Two major drops of confidential Nintendo code and documentation — now popularly referred to as the Nintendo Gigaleak — have seemingly revealed previously unknown canceled games, prototypes, source code, development tools, internal communication, and more. It marks what may well be the largest leak of internal video game information ever released.
Throughout the weekend, hundreds of leaked files have been unpacked, pored over, and speculated about, leading to a constant stream of new information. We’ve attempted to pull as much of that together as possible to explain what you need to know about the Gigaleak right now.
What Is the Nintendo Gigaleak?
The Gigaleak is made up of multiple drops of information, stemming primarily from two posts on 4Chan. The posts each contained gigabytes’ worth of files and documentation from internal Nintendo projects. The first set of files contained data primarily from SNES-era projects, and the second set included information from N64 projects. The leaks include (among a lot of other elements), source code for games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, and more — as well as entirely unknown games and canceled projects.
The leaks’ validity comes down to a couple of factors: 1) The sheer amount, scope and granular detail of information discovered make it very unlikely that someone’s fabricated the data, 2) Developers responsible have already confirmed the validity of some parts of the leak. For instance, Q-Games’ Dylan Cuthbert — who helped create the original Star Fox games – pointed to a development tool made for Star Fox 2 that he hasn’t seen “for almost 30 years”. There remains the possibility that false files have been inserted among the rest, but we know that at least some of the Gigaleak are legitimate information.
How Did It Happen?
This remains a topic of some discussion, with Nintendo so far making no official comment on the Gigaleak. Unreleased files for the Pokemon series have been leaking for some time now, with some commenters pointing to those seeming hacks as the source. Others have pointed to April’s major Nintendo hack, which saw tens of thousands of user details released onto the Internet. At the time, Nintendo said those details had been accessed “by some means other than our service”, and said that there was “currently no evidence pointing towards a breach of Nintendo’s databases, servers or services.”
There’s also the case of Zammis Clark, the security researcher who was arrested for hacking Microsoft and then hacked Nintendo while on bail for the first crime. Clark was accused of accessing “Nintendo’s highly confidential game development servers”, where code for unreleased games was stored. While Clark’s hack on Nintendo was some time ago, the Pokemon leaks, a set of Nintendo console source code leaks and, now, the Gigaleak itself have been attributed to his breach.
What’s Been Found?
There is simply too much in the leak, both discovered and undiscovered, to be totally comprehensive here, but we’ve included the most important, weird, and wonderful finds below (and we’ll update as and when more emerge).
Super Mario 64 – Luigi Discovered and More
Perhaps the most notable of the discoveries so far is that source code for a version of Super Mario 64 (which may at one point have been called Ultra 64 Mario Bros.) seems to include a model for Luigi.
Those with the files noticed a folder titled ‘Luigi’, and loaded the contents into existing SM64 mods, creating the model you can see below. If legitimate, it confirms decades of rumors and speculation about the other Mario brother appearing in the game in some form. The game’s files also reveal beta-only enemy types.
super luigi 64 in Real pic.twitter.com/2mbm8wlnK3
— axo #BlackLivesMatter (@axoonium) July 26, 2020
Cancelled Pokemon MMO
Fans have been calling for a Pokemon MMO for years — to the point where the makers of Temtem just ended up making one themselves. However, it seems that the idea had been pitched to Nintendo as early as 2004.
Files in the leak suggest that iQue (a Chinese support company co-founded by Nintendo) worked on a prototype for a Pokemon game that would be playable by connecting a Game Boy Advance to a PC. Offline, the game would allow players to catch around 30 Pokemon in a game based on the Fire Red and Leaf Green installments. Connecting to the PC and going online would add a “hatch system” that used multiple conditions to determine what Pokemon eggs would appear, feature weather based on the region you were connecting from, add online battle tournaments based on Pokemon Colosseum’s code, and more. You can see an iQue presentation in the tweet below:
iQue estuvo trabajando en un juego de Pokémon “principal” completamente en línea por allá de 2004.
Hilo con detalles. Esto es increíble. pic.twitter.com/cIfHq6QETk
— Centro Pokémon (@CentroPokemon) July 24, 2020
Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Early Maps
The key discoveries around Ocarina of Time have centered around areas that seemingly didn’t make it into the final version of the game — and others that were perhaps planned for the 64DD Ura-Zelda expansion.
Pre-rendered backdrops for OoT’s Temple of Time area have been dug out of the files, as well as unused areas – such as an early Kokiri Forest – that may have been created for alpha versions of the game, or the ill-fated Disc Drive expansions. We’ve also seen alpha enemies, such as a “Baby Skeleton”.
— Zelda Gif World (@GifZelda) July 26, 2020
Prototype Yoshi’s Island
Seemingly at one point titled “Super Mario Bros 5: Yoshi’s Island”, this playable prototype features a different art style, UI, overworld menu, and uses placeholder music:
A bunch of Nintendo prototypes are apparently currently being compiled from leaked source code right now as of this post
First up there’s this Yoshi’s Island proto with different UI graphics, placeholder music from Mario World, and has a prefix of ‘Super Mario Bros. 5’ pic.twitter.com/Qqock5RZaS
— Akfamilyhome @ Origami King (@Akfamilyhome) July 24, 2020
One of the oddest and most fully-fledged discoveries so far is a game seemingly titled Super Donkey, which may have been an early version of Super Mario World 2 (the game that would become Yoshi’s Island).
Featuring an unknown character — who could be a version of Mario rendered in Yoshi’s Island style — the game features similar mechanics to what would become Yoshi’s Island, but a different set of visual assets.
super donkey pic.twitter.com/59OaRGJ0DK
— David notgivingmylastname (@DavidNGMLN) July 25, 2020
Prototype Super Mario Kart / Mario Kart 64
The leaks not only include a version of the original Super Mario Kart with unused or altered tracks and a lack of drifting but also seemingly include an alpha version of what would become Mario Kart 64, which seemingly uses the original Super Mario Kart sprites as placeholder art.
Some Mario Kart 64 (Super Mario Kart R) alpha source seems to have surfaced. Very interesting. Guess they started with some SMK source/assets pic.twitter.com/yWLDFECD2k
— Beck Abney (@abney317) July 25, 2020
Canceled Zelda 3 / Zelda 2 Remake
Sprite sheets have been discovered for a side-scrolling Zelda to follow Zelda 2. The community has variously speculated that it would have been an original Zelda 3 for SNES or could have been a Zelda 2 remake to played on the Super Famicom’s Satellaview peripheral.
What’s perhaps most striking is that Link’s sword, on one sheet, appears to be marked with blood – not something we associate with the family-friendly series.
So here he is. It is now largely assumed that this particular Link sheet comes from a scrapped BS Zelda 2 remake. (for Satellaview) There’s some interesting details here, like the blood or rust on the sword. Fascinating stuff. https://t.co/xPnEiLPI5v pic.twitter.com/FBlvt8TF4A
— Brian (@Protodude) July 25, 2020
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Beta
Placeholder designs found in beta files for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl seem to show off early sprites for the likes of Darkrai, Arceus, and more. Some bear an unfinished resemblance to their finished forms and others (Arceus) very much do not:
Sprites e designs beta dos Pokémon de Sinnoh encontrados no código fonte de DP vazado no último dia 24. É bom tomar nota que muitos desses sprites são apenas placeholders. Na sequência: Arceus, linha Gible, Regigigas, Darkrai.#pokemonleaks #nintendoleaks pic.twitter.com/4azIr1Yy7k
— Zenny TH (@Treinador_Zenny) July 26, 2020
Pilotwings Prototype, Dragonfly
We’ve previously heard about Dragonfly, the prototype game that eventually became flight simulator Pilotwings. However, the leaks appear to have surfaced unseen visuals from the original version, which was a shooter designed to show off the SNES’ Mode-7 chip.
I still can’t believe we have actual graphics data for Dragonfly of all things now. today’s been like some kind of weird fever dream pic.twitter.com/FJcNy0JtQZ
— Rusty! (@PixelatedWah) July 25, 2020
Super Mario World
Beta visuals from the game that became Super Mario World showed off some of the funnier sides of the leaks, from a far more dinosaur-like original Yoshi, the fact that SMW’s Bowser at one point showed off his legs, and that one potential sprite for Luigi showed him seemingly flipping the player the bird.
— Greese (@TheRealGreese) July 25, 2020
People are digging up all sorts of unused art assets from the latest Nintendo leak. Here’s some screenshots of some examples. Bowser from SMW apparently had legs at one time? pic.twitter.com/EZGDjiGAx6
— Gaming Alexandria (@GamingAlexandri) July 24, 2020
they found an unused sprite of luigi giving the middle finger in a super mario world prototype pic.twitter.com/HMYMj9OgvX
— misato bruh (@KatsuragiSimp) July 25, 2020
Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: IGN Video Games All