News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Mini Racers [N64 – Cancelled]

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Mini Racers is a cancelled 96Mbit multiplayer racing game that was in development by Looking Glass Studios for the Nintendo 64. The project was announced in 1998, but unfortunately it was delayed many times and in the end in was never released. Mini Racers was going to have a strong multiplayer mode, similar to Micromachines or RC PRO-AM, for up to four players, and it could have been an interesting addition to the already rich list of arcade racing games for the N64.

Mini Racers had several game modes in single and multiplayer, including a track editor to create your own course, and a random track generator. The radio-controlled cars could be given a turbo boost with a press of the Z button. N64 Magazine played an early version are voiced their frustration at the poor camera, though when they next played it at Spaceworld 1999 they noted the angle and viewing distance were now configurable and could even be played in a top-down view. Most likely the game was cancelled because it was shown in the final days of the Nintendo 64, when the new 128-bit consoles were almost out.

A playable beta / almost finished ROM version of Mini Racers was leaked online in April 2012 , thanks to olivieryuyu

Thanks to Gilgalegrouik for some of these images!

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1080° Snowboarding [N64 – Beta]

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1080° Snowboarding is a snowboard racing game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 in 1998. 1080°’s release was announced on November 21, 1997 at Nintendo’s SpaceWorld trade show;  the game’s working title was then Vertical Edge Snowboarding. 1080° was programmed by Englishmen Giles Goddard and Colin Reed, developed and published by Nintendo, and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto. Goddard and Reed had previously programmed Wave Race 64. [Info from Wikipedia]

In these early screens we can notice that the HUD was changed and that the character models where still not finished. I’m not sure, but it could also be possible that those maps on the right of the screen could be slightly different from the final track-design.

Beta Version:

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Final Version:

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Mystical Ninja Goemon 64 [Beta / Tech Demo]

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Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon was initially titled Ganbare Goemon 5, then Legend of the Mystical Ninja. The Japanese producers desired to break the series’s numerical naming convention to emphasize that Mystical Ninja was very different from its predecessors. Originally developed with a two-player mode, this feature was scrapped months before the Japanese release. Early development pictures showed Impact battling in a modern city against an handgun-wielding foe. Images depicted the battle against the Wartime Kabuki Robot Kashiwagi taking place over a forest and village. Konami also released several renders of Goemon making different poses and facial expressions for magazine previews. A 60-70% complete build of the game was featured at E3 in June 1997; this version still suffered from graphical clipping and camera issues. – [Info from Wikipedia]

Update! A Goemon 64 prototype could be leaked soon, but we need your help. If you love Goemon, read this article for more info!

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/] Goemon 64 – oltre a Castlevania e Hybrid Heaven, uno dei primissimi giochi annunciati dalla Konami per l’Ultra, fu questo Ganbare Goemon 64, seguito dei titoli omonimi per Super Nintendo. La software house japponese cercò si seguire le impronte di Mario 64, trasformando questa saga di platform bidimensionali in un vero e proprio adventure 3D, perdendo però molti degli elementi che distinguevano il gioco, come la modalità cooperativa a due giocatori. Le prime foto del gioco mostravano una grafica molto più definita della versione finale. L’hub su schermo era differente, il numero di vite erano segnalate con una faccia del personaggio in alto a destra. [/spoiler]

[Thanks a lot to Gilgalegrouik for some of these images!]

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Blade & Barrel (Ultra Combat) [N64 – Cancelled]

Blade & Barrel, also known as “Ultra Combat” in the U.S., was going to be one of the launch titles for the new Nintendo 64 console, but sadly it was cancelled. Developed by Software Creations and Kemko, the game was an arcade third-person shooter, focused on battles between flying vehicles that looked a bit like helicopters. An important aspect of Ultra Combat was meant to be the multiplayer mode up to 4 players.

Looking at the beta screenshots and videos below, the environments of the game were just simple 3D arenas, with some empty buildings and roads, but when it was announced, the graphic looked really spectacular for its time. The weapons available were able to create huge explosions, that completely filled the screen with a truly impressive fire effect. Probably the single player mode was similar to the multiplayer deathmatch, with the only difference being that we had to fight against bots, rather than challenge friends.

Unfortunately Blade & Barrel 64 was postponed for too long, perhaps because of low quality gameplay achieved in the beta, and in the end the project was canned altogether. Some concepts of Ultra Combat could have been re-used to develop another game by Kemko, Knife Edge, released for the N64 in 1998.

The two games are somewhat similar: Knife Edge is a shooter with flying machines, but the main difference is that KE is played in first person view as a on-rail shooter, while Blade & Barrel was meant to be a free flying shooter… at least in its original concept: from the  Pickford Brothers’s website we can read that:

Blade & Barrel (Nintendo 64): A game originally designed to be simple, 3D update of the old Atari console classic Combat, but which changed to an on-rails shooter once it was signed to a Japanese publisher after John left Software Creations to form Zed Two. In the end the game either abandoned or ‘canned’ by publisher.

Thanks to fiatbravodriver for the contribution!

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Jet Force Gemini [N64 – Beta / Unused Stuff / Debug]

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Jet Force Gemini is a sci-fi action adventure / third-person shooter developed by Rare that was released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64.  The main characters, Juno and Vela, were originally designed as younger in the beta version and their 3D models were more cartoon-like with large heads. They were later changed to their more mature versions before the release of the game. However, a similar set of childish models can still be played with via an in-game cheat.

Jet Force Gemini does not support the 4MB Expansion Pak, although Rare had considered the possibility. This led to some confusion as the box cover for the original release stated that it did support the Expansion Pak. Nintendo provided a quick-fix to the mislabeled covers by providing stickers declaring its rumble pak compatibility and fixed later printings of the boxes. [Info from Wikipedia]

Also, some debug rooms and beta maps were found still hidden in the game thanks to ps3punk7890, Luigi 316 and SubDrag. An interesting note, one of these unused maps is a racing track from Diddy Kong Racing: it’s possible that they used this to test the racing missions in Jet Force Gemini in its early stages.

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Jet Force Gemini Beta