Two unreleased NES games have recently appeared on eBay, and one of them in particular should be of huge interest to fans of the Nintendo Power Glove, and/or Donkey Kong Country developers Rare.
Spotted and shared by the Video Game History Foundation’s Frank Cifaldi, the first game is called Battlefields of Napoleon, and comes in the form of a prototype cartridge for the game, along with, incredibly, its original packaging design as it would have been sent to Nintendo for printing on game boxes.
Look at it! Photoshop be damned, we need to go back to the days of cutting and gluing bits of paper onto other bits of paper:
While this particular version of the game—localised into English and published by Broberbund—is unreleased, we do at least know what this is. It was originally out in Japan as Napoleon Senki, an incredibly ambitious real-time strategy game for the Famicom that, as frustrating as it looks to actually play, also had some amazing static visuals (as you can see in this video by RndStranger):
The second game is where the real mystery lies. This unassuming cartridge, marked as “CES SAMPLE” (before E3 took off, the Consumer Electronics Show was the big annual event for games as well), and as having come from Rare, is for a demo of a game developed specifically for the Nintendo Power Glove.
There weren’t many of those, with only two games ever being released with specific Power Glove support (one of them, Super Glove Ball, also having been developed by Rare). This would have been a third. Nobody in the public has ever seen or played this game, with no physical or digital dumps having ever made it out into the wild.
We do have some hints as to what it was about, though. Rare’s James Thomas put out a call earlier today for information on the demo, and was told by former programmer Paul Byford that he recalls it “was a puzzle game where the cursor was a disembodied hand and you made different gestures to complete tasks. Punching rocks or turning keys etc.”
That makes preservation of the game pretty damn important, which is why the Video Game History Foundation are trying to secure the funds needed to get hold of the cartridge. As Cifaldi said on Twitter earlier today, while this is exactly the kind of thing the organisation would normally purchase, at the moment “our resources are stretched thin, and we could use help,”
If you want to help, you can DM Cifaldi on Twitter, and you can “discuss tax-deductible options if you’re in the U.S.” while you’re at it. He says he already has around $4,000 in pledges from people, but given the rarity of both games, and the insanity of the market for this kind of stuff in these broken times, there’s no guarantee it will be enough.