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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Weekend Reading: Unseen 64

Posted by Earnest "Nex" Cavalli on Sat, Apr 3, 2010 at 6:35 PM

Writing about games for a living isn't all fancy parties, mountains of drugs and scoring wicked hot tail.

Typographically Santized For Your Protection
  • Pablo Escobar
  • Typographically Santized For Your Protection

In fact, it's nothing like that.

In reality, it's all about sitting on your couch in a pair of warm ups, forcing yourself to play through hours and hours of endlessly derivative games and — if you're good — researching the nebulous history of trivial gaming accessories on your free time.

Hit the jump and I'll attempt to salvage this depressing introduction.

Where was I? Oh right, my life is dull.

To wit, this morning I found myself reading up on a number of games that were canceled for whatever reason when a friend of mine happened to ask what I was looking at.

"Oh, um, it's this website that collects canceled, and early versions of games and discusses why they were canned or what changed between the beta and the eventual release version."

Giving me a quizzical look, he pressed on, "Uh, I really was just asking about that Castlevania thing. Is that Castlevania?"

"Yeah," I replied. "It's a look at the totally screwed up history of the Nintendo 64 Castlevania."

"There was a Castlevania for the Nintendo 64?" He was stunned, and being a huge fan of all the Castlevania games demanded more information.

And that's about the time that I realized that some of you might be curious about this sort of thing.

Thus, I present Unseen 64. From the site's "About" page:

How did U64 became to be ?

[short version] Unseen 64 is a project born in 2001, from the mind of some italian friends: after years looking at Nintendo 64 games that never came out or that were released with many differences from the preview version, they decided to make an archive about them, to preserve somehow all those changes in the development. This explain the origin of the “64″ in the name, but after years of collecting beta stuff, the archive grown bigger and bigger, taking much more than some Nintendo 64 games.

We have just left the original Unseen 64 name, because we were affected to it. There would be so many things to talk about, all the wonderful stories of these sexy beta-geeks and their site of games that will never be, but we are not really that good in telling stories.. especially in english. So that’s all! We just hope that you are going to appreciate all the hours we lost in collecting this stuff.

Who’s behind U64?

This site is just an archive for beta, cancelled and unseen videogames. The site is made for beta-fans by beta-fans, so everyone can contribute to the archive, for preserving the history and changes in the videogames development. If you would like to know the main staff that work hard on the site, check the Unseen 64 Staff page.

Why it’s important to preserve unseen games?

It’s interesting to see what developers had originally in mind for their projects. Why forget cancelled games? We’ll never be able to enjoy them. Every change makes a different gaming experience for us… we would like to save some documents about this evolution for curiosity, historic and artistic preservation.

Like the man says, it's a site created by Italians, so while you'll find the occasional grammatical error — or, as we Italians say, "fuck up" — there is no better resource on the web for information on awesome games that never found a publisher wise enough to profit from them, or terrible games that were rightfully canceled. Plus, they usually have video or screenshots of these games that would otherwise only have been seen by members of the development team.

For instance, here's a short list of awesome things I've learned today:

- Bethesda, the people behind The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Fallout 3 had planned a Star Trek roleplaying game that was never picked up by a publisher.

- The Samurai Pizza Cats almost made it into Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom, but the people who hold the license are all greedy pricks.

- The awesome, depressing history of Sega's Virtua Hamster. The title alone should be reason enough for you to wish they had released this game.

Those three are just the examples I had right in the forefront of my mind while this site is full of awesome, esoteric information for anyone interested in the games industry for more than just the latest shooter or Square Enix roleplaying epic.

(Aside: I've got dozens of websites like this that I use for my own personal research that seem to be not very well known. If you guys dig this kind of thing I might make a semi regular feature out of sharing these websites whenever I have a slow weekend around here. What do you say?)

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