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Sound Fantasy

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Sound Fantasy was a game planned for release around 1994. An early title for this game was Sound Factory. Thanks to an anonymous donor, we can play an early version of this game! Thanks also to LuigiBlood for the research on this title and facilitating its release.

By: Evan G
Last updated: April 8, 2015

Before I start, much like the article on Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill, Nathan Everland provided an article for Sound Fantasy that has long been on the site. However, in through the course of time, new information has been released about this game, and the old article has proven to have some incorrect information. You can still access the old article here.

For those who saw the old article, there are a few items that were incorrect, notably:

  • Sound Fantasy was planned for release in 1994 not in 1992 when Mario Paint was released. I'm guessing this mistake was due to the release date listed on the original Half.com description, which lists it at January 1991.
  • Sound Fantasy was a successor to Mario Paint, and probably was not in development until after Mario Paint was already out.
  • This title was not going to be used for the initial release of the SNES mouse peripheral.

Anyways, this game was intended to be bundled with the SNES mouse, and one of the few games that was designed to be exclusively used with it. The box art for this game was already made up, and could be found on Half.com (probably sourced scans from old Vidpro cards).

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Box - front
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Box - back
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Japanese box art

Clearly, this game was close to being released.

Sound Fantasy was the creation of Toshio Iwai. A glimpse of the final version of the game came during an exhibition of Iwai's work during the release of Electroplankton for the DS in 2005 (see the article on this exhibition by IGN). There, the box art for the Japanese version of the game was displayed. Electroplankton is no doubt inspired by Sound Fantasy (and the PC game SimTunes). The game was also produced by the late Gunpei Yokoi. During a tribute to Yokoi at an art show in Tokyo in 2010, Iwai played the final version of Sound Fantasy. Also displayed was a promotional poster for the game that gives details on its release date. It says that it would be released in October (presumably 1994) for 6800 yen, and 9800 yen with the mouse included. The full video of the demostration is shown below:

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Promotional poster for Sound Fantasy (1up.com)

Another video exists of a clip of what is likely the final version of the game, by an unknow French source:

A prototype of Sound Fantasy, under the working title "Sound Factory" was uncovered by a someone from the Netherlands by the handle "steven78". He originally posted this find on a thread on Nintendo Age. He actually had two prototypes, both which were sold on Ebay. The first was sold to a Japanese collector, the second to an anonymous person who has kindly allowed the ROM image to be released. The labels on the chips have "8/22" on them, presumably for August 22nd (1993 or 1994?). The handwriting on both prototypes is the same, indicating that the prototypes were probably made up by the same person.

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First prototype
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Second prototype
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Closeup of the EPROM chips
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Cartridge
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Closeup of the label. It says 任天堂 開発第1部 ソウンドファクトリー "Nintendo Development Part 1, Sound Factory"
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PCB Board

Sound Factory has three of the four game modes that are in the final version of the game, namely Pix Quartet, Beat Hopper and Star Fly. The final version of the game has an additional Arkanoid clone, called Ice Sweeper. Here is a comparison of the prototype of Sound Fantasy, and the final version (from the 1up video).

Title Screen

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Sound Factory prototypeFinal version

Game select screen

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Sound Factory prototypeFinal version

Pix Quartet

Basically you place various coloured pixels on the field, which allows you to manipuate the sounds and direction by four different coloured bugs. It appears to play similarly between the prototype and the final version. The final version appears to have some actual goals introduced into it, though. If you dig through the prototype's saved files, there is one scene with "Mario's 10th birthday", which actually plays the Happy Birthday song.

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Sound Factory prototypeFinal version

Beat Hopper

In Beat Hopper, you control a bouncing insect, as you try to clear discs by hopping on them. In the final version, the amount of times you have to hop on them is displayed as a number on the disc, while the prototype has stacks representing this. The final version also has what appears to be an endless mode.

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Sound Factory prototypeFinal version

Ice Sweeper

It's basically Arkanoid. Not much else to say, as it is not in the prototype version

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Final version

Star Fly

In this game, you have to place music notes on an invisble set of bars. Pretty much the biggest non-game in the whole set.

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Sound Factory prototypeFinal version

While we can only speculate as to why Nintendo decided to cancel this game which was almost certainly complete and ready for market (Iwai himself claims he doesn't know), I have two theories. One is that this game would have been nearly impossible to market. There are no traditional Nintendo characters in this like Mario Paint, and let's be honest, a lot less variety and replayability. If released, it would have probably got near universal panning, except by select few that like tinkering with sound programs. Secondly, this game required the mouse, and most likely would have increased the price of this game with it included. Undoubtedly, if this came out and was a failure, it would have contributed to Gunpei Yokai's departure from Nintendo (though the Virtual Boy would still have been the biggest reason).

If you want to try the prototype, get it from LuigiBlood's twitter message. Also check on his page, because he has posted more videos. I am sure he will do an in depth analysis of it in the near future.

Bibliography

  • Article on IGN about the release of Electroplankton (link)
  • Article on 1up.com on a tribute to Gunpei Yokoi (link)
  • Sound Fantasy on Unseen64 (link)
  • Prototype discovery thread on Nintendo Age (link)
  • Nintendo Power, Pak Watch - Shoshin Kai Special Report, Publication date: November 1993, Volume: 54, Pages: 113

© Evan G. This site made by a Canadian, and fueled by beer. Do not use material on this site without permission.