It's probably not that controversial to say that Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64 is a groundbreaking game. While not the first truly 3D game, it's well-known as the title that really popularized 3D games and began turning them into the norm in the mid-90s. Due to this, as well as its old age, Super Mario 64 has been the subject of numerous urban legends, easter eggs, and more. There's an entire 'iceberg' dedicated to it, filled from top to bottom with legends and secrets, some true alongside others that are outright tall tales. There's one legend that's hung over the game for around two decades now: L is Real. As if this year couldn't get any weirder, it turns out that legend was real all along. Prepare yourselves, Nintendo fans, for the Gigaleak.

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If you've been browsing the Internet over the past week, you've probably heard about the Gigaleak. That's the nickname for an absolutely massive leak of information and source code on old Nintendo games that broke a few days ago over on 4chan. While it's not known HOW this info was obtained or how it leaked, the stuff contained therein includes tons of unused concepts for classic titles like LoZ: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Kart, SM64, Ocarina of Time, and Yoshi's Island (among others). You'd be correct in being suspicious about its validity right off the bat, but confirmation from an ex-Nintendo employee as well as the sheer amount of files involved suggests this is no fake. There are countless amounts of weird and wild things to be found in here, such as a grandpa Yoshi sprite, early level designs for Ocarina of Time and the Deku Tree, and uncompressed audio from Star Fox 64.

Perhaps the biggest nugget contained in all of this is the confirmation of L is Real. The whole urban legend began in the early days of the Internet when players noticed the sign on the fountain in the courtyard for Super Mario 64 had some faintly scribbled text on it. While it was hard to make out what exactly it said, the popular theory suggested it stated 'L is Real 2401'. So began the dive down the rabbit hole as players left and right tried to understand what it meant, as well as the significance of the numbers. Whatever the case, it seemed to suggest Luigi was supposed to be somewhere in the game (and maybe even playable). Thanks to the Gigaleak, we now know Nintendo had originally planned on having a co-op mode in the game where a second player could play as Luigi. They scrapped the idea for various reasons, such as realizing most players would only have the one N64 controller the console came with. Even so, the source code found in the leak contains information on Luigi's character model. It didn't take long for the Internet to piece together this code and re-create Luigi as he would have looked in-game.

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At this point, I can truly say that's the end of an era. The entire fandom surrounding SM64 is celebrating right now. While it's unfortunate this all came about due to a privacy leak for unused concepts, it is cool to finally see a popular video game urban legend receive concrete confirmation. More is still being found as I type out this article, in fact! It just goes to show that even 24 years later after Super Mario 64's release, gamers are still finding secrets behind the scenes the more and more they dig. Out of all the games out there, it definitely seems like this one is the most subject to it. It also shows just how different Mario 64 might have been if things had played out just a bit differently.

Tanner
Tanner

Tanner is a freelance writer. He enjoys all things video games, particularly the weirder ones, and can often be found drinking coffee and trying to get through his backlog.

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