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The long lost, never released SimCity for NES resurfaces nearly 30 years later

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Dec 26, 2018, 11:44 AM EST

As video games progress with time, their 8 and 16 bit forbears start to become genuine relics of history. These archaic forms of digital entertainment are either preserved or forgotten by time, depending on how influential they were when first released to the public. With the advent of more and more photorealistic graphics, certain titles fall into obscurity, which leads to the widespread belief that they are lost forever, much like the ancient artifacts sought by Professor Indiana Jones.

One such title is SimCity, the 8-bit offering for the Nintendo Entertainment System that was announced at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in 1991, but never ended up seeing the light of day. A 16-bit version for the Super Nintendo console did get released later on, however.

Thought to be lost forever, the original NES game was recovered by The Video Game History Foundation more than 20 years later. According to the Foundation's report, a cartridge containing an unfinished copy of the game surprised the gaming world by popping up at the 2017 Retro Gaming Expo in Portland.

Check out a digitized version of the cartridge below:

When SimCity was being promoted in 1991, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto was actually working on a worldbuilding game of his own, completely unaware that Maxis had already created one. 

“I was pleasantly surprised to find that a great game like the one I envisioned already existed in SimCity," the Super Mario and Legend of Zelda creator told Nintendo Power Magazine for its February '91 issue. 

Shortly thereafter, Nintendo bought the rights to the game for an estimated $1 million. Creator and head designer of SimCity, Will Wright, collaborated with Miyamoto in adapting the game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The biggest update they made was the inclusion of a virtual tour guide, Dr. Wright (named for Will), who provided players with an easy-to-follow tutorial of game mechanics.