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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.

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User Comments (69)

Ralek85

#1

Ralek85 said:

Wasn't aware Mother 3 was in the making for the N64. Really too bad ... =(

Captain_Gonru

#2

Captain_Gonru said:

Ultimate War could have been fun.
And where else but a video game site can you type THAT sentence.
Also, Duke Nukem could have made this list. My original reservation was for the N64.

BAGBOY

#3

BAGBOY said:

Itoi was very wise in moving Mother 3 to the gba since it resembled much more the prequel mother 2 in all aspects, also it would have faded much more into obscurity if it would have come out for the DD on the japanese N64.

Also glad Itoi reconsidered the main character for the game, because Flint is your average joe and a very interesting character on the game but his son, Lucas, deserves much more the spotlight, only for that climactic battle at the end of that epic grand finale.

TwilightV

#4

TwilightV said:

An interview with Miyamoto stated Mother 3 was about 80% complete post-Space World '99. Shame to see that much work wasted...

unrandomsam

#6

unrandomsam said:

@BAGBOY It also might have sold the 64DD so it wouldn't have been axed. Got a reasonable amount of people to have one then Dragon Quest VII would have stayed on it. They cancelled it without even trying so there is no way of knowing what might have happened.

BAGBOY

#7

BAGBOY said:

@TwilightV It's not a shame, it's a relief that happened. Itoi was very frustrated at how things were turning out to be in the N64 iteration, he was also disatisfied with the music and certain aspects of the storyline, hence why Lucas was introduced in the gba iteration of the game.

Another HUGE OBSTACLE for him was 3-D visuals, as he had only previously worked in 2-D, it was a total pain in the donkey for him learning to do that, since he stated he would've loved mother 3 to be a snes title from the very beginning.
Please watch the profanity — TBD

eviLaTtenDant

#8

eviLaTtenDant said:

I'd love to see Cubivore on a VC or the 3DS eShop some day. I didn't even know this existed before i read the article. :o
There could even be some cross-promotion with a new Picross 3D for obvious reasons. :)

BAGBOY

#9

BAGBOY said:

@unrandomsam It wouldn't have helped one bit, because mother 3 suffered various delays and when the game was FINALLY being completed, nintendo had already begun working on the gamecube and its launch titles, so nope, I don't think it would've been a million seller at that point since the DD wasn't much of a success, even in Japan. Also the limited edition game boy micro console of mother 3 is the most beautiful gamer-related thing I've ever seen in my life.

MegaWattsAdmin

#10

MegaWatts said:

64DD owners did get a few actual games to play; Japan Pro Golf Tour 64, Doshin the Giant and SimCity64. Whether or not they were worth purchasing the actual 64DD for, however, is another story.

Nintenjoe64

#12

Nintenjoe64 said:

I've still got an issue of NMS or ONM that has all the N64 games previewed. Earthbound 64 looked amazing! They should definitely try a 3D Earthbound

NintyMan

#13

NintyMan said:

I'm surprised Metroid 64 didn't make the list, but I don't recall it being in a magazine so maybe that's why. Mother 3 for N64 looks interesting; even the art style is different.

Tsuchinoko

#14

Tsuchinoko said:

I still think Mother 3 looks way better as a GBA game. The art style suits it very well. I think the N64 graphics look so outdated, whereas the GBA style still holds up nicely. Although there are many amazing N64 games, that early period in the transition from 2d spites looks so bad nowadays.

belmont

#15

belmont said:

However N64 lost Final Fantasy 7 which was a game changer for many reasons. It was in fact in development for N64 at the very start.

unrandomsam

#16

unrandomsam said:

@MegaWatts Yeah but if it had Dragon Quest VII and Ocarina of Time (As it was going to at one point). Who knows what would have happened then. Lots of the moved to Playstation ones were some of the best selling stuff on there.

It is not impossible because the PC Engine CDROM didn't fail.

KimimiStaff

#19

Kimimi said:

Just to clear up some confusion - this wasn't meant to cover every cancelled/moved N64 game ever, just the ones I had information on through my small stash of old Japanese magazines.

SphericalCrusher

#21

SphericalCrusher said:

Mother 3 or Earthbound 2 was the one I was really hoping and looking forward to, back in the day. Sucks it was cancelled. At least I got to play the fan translation!

eviLaTtenDant

#22

eviLaTtenDant said:

Mother 3 is still dead to me as long as they don't officially release an English version of it on a handheld. Same goes for the original Mother on the Wii U VC.

Falchion

#23

Falchion said:

Cubivore is awesome! It was a crazy game about hunting, and evolution. I loved it and still own it.

Samurai_Goroh

#24

Samurai_Goroh said:

Mother 3 would have been glorious in 3D. Such a shame, the N64 was in dire need of RPGs at the time, this could have made a world of difference if released.

Incognito_D

#25

Incognito_D said:

interesting article. I love stuff like this. There's something magical about gaming mags from that era.

CrazyOtto

#26

CrazyOtto said:

The N64DD was also at one time going to get compilations of Famicom/NES games as well.

Sanqet

#27

Sanqet said:

@Tsuchinoko I think nearly all 3d games from that console generation have dated visually it was everyone's first go at creating 3d games and I can't think of one game that holds up visually now unlike 2d games from the snes that still look good

MikeLove

#28

MikeLove said:

@Sanqet

Very true. The low rez textures and fog used to limit the field of view make most of my favourite N64 games unplayable now.

It would be like watching The Avengers on a 17 inch black and white TV with mono sound! Can't do it.

Tsuchinoko

#29

Tsuchinoko said:

@LeasTwanteD thats completely up to you, as you're totally missing out on a great game, one of my favorites.
@sanqet i totally love my copy of Mother 3, and its the only reason i still have my ds. I find the 64 versions graphics so unappealing. The GBA version has crisp colors and endearing character designs. Plus, with the delay they had the story had time to change, and i love the final versions story.

2Sang

#30

2Sang said:

too bad we'll never know what EB64 was like. It's clear that although there's some similarities, there were also many things that changed.

Sanqet

#31

Sanqet said:

@Tsuchinoko unfortunately living in the uk as far as I know we never got any mother games released over here on the gba I would love to play it though

dizzy_boy

#32

dizzy_boy said:

I would love to see Nintendo do some VC specials and get some small teams to finish up the forgotten games.

Tsuchinoko

#34

Tsuchinoko said:

@dizzy_boy Well the thing is Cubivore and Mother 3 were finished and released, albeit on later consoles. Its those games that were never finished or released in ANY form which should get a second chance (Mega Man Legends 3, grumble grumble...)
That Viewpoint 2064 is an interesting case since it seemed like it was finished or close to it

Tsuchinoko

#37

Tsuchinoko said:

No, i play it on my DS. Im a japanese permanent resident, and i speak japanese. I own an actual copy.

EDIT i realize i typed 3ds on accident. I fixed it

Xilef

#38

Xilef said:

@DestinyMan I believe Metroid 64 had like one or two screenshots in a Japanese magazine. Metroid Database had an article about it.

Gerbwmu

#39

Gerbwmu said:

I wonder how many great games we miss out on because of generation changes or worries that it just won't sell enough to make it worth the work. So many of the games I love seem to be financial flops for the companies making them. I hope, as we move forward with technology, the ability to release digitally and backwards compatibility will allow some of these types of games to see the light of day instead of being thrown to the side.

SparkOfSpirit

#40

SparkOfSpirit said:

I question about mourning for Contra 64 since by all accounts it was probably Legacy of War which is an abominable failure of a game.

A lot of classic 2D series got hosed in the 32-bit era.

Klinny

#41

Klinny said:

I'm happy that Cubivore made it to the Gamecube and wasn't lost forever. It's one of my favourite games haha.

electrolite77

#42

electrolite77 said:

I know this article wasn't meant to be a definitive list but in the spirit of discussion,a couple more....

Riqa
http://www.unseen64.net/2008/04/04/riqa/

Acclaim Sports Soccer
http://www.nesworld.com/n64-unr-acclaimsportssoccer.php

Robotech Crystal Dreams
http://uk.ign.com/articles/2001/01/31/n64-games-that-never-were-robotech-crystal-dreams

There were lots games that were released for other systems but had their N64 ports cancelled (Looney Tunes Space Race, Die Hard Trilogy) or found their way to the 'Cube (Eternal Darkness, Dinosaur Planet)

TheRealThanos

#43

TheRealThanos said:

@Kimimi Interesting article indeed. An equally interesting article could be made about the GameCube. I'm still disappointed to never have seen games like Raven Blade and Dark Phoenix being published and then to think of all the Japanese titles that never made it to the Cube...
To the people complaining about N64 games: yes, there are quite a few games that have lost a lot of appeal compared to what we like and play nowadays, but a lot of games are still perfectly playable in my humble opinion. Nearly all of Nintendo's first party titles amongst them, most Rare games, Wave Race, 1080 Snowboarding, Ridge Racer, Glover, Rocket - Robot on Wheels, Sin and Punishment, Snowboard Kids, San Francisco Rush 2049, Extreme-G, Star Wars - Rogue Squadron, the Top Gear games, Operation WinBack, Wipeout 64 and World Driver Championship all come to mind. Sure, some of them had fogging in them, but to me it is silly and kind of stupid to tie the quality of a game's experience to something like that. The 16 bit consoles had quite a few games with fogging too. Hell, I still vividly remember a lot of 16 bit racing games, like for example Lotus Turbo Challenge (Genesis/Megadrive), which had a LOT of fogging, but it was still a great game and it certainly didn't stop me enjoying the heck out of it. And it still does, by the way...

Xiao_Pai

#44

Xiao_Pai said:

I keep remembering playing some odd Mother-like game on the N64...like, I know it wasn't Earthbound, but the enemies reminded me of it.
Anyways I also heard Metroid and Kirby Air Ride was supposed to be on the system as well. :p

Daruncic

#46

Daruncic said:

Kirby Racing should be on here. I think I read in an old Nintendo power that it was supposed to be a launch game

DerpSandwich

#47

DerpSandwich said:

Man, the 64DD... I remember seeing screens in my Tips and Tricks magazine of Super Mario 64 but with Luigi next to him, and being so anxious for the thing to come out. Good thing it didn't though. Creating a weird upgrade to a current system that takes new media seems like a pretty stupid idea when you can just make a new system.

Melkac

#48

Melkac said:

A lot of games were cancelled for the N64/DD, so I'm not sure why there are only three in this article...
It was a HORRIBLE mistake to make the 64 use cartridges instead of CDs...and don't start with the "omg loading times" b/s, please. More third party games > Loading times.

Dark-Link73

#49

Dark-Link73 said:

@TwoTheNines I still love mine. I have two N64 consoles along with a 70 game library. All of them still on their original boxes and wrapping. I simply made an incision on the wrapping, by one of the flaps, long enough to open the box and then taped it with scotch tape to secure the wrapping. They look like new after almost 20 years. ;-)

nf_2

#51

nf_2 said:

Ahh Cubivore... I really enjoyed it (for some reason), but I'm kinda sad that I only rented it and never actually bought a copy.

3dcaleb

#53

3dcaleb said:

CUBIVORE!!!! now thats one of gamecubes best for sure. that would have been horrible if it had been lost or cancelled in some way. i absolutely love that game and still have it. i cant recommend it highly enough to anyone who hasnt played it. its a hard game to describe, maybe like all square pokemon for adults? with eating, growing, fighting, mating, reproducing. like an animal sim but very awesome and different. time to break out the old gamecube, this is making me want to play through it again!

unrandomsam

#54

unrandomsam said:

@DerpSandwich If they put Ocarina of Time on it then more of it could have looked like the Temple of Time. It can work it just has to have good stuff on it. (PC Engine CDROM worked just fine).

AshFoxX

#55

AshFoxX said:

I never heard of Viewpoint 64, but from the looks of it, I could have used another Star Fox 64 esque title for my N64. Mother 3 would have also been awesome, the system was begging for RPG titles.

ogo79

#56

ogo79 said:

mother 64 being dropped and put on gba was probably a much smarter move

Kyloctopus

#61

Kyloctopus said:

If anyone was interested, this is video footage of Mother 3. It might be the only footage but I'm not sure.

SKTTR

#63

SKTTR said:

Cubivore wasn't cancelled. It was released on N64 in Japan as Doubutsu Bancho.

Echo Delta was an interesting title... that eventually turned into Pikmin if rumours are to believed.

Well N64 saddest moments were indeed the cancellation of Final Fantasy 64 (which turned into Final Fantasy VII for Playstation) and Earthbound 64.

Blue-Thunder

#64

Blue-Thunder said:

There was a cool looking racing game canned as well, was it called project racing? I loved the N64.

HopeNForever

#66

HopeNForever said:

I thought the development of the Nintendo 64 version of Mother 3 had a long complicated history behind it, and it wasn't the end of the 64 era which really ended its initial development as it was already on the verge apparently.

Too bad for a lot of cancelled games in the end though, but I'm presently still rather waiting for the Nintendo 64 games that did come out, but have yet to be re-released on Virtual Console.

mystman12

#69

mystman12 said:

There was also a Pinball game planned that never made it, leaving the N64 as a pinball-less system. It was going to be a recreation of The Addams Family too. At least Farsight will finally be doing a Kickstarter to get the rights and be able to recreate it though!

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