Sit down. Eyes up front. Time for a history lesson. Rare beta footage of Super Mario 64 for the N64 and Super Mario RPG for the SNES were recently uploaded to YouTube, and said footage is a treat to behold. Except for Mario's stock scream in Super Mario 64, mind you. That's rather disturbing.
The footage comes courtesy of "kukun kun," whose YouTube channel is filled with hard-to-find beta footage of old games. Much of the footage seems to come from Game Catalogue 2, a '90s Japanese video game show hosted by Famitsu. The Cutting Room Floor Discord and the Nintendo subreddit are picking through the videos for choice bits, including early footage of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario RPG.
The Super Mario 64 beta footage was posted yesterday; skip to 5:53 to see it. Stick around for an interview with a young Shigeru Miyamoto and a glance at some foggy Super Mario Kart 64 footage.
Super Mario 64 beta footage has been posted before—most surprisingly by a British video game show that did some naughty recording at Space World 1995 without asking permission—but the Game Catalogue 2 roll gives us even more insight as to how these mysterious levels fit together. For example, the Cool Cool Mountain slide ride looks much different than what we get in the final version; it's decidedly less icy, and there are smiling moons and stars decorating the black abyss waiting to swallow Mario if he makes one wrong turn. The portrait for the level also features a generic snow-capped mountain instead of the usual snowmen illustration. I'd seen screenshots of the "cut" slide ride level before, but never assumed you reached it though Cool Cool Mountain.
Also, dig the placeholder voices Mario has in this footage. Did you forget his shout of pain is provided by the agonized wail made famous by Mel Blanc voicing unfortunate cartoon animals suffering extreme trauma? Now you remember.
The second snippet of beta footage was uploaded back in March, and it contains a unique look at Super Mario RPG for the SNES. While most of the differences are small (Yo'ster Island doesn't have a race track yet, for instance), there are a couple of biggies to be found. Nimbus Land's palace is less overgrown-looking, and the reptilian thief Croco looks very different. He's green, rather than purple! The Super Mario RPG footage starts at 4:12.
In this age where nearly everything is chronicled about game development—good and ill—it's cool to look back at long-lost secrets of retro game development, especially when that game is as influential as the fully-3D Super Mario 64.