Nintendo doesn’t seem to be having the best of times this year when it comes to security. Following the hack of hundreds of thousands of Nintendo accounts back in April, the company experienced another data breach in May, this time yielding a massive amount of source code for many of its old games and consoles. While the gaming industry is still coming to grips with the full repercussions of this leak, some more enterprising individuals have apparently put in the work necessary to use that source code and build what they claim are prototypes of some of Nintendo’s earliest franchises, including Super Mario, Star Fox, and even Legend of Zelda.
These games have all been released decades ago, of course, in the NES and even the N64 eras. The value of these prototypes, however, are more than historical or informational. They also give a glimpse of what could have been and even some things that were scrapped and then reused even years later.
There was, for example, a character in Yoshi’s Island that was described to look similar to one from Donkey Kong 3 which launched years later. Star Fox 2 apparently also had a human character that would have looked out of place in a largely anthropomorphic universe. Some comments, however, pointed out that the modern Star Link: Battle for Atlas title may have reused that character, albeit with a major facelift.
Some of the prototypes involved features still in testing that thankfully never made it to final. Imagine, for example, how Super Mario Kart would have been pretty boring without drifting.
Nintendo’s lawyers are probably scrambling to have all of these disappear from the Internet but, given how the data is seemingly spreading like wildfire, it will be near impossible to remove all of them. The leaked data and source codes are also double-edged swords for the emulation scene, offering more assets and code to work with but also potentially tainting emulators with legally questionable code.