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The 'Leaked' NX Controller Is Just the Latest Viral Nintendo Fan Hoax

Sometimes fake Nintendo hardware is better than the real thing.
Credit: Frank Sanqvist

Apple might be the tech company with the most devout fans, but Nintendo's a pretty close second. The ever-mysterious NX, the rumored mobile/console hybrid that's likely to be unveiled at E3 this year, is the current project that has the Nintendo faithful worked up into a tizzy; all we officially have to go on so far are some patent documents showing a strange controller/screen hybrid device.

Some fans have taken things to the next level, going so far as to make mockups of what they think the NX will be like. This isn't a new thing—fans have made their own mockups of upcoming console hardware for quite some time. Most of them are pretty obviously not the real deal. But some supposed leaked images of the NX controller first posted on Reddit were convincing enough to fool even some major gaming websites—until the creators of said images revealed how they tricked a good chunk of the internet.


Reddit user Idriss2Dev posted this image a while ago, claiming it was a photo of the NX's controller.

Speculation and skepticism immediately followed, with internet sleuths attempting to pick apart any perceived flaws with the images. While it was eventually found that the image on the controller was derived from an Unreal Engine 4 demo screenshot, a different set of pictures showing a similarly styled controller added fuel to the fire.

Credit: Frank Sanqvist

Internet detectives examined these images with similar scrutiny, taking note of the non-QWERTY keyboard and even pinpointing where the reflection of the tree in the upper image is from (Ubisoft's Massive Entertainment subsidiary in Sweden, they thought).

All of the investigation ceased, however, when the separate creators of each supposed prototype came forth with how they pulled off their photos. Idriss2Dev posted a Youtube video showing a 3D controller model superimposed over a photo cut between mocking movie clips.

Shortly after Idriss2Dev's reveal, the creator of the second batch of photos, Frank Sanqvist, showed how he staged his images: with rendering software and a 3D printer he and his brother own. The amount of effort and thought involved is, admittedly, quite clever.

The NX controller mockups join a long line of Nintendo hardware and software hoaxes.

Perhaps the most famous Nintendo internet hoax of all time is the Nintendo ON, a creation of superfan Pablo Belmonte, also known under the handle Psyco3ler. Before the Wii's motion controller was shown in 2005, Belmonte imagined the "Revolution" (the Wii's then-codename) as something else entirely. It's amusing to watch now, as it's quite convincingly put together. Can you imagine how differently things would have gone with Nintendo had introduced a virtual reality-like headset back in 2006?

Belmonte's gone on to a fair bit of infamy in the Nintendo fan scene, as he's also created very convincing images for nonexistent games like Super Mario Galaxy DS and a Majora's Mask remake (long before it actually happened).

While some folks might be disappointed that they'll likely have to wait a while for official NX details, it's probably for the best that this wasn't the real deal—that controller looked like an ergonomic nightmare. You also have to admire the skill that went into making something so convincing. I mean, it certainly wasn't a PCI card tossed into an Atari Jaguar case.