clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NES Classic hack fixes one of the system's biggest problems

No, it has nothing to do with adding more games

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NES Classic Edition teardown gallery Polygon

When the NES Classic Edition was hacked earlier this month, all eyes were on the console’s ability to house games beyond its 30 built-in offerings. But, it turns out, there was a more exciting enhancement just a few point releases beyond adding more games: You can now return to the NES Classic Edition’s home screen via a customizable gamepad shortcut (by default, Down + Select).

The NES Classic Edition is an excellent product that handily redefines the entire plug ‘n play console industry through a combination of well-built hardware, superb emulation, and a solid user interface that shames the competition. But it’s not perfect, and manually pressing the Reset button to return to the home screen — to change games and save or load a suspend point — is an unusually inelegant solution.

The initially complicated hack has been streamlined into an app called Hakchi2, simplifying the process of backing up the NES Classic Edition’s internal storage and then replacing it with a modified version. That modified version can include new ROMs, but an absence of games was never one of our criticisms of the console. The controller’s cord length and the absence of a shortcut to the home screen, however, are two very big ones.

A simple $10 cord extender solves the cord length issue, as does a wireless option (notably, the $40 8bitdo NES Classic Retro Receiver is wireless and also enables this shortcut, no hack required). But what about using the controller that comes with the console to get back to the home screen?

Here’s a video of a console that’s been hacked (note he’s playing Ufouria and Track & Field, neither of which come with the NES Classic Edition) and using the Down + Select shortcut.

That the system can be flashed in this way, via a simple USB connection, raises the question of whether Nintendo left this access in for possible future fixes or enhancements. We’d love to see Nintendo offer an official patch for the NES Classic Edition to enable this shortcut, or have somebody fork the Hakchi2 project to focus on just adding in the controller shortcut and remove the ROM dumping.

But if you’re okay with a process that will surely violate your warranty and enters into a legal gray area (and, if you actually choose to add ROMs to your console, a darker shade of gray), you can correct one of the NES Classic Edition’s biggest shortcomings in just a couple minutes.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.