Cancelled NES Games

Nintendo Entertainment System

While Nintendo released a huge number of games on the Famicom and NES, there's a small number of first party games that were announced but never made it to release. This article shows what we know about the lost games.



Hidden away on a couple of the early 1983 Famicom flyers is mention of a Bowling game, typically listed alongside other early "upcoming" sports releases from 1984, including Golf, Soccer and Pinball.

Donkey Kong's Music Game

Donkey Kong's Music Game

Also found on several 1983 flyers is an accompaniment to Donkey Kong Jr. Math and Popeye's English Game. Donkey Kong's Music Game appears to be a keyboard and music teaching tool based on the Donkey Kong arcade game.

It's unclear if a keyboard add-on was to be released for the Famicom, but such an expensive peripheral may explain why the game was never released.



The U.S. release of Mother was localised, completed and previewed before disappearing from NES release schedules.

A complete cart was later discovered and released on the internet, showing a number of changes to difficulty and graphics that were later included in the Japanese release Mother 1+2, confirming that the unreleased cart was genuine.

For more on the game, check out the Mother game page.



Announced for the Famicom Disk System, Palps is an unusual blend of action, strategy and programming.

You do not control the hero character directly, rather you program how he reacts to obstacles, enemies and so on and then set him loose to progress through the stage. For example, you can programme the hero to shoot when an enemy appears, or continue walking if no enemy appears.

You program the hero using icon panels, and it appears that you could collect more action panels as you advanced through the game, expanding the hero's abilities.

The high-concept game may have proven too difficult to understand, or perhaps the game simply suffered from too many variables to survive the testing process.

Return of Donkey Kong

Announced in the Official Nintendo Player's Guide 1987, Return of Donkey Kong is simply a mystery. No screenshots were shown, but snippets of information suggested Donkey Kong would be a playable character for the first time.

There are several theories in circulation about the game:



Shown in Nintendo Power's Sept/Oct 1990 issue, Sim City was announced for an NES release the following Spring. Unfortunately, the game never saw the light of day. Nintendo Power later explained this was due to "timing issues".

No doubt, the game was actually cancelled to prevent it from eating into the sales of the SNES release of Sim City.

Jump Burger

Mentioned on the release schedules of several videogame magazines, it is believed that this game was renamed and released as part of ShortOrder & Eggsplode.

Rumored Cancelled Games

The following games appear on a number of Japanese or U.S. cancelled game lists, but without a source cited. If you have more information, please contact NinDB.


A port of Nintendo's arcade game HeliFire.

Space War

Mentioned on several Japanese cancelled game lists, but not sourced.

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (Cart Version)

A Famicom cartridge port of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels was rumoured to be released in Japan.