kart and Zelda. The Zelda one allows you to import/export Wii U version saves!
A list of the apps used to throw an app/payload over to the switch can be found here: https://gbatemp.net/threads/fusee-gelee-all-the-payloads.502028/
So yeah. Exciting stuff. Switch will easily be the ultimate handheld retro device - I’ve got absolutely no doubts about that.