Every now and then we hear about the discovery of a prototype for a retro video game that was never released. Not all of these discoveries result in the game’s public preservation, however. Such is the tragic case behind Indy The Magical Kid, a Famicom RPG that was thought lost until it turned up on an auction website. Now it’s definitely lost.

indy the magical kid
Image: Unseen64

According to Unseen64, Indy The Magical Kid was based on a series of multiple-path books. Think “Choose Your Own Adventure” only more involved — you needed dice and math skills to complete each book. The video game version took the basic story of a boy who can travel through time, and used a device similar to Chrono Trigger where visiting the same area eons later would result in different topography….but no one knows if the NES game would have used the multiple-endings gimmick. And no one ever will.

When the Indy prototype appeared on auction, the Web’s most visible preservationists called their fans to arms and urgently asked for donations. The game was ticking up in price rapidly, and would only be released to the public if someone won who cared about such matters. They gave it their best shot, but they were massively outbid by an anonymous Japanese collector, who bought the proto SPECIFICALLY to keep it from being saved.

Odds are good that wherever this collector lives, the Indy the Magical Kid prototype will remain in his basement until the day he dies….which means if we keep a sharp eye we should be able to nab it in an estate auction 30 to 60 years from now, right? Unfortunately, this would be a useless exercise, for at that point its data will have been lost to bitrot. But we’ll always have this foggy video from the Japanese TV show “TV Power,” the only known public showing of what might have been.

To end this on a more optimistic note:

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