Beta Games

April 15, 2015

Retro Game Squad recently did a Podcast episode on Unreleased games, something that I’ve been quite interested in for a long time. It’s worth a listen if you have the time as they talk about some really cool games I didn’t even know about! – iTunes Link –

I used to have a fascination with Beta games, I think it started back in the late 90’s with the announcement of a new game by the legendary creators at RARE… This game was known then as Dinosaur Planet, and was to be released on the N64 the following year. There were tonnes of screenshots and hype surrounding the game, then an announcement was made that it would be delayed and released instead on the Gamecube, under a new name and would include the Starfox characters! It turned out to be amazing so it was totally worth the wait in my opinion! (Yes I was one of those that complained about NGC’s score if anyone remembers that!) 

By the time the game came out it was quite different to how RARE originally designed it. I used to scour the (Dial-Up) internet for old photos of Dinosaur Planet and any information I could come across! These days its obviously a lot easier to find out about these kinds of things thanks to some amazing sites such as Unseen64. Have a look at their Dinosaur Planet page here!

I would obsess over tiny details such as the change in the HUD of the GC versions (They even left an old version in one of the screenshots used in the manual!) 

Here’s some of the beta screenshots from Dinosaur Planet and the Beta version of Starfox Adventures. Occassionally, full Beta versions are found and leaked onto the internet in ROM form for everyone to play. There was one released recently for Dinosaur Planet and you can watch it here.

 And here’s some examples of the HUD changing throughout the development cycle of the Gamecube version. (Look at the health bar in the top left) I have no idea why it fascinated me so much but it did! 

 Of course, Dinosaur Planet isn’t the only game that I’ve enjoyed seeing change throughout development, another very notable one for me was Twilight Princess…

Since it was first shown off at E3 2004, it underwent some major changes, and pretty much everything from that original trailer was scrapped! Which is a huge shame because there was some really cool stuff that I was looking forward to… The subsequent trailers from the following E3 shows and GDC also have many elements that were missing from the final game. I wont go into detail about it here but check out the trailers and see if you can spot what changed! Be sure to watch them in that order because they follow on from each other.

E3 2004:

GDC 2005:

E3 2005:

Just for fun, here’s the unbelievable reaction to the original Twilight Princess trailer… Still the most amazing, goose bump inducing video of all time…

I’ll leave this post at just these two games for now, Maybe I’ll make another post about Beta games in the future as there’s much more I want to talk about! Such as the elusive Super Mario 128!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Leave a Reply