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The truth behind the epic Nintendo leak

In recent weeks, multiple classic Nintendo games have had their complete source codes and other related files uploaded to the internet for all to see. The sheer size and scale of the leak has led to it being referred to by the supremely awesome title of "Gigaleak." Nintendo has yet to respond to any questions regarding the Gigaleak, but all signs point to the vast majority of it being legit.

As Polygon has noted, the leak was first posted in early July and fans have spent the weeks since then going through the massive amounts of files and assets, mining them for any kinds of juicy tidbits related to their production histories. However, the types of things that have been uncovered as people have gone through these files has ranged from hilarious to exciting and educational.

For instance, multiple unused animations have been found within the source code of Super Mario World that show different ways characters could have interacted with the world around them. In one notable instance, there's an unused sprite of Luigi that appears to turn directly to the camera and flip the bird at the player. In another odd touch, it seems that Mario was originally supposed to punch Yoshi in the side of his head to make him spit out flames or perform other actions. Obviously this was changed to prevent any dinosaurs from being harmed in the making of Super Mario World

Other things that have been discovered feel like genuine artifacts within the history of video games. One file that is dated as being from 1994 contains "possibly the first, or one of the first 3D model Nintendo ever made of Link, as an experiment on the Super FX chip." In other words, this 3D model test may actually be the first step in the process that led us to Ocarina of Time

However, there are aspects to this leak that have caused some concern. There are private conversations between members of different development teams still hidden in the code of some of these games. Also, there are very specific custom programming languages at work in many of these titles. In other words, every bit of the data from these games was dumped on the internet.

This was pointed out by Dylan Cuthbert, the lead developer on Star Fox, who mentioned that a tool that he designed more than 30 years ago has been found in the leaked files. He also expressed some frustration in the more immature takeaways from the leaks. As he put it, "There seems to have been some massive leak of StarFox source code and ppl are more interested in finding the word 'f—k' in comments than they are by the fact we had one of the first multi 'threaded' tokenized script languages ever used in a game."

Another dataminer realized that the files they were working from came from someone's personal computer backup. In other words, along with all of the video game stuff, there were personal notes and calendars that could be accessed. 

There's also the fact that, you know, all of this data was likely uncovered through illegal means. This could lead to even more stringent anti-theft policies being adopted by major video game companies in the future. While it's really cool to be able to sift through these old files and see what could have been, it's hard to do it without the tiniest bit of guilt. After all, the only reason we have access to this stuff now is because someone leaked it without permission from the creators.

Developer Mike Mika was concerned all around for what the Gigaleak might do the the industry. He tweeted, "Real talk: this Nintendo leak is bad on so many levels. It hurts them, it hurts fans, and it turns the topic of preservation into a topic of security and tightening the grip on intellectual property regardless of its historical or educational value to history."

In other words, while it does seem like an incredible opportunity to dive into how some of the greatest games of all time were made, it's still an invasion of privacy and a breach of security on multiple levels. There are so many interesting revelations that have come from the Gigaleak. It's almost like a peek into an alternate version of gaming history. It's just a shame that it may cause Nintendo to become even more tight with security in the future.

Then again, the folks who were affected by the recent Nintendo account breaches may end up being grateful for a bit of extra security.