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VERSION 1.13
APRIL 17 2017

THE MYSTERIOUS N64 PROTOTYPE
DOUBUTSU BANCHOU (ANIMAL LEADER)?


Welcome to my first article for NESWORLD in a very long time, it's not that I have lost interest, one day just took the other and then a year passed, then another, kids, house and... oh yeah you're probably not here to read my rambling about not having enough time to do anything contructive with the site for years. So let's continue, shall we? :-)

So a facebook friend of mine had been messaging me on and off asking about my N64 prototypes and after having listened to him for months I finally managed to get in gear, look at and redump some prototypes. Most of what was in the boxes I had completely forgotten that I have, most are labeled though, so my memory was quick for the most part - yeah I'm not THAT old yet.

But one cartridge caught my attention because it had no labels, writing or other on either the front or backside, the only thing present was the label that explains the cartridge type. It was actually a quite nice and not beat up cartridge as some of these prototype carts can be. When tested in an N64 the cartridge gave me nothing more than a black scren and this was probably one of them.

The cart has been in my posession for roughly 10 years, maybe more, but I always figured it was blank - I was still curious though, so I decided to plug it into a device called UltraSave, an Add-on for the 64Drive that lets you dump N64 cartridges and most importantly prototype flash cartridges. Previously the cartridge hasn't been undumpable as it isn't detected by a gameshark, details on that later. To my surprise the UltraSave came to the conclusion that this was a 1024mbit cartridge, which is fairly incorrect and I have never seen it do that before and keep in mind that the maximum size for an N64 cartridge is 512mbit.

Well it dumped a 1024mbit file and while I have no, or not enough, technical knowledge to do any forensic on N64 roms, I decided to pass long the rom to people who all had a better clue of what to look for.

The conclusion came quick, the content of the rom was corrupted, although there were small signs of graphics, the content just wasn't salvageable. However not everyone gave up, and notes were taken that this rom didn't compare to anything previously seen, we could be dealing with an unreleased game?!

So the rom was passed around on Discord and IRC, letting as many people as possible dig into the rom and graphics while I attempted other ways to download the content. Maybe it was possible to at least know what was on that that cartridge, although we would probably never be able to play the game.

The first artwork found was an eyeball, a K and a pig's snout? But no one really know what that mean until people on discord began digging in and comparing to video and screenshots of unreleased games.

First guess called from user WadeMalone, another user called Buu342 supplied some pretty good clues as to what the game could be, like a matching flower texture.

He went on to find matching lillies. For the last texture image I'd like to return to WadeMalone's first evidence post with a few additions, he posted a screenshot from a youtube video showing a snout, a bone and a footprint, all off which could be found in the textures in the rom... so evidence was pretty solid, still just guessing...

These textures are most likely from an unreleased N64 game that went on to become a Gamecube game. The Japanese title is Doubutsu Banchou, also known as Animal Leader, which also translates to Cubivore released on the Gamecube, published by Atlus and developed by Saru Brunei, a name that also can be found in directory/filenames in the rom.

So what do we know about Doubutsu Banchou for the Nintendo64?

The Americal title would have translated to Animal Leader. The developer was Saru Brunei, a development team founded/funded by Marigul Management, who was going to publish the game. Initially it was planned for the 64DD disk add-on, then a cartridge version was announced before the game ultimately got cancelled for the Nintendo64 and moved over to GameCube as Cubivore in the US and Doubutsu Banchou in Japan.

It was a 1 player strategy game originally the game was to be released sometime in 2001.




Sources:

jaytheham
ign
nintendolife
nintendoworldreport
gilgalegrouik

So that is was were we were at back in April 2020,
but click here to read more.