Dinosaur Planet, Rare‘s action-adventure title for the Nintendo 64, eventually became Star Fox Adventures for the GameCube.
Twitter group Forest of Illusion shared the files earlier today, offering players a glimpse into a forgotten piece of gaming history. They clarify that they bought the disc from a private game collector in Sweden.
They also explain that the build is dated December 26, 2000. It appears to be quite a late version. However, although it does run fairly well, it will require some hacking to make it fully playable to the end.
Rare had planned the game to be the N64’s swan song, and boy would it have been a big one. Already at the time, it featured vast environments, as well as full voice acting.
This would have been unprecedented on the cartridge system. Indeed, at 512MB, it would have been the biggest game ever released on the system.
Naturally, it would also have required use of the Nintendo 64’s RAM Expansion Pak. This is less surprising, given that two of Rare‘s other titles, Perfect Dark and Donkey Kong 64, also required the extra RAM to be fully playable.
Rare announced Dinosaur Planet in 1999. It was an entirely new IP, set on the titular Dinosaur Planet populated by cartoon versions of the prehistoric beasts. There would have been two playable protagonists, Sabre and Krystal.
Each had unique abilities, as well as their own dino sidekick. Tricky the Triceratops (who made it into the final version) would have accompanied Sabre. Meanwhile, Krystal would have had a pterodactyl companion named Kyte. Players would have been free to switch between the two at any time by speaking to Swapstone characters.
As everybody knows, in the end, all this was not to be. As development dragged on (typical for perfectionists Rare at the time), an N64 release became unfeasible.
Legend also has it that it was Shigeru Miyamoto himself who first suggested changing Dinosaur Planet to include Star Fox. Unsurprisingly, not everyone at Rare was happy about this, according to lead software engineer Phil Tossell.
I don’t know for sure where the idea originally came from, but I definitely heard it mentioned that Miyamoto-san had suggested it…. Of course 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 license.
Whenever exactly the change was made, it was clearly before the end of the year 2000, as the newly discovered leak already features Fox as the protagonist.
At the same time, much of the dialogue still references Sabre, suggesting that the build stems from a transitional period for the game. In light of this, it’s particularly impressive that the leaked version is in such a good state.