What’s the deal with the Nintendo leaks?


So, the first part you might be a little more familiar with because this whole situation has been going on since early this year, with bits and pieces slowly trickling through here and there. These were a bunch of files from Nintendo that were leaked on 4chan (don’t go there to check, not worth it, I’m writing this so you don’t have to). The leak itself contained all kinds of things dating from roughly the Wii all the way back to the NES. So, nothing super recent, you’re not gonna find out about Nintendo’s next big game or anything, but honestly? This is a million times more interesting.

So what’s in it?

A lot! Which is why it’s so exciting! There’s full source code/emulator data for the Wii and Gamecube, as well as the source code for a bunch of games, most of which are prototypes of their finished versions or games that never came out at all. Though the majority of the leaks are for prototypes of SNES and Nintendo 64 games.
The catch to all of this, though, is that it’s all raw data. This means someone, or more accurately as to what’s happening, a bunch of people have to sift through it, recompile it, and turn it into something we can actually look at. This is easy enough to do for images and certain pieces of code, but it might still be a little while, if at all, before we get a full working version of, say, the Super Mario 64 beta.
And in case you were wondering about authenticity, this is a lot to fake. This would be a completely bonkers amount of effort for any sane human being, or even a team of sane human beings. There’s just too much data from too many obscure games and sources, not to mention ex-Nintendo employees making comments about pieces they worked on. Though Nintendo themselves haven’t issued any kind of official statement.

As of right now, there’s no singular source of information other than folks like me compiling lists. Basically you have to go through Twitter because a lot of folks are compiling things separately, likely based on their own interests. Though it will all be trawled through eventually, at which point someone might make something more comprehensive. So at this stage, there’s a steady trickle of new information at all times.

SNES leaks

Let’s start with a little of what we’ve seen so far for the SNES. Not all of it’s been put together yet, but the confirmed games that have data in the files are: F-Zero, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Allstars (including Super Mario World), Star Fox, Star Fox 2, Super Mario World 2 (Super Mario World: Yoshi’s Island), WildTrax (Stunt Race FX) and Dragonfly (Pilotwings). Though there’s also a few extra bits and pieces, like Link’s Awakening DX (for Gameboy) and some virtual console code for the Wii.

Nintendo 64

These leaks are probably my personal favourites, given I grew up with an N64 as opposed to the SNES, and that some of these betas have been the dream for… Well. Since the internet was a thing, basically. Before the game even came out with screenshots of areas not in the final product. It’s very exciting! Contained in these leaks are files for Super Mario 64 (referred to as Super Mario 6 or Ultra 64 Mario Brothers in the files) which include a fully controllable Luigi (meaning L really WAS real… 2401…), bits and pieces that could be from the project that was being called Ura Zelda (basically an addon pack for Ocarina of Time), as well as the source code, Star Fox 64 and other games.

The controversy

Of course, you can’t have a good leak without a good bit of controversy to follow. And there’s a lot of it. Some of it comes entirely internally, with remnants of old bits of code and the like containing all kinds of very personal notes:

Other folks are frustrated that what is essentially their personal way of writing code, as well as their personal notes, are being aired to the public. Which is absolutely fair enough.
On the other hand, certain developers see leaks this massive and begin taking measures to be more secretive about their own projects, which means we, the public, get less information about betas and prototypes through official sources, which in turn could lead to more leaks in retaliation and we have a sort of never ending cycle.
Though there is of course the argument that a lot of this is around 30 years old and, being from games that historic, are important pieces of history the public deserves to know about, even if it was obtained illegally.
It’s certainly a difficult topic, regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, but honestly? We got this in perfect original quality so I’m not going to complain: