Nintendo fans got a surprise in the early hours on Sept. 23, when it was discovered that the Wii U-exclusive Paper Mario Color Splash was playable for those who had digitally prepurchased and predownloaded the game ahead of its official Oct. 7 release date.
Around 5:14 am ET, Twitter user Electivirus spread the word that the game was playable and proceeded to post footage of the game in action on Twitter. Other fans then scrambled to play the game for themselves.
However, it wouldn't be long until Nintendo caught wind of what was happening. In the following hours, Nintendo pulled the option to prepurchase the game from the Wii U eShop, despite a banner at the top of the store page still encouraging fans to prepurchase and predownload the game prior to release.
It's not exactly clear what caused the mix-up aside from it obviously being some kind of error on Nintendo's end, but it's still amusing to see the entire game leak ahead of time. One would think that physical retail versions of the game had a higher chance of leaking ahead of street date and not versions of the game directly from Nintendo, but stranger things have happened.
What's even stranger is why it has taken Paper Mario Color Splash so long to release in the first place. Speaking with Kotaku earlier this year, a producer on the game revealed that Paper Mario Color Splash was completely finished back in June. At a time when many games are released far before they are finished or at the very least are worked on up until the last second, the fact that Paper Mario Color Splash apparently has been complete for three months and still hasn't released is a little unusual.
Without almost any other Wii U games releasing in the remainder of 2016, it was likely a savvy business move on Nintendo's part to hold the game back for several months so that a new, first-party Wii U game was available toward the start of the busy holiday season. The only other Nintendo published release coming for the Wii U is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is expected to release in March 2017 alongside Nintendo's new code-named NX console.
Even though Paper Mario Color Splash is one of the last remaining Wii U first-party titles, many Nintendo fans aren't enthusiastic about it. The Paper Mario game series has slowly distanced itself from its RPG roots to the confusion of many fans, who have expressed their distaste with the new direction by downvoting the game's various trailers on YouTube.
Paper Mario Color Splash officially releases on Oct. 7 for the Wii U.