Hidden Palace’s Project Deluge has received a fresh update, with a massive collection of over 500 original Xbox and Dreamcast game prototypes dropping on the website over the weekend. The site has already released plenty of goodies, including fun prototypes like the ‘Rude Spyro‘ cut of Spyro: Year of the Dragon — but this is the largest drop of new content to date.
While there are 349 Xbox prototypes and an additional 135 Dreamcast prototypes to sort through, there are some key standouts that historians and gamers should know about, including unreleased English localisations for games like Shanghai Dynasty and other titles that were originally planned to launch on both consoles.
Alongside these, Dreamcast players can also find prototypes for Jet Grind Radio (also known as Jet Set Radio) and Illbleed with new debugging features, and titles like WWF Attitude, Shadow Man and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in semi-complete forms. Most of these prototypes are near-complete, but many of them feature strange quirks like FMV sequences without post-production effects, prototype names and unpolished gameplay that reveals more about the development process.
Each Dreamcast prototype has been painstakingly saved and archived on Hidden Palace via a proprietary process which involves reading special GD-R discs with both a Dreamcast and a System Disc 2. It’s a long and complicated procedure, and one that requires specialist knowledge — which is testament to the great work Hidden Palace does.
ROM archiving is difficult, but it’s also very important for understanding more about the games industry and its history.
On the Xbox side, Hidden Palace has also released an absolute treasure trove of content, from unreleased Xbox ports of games like He-Man: Defender of Grayskull, Pac-Man World Rally and American Idol, to a cancelled English localisation of Dinosaur Hunting: Ushinawareta Daichi, originally intended for release in 2003.
Then, there are early prototypes for Psychonauts and ToeJam & Earl 3, and even near-complete builds of unreleased games like The Vatz from Beenox, which is set during a raging vampire war.
According to Hidden Palace, many of these unreleased games and early prototypes exist because of the initial hesitancy behind the first Xbox console. Plans for many of the ports fell through, likely because companies were afraid of console failure.
“There was most likely doubt over whether or not the Xbox was even going to be a success at the time, so most developers may not have been willing to put some of their games on the platform,” the latest Project Deluge blog post states. “Fortunately for Microsoft, that changed following the successful lifespan of the Xbox 360.”
While the Xbox has thrived in the years since, it’s wild to think about how many games never released on the console simply because the Xbox was a new commodity. The latest Hidden Palace drop is just a minor glimpse into how the games industry has changed over the last few decades.
If you want to browse the new ROM dumps on Hidden Palace for yourself and see if you can discover any hidden treasures in your favourite games, you can visit the website here. It really is a fascinating archive, and one that reveals a whole lot about the modern games industry and how your favourite games get made.