Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Lost Video Games Discovered Years Later

It takes a lot of work to make a video game, but some of them still don't make it out into the wild. But even if they don't make it to an official release, some games just have a way of being discovered, whether developers wanted them to or not.

From long-lost Resident Evil and Star Fox sequels to an aborted Ecco the Dolphin follow-up planned for the Dreamcast, we've put together some of the coolest games that were lost then rediscovered years (and sometimes decades) later.


Resident Evil 2 (aka Resident Evil 1.5) for PlayStation

The Resident Evil 2 game you played on the original PlayStation wasn't the first Resident Evil 2 game that Capcom developed, and that original version finally surfaced a decade or so later. The original Resident Evil 2 was reportedly developed to around 80 percent completion, but the studio wasn't happy with the product and essentially scrapped it and tried to reuse what they could to make a better game. Most fans would agree it was the right call, but the "lost" version is still a fascinating project. The graphics in the original version weren't great, but that was by design — they scaled the look down so they could fit more zombies on the screen at one time. Turns out it looked a little too bad, and Capcom was afraid fans would be disappointed. As for the story, it featured Leon S. Kennedy as a main character and a zombie outbreak in Raccoon City (elements that carried over to the final version). But instead of Claire Redfield, the other playable character was motorcycle racer Elza Walker. Various builds of the incomplete original version leaked out over the years, and fans started an effort back in 2015 to actually make it playable.


Lost Kirby games for SNES Satellaview

If you lived in Japan back in the mid-1990s, you may have been lucky enough to pick up a Satellaview for your SNES. The peripheral was essentially a satellite modem that attached to your SNES and sent down exclusive data. Considering this was the 1990s, it was wildly ahead of its time. The Satellaview didn't find much of an audience and would eventually fade into obscurity. But now a fascinating relic from that era is being rescued. Fans have found some game files from an exclusive Kirby game called Kirby no Omocha Hako, or Kirby's Toy Box, which beamed to the Satellaview and featured 10 different mini-games. Four of those games have shown up for auction, and fans are trying to acquire them and make them available for all.

Star Fox 2 for SNES

The first Star Fox game was a major hit for the SNES, and it's no surprise Nintendo started developing a sequel for the console not long after it hit shelves. The game was powered by the Super FX chip, which allowed the somewhat underpowered console to actually render a 3-D game like Star Fox. The tech team at Nintendo developed a new version of the chip that would've powered the Star Fox sequel, but with the company gearing up to release the Nintendo 64, the big wigs decided to shelve the SNES sequel and develop the next big Star Fox title as an eventual flagship for the Nintendo 64. Fast-forward a few years, and two builds of the game eventually leaked for fans to check out. The game included several features that eventually made it into future titles such as Star Fox 64 and Star Fox Command—and Star Fox 2 eventually saw official release itself, as part of the bundle of games included in the 2017 Super Nintendo Classic console. Better late than never, right?


Rayman on SNES

Characters like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog get most of the spotlight, but the Rayman franchise has also served up some of the best platforming action in history. Turns out there was one more Rayman game out there just languishing on a flash ROM chip, an unreleased version developed for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and shelved before it could be released. The game's original creator, Michel Ancel, discovered the long-lost disc and revealed it to fans via social media. The version here looks to be an early take on what would eventually become the first Rayman game on the Sony PlayStation and Atari Jaguar (remember that one?). The graphics here look different than the finished version on other consoles, and it seems this is a peek at the very genesis of the character who would go on to span several more sequels (including the excellent Rayman Origins on modern-day consoles) for decades to come.

Akira on Game Boy

Way back in the 1990s, THQ had planned to release a tie-in game for the Game Boy to complement the hit anime adaptation of Akira. The project was being developed as part of a larger initiative to capitalize on the the franchise and crank out games for the SNES, Genesis, Game Gear, and Sega CD. None of those games ever made it out of development, and it seemed liked they were all axed relatively early in the development cycle. Fast-forward to 2016, and it turns out at least the Game Boy version was a lot further along than anyone ever knew. Video game historian Patrick Scott Patterson stumbled across four unfinished builds of the game in a "stash" of vintage games and developer kits he acquired. It's not clear how much of the game is actually finished, but it makes you wonder why the studio never bothered to actually finish any of these Akira titles. It's a major property with a lot of potential, but alas, at least we can geek out over this while we wait for the big screen adaptation.


Resident Evil for Game Boy

The Resident Evil series is big business in video games, and one of the easiest (and most lucrative) ways to capitalize on an existing game is to port it over to a different system. You've already put in the brunt of the work making the game, and by bringing it to another console, you open up a larger audience to buy it. Win, win. That was the case with Capcom's port of the first Resident Evil title to the Game Boy Color, at least until the publisher pulled the plug because it turns out it's not all that easy to bring such an ambitious (for the time) game to Nintendo's classic handheld. With a good chunk of development complete, Capcom axed the game because it didn't live up to the franchise's standards. That looked to be the end of the story, until a collector discovered the ROMs for the game (which was 90 percent complete!) in 2015 and released them for fans after a crowdfunding campaign. Finally, the long lost Resident Evil adaptation had been found.


Thrill Kill for PlayStation

This is one of the most high-profile cases of a video game being developed then shelved, and also one of the most well-known leaks in video game history. Thrill Kill was an M-rated fighting game designed to push the limits of gore and violence as far as the jagged polygons of the original PlayStation could push them. It would've also been one of the first games to feature four-player fights in a 3-D environment, though the developer did repurpose the engine for the fighting game Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style. Thrill Kill was virtually complete and just a few weeks from release when Electronic Arts decided to ax the game and not release it for fear the graphic content could harm the company's reputation. But that didn't stop some folks who had been involved in development from leaking the game online for fans a while later, and now Thrill Kill is one of the most pirated unreleased video games in history.


Bio Force Ape for SNES

Oh, the strange saga of Bio Force Ape. This video game was first announced in the early 1990s and was showcased in some video game magazines at the time. It looked as weird as it sounds, and focused on a superpowered chimpanzee who has to fight his way through a maze to rescue his adopted family. It was described as quirky, weird, and extremely fast-paced. Then it vanished off the face of the Earth, never to be released. It was all quiet until 2010, when an alleged version of the game popped up for bid on a Japanese auction site. A group of preservationists raised money to buy it, and it turns out they didn't find a developer build of the game — but a virtually complete version of the game. It was just never released. The near-final build has since been dropped online for adventurous fans looking to go down a weird, NES rabbit hole of what could have been.


Steven Seagal Is the Final Option for SNES

Steven Seagal has made more action movies than you can count, but he never really got a lot of love when it comes to video games. All that nearly changed back in the 1990s with Steven Seagal is the Final Option, a heavily hyped game developed for the SNES that never actually saw the light of day. The story wasn't actually based on any specific Seagal movie, but instead combined elements from a whole bunch of his movies and the action movie genre in general. As a 1994 advertisement in the gaming magazine EGM described it, Steven Seagal is the Final Option is essentially Seagal "out to take on the forces of crime as a one-man army." So yeah, pretty much the plot of most Steven Seagal movies. The game was eventually scrapped for the SNES and Genesis, though beta versions of the SNES version eventually leaked out for fans to discover in the mid- to late 2000s, which gave us the gameplay footage above.


Sonic X-Treme for Sega Saturn

It'sg no secret the Sega Saturn was pretty much demolished by the original PlayStation, and you can list the console's botched launch and lack of flagship games among the reasons. But one of the biggest downfalls of the Saturn is certainly the fact that it never featured a flagship Sonic the Hedgehog title. Yes, it had the Sonic R racing game and some collections of previous games, but nothing to really make it a must-own for Sonic fans. But it was so close! Sonic X-Treme was being developed for the Saturn as the first, fully 3-D Sonic the Hedgehog game — and it featured some gravity-defying elements that would eventually be incorporated into other games down the line. But the project ran into problems on the technical side, and Sega eventually pulled the plug. For the better part of a decade, that looked to be the end of the story, until a collector paid $2,500 for the only working demo of the game in existence in 2006. By 2007 it was leaked online, and volunteer programmers teamed up to polish the long-lost Sonic game and make the existing level playable for fans.


Lobo for SNES and Genesis

If you're unfamiliar, Lobo is a DC Comics character typically portrayed as an intergalactic bounty hunter and anti-hero. Creator Keith Giffen said he came up with the character as pretty much a parody of Wolverine and the Punisher, then people loved him, and the ultra-1990s alien proved to have some staying power. In the mid-1990s, the rights to Lobo were optioned for a fighting video game that would've been in the same vein as Mortal Kombat, a major hit at the time. But with the game pretty much complete, the studio pulled the plug and it disappeared into obscurity until the 2000s, when reproduction knockoff cartridges surfaced with the game. In 2016, the working version of the game was released online for fans to check out. But be warned, it's apparently not very good, which could explain why it never actually made it to shelves.


Mario 64DD for Nintendo 64DD

The long, strange saga of Mario 64DD. To talk about this adaptation of Mario 64, you first have to talk about the Nintendo 64DD. The short-lived console add-on was designed to attach to the Nintendo 64 and increase the amount of storage it could hold with a new type of discs. The add-on was a major flop, and only a handful of games were ever released for it. Nintendo was initially developing an adaptation of Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64DD, though it never actually made it out of development — especially once Nintendo started turning its attention toward developing its next console, the GameCube. The game basically faded into legend until 2014, when a collector discovered an unreleased beta version of Mario 64DD. Sadly, the game appears to be relatively early in its development cycle, and what does exist is largely similar to the released version of the game on the Nintendo 64. So it looks like we'll never know exactly what Nintendo was cooking up with this one.


Sonic Crackers for the Sega Genesis

This unreleased Sonic the Hedgehog game, sometimes called Sonic Stadium, is essentially a very early version of what would eventually become the Sega 32X game Knuckles' Chaotix, and featured Sonic and Tails linked by rings, a major gameplay element at the central focus of Chaotix. The version of the game that was eventually discovered on ROMs and released among fans has been confirmed as a very early Sonic the Hedgehog game that was in development at Sega, but evolved into Chaotix during the development process. The beta version of Sonic Crackers that eventually made it into the wild features a handful of levels, including a hub world concept, which would eventually be used to great effect in the Dreamcast release Sonic Adventure.


Ecco 2: Sentinels of the Universe for Dreamcast

Ecco the Dolphin is one of Sega's quirkier franchises, but no less beloved by fans. The series put players into the, umm, fins of a dolphin who travels through time and visits the ancient city of Atlantis. It's weird, ambitious and a whole lot of fun. Sega revived the franchise for the excellent Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future on Dreamcast, with the title being named one of the best games of the year. Sega was keen to get a sequel in development, so work ramped up on Ecco II: Sentinels of the Universe. The publisher pulled the plug during development due to the Dreamcast itself being discontinued (R.I.P.), and Sentinels of the Universe looked to be lost to the, well, universe. Until 2016, when fans discovered a ROM of the unfinished game and released it online for fans to check out. The game was apparently found on discs accompanying a Dreamcast development kit, which was acquired by a preservationist.