Sorting Out The Nintendo Gigaleak And What It Means

If you follow video games on social media of any kind, odds are high that you might have heard about a Nintendo “Gigaleak” over this past weekend. For those who haven’t, basically what has happened is hackers have allegedly gotten hold of another large collection of unreleased Nintendo video game content. The leak comes from the website 4chan, but we will abstain from linking to the thread in question because all of the material is property of Nintendo—legally, hackers don’t have the right to break into anyone’s database and take whatever they want. However, we do want to report on what has been learned and help in some way preserve it for the record, so we’ve linked to people around the web who have uploaded looks at what was obtained.

This material includes beta builds, prototypes, 3D models, source code, box art, and much, much more. None of this has officially been confirmed by Nintendo as authentic, but the sheer volume and seeming authenticity of the material means there’s a very distinct possibility this is all legit. One voice that has lent some credence to this leak being real is Argonaut expatriate Dylan Cuthbert’s Tweet about something mined from Star Fox 2. It’s not a wholesale validation, but is worth some consideration nonetheless.

Wtf – I haven’t seen this tool I made for StarFox 2 for almost 30 years, I wrote it in early c++ to teach myself the language more than anything else. Where the hell have hackers got all this obscure data from????!!

— Dylan???Scrappers is OUT! (@dylancuthbert) July 24, 2020

It’s a lot to take in and as of this writing more is being learned, but here are the biggest bits of news pulled from the leak. Note that the images and video have all been compiled through the hard work of fans all over the world, so we give a proper shout out to them for what you’re all about to see. Much of what we’re able to view is only possible because these people have pieced together odds and ends from files within the leak.

Unused Luigi Character Model Found for Super Mario 64

super luigi 64 in Real

— axo #BlackLivesMatter (@axoonium) July 26, 2020

One of the biggest things that has been learned from the leak is that a Luigi character model exists within the source code of an early development version of Super Mario 64. There have been countless rumors for years claiming that the character is unlockable in the game, including the infamous “L is real 2401” conspiracy theory, but no one has ever actually been able to obtain him. It has been noted in past interviews that Luigi was originally intended to be playable in the game, but this is the first time that a genuine rendering of the character has ever been seen.

Unused Assets and Maps from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Well we finally get to see Zelda 64, 25 years later..#nintendoleaks

— Zelda Gif World (@GifZelda) July 26, 2020

The Ocarina of Time leaks have provided fans a look at multiple areas of the game that were either part of early builds or were intended to be released as part of the canceled 64DD expansion of the game dubbed Ura Zelda. The 64DD Nintendo 64 add-on failed in Japan and never left the region so Ura Zelda was never completed. Word on the street, however, alleges that some of the scrapped content from Ura Zelda eventually found its way into Majora’s Mask, as well as The Wind Waker GameCube preorder disc that contained The Legend of Zelda: Master Quest.

The content found in the Gigaleak includes renderings of early builds of what appear to be the Temple of Time, Kokiri Forest, and more, as well as several different versions of enemies and characters. There is even a very, very early 3D model of Link that has been making the rounds on the Internet.

Prototype Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

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’

— Akfamilyhome @ Origami King (@Akfamilyhome) July 24, 2020

Get ready for a mouthful of words: the original name for Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was supposedly Super Mario Bros. 5: Yoshi’s Island. Why? Well, in Japan, Super Mario World is given the subtitle of Super Mario Bros. 4, meaning Yoshi’s Island would have technically been the fifth game in the series if it had been treated as a proper sequel/installment. There are various videos right now of a prototype of the game running with this prefix, as well as other differences from the final build of Yoshi’s Island.

Unknown SNES Scrapped Zelda Sprites

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.

— Brian (@Protodude) July 25, 2020

This bit of the leak is a mystery as of now, as no one really knows what the sprites were for. They depict Link in 2D (and his sword even has a splash of blood on it!) which suggests it could have either been part of a build for Zelda 3 (which was eventually renamed A Link to the Past) or a remake of Zelda II for Satellaview. For more info about Satellaview click here, but in brief it was an add-on for SNES that allowed the console to connect to the web and download special games that could only be played via a special broadband service. Whether or not we’ll ever learn what these sprites were for is unclear, but they’re an interesting look at a Link that could have been.

It’s worth mentioning when discussing this Zelda II theory an old interview between Satoru Iwata and designer Yoshiaki Koizumi. In it, Koizumi revealed that he had been working on a remake of Zelda II that used polygons. Koizumi states that this work was done prior to the start of development of Super Mario 64. This doesn’t really avow or disavow that these sprites were part of a Zelda II remake, but perhaps these puzzle pieces have some common grooves, if nothing else.

Canceled Pokémon MMO


iQue estuvo trabajando en un juego de Pokémon “principal” completamente en línea por allá de 2004.

➡ Hilo con detalles. Esto es increíble.

— Centro Pokémon (@CentroPokemon) July 24, 2020

It has been gleaned from the leak that Nintendo was at one point in talks with Chinese outfit iQue in the early 2000s to potentially create a Pokémon MMO. The game would have been built around truncated versions of Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen when played in single player, with more Pocket Monsters and content becoming available after linking a Game Boy Advance to a PC and the Internet. In a related note, multiple early designs of various Pokémon have also been discovered in beta builds of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.

Dragonfly Seen in More Detail

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

— Rusty! ?️‍? ᵇˡᵐ (@PixelatedWah) July 25, 2020

Dragonfly is a prototype of Pilotwings that has only previously been seen in magazine screencaptures. The title was intended to show off the Mode-7 scaling capabilities of SNES, with players taking control of a plane and shooting down enemies. Eventually during development the shooting in Dragonfly was scrapped and the focus became more on the flight simulation mechanics that would become the hallmark of Pilotwings.

Super Donkey Unearthed

Here’s an odd one. This game dubbed “Super Donkey” appears to be an early build of what would become Yoshi’s Island—or it could be something else entirely. It’s hard to say! The main character bears a resemblance to Stanley the Bugman from Donkey Kong 3, so anything is possible. Making things even murkier is that DKC is known as Super Donkey Kong in Japan. The implications of this possible Donkey Kong tie (a pun!) are unknown; it has been widely documented that Shigeru Miyamoto’s original vision for Yoshi’s Island was deemed visually unfit by management following the explosive success of Donkey Kong Country and its prerendered graphics, so who knows where Super Donkey fits within that timeline. The builds that fans have gotten running show off a lot of seemingly functioning mechanics, including a ground pound move not unlike Yoshi’s own.

Super Scope 15 Possibly Discovered

Via #NintendoLeaks, ‘Super Scope 15′. an unreleased sequel to ‘Super Scope 6′ planned for 93/94. These new mini-games appear heavily inspired by NES Zapper titles like ‘Wild Gunman’, ‘Hogan’s Alley’ and ‘Gumshoe’.

— Nintendo Metro (@NintendoMetro) July 28, 2020

This one is based purely on the sprites that have been snagged, but a possible sequel to Super Scope 6 (the pack-in game for the Super Scope peripheral for SNES) has been found. Super Scope 15‘s minigames might have been heavily based on a handful of NES Zapper titles such as Hogan’s Alley and Wild Gunman.

Sleep is a Functioning, Unreleased SNES Game

Sleep appears to be an SNES game that utilized either the Super Scope or SNES Mouse peripherals. There’s footage of functioning gameplay, suggesting this title got rather far along into development before being shelved. It could potentially have been part of Super Scope 15, but as with all of these rumors, there’s nothing to substantiate this theory.

Luigi Flipping the Bird in Super Mario World Sprite

they found an unused sprite of luigi giving the middle finger in a super mario world prototype

— misato bruh (@KatsuragiSimp) July 25, 2020

This one is likely destined to end up on t-shirts and arguably further proof alongside the infamous Luigi Death Stare that the younger plumber has a darker side to his personality. An unused sprite of Luigi flipping off the camera/player!

Along with what we’ve detailed here, there’s also word of original uncompressed voice recordings from Super Mario 64, F-Zero X, and Star Fox 64 having been found, as well as unused characters from Star Fox 2. We could go on and on, but as the weeks go by more will surely be unearthed and we’ll be here to report on it.

That’s a whole lot of leaks and there’s plenty more beyond what we’ve shown here. Yet, as interesting as all of this is, it does raise the larger question of, “what now?” What does this mean for Nintendo? What should it mean for fans?

I will often extol the need for preservation of the history of video games. One element that is frequently overlooked is the actual behind-the-scenes creation of them. Film is known for director commentary, snapshots from on-set, and so on, but games are far more nebulous and reticent about the “man behind the curtain,” so to speak, or the actual process that went into creating specific software. With things like this Gigaleak, it forces the door open a crack so that these important pieces of video game history can be further analyzed and appreciated by fans.

At the same time, people and entities alike have the right to privacy. Someone had to essentially go in and steal all of this data in order for other people to see it. Data that is the concern of the people who created it and no one else. It’s being said that internal Nintendo emails with personal information is also part of the info dump. How is that helpful or fair to the fan community and the people whose emails were lifted? What’s worse, with the state of so-called “cancel culture” on the web, who’s to say that an errant comment in a 20 year old email might not be used to stir up trouble for no reason? Yes, people deserve to be informed, but I also believe that what people say in private doesn’t necessarily prove or disprove anything about their beliefs, views, and so on. It is a slippery slope, is what I’m trying to argue here, and given the legalities at play not one that I think should be climbed.

All that said, when data becomes public there’s no going back—the information is out there. And since nothing here that we’ve shown is giving away personal information of any employees or their private discourse, we feel comfortable in bringing to light what are some fun and interesting tidbits about our favorite video game company.

What do you think about this Gigaleak? Tell us in the comments and on social media!

Source: All linked to above

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