As the old saying goes, “A broken clock is right twice a day.” With its non-worldwide release, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was put in a tight spot. Leaks are inevitable these days and a huge franchise like Smash has never had an easy road when it comes to avoiding them. For many forum goers, they engage in the pre-release hype that swirls around the endless barrage of false prophecies in the hopes that one may actually come true.
It then goes without saying that the revelations revealed to us in the past week have been nothing short of maddening. Just keeping up with the whole ordeal can be difficult, so we’ve decided to take a little time to recap these events in their entirety. The following willl contain actual and potential spoilers for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U titles. Advance at your own discretion.
The Ninka-Vaanrose Leaks
An era was over. The Gematsu leaks — a pair of claims made on gaming website Gematsu — ran into trouble when Fire Emblem character Chrom was revealed as a Final Smash and not a playable character. While Gematsu got some choices right, the misinformation regarding Chrom and the continued absence of the Chorus Men led many to believe that the leak wasn’t real to begin with or that it was outdated information. While many still cling to the unverified validity of this leak, it was clear that the Gematsu leaks were lacking staying power. Fans needed something new.
On July 21st, that something came in the form of Ninka, a user who made an original post claiming that Bowser Jr., Duck Hunt Dog, Dark Pit, Doctor Mario, and Shulk would be in the game and also stated that Snake, Lucas, Wolf, and the Ice Climbers would be cut. Furthermore, all characters would be receiving eight alternate costumes/color swaps. Ninka allegedly received this information from a friend who was testing the game.
Six days later on July 27th, an anonymous post titled “NEw Smash Brothers characters” hit 4chan with the claim that Dixie Kong, Shulk, Chorus Men, Ridley, Bowser Jr., Mewtwo, and Duck Hunt Dog would be in the game. Without any kind of evidence, as well as being on 4chan, the post was dismissed pretty quickly, but not by all. Only a day later, the 4chan post would become inevitably part of the Ninka-Vaanrose leak, though this was never the intention.
Smashboards moderator Neo Zero made a compilation post on July 28th containing information from both Ninka and another user by the name of Vaanrose. It seemed both of these people had come to acquire confidential information. Another user by the name of Shun was also quoted in the post by Neo Zero, also stating that they had secret information that they did not want to initially share publicly.
When Neo Zero’s post opened, its major evidence fell upon a trio of Brawl screenshots. Mario and Bowser possessed coloration mods that, according to the post, were meant to represent new color swaps. These shots were apparently uploaded to the Internet before E3, where we would end up seeing some evidence of these color swaps actually existing, such as Mario’s blue color swap that did appear in the E3 build. The evidence became more specific; while Vaanrose shared more or less an anecdotal information, Ninka’s quotes housed more substantial information. It was here that we received the claims of Shulk, Bowser Jr., Dark Pit and Duck Hunt Dog as newcomers, with Doctor Mario returning from Melee retaining his clone status. Ninka also claimed that Snake, Lucas, Ice Climbers, and Wolf would be cut.
Without more information, the rest of the post ended in speculation. The earlier 4chan post was then brought back, as Neo Zero pointed out that this 4chan user’s claims did not contradict the reveals made by Ninka and Vaanrose. While this did not outright claim Mewtwo, Dixie Kong, Ridley, or the Chorus Men, many began to attach this speculation to the full Ninka-Vaanrose leak overall. It didn’t help that Neo Zero’s post included the leak at the end, despite the section it appeared in being very clearly labeled “Speculation” in bold. It didn’t take too long for people to accept the idea of these four being the final newcomers.
Ninka-Vaanrose remained the most discussed leak for quite some time, but without photographic or video evidence, it would eventually weaken just like Gematsu — until last week, when a flurry of new images hit the Internet via 4chan, that is. The leaked pictures revealed a rather large roster image, a stage select screen, and some gameplay screens. The hype train was back on the rails.
Fans immediately noticed the similarities between the Ninka-Vaanrose leaks and these new images. Bowser Jr., Shulk, Doctor Mario, Dark Pit, and Duck Hunt Dog all appeared in some way or another. Even Ganondorf appeared in some screens, as well as Ness and Jigglypuff, two of the last remaining members of the original Smash 64 roster yet to be revealed. The roster image was also missing Lucas, Ice Climbers, Wolf, and Snake, who were all said to be cut by Ninka.
Without the appearance of Ridley and others, people hoped that the roster was simply unfinished. There was just no way to tell at the time, though. Many others went to the painstaking task of trying to disprove the leaks by analyzing the images for inconsistencies. Some claimed Shulk’s facial structure is too similar to Little Mac’s. Others said it could simply be a Brawl mod with skins and Photoshop manipulation.
The following week was wrought with constant speculation and debate. Why are the supposed clone characters not with their franchises? Where could these renders possibly have come from? Why do we not have any gameplay footage of Duck Hunt Dog? These were only a few of the questions that could not be answered. Aside from the pictures, a user claiming to be a leaker involved in the mass image postings stated that the game will have five DLC characters: Snake, Ice Climbers, Lucas, Wolf, and the Chorus Kids. I myself even played with the idea that the Wii U roster would have more characters and that the 3DS version would be retroactively updated with the full roster via free DLC. Without pictures, though, the words remained just words.
That original 4chan post once again reared its head. Bowser Jr. was in his Koopa Kar, it seemed, just like the original 4chan post had said. This made sense — after Super Mario Sunshine, Bowser Jr. appears most often in the Koopa Kar. Wannabe computer forensic scientists went to work on the images and came up with little — the Dr. Mario images were claimed to be edited from recent artwork and the Duck Hunt Dog render just had to be fake! There was just no way to substantiate these claims. Things were looking pretty real.
Fast forward to earlier this week. Smashers woke up to the Internet already buzzing about new leaks, but these leaks were not images or words — we had video for the first time! Five clips of varying lengths were posted, showing gameplay footage of Bowser Jr., Lucina, Shulk, and even returning veteran Ganondorf. The 4chan post was right again – Bowser Jr. is not only in his Koopa Kar, but the vehicle attacks with cannon blasts and boxing gloves, just as the post said.
The videos were followed with an overwhelming amount of images; the video leaker uploaded a 37-image gallery onto Imgur composed of almost entirely menu pictures. Spectator mode, replays, facets of the single-player mode, items, trophies — all wrapped up in one place. Reports that the leaker was somehow involved with the ESRB continued, as this was a prime point of contention involving the leaked images the week before. These new images made it perfectly clear that the pictures were being taken of video clips of the game and was not simply a person filming themselves playing the game.
The leaker’s fate was sealed. According to reports, Nintendo cracked down within the same day while YouTube videos and dropbox accounts showing the leaked video clips were struck down by copyright claims and account closures simulataneously. While the video take-downs were certainly happening, there have been no verifiable sources with proof that Nintendo has any idea who the leaker is or if they have even found him or her at all.
Although it’s unverifiable, the leaker left one last morsel for fans over at 4chan. When users claimed to have cracked a cipher left by the leaker, they responded with one final post that linked to an image of another menu screen, one we had not seen before, with a new caption. It read that the final newcomers are Mewtwo, Ridley, Dixie Kong, Mach Rider, and Impa. Furthermore, the leaker claims to be the user who posted the DLC list a week earlier, saying that it was fake to throw people off.
Fans hoping for more newcomers clung to the one image that gave them hope — a shot of the All-Star Mode menu icon clearly showing a locked symbol, implying that the current roster shown in the other leaks is not the full roster or else the mode would be unlocked.
Then, it all abruptly ended. The images and videos continue to swirl around the Internet, much to Nintendo’s frustration, but the leak itself was apparently fixed. Had Nintendo’s plumbers gone in to seal it up? With only 17 days away from the Japanese release, the ultimate revelation of the full roster is just over the horizon. Even if these are the final leaks of the game, we’ll know the fate of the roster very soon. It should go without saying that this should all be taken with a massive grain of salt. The amount of times “4chan” is written in this piece should be more than enough.