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Playable SimCopter 64 build appears, revealing a mysterious canceled N64 title

A little piece of gaming history is uncovered as a playable build of a game not seen for 24 years emerges.

Decades after anything was last seen of the game, a reddit user has appeared online posting all-new video footage of a playable build of SimCopter 64, a long-lost title for Nintendo’s first fully 3D console.

SimCopter was a Nintendo version of the Maxis and EA PC title of the same name, following in the footsteps of the Nintendo-exclusive version of the original SimCity. Unlike that title, however, SimCopter 64 was actually in development at Maxis itself, rather than under license at Nintendo.

SimCopter was showcased at E3 1997, which is where much of the video we’ve had of the game up until now comes from. SimCopter was envisioned to connect with a new version of SimCity in development for the N64’s ill-fated 64DD add-on. As on PC, you’d build a city in SimCity, then fly around it in SimCopter, though both games function stand-alone.

As Nintendo abandoned plans for an international release of the N64DD add-on, the western version of SimCity 64 was also canceled. That probably spelt the end for SimCopter, including in Japan.

Reddit user a707northbayer unceremoniously posted footage and images of the game to a couple of different subreddits, including one devoted to N64 and another devoted to game collecting.

In the posted gameplay video, we can see that the build of the game is dated for 26th December 1997, which places it a few months after its hands-off showing at E3 1997, but before a build shown at a Tokyo Game Show where it was fully playable.

Despite being an earlier build, it’s a fully-functioning version, however - with the video showing a first level set in California.

The build was found on a development cartridge which the reddit user purchased through Craigslist from somebody “who worked in the game industry”, purchased as part of a larger lot of development systems and materials. The contents of this unmarked development cart are a huge discovery, however - a long-time mystery game is about to become much more understood.

The discovery of such a build is a huge boon for preservation of unreleased games - and hopefully the owner now ensures the build is dumped to preserve it fully for the future.

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Alex Donaldson avatar

Alex Donaldson

Assistant Editor

Alex started out his career in the games media as an over-eager kid working on fan sites, and now has decades of experience. He's the resident expert on esoteric matters such as Pokemon Go, gaming hardware, and genres like RPGs, fighters, and strategy games. Outside of VG247 he's the co-founder of genre-dedicated website RPG Site. He also collects original arcade machines, Lego, and considers himself a whiskey buff.

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