Nintendo

Nintendo’s Harry Potter [Pitch / Cancelled – N64, GBA, GameCube]

Nintendo’s Harry Potter [Pitch / Cancelled – N64, GBA, GameCube]

In 1998, Nintendo of America’s internal team, Nintendo Software Technology developed a pitch to lock down exclusive access to the Harry Potter rights. Had it been successful, Nintendo would have secured the rights to produce all adaptations of the book series for the indefinite future in video game form; potentially preventing the eventual movie adaptations from being created altogether.

Nintendo and the Harry Potter license

Nintendo’s vision for Hogwarts.

According to one former artist of the studio, a sudden order from Nintendo’s management halted work on their three titles in development at the time (Ridge Racer 64, Bionic Commando and Crystalis) when news arrived that the license was to be auctioned off. This was a blanket license covering all formats of adaptation, including not only video games, but TV and film as well.

“The license went up for sale and all these major media companies were putting together pitches.”

The studio was then split into two: the primary group focused on devising on a pitch for a third person adventure title, whilst a smaller team worked on a potential game based around quidditch. The latter division reportedly included Marvel comic book artist, Adi Granov, who was responsible for character art.

Nintendo pitch for Harry Potter games

Hogwarts Express concept art by Nintendo ST.

Nintendo ST aspired to develop the adaptations themselves, with versions planned to be released on Nintendo 64, Gameboy Advance and later Gamecube; as well as any of Nintendo’s future platforms further down the line. These releases would have coincided with the launch of each new book.

“All together it was only a week of insanely furious scribbling things to the digital artists to create animations for mock game demos”

The license holder, JK Rowling, agreed to view Nintendo’s presentation, but this was not without some trepidation among the members of Software Technology. Our source alleges that there was a disagreement at one point over which art style would be most appropriate for the franchise. Towards the start, there was a push for character designs inspired by those of the first book’s cover art by Thomas Taylor. However, it wasn’t long before the studio’s higher-ups took against this idea and forced it in a different direction:

“…it went against all my instincts based on what I had read quotes from JK about keeping it strictly British, and I had to revamp my initial designs and go more manga/Japanese – I had a big fight about that, but my boss insisted”

Harry Potter concept art for Nintendo games

Hagrid’s Hut concept art.

We have unfortunately been unable to post images of these characters, since Nintendo would not allow its artists to share any of them publicly.

According to our source, the crew developing the quidditch game proposal had wanted to follow a similar route with regards to character design:

“[Name redacted] did get to do a more realistic take – I remember his Hermione being really nicely realized, but I doubt he saved anything from those days.”

Ultimately, Nintendo’s bid was declined by JK Rowling. Our source revealed that the writer turned it down in favor of several other proposals by media giants with greater resources, such as Disney and Universal. Whereas Nintendo was only able to offer forays into the realm of video games, these larger companies had the ability to spread out into TV and film; as well as gaming.

Rowling, in the end, sold the rights to Warner Bros. for a reported £1m. WB would later contract Electronic Arts to create video game adaptations of their film series based off the books. The first, Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone was released in 2001.

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PALPS [NES – Cancelled]

PALPS is a Nintendo unreleased Disk System exclusive game that many don’t know about. It was a very novel game. Basically it was an action game, where the player could not control the hero’s movement during play. The hero moves according to the player’s programmed movements. You defeat enemies with bullets and sometimes there will be an obstacle to deal with. As you advance through the game, the variety of icon tips increases.

The hero’s movement was programmed exclusively with the simplified language part that was said to be more intuitive and advanced than Family Basic. When it appeared on japanese magazines the game was said to not be ready to be seen at all and you can see below some screenshots from an early build. It was so early in development that the genre was still largely undecided. It’s still unknown why Nintendo decided to never release this piece of software.

Very grateful to Susumu for the translation from japanese.

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Zelda: Skyward Sword [Beta / Unused Models – Wii]

As we can read on Wikipedia, the development of  The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword started between the production cycles of the two The Legend of Zelda games for the Nintendo DS. While the implementation of the graphics was not advanced enough to present actual footage at the E3 2009 trade show, the story of the game was almost completed, and a single piece of concept art was revealed to a select group of journalists.[28] The image was released to the public a few days later, and showed a near-adult Link with a shield in his left hand, a mysterious female figure standing at his back.

As the game was shown to the public in late-development, there are just a few screens and videos with beta elements, but hidden in the final game’s code there are still some beta and unused models.

  • there is one Map called “DEMO” which is simple a Square with two textures
  • an older version of that temple you go into at the beginning of the game (StageF402Bef and StageF402Bef _s)
  • There was no shield-meter in the beta
  • Karane has animations for when she’s being blown by the Gust Bellows. You can’t use items indoors, and she’s only outdoors before you obtain that item.

zelda skyward sword beta enemy

These red Chuchus are not in the game or area. The normal Chuchus that burn your shield are orange. This one is a dark red.

zelda skyward sword beta demo

Even though this was only a Demo area, it’s still an area that was never in the game that wasn’t used. Most of the demo areas were used except this one.

zelda skyward sword beta map

An old version of the map from Skyward Sword that never appeared.

Skyview Temple use to be called ‘Sky Temple’.

An unchanged beta loftwing inside the game, during the begining cutscenes, you will be able to see it for a few seconds.

Thanks a lot to gabrielwoj, manki, antidoteZoinkity and Errorjack for the contributions! For more info, check the U64 Forum or TCRF

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Kid Icarus Uprising [Beta – 3DS]

Kid Icarus Uprising is an action game developed by Project Sora and published by Nintendo on its 3DS system in 2012. It marked the first entry in the Kid Icarus series in over 20 years; with the last being Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters on the Game Boy.

In the great gulf of time between Uprising & its portable predecessor, the rumour mill was rife with talk of more possible installments. Take, for example, this scan from a 90’s video game magazine, which suggested an SNES game was in the works:

kid icarus snes

In 2008, Factor 5, Inc. developed a prototype for a new Wii Kid Icarus, as per Nintendo’s request. Ultimately, however, their dreams of developing a full title were shot down when the publisher chose not to proceed, before the studio later went out of business in December that year.

As Factor 5 fell, Kid Icarus: Uprising began to take shape at Nintendo’s Kyoto HQ in late 2008. An early prototype was devised by Masahiro Sakurai and a small team of handpicked for the task. Originally, Sakurai had set out to create a Star Fox game for Wii, but ran into issues with the limited manuverability of controlling vehicles, which was preventing him from moulding the experience he had envisioned. He was aspiring to develop a gameplay system in which the player could turn instantly on a dime to return fire, or dodge projectiles. By turning his creation into a Kid Icarus game, the director overcame these difficulties, as he explained to Official Nintendo Magazine in June 2010:

“…the problem with Starfox was that-and you’ll see this when you see the trailer for Kid Icarus – is that the game design incorporates a lot of different views. For example, flying and shooting sideways or turning around and shooting behind and I felt that there were some restrictions with Starfox in this regard. With Pit, there is a certain amount of flexibility that is allowed and makes a better fit for this gameplay.”

As Sakurai elaborated on in his Iwata Asks interview on the subject of Uprising, when development began, it was being prototyped and demoed on PC; as well as Wii at one stage:

Iwata:

Yes. Development did last a long time.
Sakurai:

At first we didn’t have the Nintendo 3DS development kit, so we started making it on a PC. Oh, and for a while we were using a Wii to make it! (laughs)

The interview also disclosed two previously unseen prototypes from early in the game’s life cycle:

At E3 2010, Kid Icarus: Uprising had its premiere, debuting as the first ever Nintendo 3DS game to be shown to the world. Upon analysis, we can observe a number of differences between it and the final build:

The above video documents the title in an evidently early state with incomplete, lower quality graphics than the released game. At the time the trailer was created, Troy Lund was originally slated to portray the protagonist, Pit, in the English language dub. Eventually, he was replaced by Anthony Del Rio, who plays the character in the English voiceover of the final game. This trailer demonstrates Lund’s version of the character, prior to his recasting.

We can glean also that this build contained a different aiming reticule. Whereas the release build adopted a circular design, which changes based upon the power of your shot, the one seen here is more static and simplistic.

kid icarus urpsing beta

Beta

kid icarus uprising final

Final 

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Cosmic Walker [Wii – Cancelled]

Cosmic Walker is a cancelled adventure / action game that was in development for the Wii. At Nintendo Fall Conference 2008 the manufacturer shared a movie reel full of upcoming Wii games that were in development, like Punch Out Wii, Sin & Punishment 2 and Another Code R. Another game shown for the first time was a curious space simulation developed by Gaia, the studio created by former Atlus employee Kouji Okada, but no info was shared about it.

In the Supplementary Information documents released by Nintendo from January 2010 onward the title disappeared from the list of the upcoming games aimed for the japanese market and in October 2010 a news spread that Gaia official site ceased activity thus we can conclude that the project was likely quietly terminated by the publisher.

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