The Internet is like Inspector Gadget. It thinks it’s really great at solving mysteries, but most of the time it’s stumbling around like a moron while some faceless dude keeps messing with it.

Today, the sleuths of the Web have come together to figure out the legitimacy of an image that allegedly features a prototype controller for Nintendo’s upcoming NX console. I don’t know if this is real, and Nintendo’s not saying. My gut reaction is that it’s a hoax, but that’s not based on a lot of concrete proof. But if it’s evidence you want, oh, boy, the Internet has your back. Gamers from around the Internet have taken to forums and message boards to share their theories and jokes (mostly jokes) about this purported leak.

A Nintendo patent.

Above: A Nintendo patent.

Image Credit: Nintendo

But before we get to great investigative reporting and the trees (yes, trees), let’s recap what we’re talking about here. Nintendo has said that it plans to announce its NX device this year as the followup to the Wii U console and potentially the 3DS handheld. We don’t have a lot of details about it, but Nintendo did file a patent (pictured to the right) that shows a buttonless touchscreen gamepad. The documentation that Nintendo filed with the patent shows an oval-shaped screen with shoulder buttons and thumbsticks.

And now, a few months after Nintendo filed those illustrations, we have images of something that looks almost exactly the same.

Check it out:

Another shot of the alleged NX controller.

Above: Another shot of the alleged NX controller.

Image Credit: Reddit

That certainly looks a whole lot like what’s in the patent … which is strange. But a ton of people on the Internet think that makes a lot of sense, and they have gone to some astonishing lengths to prove that the image is real.

Brace yourself.

The ‘evidence’

I don’t think there’s a more pure distillation of the madness that is happening among gamers right now than the following image:

The reflected tree is a central witness in this mystery. Gamers have used this tree to tie the leaked image to Ubisoft studio Massive, which is responsible for shooter Tom Clancy’s The Division. Here’s another compelling argument for the NX tree theory.

Case closed!

Above: Case closed!

Image Credit: NeoGAF

But how does it work?

While a certain segment of fans were trying to prove that Ubisoft is the source of the leak, others began trying to figure out how a device like this would function. The screen only has two thumbsticks and no visible face buttons, so how do we “play” our “video games.”

Well, let’s go back to the Internet for some ideas.

A mockup from game forum NeoGAF.

Above: A mockup from game forum NeoGAF.

Image Credit: NeoGAF

Here’s another that I kinda like.

That's some old footage of The Legend of Zelda Wii U.

Above: That’s some old footage of The Legend of Zelda Wii U.

Image Credit: NeoGAF

But it’s great to get an idea of what video would look like on this alleged NX controller, but how do I control it? Won’t I need some buttons. The great thinkers of the Web have your back once again.

It's possible that a screen like that could fit into a holster.

Above: It’s possible that a screen like that could fit into a holster.

Image Credit: NeoGAF

Or maybe Nintendo is going to try something revolutionary like a screen that can instantly generate its own buttons on the fly. TactusTechnology, a material startup, has developed something along those lines.

That seems like it could have potential.

Above: That seems like it could have potential.

Image Credit: Tactus Technology

I don’t understand, so I must mock it

Really, it’s tough to tell if this photo has any basis in reality. So instead, why don’t we just make fun of how dumb it looks!

It’s kinda hard not to see a cartoon character when you look at this controller.

Hey, Arnold!

Above: Hey, Arnold!

Image Credit: NeoGAF

And finally, all of this puzzle solving and staring at trees is reminding me of something, but I can pinpoint exactly what.

I can solve this one!

Above: I can solve this one!

Image Credit: NeoGAF