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Original SNES ‘Rayman,’ long thought lost, unearthed by series’ creator

Beyond Good & Evil director Michel Ancel has uncovered a scrapped prototype of the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System version of Rayman, developed years before its retail launch for the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and other platforms in 1995.

Featuring a wildly different art style and unique level designs compared to later ports, the Super NES version of Rayman gives fans a rare insight into the series’ origins and highlights the difficulty involved in fully reworking the game for its 32-bit debut.

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The original Rayman, released in 1995, is a vividly colorful 2D platformer starring an unlikely, limbless protagonist. Players use Rayman’s unique abilities to traverse tricky level layouts over a lengthy and surprisingly difficult journey that spans multiple in-game worlds.

Rayman later spawned a sequel, and the franchise is still going strong with games like Rayman Legends and the Rabbids spinoff series. Though the original Rayman sold millions of copies worldwide, its development spanned multiple console generations, and the game that eventually hit retail is very different from what its creators originally envisioned for 16-bit platforms.

This prototype discovery arrived after Ancel lamented the presumed loss of Rayman‘s original code.

“Did this 25 years ago, the game was playable on the Super Nintendo console but was never finished [and] we’ve lost the build,” Ancel said. “All these pixels are lost, like tears in the rain.”

A few days later, Ancel returned to Instagram with news that a prototype version of the game had been found. Plugging the prototype’s bare circuit board into a retail Super NES unit, Ancel saw the game flicker to life for the first time in nearly 25 years. Ancel later revealed that the discovered build is fully playable.

“It’s working!” Ancel said. “Four people in the world have seen this. We thought it was lost, but somewhere in the cold electronic circuit, something was still alive, and running at full 60fps!”

Images shown so far feature a smaller, chubbier Rayman against a backdrop not seen in later 32-bit versions, suggesting that a large portion of the original game design was scrapped during production.

“Should do a [Nintendo] Switch version of this,” Ancel joked.