You might not be familiar with the game known as Dinosaur Planet and it won’t be surprising or shameful. The game was never released, at least not the way it was intended, but its history and influence are the stuff of game development campfire stories. The 3D RPG that was originally intended for the Nintendo 64 was but a footnote in gaming history but, thanks to the hard work of preservationists, it is now possible to take a peek at what became an important part of the Star Fox series, though not always in good ways.
Developed by Rare, more popular for its work on Donkey Kong and Banjo Kazooie, Dinosaur Planet was supposed to be an N64 title that was to stand on its own and was influenced heavily by The Legend of Zelda Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Development, however, was halted and it eventually became Star Fox Adventures, which was actually criticized for its Zelda-like game mechanics rather than the traditional Star Fox gameplay. Dinosaur Planet disappeared into the annals of history, never to be heard from again, at least not until today.
The video game preservationists over at Forest of Illusion released a build of Dinosaur Planet before it transformed into Star Fox Adventures. It even shows a screenshot of Fox McCloud, which originally had nothing to do with the game. According to legend, it was Shigeru Miyamoto that pushed for changing Dinosaur Planet into a GameCube game to incorporate the iconic vulpine, eventually turning it into a Star Fox game entirely.
Forest of Illusion notes that the game may not work 100% with emulators but works fine with flashcards. Digital Foundry’s John Linneman was able to verify the authenticity of this “release” and was even able to show some gameplay footage.
For those curious, this Dinosaur Planet copy didn’t come from the massive Nintendo hack last year. Forest of Illusion explains it was able to buy a disc of the build from a private collector instead. Considering it isn’t a finished game, the team says it will require some hacking to make it possible to play the game to the very end.