Games

A Fake Twitter Account Trolled Nintendo Fans Desperate for New Switch Games

With COVID-19 disrupting video game announcements, people are increasingly desperate for anything to get excited about.
July 21, 2020, 2:57pm
A screen shot from the Nintendo video game F-Zero.
Screen shot courtesy of Nintendo

With no new games currently slated for release for the rest of 2020, Nintendo fans are so desperately thirsty for any information, they were tricked into watching a very Not Safe For Work video on Twitter yesterday. The account was set up to look like an official Twitter account in stealth mode and seemingly part of a new F-Zero game, but it was all a ruse.

This is, of course, the same fan base that began worshiping an anonymous cam model, who claimed clients were leaking them details about upcoming Nintendo announcements.

With the release of Paper Mario: The Origami King, Nintendo’s release slate is pretty murky. We know they’re working on games like Breath of the Wild 2 and Metroid Prime 4, but it’s likely neither game is released this year. There were two Atlus announcements yesterday for Switch, but both games arrive in 2021. E3 would typically give us a glimpse into the future, but there wasn’t an E3 this year, thanks to COVID-19. The novel coronavirus has scrambled the year in more ways than one, and likely to result in the delay of many games.

Nintendo is pretty secretive, so in a period of turbulence, it’s not surprising they’re being cautious. The company did not respond to a request for comment by VICE Games, as of this writing.

Do you have a story you want to share about what Nintendo is working on? Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Patrick Klepek securely on Signal on 224-707-1561, or email patrick.klepek@vice.com.

In that absence, fans will fill the vacuum, mixing rumors and hearsay to fit their needs.

Multiple reports credibly suggest Nintendo will celebrate Mario’s 35th anniversary with a slew of re-releases updated and tweaked for Switch, but so far, Nintendo hasn’t announced those plans. A few days back, a reader for the website Video Game Chronicle made a stir after pointing out the Twitter account @SuperMario35th and suggested it might be official, as it seemed to share an email address in common with other Nintendo Twitter accounts.

The account was actually registered back in March. It’s common for video game companies to quietly register social media accounts for upcoming announcements months in advance.

If you use Twitter’s reset password option, it asks if you want to send a reset email to an address that's mostly obfuscated for security reasons, but we can see starts with the letters “ml.” What caught the reader’s eye was the @n*******.**.** part. It’s not hard to fill in the gaps and guess the domain is nintendo.co.jp. Bolstering the reader’s claim was a similar email address associated with the Splatoon and Smash Bros. Twitter accounts.

VICE Games independently verified those partial emails were associated with the three accounts.

The account caught fire in Nintendo fandom, where all it takes is someone farting a rumor in the wrong direction to cause panic, and was quickly bolstered by individuals like OatmealDome, a high-profile dataminer in the Nintendo community, vouching for claims the account was legitimate. In this case, the claim came from Twitter user and Nintendo fan Thomasnet_mc, who said they had “seen the actual email to register @supermario35th.”

When contacted by VICE Games, Thomasnet_mc explained their process. If the Twitter account has the "password reset protect" option enabled, the user needs to correctly input the email address associated with the account in order for Twitter to send a password reset email. If the user puts in the wrong email address, Twitter won’t proceed to the next step. Thomasnet_mc managed to use public information to guess what the legitimate email might be and—voila—it included an actual and seemingly working nintendo.co.jp address. Twitter sent the password reset.

VICE Games was able to privately reproduce this same process.

With the legitimacy of the Mario account seemingly established, it’s not surprising people went searching for others, which is how we ended up with today’s NSFW F-Zero debacle.

The Twitter account @FZeroJP shared similar characteristics, with the password reset function surfacing an email address starting with “ml” and ending with @n*******.**.**. Plus? This year is the 30th anniversary for F-Zero, a chronically overlooked franchise by Nintendo. The last major F-Zero release was F-Zero GX for GameCube in 2003, which means it’s been nearly 20 years since the company touched the racing series. It seems due for an update.

This is how you end up with a bunch of news articles rumoring about a new F-Zero.

It’s also how you trick a bunch of anxious Nintendo fans. Earlier today, the account, registered back in March, broke its silence and tweeted a weird and vaguely pornographic video set to one of the most iconic musical bops from the original F-Zero soundtrack.

Thomasnet_vc, the same person who appeared to crack the code on the Mario account, was raising red flags about F-Zero from the start, and suspected someone was playing the fanbase. They were right.

“Please send any new accounts you found so I can check!” they shared on Twitter today.

If we know anything about Nintendo fandom, they’re bound to find a new rumor to obsess over soon, even if it's not very reliable.

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