Back in the mid-nineties, we all used to read the magazines which would print out rumours and confirmations of games that were being developed.
From Gex 2, to Sonic X-treme, you wouldn’t be sure if a certain game was going to reach its release on store shelves the following month.
The N64 has a fair few of games that are cancelled, mainly due to developers realising that the cost of coding for a 64-bit cartridge in the mid-nineties, was much more than was released. While others would simply start the game again for a next-generation console.
With that, here’s five games that were in development, but cancelled for the Nintendo 64.
Cancelled N64 Games
Conker’s Quest: Twelve Tales 64
This would be a game in heavy development for the majority of the late-nineties, which would end up being scrapped and developed again. Rare had also announced ‘Banjo Kazooie’ alongside Twelve Tales, but even after they had done this, cold feet started to settle within the team.
They didn’t want to have yet another ‘cute’ platformer arrive on the console, an after Banjo’s release in 1998, they were nervous that fans would see Twelve Tales as ‘more of the same’. Thanks to its producer, ‘Chris Seavor’, the game was scrapped entirely, and was developed into ‘Conker’s Bad Fur Day’, released in 2001. With all the swearing and toilet-jokes, Conker became a new genre of platforming in its own right.
Some say this is why the game was a launch-title for the GameCube. It was originally meant to be released for the Nintendo 64, for a release in 1999. Teams within Nintendo were still looking at a new Mario entry, and so the game’s producer Hideki Kono was tasked with developing a game starring Luigi.
Not much is known about this version, but it seems as though it would have been ideal to control for the N64’s controller, especially when trying to suck up the ghosts. Also the fact that the Game Boy Color was a vital item throughout the game, it looks like it was a matter of a port-exercise to the GameCube for its release in 2001.
Luigi’s Mansion on the N64’s is a tantalising thought.
Also known as ‘Earthbound’ outside Japan, this was an entry in heavy development between 1994 and 2006. As the team were developing a third entry for the Super Nintendo, they saw what Mario 64 was capable of, and quickly moved development to the new system.
This was a game as rumoured as Zelda and a sequel to Mario 64 at the time; websites and magazines would publish screenshots now and again, speaking of its progress, but interestingly, next to no details of its story and what Mother 3 would actually be.
At Nintendo’s ‘SpaceWorld’ event in 1999, journalists were able to use a playable build of the game, touting multiple chapters, multiple playable characters, and many environments that one could visit. But soon after this in late 2000, it was confirmed by designer Shigesato Itoi that the game was no more, to the chagrin of many.
Oddly enough, in 2003 it was announced that alongside ports of Mother 1+2, that a third entry was in development for the Game Boy Advance as well. Environments from the N64’s version were going to be designed in the pixelated fashion that was part of the first two entries’ charm. Itoi was bored of the polygon-trends and wanted to go back to the pixelated environments that he loved, and so Mother 3 on the Game Boy Advance was released in 2006.
It’s interesting, as you’re playing a game that was essentially 80% of the way there in 1999, but it was re-focused into a GBA release. One wonders just if there’s going to be a further look into the cancelled-N64 release, and if Mother 3 ever finds an international release somehow.
Super Mario 64 2
The big one. The game that everyone who owned and loved Mario 64, was waiting for with baited breath. Fans were imagining just how a sequel could take better advantage of the N64, alongside the peripherals such as the ‘Expansion Pack’ and the ‘Rumble Pack’.
Shigeru Miyamoto was quoted in a magazine back in 1997:
We’re in the middle of preparing Mario 64-2 for release on the 64DD. I’d like to take advantage of the 64DD’s ability to store information. As of now, Luigi’s also a full part of the game, but we haven’t started thinking about 2-player gameplay with Mario and Luigi yet. We’ll tackle that once we’ve got the system ironed out—we’ve figured out the processing power issues, so we could do it if we tried. How many Luigi fans do you suppose there are? (Editing department replies: “Quite a lot.”) If Luigi’s really that popular, maybe I’ll made a green box for Mario 64-2. (laughs)
A release on the 64DD was touted, so one can assume that 1999 was going to be the release for the sequel. But alas it wasn’t to be. Some tout the moderate success of the N64 console and the failure of the 64DD to hold development on a new Mario 64 entry.
It was a time for Nintendo where they were focusing on the next-generation console, especially during a time where the Dreamcast was in the midst of its launch, and Sony’s PlayStation 2 was about to be announced.
Looking back, the timing seemed wrong to launch a sequel, and apparently Miyamoto has a demo of Luigi running with Mario on a N64’s Cart. Perhaps we will see this someday.
Miyamoto reportedly has a Mario 64-2 somewhere, showing Luigi and Mario running around a level.