Two extremely rare “unreleased, one-of-a-kind, never-digitized” Nintendo NES games have appeared on eBay, according to a tweet from the Video Game History Foundation’s Frank Cifaldi, seen by Kotaku. One of those, called Battlefields of Napoleon, was only ever released in Japan. The other is a cartridge from Rare, and appears to be the demo of one of the few games ever developed for the Nintendo Power Glove.
According to the eBay listing for Battlefields of Napoleon, the game was “rescued from a dumpster after The Learning Company acquired Brøderbund in 1998 and subsequently discarded most of the historical assets.” The items in the lot include a WATA certified prototype on a development board and two additional CHR ROMs. It also includes the original packaging design.
Both of these are really cool. The first one, Battlefields of Napoleon, is a completed game. And when I say “completed,” I mean the packaging is done! It comes with the actual files that would be mailed to Nintendo for printing! Using these we can make perfect digital versions. pic.twitter.com/VOnUAgDHb0
— Frank Cifaldi (PRGE).nes (@frankcifaldi) October 11, 2022
In fact, the ROMs, boards and packaging were likely prepared for for final production, but it was never released in English for some reason. “It comes with the actual files that would be mailed to Nintendo for printing! Using these we can make perfect digital versions,” Cifaldi said in a tweet. Four more days of bidding remain, but it’s already selling for $5,700.
Since Napolean is WATA graded, the code has already been dumped for review, so technically “never digitized” isn’t quite accurate. As Cifaldi notes, though, the code can be released by whoever buys it. “I can’t put it online unless a new owner allows it, and if that new owner is us [the Video Game History Foundation], we will obviously allow it,” he said. To see how this (extremely complicated) game worked, check this YouTube video from RndStranger.
The other is labelled “CES SAMPLE: Please return to RARE COIN-IT INC.” According to the eBay auction on this one, it’s a “1-level prototype demo of game called ‘Scanner’ which was designed for the Mattel Power Glove” by Rare, the developer that built numerous titles for Nintendo. The listing goes on to say that the seller’s husband was the game designer, adding that it was tested in a retail environment and is playable. The auction is currently at $6,000 with 40 hours of bidding left.
Cifaldi is attempting to purchase these for Video Game History Foundation nonprofit dedicated to preserving video games for future generations. However, he said that the organization needs some help in acquiring these as they’re bound to fetch high prices. If you’d like to chip in to help them acquire these fun and historically important titles, Cifaldi notes that his DMs are open on his Twitter account.