Five Fantastic Beta Features that would have improved Nintendo Games
In Nintendo’s games, quite a lot of content is cut out when the game is still in the beta stage of production. Sometimes it’s minor, like different variants of enemies or bits of scenery being removed for not being useful, sometimes it’s more major like The Wind Waker’s two or three missing dungeons.
But there’s some games where the stuff that was cut out would have improved the game tenfold, where it would have meant the already great game would have been ten times better. Here are five examples of fantastic beta features that would have improved Nintendo games had they been kept in.
1. Super Mario 64 had multiplayer and rideable Yoshi
Did you know Super Mario 64 was originally meant to have co-op multiplayer? Nintendo even said it themselves in an Iwata Asks interview:
Iwata: Ever since Mario Bros., you’ve had your heart set on making a multiplayer Mario game. You’ve tried each time, but it’s never quite come together… Even with Mario 64, it started with Mario and Luigi running around together, didn’t it?
Miyamoto: That’s right. The screen was split and they went into the castle separately. When they meet in the corridor, I was incredibly happy! (laughs) Then there was also the mode where the camera is fixed and we see Mario running away, steadily getting smaller and smaller.
Iwata: Yes, that’s right.
Miyamoto: That was a remnant of an experiment we did where Mario and Luigi would run away from each other but you could still see them both. But we were unable to pull it off…
And funny enough, just a few years or so after they said they couldn’t pull it off, the fans managed to implement it themselves:
But if co-op Mario 64 wasn’t already proof that the beta could have been even better than the final game, it also turns out that Yoshi could have been rideable at one point! Yeah, they found Yoshi Egg graphics in the game files too, hinting that the green dinosaur’s original role wasn’t limited to giving Mario 99 lives and a better triple jump on the roof.
Now, that’s got to be a Super Mario 64 that’s much better than the finished one, two player co-op and rideable Yoshis!
2. Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire had a Time Capsule
Ah yes. Remember all the heartache back in the days of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire when it turned out people couldn’t trade their favourite Pokemon across from the previous games?
Well now imagine if all that grief, was gone. That’s right, at one time Game Freak were planning on including a method to let you trade your Gen 1 and 2 teams to Gen 3 and beyond. How do we know this? Well in the game itself is data referring to a time capsule/time machine that would let you bring your old Pokemon across.
Welcome to the POKéMON CABLE CLUB TIME CAPSULE.
And let’s face it, if this beta game mechanic had turned out to be in the final game, the community and metagame would be completely different to how it is at the moment. Some people wouldn’t have quit the games due to their old teams not being transferrable, powerful moves like Fissure would be ten times more common due to being TM moves in gen 1 and Mew would… well, be common as heck due to the glitch.
This one addition would have literally turned the community upside down and changed the series forever.
3. The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker Could Have Let you Explore Hyrule
Yes, The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker was rushed out to get it ready for a christmas release, and I’ve already mentioned all the dungeons and parts of the story that were hastily removed. But did you know that at one point, Hyrule itself would have been explorable?
No, no just a straight path leading to Ganon’s Tower and the Temple of Time/Hyrule Castle, but a whole explorable region which would have presumably let you enter the temples from the area and find a more interesting way to reach Ganon’s Tower.
How do I know this? Well for one thing, the ground around the path is mostly solid, indicating that at one point you were likely meant to walk around up there (and it goes quite a way out before it stops being solid ground).
In addition to this, places like Ganon’s Tower and Hyrule Castle have far off doors and pathways you can see in the distance but never reach, implying that at one time, you actually had to explore the outside of these areas in more depth. Have a look:
Those are very clearly meant to be doors and entrances, aren’t they?
But that’s not all! No, the Great Sea itself was meant to be a more interesting, dynamic overworld too.
For one thing, you were presumably meant to be able to dive underwater in it and swim. Did you know Link has full swimming animations despite the water being so opaque you can’t see past his head? Or that transparent water exists unused in the game?
Or even that an item existed in game to let Link sink into wall and walk on the bottom, like the Iron Boots in Ocarina of Time? Seems like at one point the Great Sea had interesting things below as well as on the surface, and that using the grappling hook wasn’t the only way to reach them.
If only the time constraints weren’t there, a fully explorable Hyrule and a more interesting ocean could have been the result.
4. New Super Mario Bros 1 had co-op multiplayer
Yes, it’s another example of a Mario game with cut out co-op multiplayer, but it’s also an example of how Nintendo completely botched the original DS game sometime after the beta.
It was supposed to have full blown two player co-op throughout the main adventure, which wasn’t realised on a handheld until New Super Mario Bros 2. Why was this cut out? Who knows, but Mario vs Luigi wasn’t a good replacement.
There’s also a lot of other things that seemed more interesting about the beta. For one thing, the world design included a prehistoric world seemingly based on Super Mario World and a machine/factory world instead of just cliffs and forests. Enemies were supposed to grow giant when they touched a Mega Mushroom like that one Koopa in Super Paper Mario.
And despite all the criticism of New Super Mario Bros being too samey and generic, some of the earlier ideas for levels and the ways the game took inspiration from Mario 64 look quite cool. Like this great town/city type setting which was never seen again after the announcement trailer:
A town setting would have been a first for the Mario series.
Not to mention how more cartoon like and vibrant the beta graphics looked compared to the finished game versions. Why wasn’t this water background used instead of the final one?
In contrast, the final game’s boring scenery (link)
New Super Mario Bros was a decent enough game, but if the beta stuff had been kept in the final game, it could have been even better.
5. Luigi’s Mansion could have been a very different, creepy game
How? Well imagine a sort of cross between Luigi’s Mansion and Majora’s Mask, and you have a rough idea of what the beta version would have been like. You’d have a limited amount of time to beat the game (just 24 hours to save Mario), after which Luigi would meet an unfortunate end and Mario would vanish along with the mansion forever.
Did I mention the failure screens in the game were disturbing as heck?
This is what nightmares of made of
In addition to this, the game had a much more dangerous opening, with ghosts actually trying to kill off Luigi the minute he walks in the foyer rather than when he goes in the first room.
Not to mention the creepy ghost hunter mentioned in a few other articles that wanted to shoot dead poor Luigi and nail his head to the wall of the Safari Room.
But all of this was cut. Probably because Nintendo didn’t want to give kids insomnia for the rest of the month, or because they suspected this kind of stuff would cause the game’s age rating to jump up a notch. Which is a bit of a pity considering how neat the ‘save Mario in 24 hours or perish’ mechanic would have been. Maybe something similar could be in Dark Moon?
So those are some beta features and inclusions that would have made their games much better, and it’s likely there are many more. What other examples of beta content being better than final content and potentially making the game it was meant for better can you find?