A never-before-released game for the Nintendo Entertainment System has been unearthed by the Video Game History Foundation. The Foundation made the discovery after sifting through materials donated by the family of programmer/designer Chris Oberth, who passed away in 2012. The game would have been based on the film Days of Thunder, but the project was seemingly cancelled, and a tie-in game was instead released from developer Beam Software. Oberth's version of the game was found spread across 21 floppy disks, and has been reconstructed to fully functioning form! For video game preservationists, it's an incredible discovery, and curious gamers will be able to play it for themselves on PC, or on an NES cartridge!
Oberth's take on Days of Thunder is a stock-racing game. Players participate in a qualifying run in a faux-3D style with no other racers. After, they must partake in a 2D race featuring several other racers on the track. Footage from the game appears to be fairly simple, but it's still amazing to see the discovery of a never-before-released NES game.
The Foundation was not actually looking for Days of Thunder. Instead, they were searching for some of Oberth's other lost games, notably arcade games that he worked on during his time working for Stern. The VGHF is still actively looking for those titles, as well as any additional information that others might have about the games.
It was thought to be lost forever, but we managed to rescue and rebuild the unreleased "Days of Thunder" for the NES from a pile of dying floppy disks. In memory of its co-author Chris Oberth, here's the story of how it all came together: https://t.co/knXkMaJ6bJ pic.twitter.com/fREmHhsmR1— Video Game History Foundation (@GameHistoryOrg) June 1, 2020
The video game industry is notoriously poor when it comes to preserving its own history. In the early days of the industry, developers and publishers rarely considered the importance of preservation, and a number of back-ups and files have been lost, as a result. Those old floppy disks and computers simply weren't built to last, and many have degraded over time. As such, the VGHF's discovery of Oberth's Days of Thunder is nothing short of a small miracle.
Retro gamers interested in pre-ordering a limited print run copy of the game can find it available right here. The title will cost $70, and proceeds will benefit Oberth's widow. The source code for the game will also be released online.
Do you plan on checking out Days of Thunder? Do you have an interest in the preservation of video game history? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!