The Nintendo 64 was the culmination of work by Nintendo, Silicon Graphics, and MIPS Technologies. The SGI-based system design that ended up in the Nintendo 64 was originally offered to Tom Kalinske, then CEO of Sega of America by James H. Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics. SGI had recently bought out MIPS Technologies and the two companies had worked together to create a low-cost CPU/3D GPU combo that they thought would be ideal for the console market. A hardware team from Sega of Japan was sent to evaluate the chip’s capabilities and they found some faults which MIPS subsequently solved. However, Sega of Japan ultimately decided against SGI’s design. In the early stages of development, the Nintendo 64 was referred to by the code name “Project Reality”. This moniker came from the speculation within Nintendo that the console could produce CGI on par with then-current supercomputers. In 1994, the console was given the name Nintendo Ultra 64 in the West. – [Info from wikipedia]
Super Mario 64 was probably one of the first titles developed for Nintendo’s 64 bit console. There are rumors of a 3D prototype existing on the SNES using the systems Super FX chip, but this prototype was kept behind closed doors, so no images of it exist. It’s safe to assume that this would have been an isometric platforming adventure, and played similarly to the older games of the Mario name.
With Nintendo’s prototype next-generation console, “Project Reality”, the game went from a FX chip prototype to a 3D beta on the 64-bit new hardware. The SNES prototype was never seen or heard about again. Even with this project on the Nintendo 64, original designs still stuck to the isometric viewpoint. Like with the older games, this one had players taking their chances jumping form platform to platform to reach the end of a level. As the game went on, this concept was kept intact for the game’s boss stages were the player would fight bowser.
This game was officially presented to the public in November of 1995. During its development Nintendo released a lot of images, some of which were from a playable demo. This was very important since it allowed people to take photos, and record videos which we can look back at to see how much the game has changed from the beta to now.
The beta version of Mario 64 appeared to be very similar to the final: Many of the levels were similar seeing only minor changes. Some of the biggest changes were made to the hub world which didn’t seem very much like a castle to begin with. Changes can also be seen in the lives – stars – coin counter in the HUD, as well as Mario’s health bar which is an image of his head in the final version. Some changes are noticeable like different textures, and colors. Bowser also sports some different textures. We can also see the castle interior is dark blue with some moons on the columns.
The inside of the castle was very different in the beta. We do not know if the doors here are different than the ones in the final, or if they lead to the same places, or if they were simply place holder images. One of the more interesting images had Mario in a snowy level with penguins, and a different background that isn’t found anywhere in the final game. It is also noted that the stars used to be 2D in design. In conclusion, the face texture for the yellow desert enemy was really scary.
As we can read from the NSMB Wii Iwata Ask article, one of the early Mario 64 prototypes had a coop multiplayer mode, but it was never used in the final game and it’s not clear if they could have confused it with Mario 64 II (as M64II was rumored to have that same Mario – Luigi coop).
Iwata: Ever since Mario Bros., you’ve had your heart set on making a multiplayer Mario game. You’ve tried each time, but it’s never quite come together… Even with Mario 6423, it started with Mario and Luigi running around together, didn’t it?
Miyamoto: That’s right. The screen was split and they went into the castle separately. When they meet in the corridor, I was incredibly happy! (laughs) Then there was also the mode where the camera is fixed and we see Mario running away, steadily getting smaller and smaller.
Iwata: Yes, that’s right.
Miyamoto: That was a remnant of an experiment we did where Mario and Luigi would run away from each other but you could still see them both. But we were unable to pull it off…
Some unused red shells were also found in the game’s code:
Those beta red shells models were found a long time ago both by rstewart215804 and VL-Tone.
In this video, I show a complex hack written by me in C which gives them a similar behavior as the red shells from the Mario Kart series. They will protect Mario and if you press D-Pad Up they will go after the nearest enemy (actually, the nearest animated object).
Many other unused models (as a trampoline, a Boo Key and a Blaarg) are hidden in the game.
Blargg— An eyeless, largely untextured model for Blargg, an enemy from Super Mario World, exists in the game. It has an animation which shows it jumping out of the lava, but there doesn’t seem to be any functionality left. It was definitely planned for the lava levels, and possibly replaced by the very similar flame enemy.
Water mine— Found in the water object set, but never used in the game, is an object very similar to the bombs that appear in the Bowser levels, but a bit smaller. How it would have been used is fairly obvious. It’s possible to see it in major part of SM64 beta videos, in Dire, Dire Docks.
Yoshi egg— The Yoshi egg has a model, textures, and a bouncing animation. It’s likely that Yoshi was planned to have a larger role in the game than he actually does, and he would have appeared out of these eggs, just as he does in Super Mario World, and as he would later do in Super Mario Sunshine . This egg loads to memory in Whomp’s Fortress and Wet Dry World
Small chill bully— A smaller version of the Chill Bully. There are large and small normal Bullies in Lethal Lava Land, but the only Chill Bully in the game is a large-sized one in Snowman’s Land. They have they own behavior and 3D model, but sometimes when trying to put it in the game, it crashes.
Beta trampoline— The most known unused object in the whole game. Some sort of trampoline. It has no model in-game, and its behavior was never created. Fairly obvious how they’d have been used, however. Anyway, some hackers tried to recreate its behavior, which can be seen in the video made by messiaen, one of the best hackers (yeah, thas one who wrote M64 Level Importer!)
Beta green & red shells— A pair of small Koopa shells, these have been found as only data (though clever hackers can get them to work in-game). They are about the size as spiny shells, and have unusual blue bottoms. Their use is currently unknown, but there’s a behavior code that could fit them. Them can be picked up and throwed, but the stick to wall when they hit it.
Yellow switch & Yellow transparent box— The yellow switch and the yellow box are quite similar to their red, blue, and green-colored brethren. This suggests there was another type of box (not necessarily the one in the final game) that needed to be activated with a switch. The yellow switch is always in its pressed state when spawned. It’s possible that there was another powerup inside the yellow box, and that the switch was activated in Peach’s secret slide, because the swicthes load to the memory, when you enter that level, exactly as happens for Wing Tower, Metal Cavern and Vanish Sewer.
Early Solid Red Box— An early solid red box can only be found in the Wing Cap area, and probably served as a test for item boxes. The color changes depending on the angle viewed from.
Boo Key— The boo key was likely intended to be collected from a Big Boo upon defeat, as is shown in an early screenshot. As a leftover, the Japanese version actually has a key symbol for use in the HUD which has been replaced in the other versions with a German character (a U with two pints on its top). Also we know that you was able to collect at max 6 keys, to use only in that level.
Cactus texture— A texture which resembles a small, round cactus. It was most likely intended as scenery in Shifting Sand Land.
Cracked ice— A texture depicting cracked ice. Possibly a leftover from one of the ice worlds.
Metal wings— There’s a unique “metal wings” texture the game uses when Mario wears the Wing Cap and the Metal Cap at the same time. However, there’s no level in the game which has both of these caps, so the only way to see the texture in the game is using a GameShark or replacind objects with ToadTool64 or a HEX editor
Pink flowers— Discovered by Mr. Game during the exploration of game’s textures. This environmental effect causes flowers to appear. Where it may have been used, and what purpose it may have served, is still unknown. When activated, it appears only on perfectly horizontal walls.
Blizzard— This effect creates a blizzard. It is still under investigation, but was likely meant for use in the snow-based levels. It works same as snow effect, but it’s fastest. It was also used in SM64DS, in the battle with Chief Bully (the one you needed to beat to unlock Wario).
Chain Chomp— In the beta v3 in Bob-Omb Battlefield, you’ll notice that the Chain Chomp’s growling sound is different than the final version, and about similar to the sound of the Chomp in Japan.
Super Smash Bros. was developed by HAL Laboratory, a Nintendo second-party developer, during 1998. It began life as a prototype created by Masahiro Sakurai and Satoru Iwata in their spare time titled Kakuto-Gēmu Ryūō or Kakuto-Geemu Ryuoh (格闘ゲーム竜王 ?, lit. “Dragon King: The Fighting Game”), and originally featured no Nintendo characters. However, Sakurai hit on the idea of including fighters from different Nintendo franchises in order to provide “atmosphere” which he felt was necessary for a home console fighting game, and his idea was approved. The game had a small budget and little promotion, and was originally a Japan-only release, but its huge success saw the game released worldwide. [Info from Wikipedia]
Iwata: Because we don’t often have the opportunity to sit down and talk about Smash Bros., I’d like to use the last part of this interview to turn back the clock and talk about the start of this series, beginning in 1999 with the Nintendo 64 title Super Smash Bros. You and I were responsible for developing this prototype.
Sakurai: Right. We called it “Kakuto-Geemu Ryuoh” (Dragon King: The Fighting Game)
Iwata: At that point in time, we weren’t utilizing any Nintendo characters, and while you handled the planning, specs, design, modeling and movement, I worked on programming all by myself. In some respects, it was the ultimate handcrafted project.
Sakurai: Right. I mean, we didn’t know at the time that we would be able to use Nintendo characters.
Iwata: In retrospect, the main reason I undertook the project was to build a 4-player game that utilized the N64’s unique 3D joystick. What were your reasons?
Sakurai: Well, I wanted to offer an alternative to the two-dimensional fighting games that were crowding out the market. I also wanted to see if it was possible to make an interesting 4-player game that offered a new experience every time you play. Simply put, I was aiming to design a 4-player battle royal.
Iwata: I seem to remember “4-player Battle Royal” being written on the cover of the project planning document.
Sakurai: Right. I hadn’t given it a title yet.
Iwata: We hadn’t even come up with the codename Ryuoh yet. I think we ended up using Ryuoh because we happened to use scenery from the Ryuoh-cho neighborhood, the location of HAL Laboratory in Yamanashi Prefecture, as the background for the game.
Rumors say that in the beta concept of Super Smash Bros. 64, Pit, Bowser, Peach, Mewtwo, Meowth and King Dedede were going to be playable characters, but was taken out due to limits in the hardware. It should be noted though that Meowth and King Dedede appeared in the game as a Poke Ball Pokemon and as a background character, respectivly.
Two beta Kirby stages are only playable with a GameShark. The stages have strange elements, such as invisible barriers. A working Dream Land stage can be viewed in the “How to Play” tutorial, which itself can be seen by waiting on the title screen. Also, in the character select, the question mark boxes were supposed to be colored and Saffron City also had pink with purple on the rooftops, the smash ball were supposed to be introduce in this game. [Info from Mariowiki]
Screen 1: There is no sign or bridge or sliding stone block Screen 2: a pink floor that was later changed Screen 3: Just some beta textures shown on Hyrule Castle
With Gameshark Codes and the ability of some “hacker”, the Roms of Zelda for N64 were explored in depth, looking for particular beta remained in digital memory. During the development of the game, Nintendo has removed a lot features and remodeled several items, but was not able to completely erase them. Indeed, within the cartridge you can find some items that do not appear in the final product. Working on combinations and inserting binary complex numerical codes, these objects may appear Beta in the game. And interesting to note the variety polygonal models, which often reveal more information about the history of the development of 3D Zelda project (descriptions below the gallery).
The photo with the “fish” is taken from Majora’s Mask: the polygon model of the Hylian Loach may have been connected with the rumors of the fishing minigame, it was removed from the final version of the game.
The other photos are all taken from Ocarina Of Time: green leaves used in the Beta as a whistle to call Epona, a poe like in the final version of Twilight Princess, the image in the menu that says “Disk” indicates the connection of the cartridge on Ocarina with Zelda URA on 64 Disk Drive was also found. “Hi! I’m a talking door”is one of the many texts that can be found in the code of the game, but were not used in the full version. The column of stone was probably used as a structure for a dungeon, while the gray tombstone may be a primitive version of the Gossip Stone. The vase is a simple beta model of what we know, but those strange animals with blue beak are really interesting. They resemble extravagant hairy birds,and were perhaps a kind of enemy, but it is difficult to understand exactly what they should be.
The Arwing of Starfox is perhaps the most curious object in beta. It is complete with all its animation: flying, shooting Link and once hit, it crashes in flames exploding on the ground. Why programmers had inserted a spaceship in Zelda? The answer probably is: only Miyamoto knows, but we can assume it was an “easter egg”, a quote for the players, on a quest in Zelda URA. A group of hackers has noticed that the binary number that activates the Arwing is somehow connected with the trap in a game. In some situations, when Link opens a chest of treasure,he is frozen instead of getting objects. Perhaps the Arwing was a second type of trap, activated a second unknown mode: Link would open a treasure chest, which would release the enemy spaceship.
The bird is a polygonal model removed from the final game, it could have been used for some videos of the plot or as a natural animal to animate the scene, a like the butterflies. The cube stone was perhaps something to move to solve puzzles and platforms to reach too high. The beta fish is similar to those in the final, but his enormous size is bizarre: Were there were fish of various sizes on the bottom of Lake Hylia? The tuft of grass and container of the heart are beta versions of the polygonal models used later in Ocarina. Finally, a large rectangular building, probably used in some dungeon.
As Chris Jeremic has made us to notice, thanks to the Zelda 64 Actor Viewer, Cooliscool found some unfinished / beta models in the game’s code:
An incomplete Zora model
Some Beta Guy
And a Beta Kokiri
[spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Grazie ai trucchi del GameShark ed alla capacità di alcuni “hacker”, le rom degli episodi di Zelda per N64 sono state esplorate a fondo, alla ricerca di particolari beta rimasti nella memoria digitale. Durante lo sviluppo del gioco, Nintendo ha rimosso molte caratteristiche e rimodellato diversi oggetti, ma non è riuscita a cancellarne completamente le tracce. Infatti, all’interno della cartuccia, è possibile scovare alcuni items che non compaiono nel prodotto finale, ma che ne facevano parte nella sua versione beta. Lavorando sulle combinazioni binarie ed inserendo complessi codici numerici, questi oggetti Beta possono apparire di nuovo nel gioco. E’ interessante osservare i modelli poligonali ritrovati, che spesso ci rivelano ulteriori informazioni sulla storia dello sviluppo del progetto Zelda 3D.
La foto con il “pesce” è tratta da Majora’s Mask: l’oggetto ritrovato è il modello poligonale dell’Hylian Dojo, pesce che potrebbe essere stato collegato con il vociferato minigame della pesca, rimosso dalla versione finale del gioco.
Le altre foto sono tutte prese da Ocarina Of Time; le foglie verdi erano utilizzate nella Beta come fischietto per richiamare Epona, un po’ come succede nella versione finale di Twilight Princess. L’immagine del menù con la scritta “Disk”, è la schermata che segnalava il collegamento di Ocarina su cartuccia con Zelda URA sul 64 Disk Drive. “Hi! I’m a talking door” è una delle tante scritte che si possono trovare nel codice del gioco, ma che non sono state utilizzate nella versione completa. La colonna di pietra era probabilmente utilizzata come struttura per qualche dungeon, mentre la lapide grigia potrebbe essere una versione primitiva delle Gossip Stone. Il vaso è un semplice modello beta di quelli che ben conosciamo, ma quegli strani animaletti azzurri con i becco sono davvero interessanti. Somigliano a degli stravaganti uccelli pelosi, erano forse un tipo di nemici, ma è difficile capire esattamente cosa dovrebbero rappresentare.
L’airwing di StarFox è forse l’oggetto beta più curioso. Scoperta un po’ per caso, questa navicella spaziale è davvero presente in Ocarina Of Time ed è anche completa di tutte le sue animazioni: vola, spara a Link ed una volta colpita, precipita in fiamme, esplodendo a terra. Per quale motivo i programmatori avevano inserito un’astronave in Zelda? La risposta probabilmente la conosce solo Miyamoto, ma possiamo ipotizzare che fosse una qualche “easter egg”, una citazione per i giocatori, sbloccabile attraverso una sub quest in Zelda URA. Un gruppo di hacker ha notato che la serie binaria che attiva l’airwing è collegata in qualche modo con i forzieri trappola presenti nel gioco. In alcune situazioni, quando Link apre una cassa del tesoro, questa è in realtà una trappola e congela il personaggio, invece di contenere oggetti. Forse l’Airwing era una seconda tipologia di trappola, attivabile secondo sconosciute modalità: Link avrebbe aperto un forziere, da cui sarebbe uscita l’astronave nemica.
L’uccello è un modello poligonale rimosso completamente dal gioco completo, avrebbe potuto essere utilizzato per alcuni filmati della trama oppure come animale naturale, per animare lo scenario, un po’ come le farfalle. Il cubo di pietra era forse un oggetto da spostare per risolvere enigmi e per raggiungere piattaforme troppo alte. Il pesce beta è simile a quelli finali, ma le sue enormi dimensioni sono bizzarre: potevano esistere pesci di varia grandezza sul fondale del lago Hylia? Il ciuffo d’erba ed il contenitore del cuore sono le versioni beta dei modelli poligonali poi utilizzati in Ocarina. Per finire, una grande costruzione rettangolare, probabilmente utilizzata in qualche dungeon.
This “debug” version of Ocarina Of Time has come to light some years after the release of the original game. Somehow it was discovered and shared online to please thousands of unseen zelda fans. This is the version that developers used to test specific parts of Ocarina, without having to going around the whole Hyrule. With the Debug version, it’s possible to gain direct access to various areas of the ROM, through simple menu and different numbers. The interesting thing is that in these areas you can find situations and parts of levels remained in the memory, but not used in the final game! You can also visit one of the most famous areas of beta Zelda 64, the “stalfoss room” that was showed years before the final release of the game! An interesting note is that the Debug should be based on the GameCube Master Quest, which makes me wonder why Nintendo still had a playable Stafoss Room in there.
[spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Questa versione “debug” di Ocarina Of Time è venuta alla luce dopo anni dall’uscita originale del gioco. In qualche modo è stata scoperta e condivisa Online, con piacere di migliaia di appassionati. Si tratta della versione che gli sviluppatori usavano per testare parti specifiche di Ocarina senza dover girare per tutto il mondo. Si accede alle zone della ROM attraverso dei semplici menù e numeri vari. La cosa interessante è che fra queste zone è possibile trovare situazioni e parti di livelli rimasti nella memoria, ma non utilizzate nella versione finale! al momento fra quelle scoperte è possibile visitare anche aree famose di vecchie immagini beta di Zelda 64, mostrate anni prima che finisse lo sviluppo! la ROM è stata scoperta da poco, possiamo quindi sperare di ricevere presto nuove scoperte sullo sviluppo della beta di Zelda 64. Un particolare interessante è che la Debug dovrebbe basarsi sulla versione GameCube di Master Quest e mi domando perchè Nintendo abbia mantenuto la Stalfoss Room in versione giocabile dopo tutti questi anni.[/spoiler]