In January 1991, a prototype for an NES version of SimCity originated in an electronics show. It was never seen again – and the iconic city building would come out only on Super Nintendo several months later – but video game historians have tracked a previously undiscovered version and uploaded it to the internet for everyone to see.  Frank Cifaldi, founder of the Video Game History Foundation and incredible supporter to preserve the history of video games, detailed in a blog post this morning. Short version: SimCity designer Will Wright collaborated with Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto to port the game to Nintendo consoles. First, they had announced SimCity for launch on NES and SNES, but the NES version never materialized. Instead, SimCity was launched at Super Nintendo in April 1991. The NES version just disappeared.
However, SimCity NES existed and was scheduled for release before it was mysteriously interrupted. Two playable cartridges with this NES prototype appeared at a used gaming store in Seattle last year, and Cifaldi's organization snagged one. They have uploaded a ROM here and detailed many of the differences between NES and SNES versions here. As Cifaldi points out, the Nintendo port on SimCity contains many of the features that would make the game feel so iconic in later iterations (like SimCity 2000 that is the game we usually think of when we think of SimCity ). The current system, for example, and bank loans that help relieve the stress of running out of money.
Here are pictures of the prototype:
] It is a fascinating piece of video game story, and a hell of a Christmas gift for everyone who is in the games inventory.