The recent “Gigaleak” of Nintendo assets has given us an inside look at the development of some of our favorite games. But as one might expect from a massive collection of prototypes and early builds that were never meant to see the light of day, there’s a good deal of weird and otherwise out-of-place stuff as well.
Take, for instance, this random depiction of an apartment building occupied by iconic Nintendo characters. It’s just Mario, Princess Peach, Toad, and other familiar faces going about their daily lives. But contrary to the squeaky-clean depictions these characters enjoy in official Nintendo media, they’re doing some stuff that might surprise. Mario is enjoying some balcony nudity. Princess Peach has apparently shacked up with Bowser. And Toad is taking a break from whatever Toads do on their days off to enjoy a smoke.
And you know what? Good for them.
Also good: 1995's Yoshi’s Island. It’s an incredible game that manages to look sort of like a child’s crayon drawing. A lot of that has to do with the thick, black outlines around most of its graphics.
Hidden in the Gigaleak files was a sheet of Yoshi’s Island graphics with one tiny change: The outlines were one pixel thick rather than two. As you can see, this seemingly insignificant change makes a world of difference when it comes to the game’s distinctive, scribbly style. It’s a good thing they decided to go the extra distance with that additional pixel.
F-Zero fans have been clamoring for a new game for… wow, over a decade at this point. Nothing in the Gigaleak indicates that wait is going to end any time soon, but hey, there’s apparently a rough graphic of Beavis from Beavis and Butt-Head in the files for 1998’s Nintendo 64 sequel F-Zero X. While the teenage dirtbags have appeared in multiple video games over the years, they never landed on the Nintendo 64, making this an interesting find for fans of the classic Mike Judge cartoon.
The F-Zero X files also contain a strange, inverted-color face of an unidentified person. I would suggest not staring at it too long; feels like it might lead to one of those “seven days until you die” situations and I don’t need that on my conscience. As for F-Zero, well, we’ll always have the memories.
Let’s switch to Super Mario World, the classic 1990 platformer / SNES tech demo in which Mario flies by wearing a cape. But leaked assets suggest that, at some point in development, Mario was instead supposed to sport a pair of angelic wings. The sprites below show the heroic plumber running, flying, and even doing a neat little handspring with wings on his back.
Some folks have posited that this might be why the official release’s cape item is represented by a feather, but it might also indicate that the wings that do appear in the final game were meant for Mario as well as Yoshi. In any case, this is a pretty cool look, and it would be neat to see it return in a future adventure.
You know exactly what you’re going to get with Super Mario Kart. It’s Mario, who may or may not be super depending on your perspective, in a go-kart. Simple! But it looks like the developers of the 1992 SNES classic might have tested prototypes of the game with a very different character and vehicle.
Tell me, who is this nameless, helmeted dude in a hovercraft? This isn’t Diddy Kong Racing. And can we take a minute to talk about what the heck is going on with Koopa Troopa’s head in this early design? Poor guy looks like Mario stomped on him before the race.
And finally, diggers have found audio clips of voice actors Charles Martinet and Jen Taylor testing out various names for the 2001 Game Boy Advance launch title that would eventually come out as Super Mario Advance. If you’ve ever wanted to hear Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad be super excited about the United States for some reason, you’re in luck.
While it’s fun to see unused Animal Forest content and early Pokémon Diamond graphics, these little bits and pieces of strange ephemera have been my favorite part of the Gigaleak thus far. There is some controversy about how they were acquired and distributed, but in terms of historical preservation, the asset dump has proven to be a goldmine.