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The Cutting Room Floor

Air Fortress source codeIn case you can't tell by now, I'm fascinated by unfinished content locked away inside old video games.  From lost character sprites to unused text, I love to see how the games that I know so well started out as a pile of ideas.  The Cutting Room Floor has a small list of Nintendo Entertainment System games that feature hidden content from various prototypes locked away inside a game's final version.  For instance, Journey To Silius has some stray code left inside from an unreleased The Terminator game, Air Fortress actually has readable ASM source code inside it, and Super Mario Bros. 3 contains two unused bonus games and a debug menu that can be accessed via Game Genie.

The Japanese Air Fortress ROM contains several large portions of the uncompiled ASM source code, complete with comments from the programmer, as well as a couple of DOS file listings. These snippets were probably stray data on a developer's hard drive, which was used by the compiler to fill the empty spaces in the ROM. The American release was cleaned up significantly and recompiled, so it doesn't contain this data.

The video game industry sure has grown up.  Fifteen years ago programmers were locking away source code and debug menus, and today they're hiding sex mini-games.   The times they are-a changin'.