A Nintendo source code leak has popped up online, releasing behind-the-scenes files for classic Nintendo games and consoles. As far as we can tell, this Nintendo "Gigaleak" represents one of the biggest data breaches in recent Nintendo history.
This thread on ResetEra highlighted the sheer scale of the leak that's being talked about [NSFW as its 4Chan] (Archive)on 4chan's /v/ board, a forum dedicated to video games. The contents of the leak are still being dug through; it largely seems to be comprised of just under 2 GB of various files.
A casual examination of the leak's contents reveals what appears to be a veritable treasure trove of Nintendo's history. This massive repository is still being investigated at the time of writing, but various discussions on the leak have already revealed much about what's inside.
What's in the Nintendo Source Code Leak?
An image shared on both ResetEra and 4chan purports to list the contents of this leak. Here's what they say is within:
- Full development repository for Ensata official DS emulator
- Full development repository for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl
- Full personal development repository by a Diamond and Pearl dev
- Full development repository for NetCard ([canceled] GBA peripheral)
- Full development repository for Game Boy Advance BIOS
- Full development repository for Game Boy Color Boot ROM
- Full master ROM database for Famicom and NES including ROM
- Master ROM of, (maybe source code') Super Maria RPG
- Full development repository Wii Shop Channel server-side source code?
- "WallPaperPasswordMaker" source code
- Random test program source code
- Many tape backups
- Several Super Mario World 2 prototypes
- Source code to:
- Star Fox
- Star Fox 2
- [The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX]
- Wild Trax
- Yoshi's Island
- Mario Kart
- [The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past]
- Super Mario All-Stars (including [Super Mario World]?)
- Wii [Virtual Console] Game Boy Emulator
We Almost Got a Pokemon MMO
The above list doesn't appear to be all-inclusive as it's missing one item of particular interest: the Pokemon MMO. Fans have asked for a Pokemon MMO ever since the Internet achieved broad penetration and it looks like a company called iQue stepped up to try and get it made.
According to the information in this tweet (via this ResetEra thread), the game would have been based on the world of Fire Red and Leaf Green. Offline mode would have only given players access to around 30 Pokemon, but the online mode would have a massive collection available. Furthermore, the plans called for periodic additions to the roster and new events — basically the same kind of stuff we see today with Pokemon GO.
The proposal for a Pokemon MMO isn't even the strangest part of this leak. It was originally pitched over fifteen years ago, all the way back in November 2004. Players would have controlled the game using a Game Boy Advance connected to a PC. (Take that, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.)
What Does This Leak Mean for Gaming?
What does this Nintendo source code leak for the gaming world? Some things aren't going to change, but there is a ton of potential for something interesting to happen.
Let's start with the game ROMs: pretty much every single video game of note — Nintendo games included — have had ROMs playable on emulators for decades. There may be a handful of games that were never ported, but this portion of the source code leak probably doesn't have much new stuff overall.
The source code leaks will be interesting to analyze on a technical level, though; they may also lead to a new wave of ROMhacks or other transformative works. In fact, at least one prototype has already been compiled into a playable state:
A bunch of Nintendo prototypes are apparently currently being compiled from leaked source code right now as of this post— Akfamilyhome @ Origami King (@Akfamilyhome) July 24, 2020
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
Most importantly, preservationists will be able to use these leaks to ensure that data such as this will never be easily lost. While Nintendo isn't going anywhere anytime soon, many gaming companies have lost source code repositories and backups over the years, dooming some of the earliest parts of gaming history to obscurity. This reported leak ensures the preservation of Nintendo's earliest video game work for generations to come.
Lest we forget, these various files were probably not released in the wild by Nintendo themselves, and there's a high chance that there were illegal activities in them being obtained at some point in the process. It's not worth trying to grab them as an average gamer, either — several people are reporting that not everything within is in a playable state. While the news is certainly exciting, you shouldn't try to download it yourself.
In any case, the Gigaleak is sure to lead to plenty of interesting developments over the next few months as more technically-minded people unpack everything within. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to seeing some lost pieces of gaming history.
What do you think about the Nintendo source code leak? What do you hope they'll find in the Nintendo Gigaleak? Let us know in the comments below!