'SimCity' Prototype For NES Recovered and Now Playable Online

While SimCity is best remembered on the PC front (or perhaps the Super Nintendo, since there was a great port for that system), at one point there was a version made for the Nintendo Entertainment System that never made it out, despite the fact that it was pretty much complete. However, over the holiday week, the team at GameHistory.org decided to change that.

The team has posted a detailed report that discusses not only the recovery of the long-lost title but also posts the relevant files so people can download it and try it to their heart’s content. Frank Cifaldi, the founder of the site, detailed the team’s findings in the tweet below.

In the article, which can be found here, Cifaldi notes, “This version of the game was announced at the same time as its 16-bit cousin, and was said to contain all of its same features. It made a brief appearance at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in 1991, but was canceled soon after, and was never seen again.”

But an interesting thing happened years after its cancellation. “This version of the game was thought to be completely lost or, at best, confined to some deep dark archive inside of Nintendo’s offices. Either way, the game was seen as something of a Holy Grail among collectors and archivists alike, and the odds of ever seeing it outside of a handful of published screenshots seemed slim, until a cartridge containing an unfinished version of the game materialized at 2017’s Portland Retro Gaming Expo.”

You can see gameplay footage from the cancelled title above; and it looks to be quite playable, almost on the same level as the SNES version that did well for the publisher.

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Later in the article, Cifaldi said, “What makes the NES SimCity find really remarkable from an historical perspective is that it was developed before the Super Nintendo version, which means that not only do we have the final product to come from this collaboration, we now also have a rough draft. The NES prototype gives us insight into some of those collaborative ideas that didn’t make the final cut! We’ll get into those later, but first we need a primer on the new ideas that came from the Wright-Miyamoto collaboration.”

There’s a lot of information here, but it’s a wonderful find for those of you that may be SimCity fans, or love games from the nostalgic 8-bit era. Read more about the project here!