A lot of gaming fans are familiar with "the ones that got away": Sonic X-Treme... Earthbound 64... Castlevania: Resurrection... Super Mario Wacky Worlds. What's that, you say? You've never heard of the lost Super Mario title? Well, there's a reason for that. It was developed for the notorious Philips CD-I system as part of the licensing agreement that Philips walked away with when Nintendo terminated their planned deal to create the Super NES CD-ROM unit. Yes, it's the same licensing agreement that inflicted those horrible Legend of Zelda games upon the world. For Wacky Worlds though the development team wanted to create a traditional Super Mario title for the CD-I and worked around the clock for two weeks to put together enough of a demo to show Nintendo's top brass. The Black Moon Project has the story.
Silas [Warner] adds "The characters were pirated from a video feed, the level maps drawn off on paper, and John Brooks and I prepared to put in 24-hour days for two weeks. At the end of that time, we had a little bit of one level done, enough to display at an upcoming Nintendo developer meeting. The disk was burned at 4am on friday morning for an 8am meeting." Which leaves the question, why was the game never completed? "The effect was just what was expected. Nintendo marveled and applauded the marvelous job we had done in two weeks, then killed the idea. The CD-i wasn't selling. The project was over, and I went looking for new work." adds Silas.
While the early screenshots look somewhat encouraging (as far as these CD-I titles go), perhaps it's for the best that this game dropped away. There's a reason why Super Mario titles are always so dang good, and that reason is certainly not related to handing Mario and friends over to a third-party developer. With pirated sprites and sketched levels, Wacky Worlds may have ended up as just another fan-made game, albeit a fan-made game with official distribution.