Poké-fanatics ripped apart the demo of Pokémon Sun and Moon on Monday, to learn more about the game’s fantastical creatures, items, and other information, ahead of its launch on November 18. These efforts resulted in a leak of the complete Pokédex (an in-game device that records information about Pokémon after they’re caught) and other morsels of data that were supposed to be removed from the game’s demo before it was made available to download.
This information was published all over the internet, before the Pokémon Sun and Moon demo even debuted in North America, on Tuesday morning. That’s how fast hackers were able to break into the game’s code — and that’s exactly why developer Game Freak attempted to remove all non-pertinent information from the demo before it launched. Those efforts were unsuccessful, and the result is extensive information about the game being made public an entire month early.
Pokémon Sun and Moon takes place in the Hawaii-inspired Alola region, where Pokémon have been forced to adapt to their new environments with “Alola Forms” that have different stats and designs. Many of these forms have now been revealed for the first time, along with new Pokémon, and “shinies” with unique colors. Be warned: Spoilers abound in the links ahead.
Redditor “DarkSpirit” has compiled a list of everything revealed through the Pokémon Sun and Moon demo hack. The thread, devoted to that information, has 1,450 comments at the time of writing; many other discussions in the Pokémon subreddit have just a few hundred comments. The fanbase is just frothing at the chance to learn more about these games.
YouTube is also filled with information about the leaks. Videos like the one above have amassed more than 140,000 views since they were published on Monday, and the counts keep rising. It doesn’t matter if you’re browsing Reddit, scrolling through YouTube, or checking Twitter: The Pokémon hack is everywhere. So how exactly did these hackers manage to learn so much from such a small portion of the game? And why are people going crazy over something that seems too trivial?
It’s relatively simple. Games like Pokémon Sun and Moon store all their assets — the art shown when a Pokémon is encountered, the stats those Pokémon have, etc. — somewhere. Some Pokémon fans know how to load the game onto their computers, dig around its files, and scrape out the most interesting data. Once you know where that information is stored, you can easily share it with others, who have probably decided to look in different places to find other information.
This info isn’t typically removed from demo versions of games. Instead, they simply prevent most players from accessing certain things via the normal interface, which is enough to prevent most people from learning more. Game Freak tried to change this after Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire suffered a similar leak from its demo version, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Combine this failure to remove the data, with the slow drip of information people have about Pokémon Sun and Moon, and you end up with a data-mining frenzy.
All this data-mining probably makes Game Freak even sadder than Mimikkyu, a ghost Pokémon that steals the heart of every gamer who sees it. And before anyone asks: No, Game Freak has not immortalized Harambe as a Pokémon, at least not according to the information that’s been leaked so far.