One of the longest-running and most interesting stories of 2020 has been the slow emergence of a ton of confidential, historic data contained within some big Nintendo leaks. Another round of stuff originating from this data spill landed over the weekend, and it covers everything from Super Mario 64 to Star Fox 2 to Super Mario World.
Where to begin? How about with the cancelled and never-released for the SNES (though we did at least get to see it later) Star Fox 2, whose leaks go so far as to include the game’s source code, surprising few as much as Dylan Cuthbert, the game’s lead programmer:
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????!! https://t.co/9kN9UoQPMS
— Dylan????️????️????️Scrappers is OUT! (@dylancuthbert) July 24, 2020
And how about some character prototyping?
I love all of these cut characters from Star Fox 2's prototype…. they're all so good pic.twitter.com/SmyRizPdi6
— morgankitten! (@morkitten) July 25, 2020
Let’s move onto 1992’s Super Mario Kart now, whose placeholder menu music bops.
Here is the prototype title screen theme for Super Mario Kart pic.twitter.com/fvLfBmL2Vy
— Mors (@MorsGames) July 24, 2020
There’s also some Super Mario World stuff in there, around a year out from its 1990 release, none of which is funnier than this:
This is an actual unused character graphic asset of Luigi giving the player the middle finger that found within the source files for Super Mario World dated 1989. pic.twitter.com/IsnZ3qTEvz
— OKD (@OKeijiDragon) July 24, 2020
I'll take this bitter ass underdawg luigi over punk ass bitch luigi any day of the week, ANY HOUR OF THE DAY! lol pic.twitter.com/uNnNhJBPns
— OKD (@OKeijiDragon) July 24, 2020
Though this Yoshi design evolution comes close:
The evolution of Yoshi, as revealed in the recent Nintendo leaks. pic.twitter.com/udi3QPINww
— felineki (@felineki) July 24, 2020
Nice legs, Bowser:
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
While on the subject of Super Mario Bros., here’s a prototype build of 1995’s Yoshi’s Island for the SNES…where the game is called Super Mario Bros. 5: 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' pic.twitter.com/Qqock5RZaS
— Akfamilyhome @ Origami King (@Akfamilyhome) July 24, 2020
And that’s just the SNES stuff! Maybe the single most interesting thing to come out of all this (at least at the moment) is the presence of some Luigi textures in 1996’s Mario-only Super Mario 64, seemingly confirming one of the longest-running myths in video game history (especially since the leaked info, dated 1995, calls the game Ultra 64 Mario Brothers):
L IS REAL I REPEAT L IS REAL HE IS IN THE ORIGINAL SM64 SOURCE CODE pic.twitter.com/TIFFQ26adE
— ecumber (@ecumber05) July 25, 2020
super luigi 64 in Real pic.twitter.com/2mbm8wlnK3
— axo #BlackLivesMatter (@axoonium) July 26, 2020
There also appear to be files related to Ura, a planned Ocarina of Time expansion for Nintendo’s 64DD add-on that was never released:
this is from proto screenshots isn't it?? pic.twitter.com/WqnnxC2PsH
All the stuff you see here — and it’s merely a selection, there’s already a lot more out there as you read this — is just scratching the surface. The original leaks that lead to both May’s disclosures and those of this weekend contained terabytes of data, and it’s taking people forever to comb through it all, especially since so much of it is tucked away in nondescript folders organised in a way that would only make sense to someone who was a programmer at Nintendo in the ‘90s.
But for now, this is still a pretty interesting selection of stuff! And as discoveries are coming thick and fast, we’ll probably have a lot more to share over the coming days/weeks as well.
As we do, though, it’s probably important to note that the disclosure of all this information isn’t without controversy. While it’s fascinating that we’re getting a chance to see all kinds of unplanned and unreleased data — from the notoriously secretive Nintendo, of all companies! — the fact remains that source code and other assets remain the property of Nintendo. There’s also the fact that alongside the music and models and levels there’s some code, documentation and correspondence that’s private, and even contains personal information.
Something Dylan Cuthbert, who has been replying to all kinds of questions raised by the leaks over the weekend, has raised a few times. Speaking with a few users asking about Star Fox 2’s source leak, he reminds them “Source code is a bit different to the resulting rom or assets though, for my bits I personally wrote every letter and symbol etc, is your diary OK to public release after five years?”
So as you (and we!) enjoy combing through all this, keep in mind that a lot of it was never supposed to be seen by the public at all.