Whether the name “Cubivore” means anything to you depends on if you’re a collector of Gamecube-era video games. It’s a bizarre survival simulator developed by Intelligent Systems for Nintendo — originally for the 64DD, then for the regular Nintendo 64 once the DD flopped, and finally for the Gamecube. Nintendo elected NOT to release the final version of the game in the US, but allowed a third-party publisher to do the legwork if they were willing. Atlus, who always prints in low quantities, was willing.
Last year’s Nintendo Gigaleak brought forth a treasure trove of secret insider content from the company’s long history. It turns out they never throw anything away, and the average unworthy N-fan got to see beta content, internal documents, and even source code in some cases. There was one thing, however, people hoped to find but didn’t: the beta areas of Zelda 64 (aka would would be released as Ocarina of Time).
About a year ago, an organization calling themselves The Hidden Palace, “dedicated to the preservation of retro video game development history, prototypes, artwork, source code, etc,” released several prototypes of 16-bit Sonic The Hedgehog games that were thought to be lost. Multiple versions of Sonic 2 and 3 were shown off on Twitch before being dumped, as well as a Game Gear game called “Sonic Chaos.” It was thought this was all they had, but they surprised us…
Titus’ Superman 64 is regarded as one of the worst video games ever made, but its confinement to the Nintendo 64 wasn’t originally planned. Notice the lack of the “only for” label on the N64 box…a Playstation Superman was also in the works at Titus, and came close enough to release that it was pictured in Toys R Us and KayBee fliers, with a $49.99 price tag.
There are two versions of 2019: the one where Tokyo has been destroyed and some guy turns into a hideous flesh monster, and the one where a lost Akira video game finally turns up. Publisher THQ and developer Black Pearl Software announced a game based on the landmark anime movie at the Summer 1994 Consumer Electronics Show….and that was all anybody heard of it.
The original Spider-Man trilogy was meant to go on longer. A “Spider-Man 4” was in development at one point, but after director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire both backed out, Sony was forced to reboot. We knew that much, but what we didn’t know was that a Spider-Man 4 video game was already in development by the time the movie was abandoned.
Kirby starred in four games for the Super NES: Kirby’s Dream Land 3, Kirby Super Star, Kirby’s Avalanche, and Kirby’s Dream Course. But the latter game didn’t start out as a Kirby-related property. In an alternate history, the game would have released under the title “Special Tee Shot,” and would’ve had nothing to do with the puffball at all.
An unsanctioned peek at the early development stages of a video game is always interesting, even if that game is Ryse: Son of Rome, the failed launch title for the XBox One. Though it came out in 2013, the game was in development at Crytek all the way back in 2006, and was originally intended for the XBox 360. And that’s not all…
The archival group Forest Of Illusion has released eight prototypes for games released on the Gamecube around 2002. You can now find dumps online for 007: Agent Under Fire, Lost Kingdoms, Driven, Burnout, Sega Soccer Slam and several other sports titles. They are all accessible at Archive.org.
The wiki website Hidden Palace has managed to track down a very early prototype of Earthworm Jim 2 for the Super NES. While prototypes are discovered fairly frequently these days, most of them tend to be nearly complete versions of the game they represent. Not this time…this version of Earthworm Jim 2 is radically different from what was sold.
Nintendo is a pretty secretive company, and a lot of the deep experiments they’re working on in R&D never escape to public knowledge, but in this case one did. A prototype Wii controller made its way onto a Japanese auction site, where it was purchased for what amounts to $660 in US dollars.
It’s true, apparently: in 1994 someone was developing a Western video game that used the Akira license. Anime was growing in popularity, to be sure, but it wasn’t nearly as popular in the mid-90’s as it was going to get in the following decade.