6 Nintendo Games That Completely Changed During Development
Developers often make changes to games during the course of development – we can all remember reading a preview for an upcoming release in a magazine only to find the final game was missing a feature or two that had originally been promised.
These six Nintendo games, however, underwent some drastic changes from conception to release; in some cases, you might not even recognise the final game from what was initially planned…
6. Dinosaur Planet (N64) – Released as Star Fox Adventures (Gamecube)
Intended to be a standalone N64 release by Rare in 1999/2000, Nintendo later decided that the Dinosaur Planet characters resembled the Star Fox cast closely enough that the game would be a new instalment in the space shooter series.
The original Dinosaur Planet:
Despite the absence of the famous vulpine pilot, you can definitely see the lineage here to Star Fox Adventures – there’s no Arwing, but there are shooting sequences atop a Pterodactyl.
The biggest change between the two games is undoubtedly the graphical overhaul – Star Fox Adventures ended up as Rare’s last game on a home Nintendo console, released on the Gamecube in 2002.
Star Fox Adventures:
5. Mother 3/Earthbound 64 (N64) – Released as Mother 3 (GBA)
Another game that changed drastically thanks to a console port, although this one ended up on more limited hardware and not vice versa.
Development on the eagerly-anticipated sequel to SNES RPG Mother 2 (or Earthbound in North America) began in 1994 as a 3D title for the Super Famicom. The game proved too technically demanding for the SFC and work was ported to the N64, where it was eventually pencilled in for use with the N64DD expansion. The N64DD proved a failure upon release in Japan and Mother 3/Earthbound 64 was delayed further still.
Nintendo claimed the game would eventually see life on their next console, Project Dolphin (later to become the Gamecube) – but by mid-2000, the game was confirmed to be cancelled.
Fortunately for fans, the game was resurrected three years later in an announcement promising a Game Boy Advance release – and three years after that in 2006, Mother 3 was finally published, a full twelve years after development began.
4. Ocarina of Time (N64)
Did you know that Link’s N64 debut was initially planned to be first-person? It was eventually decided that the time-travelling aspect of the narrative would be undermined if the player couldn’t see Link’s body and the corresponding age changes he undergoes.
Remnants of the first-person mode remain accessible in the debug ROM – it is a little shaky, though:
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3. Yoshi 3D (N64) – Released as Croc (PS1)
So Croc isn’t a Nintendo game, admittedly – but it most definitely began development as one.
Argonaut Games pitched the idea of the 3D platformer to Nintendo as a Yoshi game, but Ninty weren’t too keen on licensing out their precious dinosaur. Argonaut went on to make the game for Sony on the PS1 with Croc – their own-brand Yoshi equivalent.
Croc creator Jez San has since claimed Miyamoto acknowledged taking influence for Mario 64 from their Yoshi/Croc pitch – a bitter pill for Argonaut to swallow, perhaps, especially when Mario turned out to be the much better game… have you tried playing Croc recently? It’s about as easy to control as an articulated bus.
2. Race ‘n’ Chase (N64) – Released as Grand Theft Auto (PC, PS1, Game Boy Colour)
That’s right – open world crimeathon GTA began life as the endearingly earnest Race ‘n’ Chase, a Micro Machines-inspired top-down mutliplayer racer in which players controlled either cops or robbers.
Thankfully for the history of video games, the work that DMA Design had done on the racing game was used as the basis for Grand Theft Auto, with the focus moving away from racing and more toward the general GTA carnage we’re all familiar with.
1. Twelve Tales: Conker 64 (N64) – Released as Conker’s Bad Fur Day (N64)
Announced at E3 1997, Rare were to continue their Diddy Kong Racing spin-offs with Conker 64, a cutesy platformer aimed at a younger audience.
…if you’ve ever played Bad Fur Day, the difference should be fairly obvious. By 2000, with nothing seen or heard of Twelve Tales for some time, the game was assumed cancelled; and then Nintendo did something completely out of character by announcing that the game had been retooled for an adult audience, complete with excessive violence, swearing and adult humour.
It really did seem like an elaborate PR joke at the time. Bad Fur Day remains one of Nintendo’s most unusual releases and whilst the game appears almost completely unrecognisable from the original, creator Chris Seavour has maintained that although the humour and art direction changed, the majority of Twelve Tales’ game play was retained for the final release.
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