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F-Zero almost had a Virtual Boy spin-off named Zero Racers

A former Nintendo of America employee claimed the game was pretty much 100 percent ready to go.

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In the long history of Nintendo hardware, the Virtual Boy was one of the company’s most ambitious projects, but also one of its biggest flops. It was an uncomfortable gameplay experience combined with an ugly and eye-straining red color format that was doomed pretty shortly after launch.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s without its admirers, especially when it comes to video game history and the projects that were shelved before they could ever come to fruition. One such project is Zero Racers, an F-Zero project that a former Nintendo of America employee claimed was pretty much ready to go to shelves before it got shuttered.

Zero Racers had been rumored for many years, with many wondering whether or not it ever really made it past conceptual form. The game appeared in several editions of the Nintendo Power magazine, but had no substantial showings beyond that.

However, YouTube channel Did You Know Gaming recently had an episode on Lost Nintendo Games in which it spoke to Nintendo of America localizer and associate producer Jim Wornell, who had been with Nintendo for nearly 20 years and claimed the game was pretty much ready for shelves before it got canned.

According to Wornell, the game was near completion. The marketing materials were done, the game was finalized, and all that was pretty much left to do was put it on the shelf.

“Zero Racers was done,” Wornell claimed. “We had a complete manual, package and label done for the game. It went through LOT check, it had an ESRB rating. It was complete.”

It would have also been the debut of James McCloud (a humanized version of Star Fox character Fox McCloud’s father) and Summer, who would instead go on to debut in F-Zero X on Nintendo 64. Unfortunately, it was just not meant to be. The failure of the Virtual Boy put a stop to a lot of planned games for the hardware and F-Zero: Zero Racers was among them.

That said, completed or nearly completed ROMs of unreleased games sometimes have a way of showing up on the internet. Series artist Takaya Imamura also claimed in 2021 that the series isn't dead. If Zero Racers was pretty much done, maybe there’s a chance we could still see it come to light whether officially in some sort of Nintendo collection or some other form. Until then, it looks like this is one game relegated to the history books.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 28, 2022 10:50 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, F-Zero almost had a Virtual Boy spin-off named Zero Racers

    • reply
      February 28, 2022 10:53 AM

      That would've been awesome. Hopefully it resurfaces somehow.

      • reply
        February 28, 2022 11:10 AM

        It was finished and localized, so Nintendo almost certainly still has it. Hopefully they make it public sometime.

        • reply
          February 28, 2022 11:31 AM

          One of my major disappointments is that Nintendo never used the 3DS for Virtual Boy Virtual Console

          • reply
            February 28, 2022 11:35 AM

            Agreed, though VB emulation in VR works really well. You can toggle the color and it's much more comfortable than the VB itself ever was.

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