Hacker Says It Took Him Two Weeks To Add Save Back-Ups To Switch

Hacker Says It Took Him Two Weeks To Add Save Back-Ups To Switch

One of the biggest flaws in Nintendo’s portable console is that you can’t back up your data: if you lose your system, or somehow get your data corrupted or wiped, that’s it. It’s gone. But thanks to a burgeoning hacking scene, Switch fans are now adding features that the Switch desperately needs.

Bernardo Giordano, a computer engineer, took to social media a few days ago to announce that he has a working save manager prototype for the Nintendo Switch. It allows users to create back-up save files for games.

There’s reason to be excited: Giordano previously worked on “Checkpoint,” a known user-friendly save manager for the 3DS, as well as PKSM, a Pokémon save manager. It seems reasonable to believe Giordano has the expertise to make a save manager for the Switch, too.

Earlier this year, Giordano says he completely rewrote Checkpoint to work with the Switch, user-interface and everything.

“The implementation work didn’t take long, around 2 weeks,” Giordano told Kotaku. The process was relatively quick because of the experience he gained working with 3DS homebrew libraries while developing Checkpoint, Giordano said. To prove that his Switch creation is legit, Giordano sent Kotaku a couple more images of the save manager in action.

Hacker Says It Took Him Two Weeks To Add Save Back-Ups To Switch
Hacker Says It Took Him Two Weeks To Add Save Back-Ups To Switch

“The first one shows another list of games that are being recognised by Checkpoint and the other one shows the screen where the user is meant to choose a name for their save backup,” Giordano said.

Right now the save manager is not available to the public, as Giordano says it is in testing, but source code will be uploaded to Giordano’s GitHub later this year. For now, there’s no set release date.

“The only [people] that have [access] to copies of Checkpoint and its source code are a little bunch of testers (thank you guys!) and some reputable developers in the scene, which troubleshooted with me in the last stages of development,” Giordano said. Nintendo did not respond to a request for comment.

The Nintendo 3DS supported save back-ups, letting players put them on an SD card and store them on a computer. After launch, Nintendo updated the Switch to allow saves to be transferred from one Switch console to another, but it has not supported any method for backing them up on a card, a computer or in the cloud.

If a save manager solution is so easy to implement for someone like Giordano, why has Nintendo not released something official yet? He has a theory.

“It’s something that isn’t really in the interests of the company,” he said. “They generally don’t want people to mess with their saves to avoid hackers to find a way to penetrate the system, which is totally reasonable.”

Previously, both the 3DS and Wii U were cracked enough to suffer piracy problems, with major games leaking days if not weeks in advance. So far, the Switch has avoided those issues, and Nintendo has even created a bounty program that rewards people for finding vulnerabilities on the system.

Given Nintendo’s tussles with piracy in the past, I’m inclined to believe Giordano’s theory, but all the same, I would love the security of knowing my data can’t just be lost into the void.

“Nintendo Switch is, just like Nintendo 3DS, a portable console too,” Giordano said. “This means players are able to carry it everywhere, which is not always a good thing: the chance of getting the device stolen or damaged in some ways increases, and saves are gone as well.”

He pointed out that game saves aren’t saved on game cartridges but on the system itself. “People will lose their countless hours of gameplay if they lose their console, if it gets stolen or a generic hardware failure occurs.”

“Checkpoint is here to mitigate this problem, and I have faith people aren’t going to misuse a tool that is just meant to make people’s data safer.”


  • Hackers have to add basic functionality to a console made by one of the biggest companies in the world.

    What’s next? Hackers add voice chat too? Hahaha

    • I love Nintendo, but they suck at non-essential software.

      Games great. Hareware acceptable.

      Everything else…. absolutely embarrassing.

      • After losing a 100+ hour save of Oblivion when my original PS3 died, I no longer consider cloud saving (or, at the very least, backup to an external usb hdd) non-essential 😛 PS3 did allow the hdd backup, but I’d never bothered prior to that. I learned my lesson and started doing weekly backups after that 😛

        • I’ve gone through 1 Xbone and two external Xbone HDD’s (Seagate if i’m name-and-shaming) this generation already.

          Not to mention a solid 3-4 Xbox 360’s last generation.

          Cloud saves should be non-negotiable these days.

      • And sometimes acceptable is just border, I love Nintendo games too but a console at this day and age on 32gb internal memory is just wrong.

        • On the upside, at least it’s not a Sony system so it uses everyday bog-standard SD memory not some bizarre proprietary format that costs an arm and a leg.

      • It always surprised me that they don’t reach out to a third party to do some of this stuff, since they’re just so bad at it.

        The amazing thing is that Nintendo of America’s headquarters is about 10 minutes drive away from Valve, Amazon is about 25 minutes away and they are literally surrounded by Microsoft’s main campus – you’d think they’d be able to find an engineer or two in the area that understands how to build modern operating systems, internet infrastructure and content delivery…

    • As the article mentions, the lack of save backup could be attributed to the hackers too. Buffer overflows in save game loading routines have been used to gain user level access on many consoles, which may then be used as a starting point for a full crack.

      In that context, not providing a way for users to present arbitrary save games to badly written games is not the worst idea.

  • I’m looking forward to the major emulators being ported. The switch seems like an awesome way to have portable emulation.

    It will also be way better to have access to every SNES game rather than the few Nintendo can be bothered to bundle up and resell us every single generation.

    I mean does the switch even have VC yet?

    • The switch seems like an awesome way to have portable emulation.
      I think I’ve heard this argument before….


      The PSP seems like an awesome way to have portable emulation.

      The Vita seems like an awesome way to have portable emulation.

      Nope, this is an original statement

      • The PSP stutters with quite a few SNES games, the CPU just isn’t quite good enough.

        It plays PS1 games pretty well though.

        • Its depends on the PSP model you have. Later models had better hardware and are better at emulation. PSP3000 is the best one for emulation.

    • $10 says at the end of the Switch’s life it’ll be far better at playing non-sanctioned Nintendo games than whatever the official solution is.

  • What about creating a cloud save version and putting it up to Nintendo for estore.

    While nintendo has issue over easily accessible saves are hackable… if the cloud service is secure and tested, why would they reject it (besides ignorance)

  • To be fair, a hacker’s idea of working and Nintendo’s idea of working may not be the same thing, and we don’t know what other constraints they may be facing in deploying something like this.

    That said, Nintendo, if you want me to pay you for online services, letting me back my saves up to your cloud would go a *long* way to convincing me to paying you.

    • I used the 3DS save manager to move my digital save of Pokemon Omega Ruby to my retail cartridge when it arrived and it worked flawlessly. It had a menu where you would press X to make the save and A to restore the save or something like that, each games saves would have a folder created on your SD Card so you could easily find the ones you wanted and copy them to your PC.

      • Yeah but that’s 3DS. Switch doesn’t let you do this stuff at all because Nintendo fucked up and thought it would be a good idea to lock it down to your system even more than the 3DS.

        Also fun fact: that save of yours is still encrypted to your 3DS. You can move from digital to physical but if you take that backed up save to another 3DS it won’t work. Because reasons. (Actually probably because the Wii was exploited many times using doctored save games and they wanted to close that loop for the 3DS)

        Nintendo are very bad at this stuff.

        • You can go from system to system using the save manager I used on my hacked 3DS, all you need to do is create a new save on the new system put both saves onto your PC, then there is an app that will take the keys from your new save and put them into the old save then when you put it on the new 3DS it works fine.

          • Not saying it’s not possible (though that particular case relies on a flaw in Nintendo’s encryption), just that Nintendo don’t let you.

  • At least let save files back up to the cloud, if not locally. Save files are an investment of time, at least be respectful of the time your consumers pour into the product and let them protect that.

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