Back in 1991, Nintendo released a version of Sim City exclusively for the SNES. As it turns out, there was also a version planned for the NES, but it was never released for sale. After 27 years, the Video Game History Foundation has managed to find a copy of that prototype and uploaded it to the Internet for all to see.
Frank Cifaldi, founder of the Video Game History Foundation and major advocate of preserving the history of video games, gave all of us retro gamers a neat Christmas gift in the form of a blog post in which he describes an interesting acquisition he’s sharing with us all. Back at the beginning of the 1990’s, Sim City creator Will Wright collaborated with Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the Mario and Zelda franchises, in order to bring his city development sim to consoles. The console version was announced for the NES and SNES, but the only version to release was the SNES one in April of 1991. A playable version of an NES prototype was fully available to the public in January of 1991 at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, but that was the last anyone saw of it. Until now.
Last year, two working cartridges featuring the playable NES prototype were discovered at a used game store in Seattle, and the Video Game History Foundation picked one up. As well as posting the footage above, they’ve also uploaded the game as a ROM and posted a list of differences between the NES and SNES versions. It’s interesting to see that many of the series’ iconic features, like bank loans and the present system actually came from the console releases instead of Sim City 2000, which is probably the most iconic Sim City game.
If you’re interested in long-lost video game prototypes, you might also be interested in the Pokémon Gold and Silver prototype from the Nintendo Space World Convention.