A leak is a revelation of information about a game that has been released prematurely, especially without prior permission to release such information. While game developers go through great lengths to prevents leaks from occurring, it is very common for games to have important information leaked out before being officially revealed.
Leaks can either be done intentionally via third-parties for a variety of reasons, such as increasing publicity for a game or for malicious intentions, or unintentionally via oversights that can appear in officially released media.
Due to the lack of a developed infrastructure in the Internet prior to their releases, neither Super Smash Bros. nor Super Smash Bros. Melee had leaks of notable proportions prior to their release.
The significantly more developed Internet of 2007 made supposed leaks for Super Smash Bros. Brawl more common than those of Smash 64 and Melee, particularly in the pre-release hype. The reliability of leaks, however, were invariably sketchy, with supposed contents of leaks sometimes being radically different than what the game actually contained. Despite the massive amount of fake "leaks" though, there were a few legitimate leaks, from both slipups from those directly involved in Brawl and from people who managed to obtain information about the game. Upon Brawl's release in Japan in late January 2008, leaks could then cross-checked with the actual game; in addition, actual screenshots and videos of the game provided considerable information to players outside of Japan, most of which had not yet been revealed by the DOJO!!.
ChaosZero was a user on GameFAQs that obtained information about Brawl from an unknown source, and posted what he knew on GameFAQs on October 2007. His information leaked the following:
Despite leaking 100% correct information, ChaosZero was treated as a troll, and was largely derided by GameFAQs users and disbelieved in general. However, after the Dragoon item was confirmed, his reputation became more positive, and he earned the nickname "The Dragoon Prophet."
NyaseNya was a user on Smashboards with an infamous reputation as a troll obsessed with Peach. Despite his reputation however, he obtained legitimate inside information of Brawl, and posted it in a thread on Smashboards. His information leaked the following:
NyaseNya also leaked Sonic and the exact date he would be revealed on. However, like ChaosZero above, he too was treated as a troll giving false information, despite having leaked Sonic's exact reveal date. Even the moderators of Smashboards treated him as such, with Gimpyfish locking the thread and editing his original post to claim he was a liar.
ShadowXOR was another Smashboards user who actually got to test a build of Brawl firsthand that included yet to be revealed characters. He leaked the following:
ShadowXOR was treated like the users above, but his information in particular was treated as absolutely false, since almost everyone believed R.O.B. to be a disconfirmed character after being shown as a Subspace enemy.
On January 18, 2008, a promotional video for Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the official Wii website was posted; this video accidentally leaked hidden characters in the game. Although the video was up for the entire weekend, it wasn't until Sunday night (Monday in Japan) that a few keen-eyed users noticed something unusual. At one point in the video, a Groudon sticker is highlighted and the faces of Pikachu, Pokémon Trainer, Lucario, and Jigglypuff can be seen in the lower right corner, signifying which characters the sticker can be used to power-up in the Subspace Emissary. At another point in the video, a Claus sticker is highlighted, that showed Ness' head alongside Lucas'. This was essentially confirmation that these characters would be playable (). Additionally, many fans believed that Mewtwo's absence confirmed that it would not be playable, a belief which ultimately came true. Upon realising their mistake, however, the developers took down the video from the website.
David Hayter leaking Jigglypuff
During October 2007, David Hayter, the voice actor of Snake, was interviewed. During the interview, he was asked which Brawl character he would most like to beat up, where he replied Jigglypuff, inadvertently leaking it being playable in the game. While a thread on Neoseeker covers it, the video with the interview in question is archived by YouTube user proxyXIII, in place of UltraNeko, and a channel who archived her videos, TheUltraPhoenix, with neither user's channels being up anymore.
Smash 4 leaks
Supposed leaks were particularly common in the pre-release of SSB4, with many fake leaks being widespread. The most notorious claimed leaks were the Gematsu leaks, which had thousands of followers believing them in their entirety before they were proven inaccurate by the inclusion of Robin and Lucina, and disconfirmation of Chrom, as playable characters. Other false leaks also proved popular, such as a supposed leak showing Palutena as a playable character, which was later admitted to be a hoax.
The largest leak during SSB4 was the ESRB leak, which, unlike the Gematsu leaks, had very few followers prior to video footage being posted on YouTube and taken down by Nintendo due to copyright claims, followed by the official confirmation of Shulk, who was implicated by the leaks. The leak managed to give away a number of playable characters, stages, modes, and trophies, and is one of the largest leaks, if not the largest leak, in Smash history.
In July 2014, a supposed email from Australian classification boards, OFLC, had supposedly indirectly leaked Wario as a playable character due to his use of flatulence contributing towards the game's rating. Wario's playable appearance in the game was later confirmed by the ESRB leak.
Battlefield Ω leak
In the E3 2013 Developer Direct for SSB4, a clip was shown that depicted Mario and Mega Man on the Ω form of Battlefield, despite the Ω forms having not been officially revealed. However, very few people noticed it and the stage was brushed off as the regular Battlefield. The Ω forms were formally unveiled in the April 2014 Super Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct, with the Ω form of Battlefield being identical to what was seen in the Developer Direct.
Prior to E3 2014, a Smashboards user by the name of Ninka Kiwi posted that he knew a friend who was playtesting Super Smash Bros. 4, though he did not divulge any specific information, other than Mario and Charizard having new palette swaps, with Mario in particular having a new blue costume. Later on in July, Ninka would come forward with new information, which included the following; Lucas, Wolf, the Ice Climbers, and Snake being cut, while Shulk, Dr. Mario, Dark Pit, Bowser Jr. in the Koopa Clown Car (with all seven Koopalings as alternate costumes), and the Duck Hunt Dog being new characters. While being initially disbelieved and seen as too outlandish, a friend of Ninka who gave him the information, named Shun, contacted a Smashboards user by the name of Neo Zero, who revealed to him that he got the information he revealed to Ninka from his own friend, and revealed that his friend recreated and posted two of the new palettes on imgur, before E3 2014. While this was going on, an apparently completely independent source posted a supposedly leaked newcomer list on 4chan (containing Shulk, Chorus Men, Mewtwo, Ridley, Dixie Kong, Duck Hunt Dog, and Bowser Jr.), containing the two characters unique to the, at the time, completely disbelieved Ninka leak (though this would later be confirmed as a hoax). In addition to this, a person in the Smash community known as Vaanrose came forward to Neo Zero that he knew a friend who knew someone who worked at Nintendo of America's offices in Redmond, Washington, who disclosed to him that Robin, Bowser Jr., and the Duck Hunt Dog were playable. With the screenshot proof of prior knowledge of the new palettes, and these new independent sources backing up a completely disbelieved leak, the people involved publicized this additional information legitimizing the leak in a thread on Smashboards.
The release of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS in Japan confirmed the new palette swaps and the implicated newcomers and cuts, verifying everything described by Ninka and Vaanrose, while the additions made by the 4chan variation of the leak were confirmed false.
Main article: ESRB leak
One of the most notable leaks in Super Smash Bros. history took place shortly before the Japanese release of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. This leak managed to reveal the entire roster of characters, including Jigglypuff, Ness, Dr. Mario, Falco, Mr. Game & Watch, Wario, R.O.B., Bowser Jr., Duck Hunt, Dark Pit, and Shulk, none of whom were announced at the time. Although initially considered obviously fake by many, the leak gained momentum and popularity after several gameplay videos featuring Shulk, Bowser Jr., and Ganondorf were released and, shortly thereafter, Shulk was officially announced. YouTube video footage of these characters were shortly taken down by Nintendo of America.
The leak additionally featured several photos of the content sent to ESRB, one notably featuring a trophy of the Fire Emblem character Tharja, which does not appear in the final game. Due to her revealing outfit and her trophy's omission from the game, it is believed that the trophy was cut to maintain a lower content rating.
Ganondorf was accidentally shown prior to his reveal in a video posted by Nintendo on August 29th, where he can be seen offscreen while Pikachu is taunting. This same video was later re-uploaded on September 1st, except Ganondorf could no longer be seen offscreen. The original video is now unlisted.
Ganondorf was mentioned on October 10th by Sakurai in his "Pic of the day" post, discussing the Home-Run Contest. At the end of the post, he remarks "I wonder if Ganondorf gives you some advantage.", despite Ganondorf having not yet been officially revealed.
Ganondorf was officially revealed on October 15th, and is one of the few characters to be leaked multiple times by official material.
Great Cave Offensive leak
On October 5th 2014, the official Super Smash Bros Facebook page posted a picture recapping the pictures of the day of the past week. Alongside a picture of the Orbital Gate and the 3DS version's title screen, there was also a picture of Kirby and Pikachu riding in a mine cart in a previously unseen stage. The image was captioned as "Kirby's going for a ride in a mine cart. Well, this situation looks familiar. This stage has some rules that are rare in the Smash Bros. series."
The leak was later confirmed as The Great Cave Offensive, and was revealed officially in the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 50-Fact Extravaganza.
About a month prior to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U's release in North America, online retailer Amazon.com put up a page to allow for consumers to reserve copies of the game. On the product description for the game, however, information was provided that seemed to suggest a variety of new game modes for the Wii U game:
A mode involving Master Hand and Crazy Hand was later revealed by Sakurai in a Miiverse post, and had previously been implicated by unused content found in the 3DS version. The "board game" and "creating stages" modes, however, had never been previously mentioned on Miiverse or other official material, suggesting that unknown information was still available about the game.
The Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 50-Fact Extravaganza confirmed Special Orders as a mode involving challenges made by Master Hand and Crazy Hand, Smash Tour as a board game mode, and a revamped Stage Builder for the Wii U game, verifying everything implicated in the leak.
Roy and Ryu data
On April 15th, 2015, upon the release of version 1.0.6 of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Reddit user and known dataminer shinyquagsire23 reported discovering files added in the patch which implicated then-unannounced DLC fighters. These include, among other things, a victory fanfare "snd_bgm_Z83_F_Roy_3DS" for Roy, which is a duplicate of the existing Fire Emblem victory theme, suggesting he would also return as DLC in the same way Mewtwo did. In addition, the victory fanfare "snd_bgm_Z81_F_Ryu_3DS" and "snd_bgm_SF01_SF2_Ryu_3DS" were named in reference to Ryu from Capcom's famous Street Fighter series of fighting games; the files contained the victory theme and Ryu's theme, respectively, from Street Fighter II. The files' existence was corroborated the same day in a tweet by the official Twitter of The Cutting Room Floor, a wiki that specializes in unused video game content.
The same post also claimed to have discovered music files, one of which is the remix used for the Dream Land stage in Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee; a second Kirby theme, the Forest Stage theme from Kirby Air Ride. The presence of the Dream Land remix and another forest-themed track suggested that the stage would be future DLC as well. A piece of corroborating evidence for this was also found in Classic Mode following the 1.0.6 update, as Kirby characters would sometimes be fought on Battlefield instead of the existing Dream Land stage, with Battlefield presumably being used as an error handler for an expected but not present Kirby stage.
Four days later, following the discovery of these files, shinyquagsire23 reported finding more hidden files in the game. An image of the character data was released; five unused character slots after Mewtwo are named "Mario", presumably as a placeholder for additional DLC characters. Additionally, shinyquagsire23 reported discovering changes to stage data table. The number of inaccessible stage slots had, according to the article, increased from 4 to 14; this includes the slots for Omega forms, meaning there is space for up to 7 more stages and their Omegas. The discovery of these files suggests there are more stages planned for DLC beyond Dream Land.
While multiple sources confirmed the data was indeed present in the 1.0.6 update to SSB3DS, it was not until June 13th, 2015 that they were confirmed to represent real DLC content. On that date, Random Talking Bush, an administrator of and contributor to the site The VG Resource, revealed that he had successfully downloaded the 1.0.8 update of the Japanese version of SSBU from Nintendo's servers before it was set to release; he then proceeded to datamine its contents and post links to them on his account, showing the characters' ending videos, official art, costumes, and trophies, along with the rest of the planned DLC. Later during that day, another Wii U data miner from GBAtemp, Crediar was able to test out Lucas, Ryu and Roy before their release his own Twitch stream by editing the files to run over Mario.
Videos of portions of the stream were uploaded to YouTube, but have since been taken down by Nintendo of America on copyright claims, similar to how they took down videos after the ESRB leak. All videos talking about the leak on major YouTube channels were also taken down, including those on Etika World Network and GameXplain.
Roy, Ryu, Dream Land (64), and all other elements implicated as DLC were formally announced and released on June 14th, 2015. Notably, Ryu's victory theme was replaced with a remix as opposed to the direct rip from Street Fighter II present in the 1.0.6 data; also, the Forest Stage track that was found in the 3DS version would end up only being used on Dream Land (64) on the Wii U version, as the 3DS version ended up using Ice Cream Island as its alternate track instead.
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