Before we dive into the subject matter, I just want to say that this is for educational purposes, and we don’t openly condone the act of pirating content from Nintendo or other companies.
If there is one thing you need to know about me is how much I love to be part of “the conversation.” Also known as “discourse” depending on how you feel that day; major topics go flying by and I must throw in my own two cents. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. I am Squidward looking out of his house watching SpongeBob and Patrick commit war crimes on Koroks.
This is my own undoing though. I sold my Nintendo Switch a while ago and went for the Steam Deck, one of my favorite modern handhelds to date. A robust device that has many capabilities that goes beyond traditional usage of just playing Steam games. It can even emulate some popular titles that may have just released. If you know me and understand context clues here, you know exactly where this is going.
I also must come clean about a situation. At one point I saw my Switch collecting dust and saw the shiny new Steam Deck as the device that would open pathways to greater gaming capabilities. I could experience my favorite games during my daily commute into New York City. Many games that you have seen me review on this site were played entirely on the Steam Deck.
For the future historians out there, I regret selling my Switch for a Steam Deck. Granted, there are a bunch of games I should have kept the console for. Fire Emblem is one of my favorite titles of all time. I would be remiss to not experience the litany of titles that graced the Nintendo store. Not to mention the Switch is significantly more compact than the Steam Deck and the battery lasts a bit longer too, which would be great for longer trips. Don’t worry, I am paying dearly for my hubris.
As I complain online about feeling left out of this grand conversation, I realize that I have another option. Since Tears of the Kingdom has released prematurely online, I decided to give it the old college try and try to emulate the game on my Steam Deck. As we know, the Deck can easily run Nintendo Switch titles. While on the surface it seemed easy, I was incredibly wrong.
The plan was simple. I already own Tears of the Kingdom, but the wife is in bed, cuddled up to her Switch, drinking tea and building contraptions deigned to lay enemies to waste. She is a good sport though, never rubbing it in my face unless I asked for it, which is what I did several times. Indirectly, of course. Little did I know that this would put me on a journey, turning this gamer from a good consumer boy to one with a triangle hat with a feather in it.
Now, to emulate Switch games on the Deck I needed to perform a couple of steps. First, format my microSD card so that it works with the Steam Deck and the software. I did just that, deleting a ton of games from the drive so I could install just this one game. Then I found out that I could have all the games plus the software. Things are off to a good start and in no way are indicative of the rest of the journey.
The next step was simple enough and foreshadowed before. I needed to download the necessary software onto my Deck through its built-in desktop mode. Now, doing this using the buttons and touchscreen is a pain. Luckily for me, I happened to own a wireless keyboard with a touchpad from Logitech. It was incredibly helpful before when I put the Epic Game Store on the Deck for my Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review. I wasn’t kidding when I said I played most of the games on the Deck.
With the software working, I needed to conduct the next step on this adventure: obtaining the files to get the game to run. It is a bit more complex than just having these files though. I need to transfer some things back and forth, update some other files. Playing around within a file system is not above me, but it is awfully tedious. Alternatively, though, I would be saving myself a ton of money if I could pull this off. My angsty and chaotic side would also take pride in knowing I could perform this technological magic. I have a kid, give me a break here.
I hit my wall aright around this point. I could easily download and play the other games I wish to play, but I don’t want to play those games. I want to play Legend of Zelda. I used Google, a lot. Typing in every phrase I could come up with to find the files I needed. Instead, I got articles upon articles about how great Tears of the Kingdom is. The internet was mocking me in real time. Thumbnails of YouTubers laughing, with explosions of Koroks in the background, and plastered near their gaping mouths were large letters, “Greatest game ever?”
I wanted to be that man laughing in the thumbnail! I wanted to be the one launching the Korok’s own Discovery shuttle into Hyrule’s atmosphere. I wanted to create a long bridge across the land, only to have it fail halfway through and toss me to my doom. I wanted to pack a glider with enough firepower that makes Michael Bay jealous and dive-bomb an enemy stronghold.
Instead, I was sifting through files with bloodshot eyes. Navigating an endless number of webpages to find what I needed. When I did find a link, I only found more complexity behind it. I have no one to reach out to for help. Committed, I kept on digging until I found exactly what I was looking for. Although, I had to pay a price.
Upon finding the right webpage, I needed to turn off my ad blocker, an essential part of my web surfing experience. I was reluctant to do so. Upon reloading the page, I was met with a sea of ads. Do I have ADHD? Is my penis too small? Are there hot singles in my area? What secret can I learn that doctors hate? So many questions and not a single answer.
I had to perform a few clicks which would then bring me to a landing page with instructions telling me to click and wait. So, I did that. Every click brought up another ad telling me that I had a virus. I closed the page with gusto. “Begone fowl page!” I said to myself with ever page closure. Every time I closed a page, I would have to wait for a counter to hit zero for me to click again with the hopes that what I was looking for would be on the other side. Click. Ad. Repeat.
Ladies and Gentlemen, at this point I was at this task for so long. I couldn’t bear to keep on clicking. How long would this madness go on for? How many minutes of my precious time would I waste just watching a fake clock click down? Then I realized something, this was a lesson.
You see, when you aren’t involved within the world of piracy, it could be quite difficult. Being slick like other gamers online is not just a hobby, it is a skill. Staying on top of the mechanics that give you games early and through nefarious means takes time and patience. If you never did it before, it could be a harrowing experience. Folks use all sorts of tools to get their games without paying out of pocket for them. The unfortunate truth behind this and anything revolving around this topic is that people fall into two camps: the pirates and the payers.
When Netflix decided to start changing up the way they delivered content and all the other companies decided they wanted their own service, people began to go towards the piracy route because it was easy. Shared Plex servers, trading hard drives filled with content, and burning discs was just a few ways I have experienced content. Ever make a mix for a friend at school before? Ever receive one? If you did, you are on my side now. For the older folks, ever record a song off the radio onto a cassette? I digress.
I learned that when piracy becomes too difficult to perform, sometimes you must either keep on going and take the time to find the solution to your problem or give up. In this case, I don’t want to say I gave up, but I must admit defeat. This situation just isn’t in the cards for me, and that is okay. In this case, if I am not smart enough to figure it out then I do not deserve it. I got close though. Further than I thought I would.
If you are looking to do something similar, this story is for you. Countless YouTube videos and articles couldn’t help me. Friends couldn’t either. Sometimes the solution is along the path of least resistance. Now, if you excuse me, I have to run a couple of virus scans.