The link between defunct studio Argonaut Software and Nintendo is well known - the UK firm helped the Japanese giant enter the world of 3D gaming with the SNES blaster Star Fox. However, what's less well documented is the fact that Argonaut had a very early role to play in the development of Super Mario 64, a game which is considered to be one of Nintendo's crowning glories.
Following the creation of Star Fox, Argonaut and Nintendo signed an agreement which would mean that the UK studio would create titles exclusively for Nintendo platforms. This deal allowed Argonaut to grow its business, but also limited the firm in a lot of ways, as San told Eurogamer back in 2013:
We grew during that time, but there was also an exclusivity clause which meant that Nintendo pretty much had control of us. We had the benefit of being the only outside company that was working with them for a while, and we were paid our costs, plus a royalty. Nintendo kept telling us to stay small and keep working exclusively for them, but they weren't paying us the serious cash that they were paying other partners. Our agreement with Nintendo was mostly a royalty deal that relied on sales. When we wanted to branch out and do other games, they wouldn't let us until the end of our contract.
The end came when we pitched to do a 3D platform game, the likes of which had never been done before. We mocked up a prototype using Yoshi. It was essentially the world's first 3D platform game and was obviously a big risk - Nintendo had never let an outside company use their characters before, and weren't about to, either. This is the moment the deal fell apart. We later made that game into Croc: Legend of the Gobbos for the PlayStation, Saturn and PC, which became our biggest ever game in terms of sales and also in royalties, since we owned the IP.
Miyamoto-san came up to me at a show afterwards and apologised for not doing the Yoshi game with us and thanked us for the idea to do a 3D platform game. He also said that we would make enough royalties from our existing deal to make up for it. That felt hollow to me, as I'm of the opinion that Nintendo ended our agreement without fully realising it. They canned Star Fox 2 even though it was finished and used much of our code in Star Fox 64 without paying us a penny.
Daniel Ibbertson of Slope's Game Room has put together a neat video - you can view it at the top of this piece - which not only covers this obscure piece of gaming history, but also takes a look at the history of the Croc series, which began life on the PlayStation and Saturn before shifting over to the Game Boy Color for some pretty lacklustre spin-offs.
Do you have any fond memories of Croc? Let us know with a comment.