Prototype cartridge of unreleased 'Sim City' NES surfaces on internet

For anyone who grew up with an NES and a subscription to Nintendo Power, they can likely recall the anticipated release of the original Sim City in 1991. Despite the highly acclaimed Maxis game appearing in Nintendo’s magazine, the game was never released. With little evidence of the game’s existence, it is remarkable that a prototype copy of the game has been discovered.

As seen in the video above (via Retronauts), the prototype cartridge of Sim City is completely playable on the NES. Through the sound of children talking, the footage unmistakably shows the game running on an old television set.

When the original Sim City first launched, it soared in popularity and was ported to just about every platform at the time. It was harder to find a system it wouldn’t play on. So what happened to the NES version that was in development? The game was set to release during the spring of 1991, but Sim City‘s demise was due to bad timing. In 1991, the NES was being phased out before the release of the Super Nintendo and releasing the game to the older console was likely not seen as cost-effective.

Before now, there was little evidence of the game’s existence. The game was first previewed in the November/December 1990 issue of Nintendo Power. “The early NES version we saw played a little different than the PC version, but it had all the same options,” it reads (via Unseen 64). “This is definitely one to check out, especially if you don’t have the computer version.” Later, during a clip of Video Power, Johnny Arcade got hands-on time with Sim City and other games while attending CES 1991.

Nearly 15 years later, a 2006 issue of Nintendo Power discussed the game up again as a “lost treasure of the past.” At that time, a ROM nestled inside of a gold version of The Adventures of Link was thought to be a one-of-a-kind cartridge. With the video evidence of the Sim City NES prototype, it seems that the “one-of-a-kind” ROM wasn’t so unique after all. The next hope is that this prototype ROM somehow gets dumped onto the internet for everyone to play.

For a chance to play another unreleased game from Nintendo’s past, check out Star Fox 2 when it releases with the SNES Classic Edition later this month, if you can get your hands on the console.


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