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Online services for both games were taken offline in March for emergency maintenance. However, at the time, there was little indication that the downtime would be so long-lasting. Now, after several months, both games are coming back online.
Nintendo posted the following message to its website: “In March 2023, Nintendo paused network services for the Wii U games Splatoon and Mario Kart 8 to address a vulnerability related to online play. The issue has now been fixed, and so we will resume online play for these games based on the schedule below. Please accept our sincere apologies for the extended waiting period.”
At the time, Nintendo dataminer OatmealDome took to Twitter to note that the security issue in question is “almost certainly” an exploit called ENLBufferPwn, which allows an attacker to take over someone’s console and execute code on it, just by playing against them online.
As well as Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon, several Switch games were also vulnerable to the exploit at one point, including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Super Mario Maker 3, Nintendo Switch Sports, Arms and Splatoon 2 and 3.
These have all since been patched to protect players from the exploit, but Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon on Wii U weren’t. It’s believed, therefore, that this extended “emergency maintenance” is to finally close off the vulnerability on these two games.