Feature: Games That Almost Were - A Look At Cancelled N64 Titles
Posted by Kerry Brunskill
Everything not saved will be lost
The end of the millennium was a turbulent time for Nintendo – the N64 hadn’t quite turned out to be the SNES Mk.II success it’d hoped the hardware would be, the 64DD add-on got off to a cautious launch in Japan and in 2001 both the N64 and the Game Boy Color would be completely replaced with younger and more powerful hardware. A lot of games got caught up in all this confusion and ended up cancelled or moved to other platforms. Here’s a few highlights from this era, courtesy of ancient issues of Dengeki Nintendo 64 and Famitsu magazine.
The first one we’ll look at is Viewpoint 2064, a 3D update to the isometric Neo-Geo shoot ‘em up of (almost) the same name. What makes this one notable is that it’s probably the "most" cancelled out of all of the games we’re looking at here, seeing as it had a specific release date – 11th November – the same month the magazine came out. As far as we can tell this wasn't just another half-finished game quietly canned during development, but a finished title pulled at the very last minute. There’s nothing that really suggests this would have been the N64’s Ikaruga, but it’s still a shame to see a shoot ‘em up with a Darius-like multi-route, multi-ending system get so far and then fall at the very last moment.
The next game is one you may have played when it was released on the GameCube in North America as Cubivore, almost two years after this magazine was printed. At this point it was due to appear on the N64 in February, roughly two months after the article was written, but the shift to GameCube meant that it wouldn’t surface until much later than that. Looking at this article not much appears to have changed in the game between formats, so it’s likely that the game we did get in the end is very similar to this cancelled version.
Arguably the least exciting title on this list is Gendai Daisenryaku Ultimate War, a realistic strategy war simulation game intended for the ill-fated 64DD. It’s not something most gamers will miss, but 64DD collectors would probably have appreciated being able to play something that was an actual game and not part of the Mario Artist series or F-Zero X editing software.
We've saved the best one for last – Mother 3, back when it was due for release on the N64. As of November 1999 it was apparently 50% complete and due out May next year – something we now know didn't happen. A lot of people have fond memories of Earthbound on the SNES, so an N64 sequel was of great interest to both Japanese and English-speaking gamers – and something that ultimately didn't happen. It was worth the wait in the end though, even if in the transition from N64 to GBA meant we had to wait six years and lost the only 3D Mother we have ever seen.
As you can see we only really lost two games in the end, and if we're honest neither of those would have changed the face of gaming as we know it — but it’s always interesting to see what could have been even if we never got to play these forgotten titles.
Would you have bought any of these if they'd have come out? Which cancelled Nintendo game do you wish you could resurrect? Let us know in the comments section below.