The Biggest Reveals from the Nintendo Gigaleak

August 5, 2020

Leaks are commonplace in the gaming industry. Big companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft often have upcoming game announcements spoiled weeks or months in advance. What is rarer is for leaks to come out about older projects. But that is exactly what has happened over the last month or so with Nintendo in what fans are calling the “Gigaleak.”

Hackers have showcased a variety of canceled games and prototypes from Nintendo. The leaks cover almost the entire history of the Japanese publisher. Everything from hardware projects to titles that never saw the light of day are included in the revelations so far. Here is a rundown of the biggest Nintendo franchise leaks that have come out recently.

A Pokémon MMO that was canceled

A notable part of the leaks was that a Pokémon MMO was in the works in 2004. The project, which was never formally announced, was a complete secret outside of Nintendo and developer iQue. The title would have been an online and offline experience for PC. Players would be able to use the Game Boy Advance as a controller and battle against other trainers online. The MMO would have been based on the third-generation titles Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green. It would also have launched at a time when MMO games were at their most popular. 

A Luigi model for Super Mario 64

Almost immediately after Super Mario 64 released, there were rumors that players could unlock Luigi. The character has long appeared alongside his brother in the Mario franchise, so it was only natural such rumors circulated. Although Luigi was eventually included in later remakes, a model for him is not present in the original series. 

But that doesn’t mean Nintendo didn’t plan to have him as a playable character. One leak suggested that the company did consider having Luigi, as a model for him exists in the title. Using the leaked assets, a hacker was even able to create a working version of Luigi in Super Mario 64.

Lots of information about The Legend of Zelda

Ocarina of Time might be one of the most successful video games of all time. It would make sense that such a great game would lead to discussions about a sequel. Some of the recent leaks indicate that Nintendo might have been working on a direct follow-up for the action-adventure title. Many files reference Ocarina of Time 2 rather than the spiritual sequel fans got in 2000 with Majora’s Mask.

Another leak showed what appears to be a very early 3D model of Link. The character is in the same style as the Star Fox series for the SNES. That suggests the model was an experiment for the Super FX chip. This would be the first time the character appeared in 3D, four years before the release of Ocarina of Time.

The evolution of Yoshi in early Mario games

Not all of the leaks were of canceled projects. One of the most interesting focuses on the design evolution of Yoshi. The cute dinosaur had several different looks during the early stages of development, each strikingly different from the other. The concept work shows that Yoshi was initially a more fearsome creature. In his early forms, the dinosaur appeared more raptor-like than the cute sidekick he would become. Exactly why Nintendo switched to the version of Yoshi that fans are familiar with is not clear. However, seeing the designs provides a look into the normally secretive world of Nintendo.

Uncompressed sound files for Star Fox 64

The Nintendo 64 might have been a financial success but it did have its limitations. Chief among them was the fact that the console still used cartridges. This drastically reduced the file sizes available to developers when compared to CD-Roms. The main consequence was that studios had to compress files to fit them on the cartridge. In titles like Star Fox 64, the developers severely degraded the audio quality. However, the recent leaks have revealed what the sound files should have sounded like with no compression. Several YouTube videos contain every line of dialogue in much higher quality than was present in the original title.

Prototype Wii peripherals and controllers

Despite misgivings from fans and critics, the Wii proved to be a huge success for Nintendo. The motion controller Wiimote and Nunchuk proved to be hugely popular. Some files from the recent leaks include prototype peripherals for the console. These include a GameCube version of the controllers that plugged into the console. This is very different from the wireless ones that players used with the Wii console. It’s likely these versions of the controllers are for testing purposes and used during the development of the new console. 

Pokémon sprites for unused and alternate creatures

Other Pokémon leaks showed off what early versions of monsters from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl looked like. Gaming historian Dr. Lava showed off the beta versions of the sprites in a series of online videos. The vast majority of them are visually very different from their final versions. This suggests that the design process for Pokémon in the mainline series is a long process. 

For example, both Garchomp and Togekiss look nothing like they do in games. Even Legendary Pokémon like Giratina are very different from what fans are familiar with in the long-running series. Also included are some dropped alternate genders of established creatures. 

A strange Donkey Kong game

Perhaps the most bizarre leak was that of a game called Super Donkey. It features a character who looks similar to Stanley the Bugman, the protagonist of Donkey Kong 3. Some speculate that Super Donkey was an early build of an unrealized Donkey Kong game that got repurposed into Yoshi’s Island, due to the similar graphics. The build is surprisingly advanced. The character can move around the environment, swing on vines, and climb terrain whilst also being able to attack enemies.

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