Super Mario Spikers [Wii – Cancelled]

Super Mario Spikers is a cancelled volleyball/wrestling hybrid game, which was being developed by Next Level Games; the makers of Gamecube title, Super Mario Strikers, and its follow-up, Mario Strikers: Charged. It was planned to be developed for the Nintendo Wii, but never made it far past the initial phases of conceptualisation.

In 2007, Mario Strikers: Charged was released on the Nintendo Wii and was met with both a positive reception and commercial success. Pleased with Next Level’s work, Nintendo allowed the developer a larger budget to tackle its next project with; as well as a greater level of creative freedom with their characters.

A former artist at Next Level Games spoke to us about the project:

“It was a wrestling/volleyball hybrid with a game show slant. It was never released and was financed as more of a reward to Next Level for doing such a great job on MSC”

The core development team at NLG didn’t begin fully working on Spikers until 2007, but the company’s artists had already been drafting new ideas for future Mario sports games throughout 2006, alongside work on Charged. Concept artists worked intermittently on the project until Strikers: Charged was nearing completion. It was around the end of the 2006, that Next Level’s heads settled on their new direction from early renders created in September.

Towards the very start of this project, the developer went back and forth on various names for the game. Its initially proposed title was simply ‘Mario Volleyball’; we assume to associate it with Nintendo’s other Mario sports titles at the time, such as Mario Golf and Tennis.

Although the game would eventually evolve into a hybrid of wrestling and volleyball, in the beginning, it started off solely as a relatively simplistic volleyball title with Mario characters. It was as more employees began to transitioning into Mario Volleyball that its mechanics and ideas became more fleshed out and the decision was made to add the twist of wrestling, among other things.

Once the project had begun to shift further and further from the realms of standard volleyball, the team opted to rename it ‘Super Mario Spikers’; a clear reference to their previous Mario sports productions. The significance of Next Level Games adding wrestling to one of their games like this will not be lost on those thoroughly versed in their back catalogue. Between 2004 and 2005, they were developing a WWE game with sci-fi and fantasy elements called ‘WWE Titans: Parts Unknown’.

An anonymous contributor close to the Spikers project described this game’s influence on it:

“Between the contact sport part of Strikers and some of the work that was done a couple of years before that on an unreleased wrestling game, it came as a pretty natural progression”

The wrestling mechanics drew upon NLG’s experiences with the title, which was a more stylised, cartoonish version of WWE to begin with. We have been fortunate enough to recover some of the animations made for the wrestling moves in Mario Spikers, thanks to Refurs, who discovered them in a reel put together by a former Next Level animator.

As we can see here, the combat system incorporated special moves made up of established wrestling maneuvers. For instance, in one clip, we can see a Yoshi performing a pile-driver attack. In another, Waluigi stomps on Mario’s stomach, who is grounded, laying on his back.

Unlike the Strikers games, which played out almost exclusively in a selection of large football stadiums set around the Mario universe, Mario Spikers had a slightly more varied collection of environments proposed for it.

In one of the level concepts, we can see a huge wrestling arena, the setting of a match between Mario and Wario. The massive crowds are populated by smaller Mario characters, including birdos, shy guys and the piantas from Super Mario Sunshine.

On the other side of the spectrum, some of the stages put forward took place in comparatively smaller areas and took inspiration from TV game show sets.

Each one of these was planned to sport its own unique environmental gimmicks, such a carnival wheel which would introduce random effects into play based upon where it landed.

Ultimately, Super Mario Spikers was never greenlit by publisher, Nintendo. The project was pitched to the company’s higher ups, but was declined because it was felt that certain aspects of its premise clashed with the company’s code of honour. This information comes to us from a trusted source, who was intimately involved with the project.

“It was a Japanese honor thing”

Work on Spikers ceased altogether in 2007 and Next Level Games instead went on to develop other Nintendo projects, including Punch-Out!! and a Metroid 3DS prototype. It is possible that a very early, playable prototype of the game was created for Next Level’s pitch, although any images of one have yet to be found.





Nintendo DS Debug Cartridge

Sometime ago a Nintendo DS debug cartridge was sold on eBay and a couple of weeks ago the rom of that cart was shared and preserved online (NINTENDO DS NTR DEBUG) thanks to NintendyFan from the GBAtemp Form. There is some interesting stuff that we can see in this DS debug cart, such as weird icons, models of Nintendo characters and music from Mario Kart 64 (?!?). We are not sure why they chose such kind of strange images and sounds to test the Nintendo DS hardware, but it could be possible that hidden in the rom’s code there could be even more unusual / beta files, just like in that old SNES debug / hardware test cart. Does anyone want to try to find them?

In order to get to the menu, you have to hold Start + Select when launching the ROM.

Here’s the description from the eBay auction:

Up for grabs is a Debug Mode / Dev cartridge for the Original Nintendo DS and DS Lite Models of handhelds. I have never seen anything quite like this before on the market. We received a few of these, totally smashed and broken up, however we were able to recover this cart and get it to load up. It was tested on each model of DSi including the 3DS, but would error out. This is because the cart is specific to testing on the original DS software on the older handhelds. This is an official Nintendo cart that was apparently supposed to be decommissioned before being tossed out, but whoever attempted to break this one didn’t do a thorough enough job.

As you can see from the photos and video, the date on the program is August 18th, 2004; which is 3 months before the handheld was released anywhere in the world! The Product ID on the back of the cart reads: NTR-005



Super Mario Galaxy 2 [Wii – Beta / Unused Stuff]

Super Mario Galaxy 2​ is a platform developed by Nintendo EAD and released for the Wii in 2010. As we can read on Wikipedia, shortly after the first Super Mario Galaxy was completed, Shigeru Miyamoto approached the development team and suggested that a follow-up be produced. The game was originally planned just to do variations on the original game’s planets and call the game “More Super Mario Galaxy”, (it was dubbed “Super Mario Galaxy 1.5” during early development), with a projected development time of approximately a year.

Over time, more and more new elements and ideas were brought into the game, and it was decided that the game would be a fleshed-out sequel rather than a slightly modified follow-up. Thus, development took two and a half years. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was first shown at E3 2009, with a beta version that was similar to the final one, but still had some interesting differences, as noted by users at the Super Mario Wiki:

In the debut trailer from E3 2009, there were several changes before the game’s release date.

A planet shaped like Mario’s head could be seen. This planet is an early version of the Starship Mario.

In Cosmic Cove Galaxy, the switch which freezes the water into ice is placed on a wooden buoy-thing, similar to the place where Penguru is standing. In the final version, the switch is found on a tower.

The starting planet in Boo Moon Galaxy originally was going to have a different type of terrain and coloration that did not resemble the interior of a haunted mansion.

A giant Silver Chomp seemed to appear as a boss, possibly in the beta Battle Belt Galaxy.

Comet Medals were designed differently, as the comet’s star had no eyes.

Mario is seen sliding on a stone planet similar to Tall Trunk Galaxy’s Trunk Slide Planet is present. This game doesn’t exist in the final version.

On the E3 trailer, Sky Station Galaxy’s Soundtrack had an extra part (that sounded like a part from Gusty Garden Galaxy) that didn’t make it to the final.

In a beta version of the Flower Planet in the Supermassive Galaxy it was shown that Goombas appeared. In the final version, they don’t appear. Plus there were different flowers when Mario walks on the planet and the planet was made of dirt instead of grass.

Blue Grass Galaxy is a name for a possible scrapped beta development level of Super Mario Galaxy 2. Proof of this galaxy may exist in the E3 2009 Announcement Trailer of Super Mario Galaxy 2. A screenshot showing an unknown platform with Mario jumping on three Twirlips in a row also shows a planet in which resembles none of any of the planets and galaxies in the final release of
Galaxy 2.

There are two songs that did not make it into the game. Galaxy song 19 and “SMG2_galaxy08_strm” Galaxy song 19 is rumored to be the main theme for Blue Grass Galaxy. SMG2_galaxy08_strm was scrapped but did not become orchestrated.

Finally, although they are not found in the final game, Ice Mario and Flying Mario from the prequel can be playable via hacking. Despite the fact that they were apparently decided to be scrapped early, updated versions of their themes were found as well. Some test levels and models have been found hidden in the code of the final game, but you can’t get to them, since they lack a “UseResource.arc” the game will crash when loading them.

Also, Super Mario Galaxy 2 Could have featured Donkey Kong and Pikmin Cameos, but they were never implemented:

“One of the early proposals that we discussed for Super Mario Galaxy 2 was the possibility of including characters from other [Nintendo] franchises,” Hayashida explained through his translator. “For example, you might have Donkey Kong or Pikmin show up.”

“We presented this to Mr. Miyamoto, but he came down pretty hard, saying that there has to be a functional reason to include characters of a certain type in a game. He went to specify precisely why the Pikmin wouldn’t work.”

Some more info about the unused stuff found in Super Mario Galaxy 2, can be read at the Cutting Room Floor!

Thanks to Ismaw34 and Goomther for the contributions!





Super Mario Land 2 [GB – Beta]

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is a platform game developed and published by Nintendo in 1992 for the original Game Boy. It seems that Mario Land 2 changed a lot through its development, as we can notice by a series of beta screnshots found by BigFred in an old magazine. As he wrote in our Forum:

None of these scenes exist in the game in this form. There is no exit shaped like a mushroom. There are also no mushrooms in the jelly (?) stage. The status bar is different and the world map doesn’t match the final release either. Compare to the complete maps on this website:

Also, ace.dark found a different title screen planned for the english version.


Mario vs Donkey Kong 2 [DS – Beta]

Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis is a Puzzle Game developed by NST as a sequel to the GBA MvsDK, a follow up to the Game Boy Donkey Kong game. A playable beta demo of MvsDk2 was available at various gaming conventions, from where it was saved on the DS and then shared online.

Upaluppa noticed many differences in this beta demo, as wrote in his videos on Youtube:

– The music sounds quite different

– There are hearts instead of big coins

– The small coins are rotating

– Mushroom Mayhem is called Mushroom Kingdom

– The status screen is completely different

– There’s a level map available by pressing Select

– The map looks VERY incomplete…

– The first level is completely different

– Later levels have some minor differences

– Some sound effects are different

– There is no time limit

Thanks to Hiccup for the contribution!