A large number of Nintendo 64 games were announced but never released. It is thought that many ambitious titles were being worked on, but many suffered Nintendo's use of the cartridge format instead of CDs. Many more were waiting for Nintendo's promised Disk Drive to give their games the space needed to see those ambitions come to life. Unfortunately, the 64DD was delayed repeatedly for years and eventually received only a muted, limited release in Japan.
Development of 3D games was also a new field for many of Nintendo's established developers, and this led to many projects being dropped due to quality problems.
This article contains what we know about the lost first-party Nintendo 64 titles. If you have more information on any first-party games that didn't make it, please contact NinDB.
Perhaps the most famous of the cancelled N64 titles, Mother 3: Fall of the Pig King was the planned sequel to Mother and EarthBound, written by Shigesato Itoi. Announced early in 1997, the game was repeatedly delayed but wasn't officially cancelled for over 3 years.
Development had begun on the SNES, but was moved to the Nintendo 64 format and officially announced for the 64DD in 1997. The story, as given at the time, was about a boy named Lucas searching for his missing father. In mid-1998, more screenshots were released showing Lucas and his twin brother Klaus, as well as some impressive graphics considering the system's limitations.
In 1999, the 64DD had still failed to appear, and it was confirmed the game had been shifted to cartridge format, with a planned "Mother 3.5" expansion disk available for the 64DD. Many new screenshots of the game focused on Flint, the father of Lucas and Klaus, as he investigates a UFO crash in Chimera Forest.
In August 2000, Shigesato Itoi finally confirmed that the game had been suffering from its fractured development and that the project was no longer in development for N64, nor was it planned for conversion to the GameCube.
However, in 2002, Shigesato Itoi once again spoke up to state that development had started again, this time on Game Boy Advance. The game was finally released in 2006 as Mother 3, featuring many elements from the original story, but in the 2D sprite style of the earlier games.
Originally named Kirby Bowl 64, the Japanese name of Kirby's Dream Course, Kirby's Air Ride was one of the earliest games shown for the Nintendo 64. The earliest screenshots showed Kirby rolling down hillsides as a ball, but with the name change came a change in gameplay style: Kirby now raced around on Warp Stars.
The game was shown over a number of years before simply fading away without an official cancellation.
The game resurfaced in 2003 as Kirby Air Ride on the GameCube.
Late in the development of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed he was also working on a 64DD "second quest" for the game, titled Ura-Zelda, and later referred to as the Ocarina of Time Master Quest. The game essentially changed around puzzles and items in the original game, providing for a higher challenge than the first game.
Even though the game never saw release on the 64DD, it was later featured on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time + Master Quest for GameCube, available as a bonus disc with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The Master Quest also features in the Nintendo 3DS game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.
An ambitious Rare Action-RPG starring a human character named Edison who falls into trouble with Captain Blackeye and his pirates.
Unusually, the game received a number of changes throughout its development, from changing the lead character to dropping the RPG elements, and eventually Project: Dream emerged at the other end, unlikely as it seems, as Banjo-Kazooie.
Several elements from Project: Dream, including Captain Blackeye, make various cameo appearances through the Banjo-Kazooie series.
Unveiled at the same time as Banjo-Kazooie, Conker's Quest was planned as another cute character platformer, featuring improved facial animations for its characters.
Conker himself was a cute squirrel who shortly after appeared in Diddy Kong Racing and the Rare-published Conker's Pocket Tales on Game Boy Color.
Rare had concerns that Conker's Quest would be lost in the torrent of cute character 3D platformers on the Nintendo 64, feeding the system's image as being "for kids". This led the game's producer, Chris Seavor, to take a different path. The game was rebuilt, featuring scatological and sexual cartoon humour and numerous spoofs of movies (including The Matrix, Aliens and Jurassic Park) and released as the Rare-published Conker's Bad Fur Day in 2001.
An ambitious action-adventure by Rare that starred two fox characters Sabre and Krystal as they rushed to prevent the evil General Scales from destroying Dinosaur Planet. Players could swap between the two characters as they explored different areas of the game world and restored the temples that hold the world together.
The game was unveiled at E3 2000 and Rare released official artwork and MP3s of the game's music on their website.
At the unveiling, Nintendo studio head Shigeru Miyamoto was taken with the similarity between Sabre and Fox McCloud from the Star Fox series. He requested that the game's development be moved to the GameCube and be adapted to include Star Fox characters. The game was eventually released in 2002 as Star Fox Adventures.
Jungle Emperor Leo was a 1997 movie based on the 1950's manga by Osamu Tezuka, Kimba the White Lion (incidentally, the inspiration for Disney's The Lion King). Nintendo secured the rights to develop a game based on the movie which was announced for the 64DD.
The game appears to have been an action-adventure title starring characters from the movie and manga, but very little footage of the game was shown, so details are scarce.
Shigeru Miyamoto reportedly requested that Makoto Tezuka, son of the original author, led the team developing the game. He didn't join the team due to being busy with other projects and unfamiliar with videogame development.
A virtual pet breeding and raising game for the 64DD that was being developed by Shigesato Itoi, Shigeru Miyamoto and Pokémon producer Tsunekazu Ishihara.
In the game, you raised and cared for an unspecified creature. The game used the 64DD's internal clock so the creature and the world it was in would continue to grow and change, even when the game wasn't being played.
It was also intended that the creature could be transferred to a Game Boy cartridge so players could continue to care for the creature on the move. Expansion kits for the game were also planned, although it was unclear how these would have been distributed.
The game was discussed a number of times during 64DD development, and a playable version of the game was planned to be shown at Nintendo Spaceworld 2000, but it never appeared. In an interview, Shigeru Miyamoto stated that the game had been dropped due to the team being busy with other projects.
In development by Bits Studios, RiQa was shown at E3 1999 and appeared to be heavily inspired by PlayStation title, Tomb Raider. It was a third-person perspective action and exploration game starring a female protagonist.
The game was only shown once, and then was delayed several times before being dropped, with very few details provided. However, it is believed that Bits Studios later used elements from RiQa in its multiformat 2003 title Rogue Ops.
Reportedly, when Nintendo saw Silicon Knights' survival horror title at a trade show, they quickly set the wheels in motion to bring the company in as a second party. Development of Eternal Darkness continued on the Nintendo 64 for a short time before being ported to the GameCube as Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.
The Nintendo 64 version seemed to contain at least one playable character who only appeared as a bit-part in the final game: a knight named DeMolay. There appear to have been many other chapters cut from the final game as well, suggesting that Silicon Knights intended the game to have further sequels. Unfortunately, these also failed to appear.
Developed by Looking Glass Studios, Mini Racers was first announced in 1998, but not shown until Nintendo Spaceworld 2000.
Mini Racers was a racing game featuring small, remote controlled cars as they raced around on miniature racecourses.
The game was planned to have a track editor and a strong focus on multiplayer, but the game was dropped shortly after it was shown, likely due to the announcement of the GameCube.
Developed by an unknown team under Marigul Management, a video of a game called CatRoots was displayed at E3 2000, but no details were made available.
The video shows a red, cartoon cat running from a homicidal mouse attacking it with weapons, including a hammer, ninja stars and a flamethrower. At the end of the video, the cat is pinned and defeated by the mouse's pointed tail, and a Game Over sign is shown, suggesting you played as the cat.
The game was never shown or mentioned again.
Developed by Saru Brunei under Marigul Management, Animal Leader was a survival action game where you played a small, cuboid animal that had to eat its way up the food chain.
The game was retooled and released on the GameCube as Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest.
Revealed at Nintendo Spaceworld 2000, Echo Delta was developed by Clever Trick under Marigul Management. The game was a real-time strategy title where you controlled a submarine recovering parts of a sunken ship. You also had to mine energy from the ocean floor and deliver it to the "core" to upgrade your submarine. You would have to defend the core, and yourself, from enemy boats.
After Spaceworld, the game was quietly cancelled.
Shigeru Miyamoto was reportedly working on a sequel to Super Mario 64, but nothing was ever shown to the public.
A sequel to Pilotwings 64, rumoured to be developed by Factor 5. Nothing was ever officially announced or shown.
A sequel to 1080° Snowboarding was confirmed to be in development by Left Field in 1999, but it was later confirmed that development had moved to the GameCube. Left Field left Nintendo shortly after in order to work on multiformat titles. Nintendo Software Technology took over development and released 1080° Avalanche in 2003.
In 1997, Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed in an interview that a new Fire Emblem game was in development for the Nintendo 64. The game was cancelled in 2000 with no screenshots or details provided. It is widely believed that the game was retooled as Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade on the Game Boy Advance.
While four Mario Artist games were released on the 64DD, four that had been announced were either dropped or merged into the final releases.
A mysterious game that was being developed for the 64DD by a team at HAL Laboratory headed by Yoichi Yamamoto, a former construction engineer. While little is known of the game in its original form, it is believed that many of the game's features were later incorporated into Pokémon Snap, developed by the "Jack & Beans" team.
A game mentioned in a number of interviews, and developed by DMA Design. The project may have been retitled "Zenith", and featured a variety of human and alien characters racing to the top of high towers. The game was eventually dropped so DMA Design could focus on its Body Harvest and GTA projects.
A game believed to have been in development late in the Nintendo 64's life. It is thought to have been a real-time strategy title.
Appears on a number of cancelled game lists for the Nintendo 64, but no details are known.