Nintendo nostalgia fans had a big weekend for an unfortunate reason as a massive leak of the company’s data shared new details about the development of many of their favorite Nintendo properties. Development and beta code from many of Nintendo’s biggest franchises including, Mario, Star Fox, and even Pokemon allegedly leaked to hackers on the internet, and fans and journalists sifted through details and shared them online.
As with any leak of this magnitude, it is worth noting to take some of this with a grain of salt as this is a great opportunity for creative people on the internet to make things up, and while these leaks have not been confirmed by Nintendo there is evidence that much of it is real. A former Nintendo Developer, for example, quote tweeted an image that had been posted saying that it was something he had written in c++ to help himself understand the language of the game he was developing. The game itself? Star Fox 2.
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
This isn’t the first time Star Fox 2 has leaked of course, with a ROM of the almost completed version of the game circulating on the Internet for years before it finally received an official release all the way back in 2017 for the Super Nintendo Mini. This leak featured some possible cool artwork models from early in development including what appears to be a human Star Fox.
A human in Starfox 2! pic.twitter.com/S4ug35bhYA
— Gaming Alexandria (@GamingAlexandri) July 24, 2020
It even featured some unfiltered audio files such as the infamous “Do A Barrell Role” line from Star Fox 64 that went on to be used in memes for years to come.
THIS IS THE ORIGINAL "DO A BARREL ROLL" VOICE LINE FROM STAR FOX 64
U N C O M P R E S S E D pic.twitter.com/94VXbypksB
— Mattt 🦐 (@MatttGFX) July 25, 2020
Also in the supposed leaks was plenty of source code from Mario 64 and beta material such as early video of Mario running around an early in development version of Peach’s castle.
Original Quality Beta SM64 Screenshots pic.twitter.com/O801vlA0l9
— Kaitlyn Molinas (@orcastraw) July 25, 2020
And if you think the leak was exclusively related to older games from the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 era you would be mistaken, because it looks like many Generation IV Pokemon sprites were involved in the leak as well. This means the leak has code and information from games as recently as the mid 2000s.
All New DP Beta Sprite Complete in one video!
I think that shall be it!
Or Maybe not! pic.twitter.com/ACgkIzPAz0
— ⚡️Mixeli⚡️ (@PokeliYT) July 26, 2020
While this leak is in many ways cool, and an interesting look into gaming history for a lot of fans, there is a potential downside that exists in all of this and that’s in how the code got out. Nintendo didn’t voluntarily release this coding and they have never been a company that has looked at something like this happening and shrugged it off. It also doesn’t help that this is their second alleged leak since May. And while it’s fun to see some behind-the-scenes details about classic games, there’s a lot more than just game information here.
There’s also, of course, the fact that we’re looking at an artist’s unfinished work. The leaks have also included a lot of things that are not related to games, including some personal information including diaries, emails and some disturbing stories about childhood trauma. It’s a very real reminder that Nintendo did not disclose the revelation of any of this material, and while the behind-the-scenes look can be fascinating, it isn’t always the most appropriate or safest for everyone involved.