News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Super Mario Kart R [N64 – Beta]

On the 24 November 1995, Nintendo finally presented the final version of the Ultra 64, (renamed “Nintendo 64” because of copyright problem) at the Shoshinkai Software Exhibition. Among the thirty titles shown in playable form or in video (including Star Fox and Wave Race) one of the most interesting was Super Mario Kart R, an early beta version of our favorite kart-game.

Compared to other games that were shown at the Shoshinkai that year, it could be said that Mario Kart R was almost complete, since there appears to be no particular changes in the track design, but the differences for the playable characters are interesting. You can notice that Kami Koopa (Magic Koopa) was a playable character in the game instead of Donkey Kong and the “Character Select” screen had different avatars. Also, the multiplayer split screen could have been set to horizontally or vertically, but this option was removed in the final version (but implemented in Double Dash). The “Item Boxes” were different too and various other little graphic details (like the HUD) were changed before the game was published,

Also, the Feather item from the original Super Mario Kart, was meant to be used in Mario Kart 64 too, as you can see from one of the screenshots in the gallery below (in the image with the 4 player mode, Toad has it in his item HUD). The Feather would have let the player to jump very high, to reach new shortcuts or to avoid obstacles.

Thanks to Princess Toadstool for the contribution!

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Viewpoint 2064 [N64 – Cancelled]

Viewpoint 2064 is a cancelled shoot ‘em up that was in development for the Nintendo 64. The original Viewpoint was also an isometric shmup with an incredible difficulty released in 1992 by SNK for the Neo-Geo arcade platform. After Sammy published a port of the original game for the Playstation and Saturn, in 1998 they started to work on a true sequel for the Nintendo 64, that looked somehow similar to StarFox 64 (Lylat Wars).

True to its title, Viewpoint 2064 was going to have multiple points of view, with the classic isometric view and a “behind the spaceship” view. The game had a really good graphic for its time and it had a lot of potential to be a fun shooter, but sadly Sammy had some development problems and Viewpoint 64 was cancelled only a year after his presentation at the Space World 1999.

A playable prototype was found and sold on ebay in September 2015, you can see a video below that shows about 7 minutes from the game. It seems that this version of Viewpoint 2064 was almost finished as you can play all the level trough the end. There are multiple secret paths to discover that unlock different levels: there is a total of 15 areas but to finish the game you have play trough 5 of them, somehow similar to StarFox 64.

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StarFox 64 – Lylat Wars [N64 – Beta]

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During the early stages of development, Starfox 64 (Lylat Wars in Europe) looked very different from the final version. The level design was much more meager, lots of details, from the textures to the polygonal backgrounds, were much simpler and more blurred. Some enemies were slightly different, the HUB on the screen (energy, radar, maps etc..) was changed  various times before reaching the final version.

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Durante le prime fasi di sviluppo, StarFox 64 (Lylat Wars in Europa) appariva molto diverso dalla versione finale. Il level design era molto più scarno, tantissimi particolari, dalle textures alla costruzione poligonale, erano molto più semplici e approssimativi. Inizialmente gli sfondi erano inesistenti e come in diversi titoli dei primi anni del N64, una strana nebbia riempiva le zone più lontane. Anche alcuni nemici erano leggermente diversi, le icone a schermo (come quella dell’ energia dell’ accelerazione, il radar, le mappe ecc.) sono evolute in diverse fasi, prima di arrivare quella definitiva. [/spoiler]

[Thanks to D-vide for some of the images!]

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Mission Impossible [N64 – Beta / Tech Demo]

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Mission: Impossible is an action game / third-person shooter for the Nintendo 64, based on the 1996 film Mission: Impossible. It was developed by Ocean Software and distributed by Infogrames Entertainment. It later received a PlayStation port, with minor additions such as voice acting, but reduced graphics.

The N64 version was released in 1998, after it was postponed for many years. The game was originally announced in March 1996 as one of the first titles in development for the new 64-bit console. Ocean even confirmed that the game would had some special features for the Nintendo 64DD, but obviously there is no such option in the final game.

The very first images released looked like an High-Definition version of the game, with a cleaner graphic that was unthinkable for the real N64 hardware. Today these screens can make us to smile, but in 1996 these target renders were the most beautiful graphic ever. The final version of the game had no such graphic detail, with blurred out polygons and textures.

Unfortunately none of the U64 staff has played Mission Impossible 64, so we don’t know if the scenes in these beta screens were ported somehow in the final version. If you played Mission Impossible 64 and notice any differences, please let us know!

Thanks to RagingD and John Doom we found out some more details about the differences in these early screens:

This level only ends up being a cutscene in the final version.

The wet suit is not in the final version

This suit is changed from white to red in the final version

Screen 1: It’s the exit from the KGB HQ

Screen 2: This stage it’s not in the game

Screen 3: She (should be) Candice Parker in the prison of the KGB HQ. However, in the game she has a different hair cut.

Screen 4: A room in the KGB HQ where it should be a missing agent (but in the screen he isn’t there)

Screen 5: KGB HQ’s closet (But in the game you can’t drag enemies’s corpses).

Screen 6: The stage is not in the game (and who is that guy? o.o)

Screen 7: Same as above

Screen 8: Another missing level

Screen 9: Missing level (And the hud is VERY different)

Screen 10: Missing level

Screen 11: A cutscene (as RagingD said)

Screen 12: ??? maybe it’s the first level (but I’m not so sure…)

Screen 13: Head Security Officer’s room (but in the game there is a Communist flag instead of an american flag. The situation in the screen it’s totally different from the game too)

Screen 14: The second level (but in the game Ethan wears a different suit)

Screen 15: ??? Maybe it’s the hallway to exit from the KGB

Screen 16: The embassy (but the Lenin’s statue is missing)

Screen 17: Head Security Officer’s room as in the game (but the suit is different, just as RagingD said, and Ethan looks more Tom Cruise than in the game)

Screen 18: It seems a beta embassy’s room because the door and the plants are the same of the game). Or it could be a totally different level missing in th game.

Screen 19: The secret room in the KGB as in the game

Screen 20: it seems the entry to that beta-embassy. (the hud is totally different)

Screen 22: It’s probably a beta first level

Screen 23: First level

Screen 24: It could be a beta version of the escaping level from the KGB HQ

Screen 25: A beta version of the Head Security Officer’s room

Screen 26: Maybe is a beta version of the escaping level from the KGB HQ (but the enemy is totally different from the one in the game)

Screen 29: The bathroom in the embassy and the Deputy Ambassador (but the mirrors don’t reflect in the n64 version)

Screen 30: ???

Screen 32: VR sequence?

Mission Impossible 64 remains without doubt one of the most fascinating beta games to look at, to have an idea of what were the expectations of the gamers about the new Nintendo hardware. We dreamed for months to play with this high level of graphic with the Nintendo 64, but only with the release of the Dreamcast we were able to have something that looked as clean as the original Mission Impossible 64 target renders.

A sequel, Mission Impossible 2, was announced in 1999, but it was soon cancelled for the N64. MI2 was going to be developed for the Dreamcast, but when Infogrames lost the Mission Impossible license, the game became “La Femme Nikita” for the Playstation 2, cancelled after 2 years of development.

Thanks to Robert Seddon for some of these screens and to RagingD and John Doom for the contributions!

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Uscito solo nella metà del 1998, Mission Impossible per Nintendo 64 ha dovuto aspettare alcuni anni, prima di essere completato. Il gioco fu infatti annunciato nel marzo del 1996, come uno dei primi titoli in sviluppo per la nuova console a 64 bit. Ocean confermò addirittura la presenza di alcune caratteristiche speciali, che sarebbero state sbloccate grazie ad un espansione per 64DD. Ovviamente nessuna opzione per 64DD è presente nel gioco finale.

Le primissime immagini diffuse erano una versione esagerata delle capacità 3D del N64: visuali ad alta definizione (almeno per l’epoca) ed una pulizia grafica impensabile per l’hardware Nintendo. Oggi queste foto possono farci sorridere, ma nel 1996 la grafica sembrava davvero realistica. Come già successo per altri giochi, presentati durante le fasi iniziali dell’Ultra 64, gli screenshot si riferivano probabilmente ad una serie di tech demo, creati per avere un’idea di come sarebbe stato Mission Impossible su di una console a 64 bit. Le specifiche tecniche del Nintendo 64 si rivelarono però meno potenti del previsto, ed il gioco completo è in realtà più sfocato e poco definito, rispetto a quanto volevano farci credere inizialmente.

Purtroppo nessuno dello staff ha mai giocato a Mission Impossible 64 e non possiamo quindi riconoscere se le situazioni qui mostrate siano presenti nella versione completa, oppure erano semplicemente degli scenari provvisori. Se avete finito M:I 64 e notate qualche differenza nei livelli, saremmo felici di ricevere una vostra e-mail con queste informazioni!

Gli Unseen di Mission Impossible 64 rimangono senza dubbio fra i più affascinanti da osservare, per avere un idea di quali erano le aspettative delle software house, rispetto al nuovo hardware Nintendo. Milioni di videogiocatori hanno sognato per mesi di poter avere una simile qualità grafica nei propri videogames, ma solamente con l’uscita del Dreamcast hanno potuto avvicinarsi all’aspetto che mostrava questo Tech Demo di M:I.

Un seguito del gioco era stato annunciato, ma presto cancellato senza lasciare nessuna traccia.[/spoiler]

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Zelda: Majora’s Mask [Beta – N64]

The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask / Gaiden, released for Nintendo 64 as a “sequel” to Ocarina of Time lost some of its original features, including 4 days of the original 7 disappearing from the game, some dungeons, quests and a fishing mini-game (Jabu Jabu fishing) were removed. Yet even so, Majora’s Mask has managed to become one of the best games of the series.

Some more info on the beta development from an interview:

One of the developers for Ocarina of Time, Yoshiaki Koizumi, was not initially involved with the conception of Majora’s Mask, and was working on a different title until he was asked to abandon it. This turn of events resulted in the famous time limit.

Koizumi: That’s what he told us! I remember thinking to myself “That’s not helpful at all!” [Laughs] I’d originally been designing a board game, based around the theme of cops and robbers. I wanted to make it so that you technically had to catch the criminal within a week, but, in reality, you could finish the game in an hour. I figured I’d just throw what I already had into Majora’s Mask.

From Iwata Asks interview for the release of Majora’s Mask 3DS we can read more info on the early differences:

Aonuma: Right. But at first, it was one week.
Iwata: Three days was originally one week?
Aonuma: That’s right. But when you returned to the first day it was like “Do I have to go through an entire week again…”, so we thought three days would be just right.
Iwata: Wait, it got decided just like that? (laughs)
Aonuma: (laughs) In this game the townspeople do different things each day and many different things happen, but when the timespan becomes a week, that’s just too much to remember. You can’t simply remember who’s where doing what on which day.
Iwata: moreover, you probably wouldn’t have been able to make it in a year if you were aiming to make a game filled with so much content for seven days.
Aonuma: right, we never would have been able to do it. We felt it would be best to make it a three-step process, and we compressed all sorts of things we had planned for over a week into three days.

In an interview by Famitsu with Aonuma we can read some more info about the early development of Majora’s Mask:

Because of the tight schedule, the team needed to solve how to deal with the smaller volume. That’s when Yoshiaki Koizumi talked about a popular movie of that time, Run Lola Run, in which a heroine lives the same time periods multiple times. Koizumi suggested using a similar structure for the game. Originally, the cycle was planned to last a full week, but in that way Majora’s Mask couldn’t be finished in a year. The cycle was changed to contain of a start, a middle, and an end as a result.

In the gallery below you can see some beta screenshots released when Majora’s Mask was announced, with some interesting differences: there was an adult Link mask (later changed into Fierce Deity’s Mask), the instruments used by Deku Link, Zora Link and Goron Link were different, in the screenshot with Epona we can see a breakable wall that is not there in the final game, the moon did not have a face yet, some textures were different and we can notice a room full of skeletons that was completely removed.  For more info on the development of Majora’s Mask read this article: Project Zelda 3D – The Development of Zelda 64

Thanks to Nick Bizzozero for the english translation! You can find more info about Zelda: Majora’s Mask in the Zelda Wiki!

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