Pokémon Legends: Arceus is supposed to take the classic franchise in a new direction. The open-world RPG expands the typical Pokémon experience into what looks like a plush, Zelda: Breath of the Wild-type adventure. Slated to release at the end of this month on January 28, fans have, up until now, been treated to little tastes of what this game will have to offer without learning the full process of how the sausage gets made. This week, however, things have changed — and not by Nintendo’s own accord.
As reported by Eurogamer, physical copies of Arceus have apparently been showing up in the wild. Accordingly, gameplay footage and screenshots are being leaked to places like Reddit and Twitter, so if you want to avoid spoilers on your timeline I’d recommend muting keywords like “Pokémon” and “Arceus.”
As of this writing, Twitter user @CentroLeaks (who as you can guess, specializes in game leaks) is consistently uploading footage from Arceus — although a lot of this content is getting taken down not too long after it’s being posted. So far, they have uploaded clips of cutscenes, an FPS mode, and some battle footage.
The new normal? Late last year a similar situation unfolded ahead of the release of Pokémon: Brilliant Pearl/Shining Diamond. Physical copies somehow made their way out into the world and the race was on. Leaks also seem to stem from boxed copies that were supposed to be sent to physical retailers rather than digital versions sent out to people covering games. The same thing happened with Pokémon Sword and Shield — last summer a couple of fans who leaked strategy guides for those versions were forced to settle with Nintendo and each pay $150K in damages.
On some level, you’d imagine that Nintendo isn’t too hellbent on stopping leakers from releasing brief glimpses of footage, as that functions as a kind of marketing, but there is a line to be crossed.
Either way, it seems like this might just be a constant in the Pokémon release cycle — the only way to access the game very early is, apparently, to be in Christina Aguilera’s extended family. Otherwise, you can wait until a week ahead of the launch date.