A Nintendo 64 port of the original Grand Theft Auto was planned by DMA Design (along with a Sega Saturn version), but unfortunately the game was never released. A few previews of GTA 64 were published in websites such as IGN, revealing some more details about this port:
“Rockstar isn’t releasing much on the Nintendo 64 version of Grand Theft Auto, except to say that it’s not the sequel or an add-on pack. IGN64 has learned that the game, though essentially a port of the PlayStation original, will feature significant additions in the vein of souped-up graphics and added levels and characteristics. “
While websites never shown any official screenshot for the N64 version, a few alleged images were published by some magazines in Spain and Italy, showing “blurred” textures / 3D graphics for the environments that really looks like something a Nintendo 64 could do. Here is one of these articles, found by Luchi in Spanish N64 Magazine (issue 19, july 1999):
Unfortunately without any official statement it’s hard to say if these screenshots are really from the cancelled GTA 64, but it’s interesting to notice that in the official design document for Grand Theft Auto (at the time titled “Race ’n’ Chase”) the game was indeed planned to be released on the “Ultra 64”.
Race N Chase was the original project name for the now famous Grand Theft Auto serie, when it was still just a concept in the DMA Design‘s minds. Thanks to Mikedaily Flickr account we can see a nice mockup from the early development of the first game. And here one of the first versions of the game that was posted on Mike Daily’s page some time ago.
Frame City Killer was an Xbox 360 video game under development by Namco.The player assumes the role of secret agent Crow who must hunt down Khan, a terrorist and drug lord, who is creating Visual Acid. After repeated delays in development, a lack of presentation in numerous trade shows, and with media releases that failed to impress, Namco decided to cancel the title in May 2006. – [info from Wikipedia]
In this video linked to us by Longuist, we can see an old music clip by Mouse on Mars, that uses scenes from what it looks like a beta version of the game. The major differences in this video should be:
power gems & flowers look different
trees now have a texture?
unknow level the video starts with?
the “green” levels have now much more steel plates (remember: its a space station) (see level 7 for instance)
and… no juggling disco bear ^^
Maybe some of these look different just because of the video montage, but its definitely earlier than the e3 1997 version.
Sven Bergmann, one of the producers of Mouse On Mars Twift video clip, has sent to us an email with some interesting informations about their collaboration with DMA: My friend MARKUS POPP (from “OVAL” music project) and I produced the promo in late summer 1997 in Berlin. Markus and JAN WERNER from “MOUSE ON MARS” are also working together as “MICROSOTRIA”. At some point in early summer 1997 Jan had been in Berlin and asked Markus and me if we would like to produce a video clip for MOUSE ON MARS’ new single “TWIFT”. Well, hell we would like to… and so we somehow agreed on a general plan but had only the idea of using video game footage. Jan liked that idea.
Later that summer Markus and I went to London to visit the ESTS 97 game show to shoot some video interviews with game designers and developers for a German/French TV art special on virtual designs. At that show we met the guys from DMA and interviewed their CEO/game designer/programmer Dave Jones. We also spoke to a very nice DMA PR gentleman, Brian Baglow and he granted us a first look at Silicon Valley, that wasn’t shown on the public floor but in a back room for VIPs only (haha, I guess everybody could sneak in there and glimpse at this game, since DMA took security kind of easy).
The great thing was that Markus managed to convince Brian to send us a beta cartridge to Berlin so that we could capture endless footage to use for the Mouse on Mars promo video (I still don’t know how he did it, truly amazing and very cool of Brian, too). The N64 beta cartridge was twice as large than the regular ones and the ROM and circuit board was sticking out of the gray plastic shell.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when the package first arrived in Berlin. Whoooo.
We then took my German N64 with a US converter game to a video production studio and capture a couple of hours of game footage on Beta SP tape and then imported it into an AVID editing system. I think it took us about three to four days for the whole clip including that half day game recording.
If I remember correctly there was no real shell design within the game but you could select two or three different stages directly. Just booting up the N64 and then go for the selection was the simple thing to do. And then there was the special button combo so you could change the animals moves (like the juggling bear) and also with another combination you could move the camera completely freely within the level.
We had lots of fun and very still amazed that DMA send us a beta cartridge.
After we finished the job, we sent the game back to DMA with a tape of that promo. I don’t know if Mouse on Mars and DMA did a deal so that DMA could use the music for promo and parties, but I assume so.”
The owners of a Nintendo 64 had to wait several years before being able to get their hands on this title developed by DMA Design. Body Harvest was announced as one of the first launch titles for the N64, but it was released only in October 1998 and it ended up clashing with Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Body Harvest is one of the most interesting projects for the Nintendo console, but due to the clamor for the release of the first three-dimensional Zelda, Body Harvest was missed by many gamers, as they were already too busy to play with an ocarina.
Body Harvest’s levels are huge, probably some of the bigger areas available on the 64-bit console: players can use many vehicles from small cars to powerful alien ships, to move and kill all the enemies in their path. Sadly a lot of the beta vehicles (shown in the gallery below) never made it into the final game. BH’s development team is the same one that a few years later created one of the most popular games of the last generation: GTA 3.
Perhaps if Body Harvest would have been released in a different time, it would have had a better success in sales. All the images in the gallery below are from the beta version, with different HUD, incomplete graphic and target renders. In the early version, the energy bars were oval and the radar was circled by a red line. Also, there are some unused logos created before the final one!
Missions in Japan, Hawaii and Antarctica were removed from the game or changed into the Alien Cometh, Java and Siberia. As was noticed by SilverStingray on the GameSpot Forum:
It’s interesting to note that there was originally a Japan 2010 level which looks a little bit like the comet. I guess Japan morphed into the comet when the game was struck by a speeding deadline. Also America looks a lot greener, I guess it felt too similar to Greece so the devs killed the grass.
Many interesting info on Body Harvest’s development can be found on this article by Edge:
The Body Harvest story begins a long time ago, in a small development house just outside Dundee. In 1995, Nintendo saw great potential in a game design document drawn up by DMA Design. […]
After two years of hard slog DMA eventually presented an action game to Nintendo. Unsurprisingly, it was not what Nintendo had seen in the design document and more importantly, it was not to its taste. A crack team of Nintendo experts, including a producer from the Zelda series, flew over to sort out the mess. It was suggested that the game be reincarnated as an RPG – not what DMA wanted to hear. […]
On its return home, DMA noticed a distinct pattern emerging – more bad news. Body Harvest was being developed alongside another game called Zenith – an original mix of platform and racing action. Zenith was to be canned and several people were given the unpleasantly singular option of joining the Body Harvest project. […]
If you can notice more differences in the beta images, please let us known!