Samurai Shodown 64
Image: SNK

A prototype of SNK's 3D fighter Samurai Shodown 64 has been discovered underneath a collapsed tree in California, Eurogamer reports. Now there's a headline we didn't think we'd be writing today.

The amazing find was made pinball machine repair specialist Craig Weiss, after he had visited a client to repair a pinball table. Weiss asked about where the machine had originated and was pointed in the direction of a woman whose husband had owned his own repair business in the '90s.

Upon paying the woman visit, Weiss came upon six pallets of unknown parts underneath a collapsed tree on her property – auction lots purchased from a former SNK staffer in China which contained warehouse materials SNK had shipped back following the closure of its North American offices around the turn of the new millennium.

The woman stated that she was thinking about having the pallets removed and junked, and said Weiss was welcome to sift through for anything worth salvaging – and that's when he made his amazing discovery. Inside one of the pallets, Weiss unearthed the Hyper Neo Geo 64 Samurai Shodown 64 prototype, a pre-production version of the 1997 arcade title.

Weiss got in touch with Anthony Bacon, a person with a penchant for documenting unknown prototypes. You can read the full interview with Bacon over at Eurogamer, but it's fair to say that this is quite a remarkable find. This version of Samurai Shodown 64 has never been seen before, and is quite different from the final release which made it into arcades.

In case you weren't aware, the Hyper Neo Geo 64 was SNK's attempt to take the concept behind its Neo Geo hardware – which was a little long in the tooth by this point – and give it a next-gen, 3D boost. However, with only seven games released, it didn't exactly set the world of coin-op gaming alight. Samurai Shodown 64 would spawn a PlayStation spin-off title by the name of Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage.

Samurai Shodown is one of SNK's most popular franchises, and Switch owners can play the entire range of Neo Geo entries in the Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection. Samurai Shodown – a modern-day reboot of the series – is also available on Nintendo's console.