Over 24 years later, some of Nintendo’s greatest mysteries about certain Nintendo 64 titles have eluded even the most dedicated and talented programmers. Uncovering tremendous secrets in Mario and Zelda games, clever programmers have accessed a “gigaleak”, thanks to a Chinese N64 console known as the iQue Player. Certain pieces of N64 game source codes have been located, and ever since, many have flocked to uncover possible hidden truths. While these titles were released on third party hardware not manufactured by Nintendo, the code found is not the original. Because of the iQue’s capabilities as an N64, they made specific versions as forks which date back earliest to 2002. Yet, with such prevailing information, there remain several questions that remain unanswered for the time being.
Regardless, what has been found in the code is superb, the talent and work by coders and glitch hunters on Twitter has been immensely interesting and entertaining. Locating and unpacking these images to reveal hidden details about these classic titles is exciting. Breaking down these leaks, some developmental details explore what the N64DD might have been capable of playing.
Ocarina of Time
With a majority of the leaks surrounding a multitude of titles, the esteemed Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was given the most attention and has the most interesting history of any 3D Zelda title. Being Nintendo’s first outing in a three dimensional space, the work and time put into creating a stable build included many beta elements. Ranging from enemy data to low quality placeholder maps, the “gigaleak” info is quite impressive. Much of the information found has been linked to a lot of the beta information and development versions that can be explored in full at The Cutting Room Floor page. Listed below are some of the more interesting discoveries made in the past few days.
Many uncovered interesting bits in Ocarina of Time have involved the aforementioned enemies that still lie in the lining of the games code. Found by Youtube user Skawo, the beta enemy skeleton here seemingly represents and acts much like the Stalfos found across Hyrule. Similarly, Dr Disco uploaded a variety of videos to Youtube detailing other beta enemies with interesting animations.
Sorry for the wait. Discovered and imported by Dr.Disco, here is a complete look at all of the Alpha enemies found so far and even ported to the retail version.
Unused animations included! Includes Alpha Slime, Octorok, Wallmaster and 'IronKnack' pic.twitter.com/kaiM5Mw5K0
— AeroArtwork (@AeroArtwork) July 27, 2020
Most interestingly, however, is this model of a Link type figure found. The polygonal mesh is meant to represent one of the first 3D models of Link. Made with the Super FX chip found on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the image produced is of the oddly familiar green swordsman. While extremely basic in both design and functionality, it’s a representation of how far a title like Ocarina of Time had come before release. Found by the well known N64 modder, Straxxon.
Dated from July 1994, this is possibly the first, or one of the first 3D model Nintendo ever made of Link, as an experiment on the Super FX chip. (colors were manually added). pic.twitter.com/0tV6DGaUjH
— Starxxon (@vl_tone) July 25, 2020
Other discoveries concerning Ocarina of Time also covered the planned expansion and follow up title, URA Zelda. While at the time of release, there was no Master Quest and Nintendo was very adamant about creating a disk drive title that would include additional features such as a boss rush and new dungeons. While the title was never far in development, and eventually released on the GameCube, the remnants of the project are in the “gigaleak” and account for how this mode might have changed Ocarina of Time.
For the last 24 hours, we've made massive progress.
Yesterday, I found what I interpret as boss rush dungeon scenes in OoT's source. These scenes are micro-dungeons that have between 2-4 rooms, each ending with the boss chamber. Files have DD in their names, perhaps 64DD tests? pic.twitter.com/ecRPDw1qvi
— Psi-Hate (@Psi_Hate) July 27, 2020
If you are interested in some more about Ocarina of Time development and Ura Zelda, you can visit this page on Unseen64 recounting the history of both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask development cycle. It showcases much of the known and interesting information that is parallel to many of the discoveries made this past week.
While the discoveries run a little thin with Majora’s Mask code, there is still very intriguing developmental information that reveals how certain mechanics in the final game would have worked.
100% proof that Majora's Mask was going to be 7 days long. pic.twitter.com/0FZ8M3mt6Y
— Zen (@Zen64_) July 27, 2020
Twitter user @Zen64_ revealed interesting images linking the game’s 3 day cycle to have originated from a planned week long calendar. If the information about Ura Zelda in Ocarina of Time are true, it’s reasonable to believe this to be from a much larger game than what Majora’s Mask became. Originally developed for the N64DD, Legend of Zelda: Gaiden was a planned sequel to Ocarina of Time’s success. The “gigaleak” confirms the development and planning of a full week cycle.
Scrapped equipment menu from Majora's Mask found by me :) pic.twitter.com/i8BIgfEjiQ
— Zen (@Zen64_) July 27, 2020
Zen also shared this interesting beta menu, possibly alluding to how customizable Link would have been in a larger project game that Zelda: Gaiden was promising.
While the ethics and questionable acquisition of such information being relayed has been a topic of some controversy, these leaks represent a huge milestone for many glitch hunters, coders and anyone curious about the development and history of some legendary titles. With so much information revealed, there are more discoveries to be made. Regardless of the ramifications, there will always be more to learn and uncover as development history becomes more celebrated than criticized.