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Rare's cancelled Nintendo 64 game Dinosaur Planet has leaked online, fully playable build offers a glimpse at the game which became Starfox Adventures

VysePSU

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A fully playable build of Rare’s cancelled Dinosaur Planet N64 game has leaked online.

The action-adventure title – which was eventually repurposed for GameCube as Star Fox Adventures – was obtained and shared online by games preservationists Forest of Illusion, the same group which obtained a Zelda 64 beta last month.

The leak represents the first time anyone outside of Rare has been able to play the N64 version of Dinosaur Planet, outside of trade shows in the late 90s and early 2000s.

According to Forest of Illusion, the leaked build was purchased from a private game collector in Sweden. “The file date lists the build as being from December 1st 2000,” they said. “It seems to be quite a late build of the game which is great, but it will need some hacking to be fully playable to the end.”

Announced in 1999, Dinosaur Planet was due to be Rare’s swansong for the Nintendo 64, with vast environments and voiced dialogue requiring the use of the RAM Expansion Pak and an unprecedented 512Mb cartridge – which would’ve been the largest released for the console.

However, with development taking longer than expected, Nintendo eventually ordered the project to be moved to its new GameCube console, along with a switch to the Star Fox franchise.

According to popular legend, Shigeru Miyamoto had been shown footage of Dinosaur Planet and suggested that the game should be re-tooled to incorporate Fox McCloud.

Lead programmer Phil Tossell told Nintendo Life in 2012 that the sudden change was not “accepted willingly by all” of the game’s development team as the plot had to be entirely re-written in places to accommodate the Star Fox canon, while significant changes were made to the game’s structure.

“I don’t know for sure where the idea originally came from, but I definitely heard it mentioned that Miyamoto-san had suggested it. Of course we were slightly disappointed at having to change Dinosaur Planet as we had all become so attached to it, but we could also see the potential of using the Star Fox licence.”

He added: “We had an initial trip to Nintendo’s headquarters in Kyoto for about a week where we discussed the changes that would be required to make the game fit in well with the Star Fox universe. Sitting in a room discussing gameplay ideas with Miyamoto-san is certainly one of the highlights of my career and I still have his business card carefully stored away.”

Interestingly, the leaked N64 build does feature Fox McCloud instead of the original protagonist Sabre, which suggests that Rare had already started the switch to Star Fox before moving the game to GameCube.

It’s the first time Fox has ever been seen inside of the N64 version. However, other assets and dialogue – which still reference Sabre – suggest this was a very early change. VGC has reached out to original development team members for clarification.

The side character Krystal was intended to have a much larger role in the N64 game as a fully playable character, with players having to switch between Sabre and Krystal throughout the adventure.

Tossell claimed in the 2012 Nintendo Life interview that the move to a disc-based medium, in particular, had caused headaches for the development team, since N64’s cartridges made a loading-free world much easier to implement. “In addition, with the move to Star Fox branding we had space levels which we had never envisaged in the beginning,” he explained.

Fox’s sidekick Tricky also caused headaches. “Keeping the misbehaving little dinosaur in check was a lot of work!” Tossell said. “There was a lot of setup involved to ensure that Tricky always stayed with Fox and didn’t get lost or trapped.”

Dinosaur Planet is the second cancelled Rare title to leak this month, following the emergence of a fully playable GoldenEye Xbox Live Arcade build.



 
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Meesh

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Siiiiiiiick... seriously. Secretly I always hoped an unreleased Zelda prototype gets leaked...this is cool too though lol
Crazy news.
 
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CamHostage

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Amazing find. Hopefully more of these old guys from game companies will be digging into their closet of forgotten ROMs before disc rot takes some things down or they get too far away from the gaming community to care about old jobs anymore.

Would have been great if Nintendo had released Dinosaur Planet alongside Starfox 2 when they archive-rescued that one. Nintendo has a few of these prototypes and products that might be worth dusting off if they wanted to stoke the fanboys' fires.
 

Quasicat

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Even though I did enjoy it as Star Fox Adventures, I was really looking forward to this game before it was reworked into a Star Fox game. What I’ve always wondered is how the ending plays out.

The hero of the game walks in to the final boss room, to fight General Scales. Only to have him killed instantly by Andross.

I always wondered how that final battle originally played out.
 
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tkscz

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I find it interesting that it's already replaced Saber with Fox (though some of the dialog doesn't reflect it). A lot of youtube videos on Star Fox Adventure just assumed changing Saber to Fox was why the GC game felt like it was lacking. Now it feels like they had to sacrifice a lot to make a quick "port" of the game. Kind of makes me wish it had come out on the N64, Fox's inclusion and all.
 
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deriks

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Awesome news!

Edit: Gameplay is up.

Some stuff from the gameplay:
- It is a weird version of the game. Earlier says to play with Sabre, then the character says later "I am Fox McCloud". Also, model and stuff of the character are not that close to Fox
- Voice acting is great, and not the pussy ass new language they did in Star Fox Adventures
- Even thou I know it's an emulator, you can tell that the N64 graphics are mastered in this game - I miss old Rare
- Sound effects are even more generic than Adventures. Music is ok I guess
- Story in this version is more different than I first thought from the final game
- Combat is worst than Adventures, which is really not good
- Maps are big and has stuff to do. Nice
- It's not a finished game, so of course has bugs. Jumping for no reason and not jumping when you're supposed to do is a thing
- Can't see the N64 running this game well
 

StateofMajora

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Awesome news!

Edit: Gameplay is up.

It looks rough, at least partially because it wasn't finished, Fox's model looks pretty rough and lifeless compared to the other Rare platformers.

Glad they ported it to the cube because on the cube it's one of the most impressive games of the generation.
 
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clem84

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it surprisingly looks more wholesome on the older system then the gc version.
Really? I find it kinda hard to look at. The framerate is kinda jarring and makes the game look dated.

I think this existing is still interesting and I would love to play it at some point.
 

matty3092

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Has been a pretty crazy start to the year for builds being leaked some top notch work being done tho
 

VysePSU

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Speaking of early builds, it would be cool if someone leaked the 2008/2009 prototype for Metroid on the DS. Supposedly it looked very similar to Metroid Fusion.

This stuff is always cool to see.
 

Caffeine

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Really? I find it kinda hard to look at. The framerate is kinda jarring and makes the game look dated.

I think this existing is still interesting and I would love to play it at some point.
visually it looks great, performance is relative to the early build im sure someone with skill and work can iron it out.
 
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nkarafo

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Looks like a story heavy adventure with unappealing furry characters and very drab visuals. It doesn't look nearly as good as all the other RARE titles.

I can see why they didn't want to release it in the end. Still, pretty interesting to have.
 
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Shodan09

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It's to be expected I imagine but there are plenty glitches with Tricky making some of the puzzles impossible to complete. Still, it's nice to have this as a piece of gaming history.

I sometimes feel like one of the only people who enjoyed Starfox Adventures on GameCube. It was a visual benchmark for that generation and while the game itself didn't do much new, it was still competent enough.

It still feels like a bit of sour grapes given that it was public knowledge Rare were leaving Nintendo before the game even launched.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

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I sometimes feel like one of the only people who enjoyed Starfox Adventures on GameCube. It was a visual benchmark for that generation and while the game itself didn't do much new, it was still competent enough.
Curious, I think way too many people have nostalgia for that very mediocre game instead.

The Banjo games were all about upping the ante and getting new skills. In late-game SFA you're still moving barrels and shooting distant switches with fireballs from your staff instead. Big problem with SFA is the repetitiveness typical of Rare's gameplay permeates everything you do in the game, instead of being confined to specific "do thing - do it again but harder - do it a third time but even harder" challenges and boss fights. Beautiful graphics and all, but you're still doing the same thing over and over throughout the whole ordeal, and it never gets really interesting.

Also yeah, the jingles in the N64 version may be generic, but I still have nightmares about Fox doing that stupid face and the SF jingle playing while picking up a completely generic item. That item shop on the first planet was pure meme fuel.
 

Soleil rouge

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I'd be more excited about this had I never played the dreadfully boring SFA. Surprised to see Fox, I thought this was supposed to be an original IP.
 

lostinblue

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Even though I did enjoy it as Star Fox Adventures, I was really looking forward to this game before it was reworked into a Star Fox game. What I’ve always wondered is how the ending plays out.

The hero of the game walks in to the final boss room, to fight General Scales. Only to have him killed instantly by Andross.

I always wondered how that final battle originally played out.
The cursor to attack general scales even appears, before he gets... erm, out of the way. Seemed like a late adition, convoluted even.

I never thought the late N64 version would have Fox in it. But the structure doesn't have other starfox characters nor the ship so It'll be interesting to see him replaced with a Sabre model.

EDIT: Game looks really good for the N64, it was clearly not the best Rare game of this era, even on N64/without the Nintendo enforced pointless changes, but I miss the Rareware of these days.
Curious, I think way too many people have nostalgia for that very mediocre game instead.
Surely didn't age that well in regards to level design and structure yes. And it lacks a certain spark.

But from a technical standpoint the GC release is still really good, fur shading was out of this world and they even used it for grass, and grass that moved with 16 shells or something on a certain corridor.

It was a bit lacking in the texture work department (crisp for the era, but too realistic to age gracefully) and lightning is complex for the time but sometimes looks like a filter, over the graphics... like a lens flare on a saturday cartoon or something.
 
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lostinblue

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The Banjo games were all about upping the ante and getting new skills. In late-game SFA you're still moving barrels and shooting distant switches with fireballs from your staff instead. Big problem with SFA is the repetitiveness typical of Rare's gameplay permeates everything you do in the game, instead of being confined to specific "do thing - do it again but harder - do it a third time but even harder" challenges and boss fights. Beautiful graphics and all, but you're still doing the same thing over and over throughout the whole ordeal, and it never gets really interesting.
They were clearly (and sadly) transitioning even as the generation closed.

Rareware was always good technically, but they also had real inovation in regards to gameplay, the games didn't offer one flavour and they had a very british humor to it - in a way it seemed like they didn't take themselves too seriously.

But that "wacky with soul" feeling started to go away, on GC and Xbox, they were still really good technically and on that front still putting out some of their best work - but they were not what they once were/had nothing else to show for.


Anyway! I hope they leak Kameo on Xbox 1 next! :messenger_beaming:
Also yeah, the jingles in the N64 version may be generic, but I still have nightmares about Fox doing that stupid face and the SF jingle playing while picking up a completely generic item. That item shop on the first planet was pure meme fuel.
Crap, I do remember that, it felt really repetitive. I think Zelda kinda went with that :messenger_tears_of_joy: as it reminds me of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword.
 
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RAIDEN1

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Rather have SNES' Killer Instinct 2...
Wouldn't have looked that great, scaled back graphics compared to arcade hardware, lower resolution, and compromises made, it would have been better of coming to the Cube..
 

skit_data

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I really liked Starfox Adventures, it was among the first game that had water that made me go ”Wow, thats photorealistic!”

I also remember it having a quite melancolic tone to it, i really cant remember the story though. Anyone sharing this impression?
 

molasar

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Wouldn't have looked that great, scaled back graphics compared to arcade hardware, lower resolution, and compromises made, it would have been better of coming to the Cube..

I disagree. The first one was great on SNES. And I am into functional minimalism. That is why I want to see it. Devs themselves stated that it is a better port than the first one.
 
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RAIDEN1

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I disagree. The first one was great on SNES. And I am into functional minimalism. That is why I want to see it. Devs themselves stated that it is a better port than the first one.
Yeah but imagine, you could have really gone to town with the Cube version, more space, memory etc...really utilise what the Cube brought to the table...