Last week, developer Amir Rajan revealed an interesting Easter egg hidden in the Switch version of A dark room, an inventive text-based adventure ported to console early last month. Plugging a USB keyboard into the system and pressing the “~” key while the game is running gives you a functional Ruby interpreter suitable for coding simple programs directly on the console.
This weekend, however, Nintendo decided to remove the game from the Switch eShop, prompting Rajan to tell Eurogamer that he is “deeply sorry[s] how this exploded.”
In a Mastodon thread revealing the Easter egg, Rajan said the hidden in-game coding environment was “an attempt to capture the magic of coding in its purest form”. In a world of complicated internet-connected IDE-based game engines, he writes that he wanted to “show the next generation that magic exists in this world. That you can create something out of nothing.”
Rajan’s first announcement proudly proclaimed that the in-game Easter egg “effectively turns any consumer-specified Nintendo Switch into a Ruby Machine.” But when speaking to Eurogamer after the game was released on April 26, he suggested that the “simple toy sandbox environment” created in the game is really only capable of drawing simple lines, squares, and labels, as well as to play game audio files. yourself.
“You can’t even take a picture with that damn thing,” Rajan said. “So yes, if your app is completely composed of labels, squares and lines…then you can build an app without doing any hacks.”
Still, the Easter Egg’s First Reports Are “Framed” [it] like this huge exploit,” Rajan said. “And of course it’s the community that exploits these things that has taken it to that level. I am partly responsible for my sensational media reports.”
Nintendo is understandably upset about a hidden feature that allows Switch users to write seemingly “random code” on their consoles. An accidental memory leak in the level editor for obscure 3DS platformer Cubic Ninja ultimately the key to running homebrew code on that platform. On the other hand, games that allow users to write their own code in protected environments are not banned or unknown on Nintendo platforms. Small Computer has been available on the 3DS eShop since 2012, allowing users to code simple versions of Flappy Bird and other games that use a programming language called Smile Basic. Players can then share those creations via QR code.
Given that, it seems A dark room‘s removal may have had less to do with the encryption ban and more to do with the feature being hidden from Nintendo’s usual software testing and approval process. As Rajan himself told Eurogamer: “It was a last second ‘spark of inspiration’, and I snuck it on the assumption that plugging in a USB keyboard and pressing the ‘~’ key wasn’t part of the test plan. .”
For now, Nintendo has not responded to a request for comment on the matter. A dark roomThe publisher, Circle Entertainment, says it is “in contact with Nintendo to clarify next steps and will handle the matter accordingly; these are unfortunate circumstances and we apologize for the issue…Until we discuss next steps with Nintendo.” clarify, we will be unable to comment further.”
A dark room is available, without Easter Egg coding, on iOS, Android, and via a web browser.