Nintendo games have a reputation for being a bit predictable. Bowser kidnaps the Princess, Mario retrieves her, bottomless pits are jumped, rinse, repeat. That said, sometimes even Nintendo colors outside the lines. The company has released its share of quirky games, but some of their projects have been so strange, so far out of their wheelhouse, they couldn’t even be released to the public.
Welcome to Nintendo’s Island of Misfit Games. Here are the seven strangest games Nintendo nearly released…
Mike Tyson’s Intergalactic Power Punch
How do you follow up a near-perfect classic like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out? Why, you send the Baddest Man on the Planet to space, of course.
Nintendo worked closely with Australian developer Beam Software to create Mike Tyson’s Intergalactic Power Punch, a game in which Tyson heads to a space station to punch the heads off various aliens. Yeah, a Punch-Out!! game where you play as Tyson. Awesome.
Unfortunately, Tyson was convicted of rape shortly before the game was to be released, forcing Nintendo to drop all association with the game. Tyson’s name was stripped from the game, and it was it was released as Power Punch II (no, there was never a Power Punch I) by minor publisher American Softworks.
The cover to Power Punch II. Nope, that’s definitely not Mike Tyson at all.
Unlike most of the titles on this list, this game was actually released, but most gamers had no idea that Nintendo was involved in its development until years later.
Donkey Kong’s Fun With Music
Think Wii Music was Nintendo’s first unfortunate run in with music games? Turns out, Nintendo was planning to give their bumbling ape mascot music lessons back in the early 1980s.
Donkey Kong’s Fun With Music had two modes (that we know of). One featured Donkey Kong playing an upright bass while Mario and Pauline (playable Pauline!) tried to match his notes by jumping on a giant keyboard. There was also Donkey Band mode, which looks like a mix of Wii Music and the composer from Mario Paint. In the mode which Donkey Kong plays his bass, Donkey Kong, Jr. wails on the drums, Mario plays a swank white grand piano, and Pauline sings.
D’awww, look at little Billy Joel Mario.
The game actually looks way ahead of its time, which was probably its downfall. Most of the beeps and boops that came out of video games in 1983 could barely be called “music” and it’s unlikely that a game devoted entirely to music would have had much appeal. Still, it’s kind of sad that bass-slapping DK never got to be a thing.
Star Fox 2
I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, I played the second Star Fox on the N64! It’s not unreleased!”
What you played was Star Fox 64. Star Fox 2 was a completely separate game that Nintendo completed for the SNES, but never published because it was late in the SNES’ life, and they didn’t want to steal the thunder of Star Fox 64. Also, Star Fox 2 is pretty weird.
Star Fox 2 has sexy lady cats and poodles, so it’s got that going for it.
Instead of being a simple on-rails shooter like Star Fox and Star Fox 64, Star Fox 2 is basically a tower defense game. You’re given a map of the Lylat system, and you must defend your home planet Corneria from an invading force. You do this by destroying fighters, missiles and battleships in open battlefield stages. You also have to maintain and protect your defensive satellite. Star Fox 2 is fairly strategic stuff and generally feels a lot different than other games in the series. If you want to try it out for yourself, an almost complete version leaked online a few years back.
Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds
Back in the early ’90s, Nintendo briefly took leave of their senses and partnered with Philips, allowing the Dutch company to make games starring Nintendo characters for their new CD-based multimedia device, the Philips CD-i. The most notable games to come out of this partnership were a trio of terrible Zelda games. You know the ones. They gave us these, uh, classic animated cutscenes…
While Zelda was dragged through the mud by Philips, Mario was largely spared. Only one CD-i Mario game, the relatively harmless arcade game Hotel Mario, ever came out. Well, it turns out that Philips and Nintendo were working on two other unreleased CD-i Mario games, and they were truly weird stuff.
Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds was supposed to be the CD-i version of Super Mario World, but it took place in more detailed “real world” locations. Some of the game’s levels featured giant menacing Trojan Horse heads, psychedelic tribal masks, giant chemistry sets and other trippy strangeness. They did get Mario’s sprite correct, although seeing cartoony Mario run around these more detailed environments is off-putting in its own way.
Mario Takes America
The other unreleased CD-i Mario game was even weirder. Mario Takes America would have featured Mario platforming through various real-life American locations. Rather than use traditional, hand-drawn graphics, Mario Takes America would have had real, digitized photos as backgrounds. There were also full-motion video sequences, in which the player moved through various famous locations in a first-person view. The game would have had you plunging over Niagara Falls in a barrel and platforming over the Hollywood sign. You know, regular sort of things everybody does when they’re touring America.
Mario looks pretty pleased to be in this game.
The developers of the game traveled around the country taking photos and videos, but never actually got around to putting them together into a finished game. No footage of Mario Takes America is known to exist online, but we do have shots of the developers taking their pictures…
The developers of Mario Takes America with their thematically appropriate ‘staches.
Also unanswered is where exactly Mario wanted to take America, and what he would’ve done with it once he was there. Perhaps it’s better that we never found out.
Did you know that the makers of Grand Theft Auto worked on a Kirby game in the mid-90s? It’s true. Apparently, Nintendo decided that Kirby wasn’t already sickeningly cute enough, so they decide to make a Muppet Babies version of him. They even gave him a little pink wisp of hair! D’awwww!
When will Rockstar stop with the button-pushing filth?
Rockstar North, who went by by DMA Design at the time, was contracted to make Kid Kirby. Back in the ’90s, Rockstar was known for making cute, quirky games like Lemmings and Uniracers, so Nintendo’s pink puffball was actually a decent fit for them.
Not a huge amount is known about Kid Kirby’s gameplay, but it was apparently designed to be a showcase for the Super Nintendo mouse. You know, the mouse you used for Mario Paint and absolutely nothing else. Unsurprisingly, it was the focus on mouse controls that grounded poor Kid Kirby.
Super Mario Spikers
Nintendo’s various Mario sports titles are typically some of their least interesting games, but in 2007, they tried to spice things up a bit with Super Mario Spikers. The game was to be a truly insane/inspired mashup of volleyball and pro wrestling. Yup, that’s right. The game would have featured Yoshi doing piledrivers, while, uh, also setting up volleyball passes?
It’s hard to say exactly how volleyball and wrestling co-existed — probably not well — but still, some of the concept art for the game is pretty badass.
I need a Mario wrestling game, like, right damn now.
There you are, the oddest games never to be released from Nintendo’s vault. Which of these games would you most like to play? What are some of your favorite quirky Nintendo games? Hit the comments and let’s chat.