Way back in May a data breach was reported at Nintendo. While user information and log-in details were said to be part of the leak, the full extent of what was accessed was previously unknown. Now it appears the leak included several legacy prototypes of popular games including Super Mario 64, Yoshi’s Island, Ocarina of Time and other titles.
While Nintendo has yet to confirm the legitimacy of these files, the alleged leak still contains some intriguing details that might solve some of Nintendo’s biggest mysteries.
As first reported by Video Games Chronicle, leaked videos claiming to be early prototypes of Super Mario Kart and Super Mario World 2 appeared on YouTube on July 25 following a large-scale 4chan leak. Since then, the floodgates have opened with leaked assets, placeholders and source code finding their way across the internet over the weekend. The exact source of the leak and the entirety of what it includes is currently unknown, but more details are slowly trickling out.
On Twitter, those with access to the leaked assets are pouring over mountains of game files and scraping together the most interesting titbits they can find. From finally solving the Luigi mystery in Super Mario 64 to uncovering a range of scrapped and reworked games, here’s everything you should know about Nintendo’s latest alleged leak.
Luigi’s Super Mario 64 character model exists
Luigi assembly completed! pic.twitter.com/zLaemxVow3
— Bapanada (@Padabana) July 25, 2020
Luigi’s Super Mario 64 appearance has long been the subject of speculation. Luigi didn’t appear in the original game, but was allegedly set to appear as a character option in a planned multiplayer mode never implemented in the game. While fans spent years scouring the game for clues Luigi was somewhere inside, the simple fact is that Luigi was never in the game’s retail code. He was included in a prototype version, though.
Surprisingly, the new Nintendo ‘gigaleak’ confirms Luigi was a planned and modelled character in the game. His character model appears in the source code and has been reconstructed in 3D by intrepid Twitter user @2112_austin. Luigi appears in complete form and is ready for action, but it appears the ultimate lack of multiplayer mode in Super Mario 64 meant he was removed entirely from the base game.
Still, it’s fantastic to see this model after 24 years of wild speculation. Luigi is real, but it turns out he just didn’t make the final cut.
For an alternative Luigi also found in the recent leak, check out this rude sprite throwing you the finger.
Prototype Yoshi was far more dinosaur-like
Yoshi’s Island suffered one of the bigger leaks of the lot with source data, character assets and prototype designs leaking alongside an earlier version of the game starring a mystery protagonist.
Early character sheets from this leak, identified as a potential “pre-alpha” build of Yoshi’s Island, revealed a goofy-looking ‘proto-Yoshi’ with a sharp beak, longer body and more realistic, dinosaur-like appearance. Yoshi’s eventual look in the game would become far more cutesy and feature a rounder nose, a more shapely body and an egg-like appearance.
Other leaked character sheets show off alternative models for Blargg and other enemies, as well as an incredible proto-Donkey Kong.
— Andy Robinson (@AndyPlaytonic) July 24, 2020
Yoshi’s Island originally starred a mystery character
The alleged early build of Yoshi’s Island also revealed something very peculiar — the game may not have been intended to be a Yoshi game at all. This early build, shared on YouTube, features similar sprites and assets to Yoshi’s Island, but stars a new protagonist wearing some kind of pilot suit. It’s also known as ‘Super Donkey‘.
Further character sheets from this build reveal a Mario-like character underneath the pilot’s helmet, suggesting this build could have been more akin to a Donkey Kong sequel rather than becoming Yoshi’s Island. Could this mystery character be Jumpman? So far it’s unclear, but as the leaks keep coming we’re sure to learn more about this build of Yoshi’s Island.
A leaked copy of Star Fox 2 shows human characters
Star Fox 2 was complete in mid-1995 but its planned release was cancelled when concerns grew about its graphical inferiority. While it was finally released on the Super NES Classic Edition in 2017, for a long time the game was lost media. Now, leaks are giving fans a new look at the game.
One particular build of the game (known as the Winter CES 1995 demo) was included in the leaked source data. Within these files, an image of a human woman has been found — but who she is or why she’s there is a mystery. All characters in Star Fox are anthropomorphised animals, making her appearance very intriguing. Without official word, we may never know who this character is. She does already have her own pack of fans, though.
Ocarina of Time’s 64DD expansion may have been found
— Zelda Gif World (@GifZelda) July 26, 2020
After releasing Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo was planning a new version of the game designed to be compatible with the Nintendo 64DD peripheral. This version would implement new dungeons, rearrange original dungeons and feature brand new ways to play the game.
The lack of commercial success for the Nintendo 64DD meant Nintendo ultimately scrapped this plan, and the new version of Ocarina of Time was lost — until now. A new prototype build of the game appears to contain new rooms including an intriguing fire dungeon and a room housing a mystery plinth.
After decades, this may be the first proper look Nintendo fans have ever gotten of the project code-named Ura Zelda. While early press screenshots of Ocarina hinted at these new dungeons, they’re now on full display for everyone to see.
Pilotwings’ original prototype has been revealed
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! ????️???? ᵇˡᵐ (@PixelatedWah) July 25, 2020
Flight simulator Pilotwings started life as Dragonfly, where players would take on the role of a dragonfly who could shoot obstacles in its path. In the process of prototyping, Dragonfly received a complete visual overhaul and eventually morphed into Pilotwings.
Within the leaked Nintendo assets, savvy data miners have stumbled upon the original character and environment sheets for Dragonfly, revealing very alien-looking character models, warships, landing pads and other mystery flying crafts. While Dragonfly never came to fruition, it’s fascinating seeing what Pilotwings could have been.
Beta Pokémon are very wacky
Gen 4 Beta Legendaries:
The new leak of Gen 4 beta sprites included early designs for about a dozen Sinnoh Pokemon. The leak also included a few Legendaries that are really more "placeholders" than beta sprites — but still interesting nonetheless.
Left: Beta • Right: Final pic.twitter.com/ah9RHi2s8C
— Dr. Lava's Lost Pokemon (@DrLavaYT) July 26, 2020
Before official sprites and character designs are confirmed, it’s common for developers to leave placeholder assets in-game and work around them to save time. In the leaked versions of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl now online, Pokémon fans are getting a firsthand look at this process.
Placeholder assets for a variety of Pokémon have leaked, including these very funny sprites for the fourth generation’s legendary Pokémon (and Rotom). Rotom’s design is especially cute and features a simple scribble of electricity instead of anything approaching its final, polished look.
These assets are totally wacky, but they show off just how much work and effort is put into prototyping and re-working a game before players are able to see it.
As data miners continue to pour over the latest source code and asset leaks, we’re likely to hear more about these alleged prototype files. It’s a fascinating look at Nintendo’s long history and we hope to uncover more hidden secrets and facts about these games along the way.
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