A Massive Leak of Nintendo Source Code Is Causing Chaos in Video Games

The gigaleak. That’s the name retro enthusiast and amateur game developer Cosmo came up with when they realized the trove of secrets that had leaked out of Nintendo last week, which have dominated gaming’s attention ever since. Source code for games like F-Zero and Link to the Past. A full development history of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Prototypes for Super Mario Kart and Yoshi’s Island, which Nintendo called Super Mario Bros. 5: Yoshi’s Island at some point. A cache of emails from Argonaut Software, co-developers of Star Fox.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7kp7bx/a-massive-leak-of-nintendo-source-code-is-causing-chaos-in-video-games
1 Like

Nintendo has been so bad with their abuse of the legal system that I really have no sympathy for them on any level anymore.

Like, even if this leak actually is key data they need to remain competitive (somehow) I won’t believe them. They’re the boy who cried wolf. They claimed SNES ROMs were somehow a vital threat to their ability to stay in business. They sued every fan project out of existence. They still haven’t released Mother 3 and want a world where nobody can ever play that game again. They have been absolute scum for years and deserve to be robbed.

90% of these documents should have become public on some level already through art books or special feature sharing.

To quote Vincent Caravella’s Reggie: “fuck 'em”.


There’s legitimate concern that leaks of somewhat recent games may contain private info of development staff, and that it’s potentially a little humiliating to have all of your earlier work drafts get dumped out for the world to see.

Game history archival is so much spottier than other creative arts industries however, since publishers and platform holders prefer to have a very carefully-presented image of the development process. I’m divided between the reality that this will make for a much more paranoid Nintendo, who will put the screws on developers even further to keep information locked down, but also that there’s a lot of material and documentation here that is incredibly useful in a historical context.


It’s been very fun seeing how excited many have been over this. Unseen64’s twitter account is a good source of retweets. I don’t really have any nostalgia for these games in particular but it’s a very cool era of videogame development.

I’m not sure if it makes sense for any of this material to be in the public eye necessarily. It’s mostly just things that weren’t good enough to use, decision that didn’t work, that sort of thing. But I also doubt it can hurt anyone that code and stuff for 25 year old games are out there. Newer stuff, like has been said, maybe not so good. Potential OS stuff for machines where people have entered personal information? Very bad!

Fuck Nintendo’s litigious antics in general, but this is at least a bit different from someone making a fan trailer for a Zelda or whatever.

1 Like

As a programmer, I’d die of embarrassment if some of the code that I’ve written was leaked. It wouldn’t even need my name attached, I’d just die knowing someone else saw that mess. So I’m feeling a ton of empathy for Nintendo devs right now.

1 Like

I actually feel the exact opposite but maybe that’s because I’m used to it. If I had to guess 90-95% of any personal code I’ve written is public information on my GitHub/GitLab.

In highschool being a part of the Source modding/mapping scene meant people were going to decompiles your work, scrutinize it, make edits, and then reupload to their server with another prefix or suffix tacked on.

Honestly I do not see the shame in sharing old code, especially in dead projects. It’s an artifact to learn from for all involved. Maybe the program as a whole is flawed but does one thing really well.

One of my best learning moments was someone decompiling the very first tool I wrote because they ran into a bug. They looked at the code and sent me a steam message telling me my solution works but is over complicated and hard to maintain and had design flaws I never considered.

Don’t feel ashamed of your code! Consider it a step in becoming a better programmer. Everyone has written bad code and looked back at things they wrote a year earlier in disgust. Being the only one to review your code doesn’t lead to improvements in the same way as having someone else look it over especially if they have more experience.

I say accept all free code reviews! :wink:


There’s enough elitism among programmers that I’d personally never want my code scrutinized by folks without my consent - not because I’d be ashamed of it, but because of how other people would mock it or “help” in offensive ways.

Maybe they’re the real problem.


While this may be tangential: I am generous to other’s code, but I’m ruthless to my own. Which is how I am in general. It may not be the healthiest headspace, honestly, but it’s where that embarrassment comes from. I get the feeling from talking to programmers and creatives that this is a pretty common outlook.

There’s definitely a subgroup in this profession that is the other way around, and they are super online.

I think most programmers are, it’s kind of a long running joke that any code over a month old is deemed terrible and in need of a full rewrite. Bonus points if you pick a new language/framework.

Anyone who treats their work regardless of context or who they are as infallible is honestly the worst. Who wants to be around the person who always considers themselves the best and unable of making a mistake. Those are the people you don’t want on your team or in your life because they do nothing but cause problems by insisting a problem couldn’t be caused by or involve them. When I think of engineers I respect it’s the ones who are not afraid to always ask questions and are the first to tell you an issue might have been caused by them.

@Hache I get that, I think it’s definitely an issue and I think most programmers could use an ethics and communication bclass in general as part of a CS degree. Personally I’ve just been exposed to so much criticism both good and bad that it would take quite a bit to really get to me when talking about my code because I will be the first to tell you that my code is far from being perfect.

Part of my personality at this point I guess you would say is I want that raw savage criticism on my work. I don’t want people trying to soften the blow because I dealt with all of that in my teens where people IRL would try and give vague criticism so as to not hurt my feelings and it personally didn’t help because it wasn’t information I could work off of. What helped me personally was just the raw unforgivable nature of random people online who were not afraid to tell me “this sucks because of X and Y”. Telling me directly what is bad and why it is bad is way more helpful to me then vague hints at maybe not liking something. It’s not the feedback style that works for everyone I just happened to get lucky in preferring the feedback that most people use to be mean with online.

I wish I could give advice on how to accept that kind of feedback without letting the truly vile comments affect you but I can’t and it is not my place to even begin telling you that you even should accept that kind of feedback. All I can really suggest is finding a community or individuals who you trust to give you the feedback you’re looking for because I really do think peer review is one of the best ways to improve in anything.


Ganix had been doxed by toxic Pokémon fans on 4chan motivated to discover the person behind the leak, figuring they had access to more and were holding out.

God can you imagine being so obsessed that you dox someone over beta Pokemon?


Not to be that guy, but given the current hell world we’re living in, I find it hard to condemn Nintendo as absolute scum for making it harder to play their old games and crushing fan projects. I’m not happy about those things, but of all the absolute dog shit coming out of the industry these days, this feels like a smoldering cigarette butt in an ashtray next to an industrial waste fire.


I mean, when you it put it on that scale, it’s hard to care about any company’s right to ownership of anything at all.


I have no sympathy. Nintendo can [details=“Summary”]
I’m not going to type this out
[/details]. Or any other company too for that matter. I always aim to make it very clear that I don’t care care for this industry or any other industry, beyond a basic survival necessity (how could I, if I want the entire foundation of everyday life changed?).
I understand and feel the emberassment of individuals at having their earlier attempts open for everyone to see (I’m assuming they don’t like them, even though it’s not always that simple, especially in a corporate environment) and in a differrent society without private (and in this case specifically intellectual) property relations, I would actually respect that. Currently though, alI I can say to this is: too bad your work was for a multinational corporation.

Personal stuff, not immediatly related to the production process, doesn’t fall under this obviously, but it’s very much possible that such documents (e-mails for example, as some pointed out) are, likely unintentionally, swept up with the rest in such a huge data leak, maybe because people also use company equipment for personal conversations or notes or whatever. That’s incredibly sh*tty, but no reason to reject leaks like this (even though a video game leak, is obviously less important than certain other industries or government stuff). If it’s possible to filter these things out, it certainly should be done. The huge amount of data, makes this unlikely though.

Objections along the lines of “stealing private/intellectual property”, are legally true, but…I evidently don’t care about that.

1 Like