In 1991 Nintendo announced they were partnering with SimCity creator Will Wright to release the first console version of his PC hit SimCity. Two versions of the game would be made available, one for NES and the other for SNES, with graphics being the only difference between them. 1991 rolled on, and sure enough, there was a SimCity for Super NES shortly after its launch…but the NES version never turned up.

It’s still unknown to this day why Nintendo cancelled the NES version of SimCity. But it was close enough to completion that fans figured a playable version must be out there somewhere. It took until 2017 to track down — that was the year a former Nintendo worker stopped by a Seattle game store to pawn off some of his old prototypes. SimCity for NES was among them.

The game made its world premiere at the 2017 Portland Retro Gaming Expo. Two prototypes had fallen into the collector’s hands and were both auctioned off. One of the buyers got in touch with video game preservationist and historian Frank Cifaldi, and arrangements were made to analyze, preserve and, ultimately, dump the ROM for NES SimCity.

The result of all their labor was released Christmas Day on the Video Game History Foundation website. Though the game is indeed very similar to the SNES version — as Nintendo promised — it does contain a few differences. Except for one track, the music is all different. Bowser does not appear during the “monster” scenario, and Dr. Wright is designed a bit differently.

SimCity for NES was not completed and contains several typos and glitches. But it’s still fully playable, and a fascinating bit of gaming history. Check out the full story at gamehistory.org.

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