Gamers of a certain age substantially remember that Nintendo worked with Maxis to pier a chronicle of the seminal SimCity to the mint SNES in 1991. What many gamers substantially don’t comprehend is that an NES chronicle of the diversion was grown at the same time and cancelled just before its designed release.
That chronicle of the diversion was deliberate lost for decades until two antecedent cartridges flush in the collecting village last year. One of those prototypes has now been obtained and recorded by the Video Game History Foundation’s (VGHF’s) Frank Cifaldi, who demonstrated the emulated ROM publicly for the first time at MAGFest last weekend.
From lost to found
As Cifaldi recounted, the story of the NES SimCity began when mythological Nintendo engineer Shigeru Miyamoto says he had an thought for a diversion where you build and say an whole city. After conference of a identical diversion on PC and trying SimCity for himself, Miyamoto was tender adequate to get Nintendo to squeeze the console rights for the game, rather than trying to make a competing title.
Nintendo announced the NES and SNES versions of SimCity in late 1990, when the NES chronicle got a Nintendo Power preview (complete with two screenshots) that betrothed a Spring 1991 recover date. The NES chronicle was then shown at the 1991 Winter Consumer Electronics Show, as proven by attendant footage from the intolerable syndicated show Video Power, hosted by the equally intolerable Johnny Arcade.
While the SNES chronicle of SimCity was expelled in Aug 1991, the NES chronicle was summarily canceled and wouldn’t be listened from for over 15 years. That’s when a 2006 issue of Nintendo Power mentioned that Managing Editor Scott Pelland had a “far in development” golden antecedent cartridge sitting in his desk.
Fast brazen to last August, when the owners of Seattle-area retro diversion shop Back in Time, who goes by BigDaddyRamirez online, reported that two copies of the lost antecedent had wandered in the door. A Nintendo employee had apparently taken the long-forgotten prototypes from the company’s offices; as Cifaldi after put it, when a lost diversion is found and preserved, “99% of the time it’s finished by corporate theft.”
A brief proof video posted at the time valid the prototypes were in operative order. The demo also highlighted very simple gameplay functionality. Back in Time then showed the cartridges off at a Portland Retro Game Expo counter in October, where the carts were eventually auctioned off to the top bidder.
Pat “The NES Punk” Contri removed that auction in a new podcast and mentioned that, at one point, it looked like the antecedent competence be effectively lost to story once again.
“There was a possibility the diversion wasn’t going to be dumped—that someone was going to squeeze both for an violent volume of income and close both SimCity carts away,” Contri said. “Which would potentially meant no one would have entrance to the ROM, which would be awful, obviously.”
Fortunately, diversion gourmet Steve Lin was means to make what Contri called “a estimable purchase” to secure one of the prototypes, which was then dumped and recorded as a ROM file by Cifaldi’s Video Game History Foundation. On the NES Punk podcast, gourmet Ian Ferguson recalls the moment he and Cifaldi loaded up the ROM for the first time. “That was strange NES pretension music we haven’t heard,” he pronounced with awe. “That’s a good pretension screen… We were reveling in it for a minute.”
While Cifaldi is still operative on a full research and write-up of the prototype, he showed the emulated ROM file at a MAGFest row on the standing of lost NES games last weekend. As you can see in the video above, the diversion is flattering identical to the SNES release, right down to the green-haired confidant Dr. Wright (a Nintendo origination and loyalty to SimCity creator Will Wright).
The NES chronicle even includes the same pre-built scenarios that seemed in the SNES version, including a Boston nuclear meltdown in the far-future year of 2010(!). The biggest evident disproportion is in the Monster Attack disaster, which uses a general purple beast instead of the Bowser cameo found in the SNES version.
Cifaldi also mentioned that facilities like nuclear meltdowns and boats hadn’t been entirely coded for the NES prototype. And, at points, Cifaldi points out that “the NES is really struggling with its calculations. You see how zero has power? That’s since it’s still doing the math behind the scenes to figure out what buildings have power… it’s not an easy calculation for a complement like the NES.”
That slack could help explain because the NES chronicle was eventually scrapped, or it could be a sign of an early chronicle that would have worked just excellent with a bit some-more polish. Nintendo could very good have canned the NES pier to equivocate formulating some-more foe for the mint SNES, as well.
Whether or not the VGHF or another owners will recover the antecedent ROM publicly is still unclear. Regardless, the chronicle that’s now being recorded by the Foundation ensures that this gaming story monument will at slightest be permitted to historians and researchers good into the future.
Listing picture by Frank Cifaldi / VGHF