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#21
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/4/27 23:23
PVB Elite
Joined 2003/7/25
USA
1507 Posts
PVBCC 1stCoderContributor#3 PosterHOTY09 EntryLong Time User (15 Years) App CoderPVBCC 2010 EntryPVBCC 2013 Entry
Quote:

Lester Knight wrote:
i do recall reading a reply from dogp on this site where he said he has never been asked to dump dragon hopper.

Heh, I've been asked to dump Dragon Hopper many times... just never by anyone that had the cart. ;)

Obviously I'd love to see any unreleased VB game dumped and released, though if I could choose any game, I'd personally go for Zero Racers. Dragon Hopper just didn't look that exciting to me (my opinion could certainly change after playing it though :) ). It does seem like Dragon Hopper was likely closer to release though.

I wonder whether they ever sent out to get the mask ROMs manufactured, or if they pulled the plug just before then. Timeframes are kinda hard to gauge, since the games are reviewed and articles written well ahead of time. I don't know exact mask ROM lead times that Nintendo would have had, but it's usually somewhere around a couple months. Then the ROMs have to be installed on the PCBs and given a final test, plus retail packaging and distribution. So, if they were planning for a late August release, they would have probably started the process in May. If they pulled the plug in May, the July Nintendo Power (which usually arrived in the mail in June, so probably written in May, or earlier) would still have the article printed.

I'd guess that it's very likely that these still exist somewhere, but I'd be a bit surprised if they were actually in a private collector's hands. If Nintendo still has all the VB protos (or possibly no hardware, but still the source code/ROMs), I don't see them getting out, unless they go under (look at all the crazy Atari stuff that has appeared from them closing).

I think 3rd party protos are more likely to be released... probably just sitting in a box somewhere, or maybe backed up by one of the programmers... not even realizing that anyone would want that stuff, or not releasing the stuff since it's technically "owned" by the company.

DogP
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#22
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/4/30 5:10
PVB Elite
Joined 2011/4/27
USA
2292 Posts
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Quote:

If Nintendo still has all the VB protos (or possibly no hardware, but still the source code/ROMs), I don't see them getting out, unless they go under (look at all the crazy Atari stuff that has appeared from them closing).


I hate to say it, but given the success, or rather lack thereof, of the Wii U, the day Nintendo goes under might not be too far off. I will certainly make every attempt to be at that auction and throw my whole life into the VB carts!

Quote:

I think 3rd party protos are more likely to be released... probably just sitting in a box somewhere, or maybe backed up by one of the programmers... not even realizing that anyone would want that stuff, or not releasing the stuff since it's technically "owned" by the company.


I actually had a dream once that I was playing Virtual Bomberman. Perhaps it was a sign that it will be the next unreleased VB game to surface.
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#23
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/5/3 0:35
VUE(xpert)
Joined 2005/9/17
USA
312 Posts
Long Time User (14 Years)
Quote:

Benjamin Stevens wrote:
Quote:

If Nintendo still has all the VB protos (or possibly no hardware, but still the source code/ROMs), I don't see them getting out, unless they go under (look at all the crazy Atari stuff that has appeared from them closing).


I hate to say it, but given the success, or rather lack thereof, of the Wii U, the day Nintendo goes under might not be too far off. I will certainly make every attempt to be at that auction and throw my whole life into the VB carts!


Nintendo has over US$5 BILLION in cash as of the middle of last year -- and nearly as much in short term investments. (Their next financial report comes up next Wednesday.) They can afford to weather a few bad years so long as they keep their brands relevant.

Gamecube didn't sell super well, but its "Nintendo" brand games were good and kept those brands alive. Wii came around and sold something like infinity units (well, 100 MILLION, still a lot). It isn't remembered super fondly by most internet gamers, but it had a lot of really great games. Wii U is more on target to be like the Gamecube... so maybe Nintendo is following the trajectory of Star Trek movies -- every other one is good.

On top of that, the DS sold super well (~150 million) and the 3DS is doing alright (~43 million) and its library keeps getting better.

I don't think we'll see the end of Nintendo any time soon... though I think we'll see the Wii U's successor faster than you might think if this were a "normal" console cycle for them.
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#24
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/5/3 5:00
Nintendoid!
Joined 2013/1/22
USA
198 Posts
Long Time User (6 Years)
Quote:

DogP wrote:

Obviously I'd love to see any unreleased VB game dumped and released, though if I could choose any game, I'd personally go for Zero Racers. Dragon Hopper just didn't look that exciting to me (my opinion could certainly change after playing it though :) ). It does seem like Dragon Hopper was likely closer to release though.
I kinda got that (not exceptionally exciting); but it would likely be better than Faceball (as programmed) was.

Quote:
DogP wrote:
I'd guess that it's very likely that these still exist somewhere, but I'd be a bit surprised if they were actually in a private collector's hands.
How did Faceball get into private hands? And the demos -- I corresponded once with an ebay seller who had "Dolphins". He wanted way too much for it; but I wouldn't expect the demos to be privately owned. Games otoh, I'm not sure the protocols behind managing the E3 '96 booth were --- did they do high-security, diligently tracking every proto cart each day, placing them in a safe? I doubt that; they probably all went to one person who threw them in a box in his hotel room. Had I managed to insert myself into the "booth staff", it would have been sorely tempting to swap one of the carts with, say, "Tennis" that had been given a burst of high voltage (and swapped stickers; protos were said to have been labeled with a basic label printer). If a proto cart showed up DEAD, there probably wouldn't have been as much investigation as if one had gone MISSING.

Quote:
DogP wrote:
If Nintendo still has all the VB protos (or possibly no hardware, but still the source code/ROMs), I don't see them getting out, unless they go under (look at all the crazy Atari stuff that has appeared from them closing).
Someone help me understand --- what possible reason does N have for the nasty "screw you" attitude? Letting one slip out (or two or three, Dragonhopper/Zero-Racers/Goldeneye) won't hurt their bottom line one bit, but would go VERY far in promoting good PR with clearly loyal and dedicated customers. If _I_ was running a company, I would be PLEASED that a group of people loved a product (especially one that so many considered a FLOP), I'd be delighted to give those customers with what they want. Good PR can only mean more profit in the long run; why in God's Universe would they dis loyal customers?

:-/

Quote:
DogP wrote:
I think 3rd party protos are more likely to be released... probably just sitting in a box somewhere, or maybe backed up by one of the programmers... not even realizing that anyone would want that stuff, or not releasing the stuff since it's technically "owned" by the company.
Oh programmers realize; apparently "N" has a hard-nosed "sue-you" attitude towards former employees. Again, what possible harm could come of letting a couple protos out? None; and plenty of good will come of it.
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#25
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/5/5 5:45
Nintendoid!
Joined 2007/7/29
111 Posts
Long Time User (12 Years)
www.linkedin.com/in/danowsen

I have added him and am awaiting his return invite so that i may message him on the subject.

Are any other efforts underway?
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#26
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/5/5 6:25
VUE(xpert)
Joined 2011/7/3
USA
435 Posts
CoderContributorLong Time User (8 Years) App Coder40+ Game Ratings
KJ4860 wrote:Quote:

I have added him and am awaiting his return invite so that i may message him on the subject.


Just in case this doesn't go w/o saying. If I were you Id become better friends w him before asking. You may get a lot further if he doesn't see the question coming. And after all you might make a good friend.
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#27
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/5/8 1:40
VUE(xpert)
Joined 2005/9/17
USA
312 Posts
Long Time User (14 Years)
Quote:

vb-fan wrote:
Quote:
DogP wrote:
If Nintendo still has all the VB protos (or possibly no hardware, but still the source code/ROMs), I don't see them getting out, unless they go under (look at all the crazy Atari stuff that has appeared from them closing).
Someone help me understand --- what possible reason does N have for the nasty "screw you" attitude? Letting one slip out (or two or three, Dragonhopper/Zero-Racers/Goldeneye) won't hurt their bottom line one bit, but would go VERY far in promoting good PR with clearly loyal and dedicated customers. If _I_ was running a company, I would be PLEASED that a group of people loved a product (especially one that so many considered a FLOP), I'd be delighted to give those customers with what they want. Good PR can only mean more profit in the long run; why in God's Universe would they dis loyal customers?

:-/

Quote:
DogP wrote:
I think 3rd party protos are more likely to be released... probably just sitting in a box somewhere, or maybe backed up by one of the programmers... not even realizing that anyone would want that stuff, or not releasing the stuff since it's technically "owned" by the company.
Oh programmers realize; apparently "N" has a hard-nosed "sue-you" attitude towards former employees. Again, what possible harm could come of letting a couple protos out? None; and plenty of good will come of it.


I think it has more to do with Nintendo needing to protect their goods than it does a goodwill gesture for a few dozen or hundred enthusiasts.

Part of US law regarding either trademarks or copyrights (I can never remember) is that the company has to show actual effort in protecting their IP, otherwise they could lose the trademark/copyright. So, if Nintendo became blasé about releasing unreleased stuff, it could potentially do them actual harm.

I'm sure they're thrilled to have enthusiasts out there who are interested in their old system... but there's really no good mechanism for them to "just give us" the goods.

More likely beyond that is that Nintendo tends to not release a product until it meets a certain quality requirement. And if they feel that what they have on hand does not meet that requirement, the cost to build up the engineering team to finish it would probably be too great for them to consider it.

Until then, Dragon Hopper & Zero Racers, etc., will just have to sit in the Nintendo Vault alongside the English release of Earthbound Zero and other games... I completely agree that it's a shame, but it's also more complicated than "it'd be cool if they just let one slip out here and there".

...that's not to say it doesn't happen, just that it's unlikely. :)
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#28
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/5/9 9:13
Nintendoid!
Joined 2013/3/25
217 Posts
Long Time User (6 Years)
Quote:

HP Lovethrash wrote:
Sadly I've wondered if the secrets would only be revealed once general interest dies down. If nobody is going crazy with anguish over these lost games, there's no point in hiding the game to gloat. My hope is that the supposed owners would feel the urge to be the first to "donate" the ROMs. Would you rather sit on it forever or be canonized as the one who finally made the games playable to all? You can nurture a power-hungry mentality by being nice as much as you can by not giving people what they want :-)


The problem with your idea is nobody is ever remembered for releasing their unreleased game to the public. Very seldom do written articles even include the names of people involved with the dumping of a lost game. There's no actual glory in it, thus zero incentive for those who own these prototypes. The only real motivation is MONEY. Gathering funds to pay for the destroyed value of their prototype is what people in the know want. Yes, nearly every unreleased game prototype cart drops dramatically in value once it's dumped.

What often happens with unreleased games is the original owner sells their cart to somebody who DOES want to preserve it online. Lots of prototypes fall into the hands of archivists simply by purchasing the cart off an auction site like eBay or sometimes Yahoo Japan Auctions, or more private means like on a forum or newsgroup.

Quote:
DogP wrote:
I think 3rd party protos are more likely to be released... probably just sitting in a box somewhere, or maybe backed up by one of the programmers... not even realizing that anyone would want that stuff, or not releasing the stuff since it's technically "owned" by the company. Oh programmers realize; apparently "N" has a hard-nosed "sue-you" attitude towards former employees. Again, what possible harm could come of letting a couple protos out? None; and plenty of good will come of it.


The actual reason Nintendo prototypes almost ever surface is because Nintendo keeps a stricter rule on their prototypes being returned and not suddenly lost. Any protos that have unfinished code on them stay within the developers' hands, rarely do they escape. Nintendo does give out review copies to magazines but Nintendo cares a lot more to have those returned than the average 3rd party company.

For example, pre-release versions of Conker's Bad Fur Day and Perfect Dark (N64) with some differences were recently dumped, sometime last year. Those two prototype cartridges were stolen from a trade show of some type.

Quote:
I think it has more to do with Nintendo needing to protect their goods than it does a goodwill gesture for a few dozen or hundred enthusiasts.

Part of US law regarding either trademarks or copyrights (I can never remember) is that the company has to show actual effort in protecting their IP, otherwise they could lose the trademark/copyright. So, if Nintendo became blasé about releasing unreleased stuff, it could potentially do them actual harm.


Most companies hold onto unreleased prototypes simply because they are assets they own. It's no different from old dev hardware or other obsolete items that might be lingering around. Even if the company really has no plans for using said items, having them is better than not having them. Besides, what right thinking company would just give away ROMs? Only old MS-DOS era companies that aren't making new games, that's who.

Quote:
I'm sure they're thrilled to have enthusiasts out there who are interested in their old system... but there's really no good mechanism for them to "just give us" the goods.


I can assure you Nintendo is not that concerned about what people do with their old hardware. They do not sell licensed clones for one thing and they have the Virtual Console. There is zero money in any obsolete products, to them at least.

Quote:
More likely beyond that is that Nintendo tends to not release a product until it meets a certain quality requirement. And if they feel that what they have on hand does not meet that requirement, the cost to build up the engineering team to finish it would probably be too great for them to consider it.


According to quite a few Nintendo sources (particularly Phil Sandhop and anyone involved with Starfox 2), the number 1 killer of unreleased Nintendo games is simply marketing. Is the market for a console drastically shrinking thus the game (Earth Bound NES) will sell poorly? Cancel the game. Will the game (Starfox 2) distract sales from an upcoming console? Cancel the game. Will the game (Earth Bound NES) cost too much to print and be too niche to sell decently? Cancel the game. Look up some older interviews, marketing is the common reason.

Speaking of stupidity, there was recently an interview with one of the team members for Superman (N64). You know, that really awful N64 game? It was originally much better, but political issues with the license holder forced the developer (Titus) to do increasingly stupid and time wasting things (like invent a virtual world so Superman doesn't hurt real people), thus the game ended up being garbage.

Quote:
Until then, Dragon Hopper & Zero Racers, etc., will just have to sit in the Nintendo Vault alongside the English release of Earthbound Zero and other games... I completely agree that it's a shame, but it's also more complicated than "it'd be cool if they just let one slip out here and there".

...that's not to say it doesn't happen, just that it's unlikely. :)


Except EarthBound "Zero" was dumped publicly in 1998 and is one of the oldest NES prototypes around. It was also just called Earth Bound (with a space), Zero was tacked on by hackers. Going by Nintendo's official word, we have Earth Bound and EarthBound.
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#29
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/5/9 21:04
Nintendoid!
Joined 2004/5/28
215 Posts
Long Time User (15 Years)
Quote:

SirGuntz:
Those two prototype cartridges were stolen from a trade show of some type.


Nope thats not true.
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#30
Re: Attempts to locate Dragon Hopper?
Posted on: 2014/5/9 22:56
Nintendoid!
Joined 2013/3/25
217 Posts
Long Time User (6 Years)
Strange, every source I've come across about those two protos says they were stolen from a trade show (ECTS?).
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