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How This Cancelled N64 Game Went From Dinosaurs To Star Fox

The 2002 GameCube title Star Fox Adventures was originally in development by Rare studios as a standalone game for Nintendo 64 known as Dinosaur Planet. Thanks to the Forest of Illusion, a group dedicated to preserving Nintendo history, fans can now get a look at a copy of the original game.

"We purchased this disc containing the build from a private game collector in Sweden. The file date lists the build as being from December 1st 2000," Forest of Illusion tweeted on Sunday, Feb. 20. "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."

In an article about the recovered version of Dinosaur PlanetVGC reports that the game was at one point expected to be the last video game for the Nintendo 64. The title would have required the use of a RAM expansion and would have included huge environments and character dialogue.

However, according to a 2012 article from Nintendo Life about the ill-fated game, Dinosaur Planet went through a major rebranding in the middle of development at the direction of Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto. It was developed as an action-adventure game that allowed players to switch back and forth between two different characters, Sabre and Krystal, in order to complete the game, lead software engineer Phil Tossell told Nintendo Life. Tossell explained, "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."

One day after Star Fox Adventures' North America release on Sept. 23, 2002, Microsoft announced the purchase of Rare for $375 million dollars. The studio's next title is Everwild, which is expected to release sometime this year.

While this early build of Dinosaur Planet is playable, it's not entirely flawless, the Forest of Illusion said. "Note: The game will currently not run 100% perfectly on any emulator," they tweeted. "Expect many graphical issues with shadows and lighting, and some slowdown. It should however, work perfectly fine with flashcarts." Even still, it's fascinating to see this lost piece of the Star Fox puzzle making its way into the hands of fans.

Dinosaur Planet is only the latest treasure uncovered by Forest of Illusion. The group recently managed to add an early Nintendo Switch prototype to its collection of gaming artifacts.