JUNE 14TH, 2024
The Mysterious N64 Prototype - Part 2 (www.nesworld.com)
APRIL 17 2017


Welcome to the next chapter in "The Mysterious N64 Prototype" and if you haven't read the first chapter, then it's available here.

I had pretty much given up hope on the mysterious prototype. Having made various fixes and attempts to get a better dump, it just wasn't going anywhere. So the prototype had been pushed to the side on my desk for months and while I did get a few messages every now and then with new ideas to get it running, I was done with it, everyone who had taken a peak at the rom said that is was unrecoverable and I was done tinkering.

Then fast forward to February 2021, Olivieryuyu of "Team Carrot" fame once again approached me about the mysterious prototype, we had talked to a few people and agreed to send off the cartridge to someone to take a look at it, maybe remove the flash chips from the board and dump them one by one. I was not super excited about completely dismantling the cart, but if we ever were going to find out what was on the cartridge, then this had to be done. Unfortunately the agreement fell through and the cartridge remained on my desk.

Olivieryuyu was not done pestering me about the prototype though and in March he had another guy lined up for the task, someone I had thought of contacting myself but never got around to, Marshall of 64drive/UltraHDMI/UltraSave fame. Marshall actually repaired a Polaris Snocross N64 prototype for me years ago too.

But being the lazy person I've become, I delayed the shipping of the prototype and a possible donor prototype with the same type of board - It didn't ship until the beginning of May and then delayed by the US postal service for weeks until May 22nd.

Only hours after Marshall had received the cart he found the problem, there was no need for donor parts or anything like that. It turned out to be a broken trace underneath the FlashRAM chip that was causing the dump to fail.

So with that problem solved the prototype worked as intended, no faulty CPLD, no faulty capasitors, no dieing flash chips or anything like that - "just a broken trace". Yes after that the UltraSave dumped the game perfectly, a 256mbit game - very late N64 era.

Yes! the prototype cartridge does indeed contain "Doubutsu Banchou" (Animal Leader), the unreleased Marigul game that began life on the 64DD, but later ported to cartridge and only ever shown running at Space World 2000, scheduled to be released in February 2001. We all know that didn't happen, but the game did see a release as Cubivore on the Gamecube in 2002, released by Atlus in the US and Nintendo in Japan.

And now the textures looks a lot better than previously...

What we have here is a near complete, version of Doubutsu Banchou, the only thing that struck me was the size of the ROM being 256Mbit while it was advertised in magazines as a 128mbit game. It looks like it could have been optimized to fit on a smaller chip, so Marigul still had some cleaning up to do before Doubutsu Banchou could ship. But as we know, it didn't happen - at least not on the N64.

Thanks to everyone involved, especially Marshall, "Olivieryuyu" and "Baker64", in discovering what was on that "empty" prototype I've had in storage for years. I unfortunately do not remember where or how I got it and had I been able to get my N64 Gangwriter running, the game probably would have been lost, as I most likely would've used the cart I thought was empty as a Gangwriter test cart.

Anyway that wraps it up... thanks again for reading, oh right and it looks like Team Carrot somehow got the ROM and it's available here.

A new version of the 64Drive menu is also available, with save support for Doubutsu Banchou (Animal Leader). It can be downloaded here.

To play this thing on an Everdrive64, open up save_db.txt and add "0xEB85EBC9=5" , otherwise the ED64 can't make it to the file select screen in the game.