Cut content in video games is a surprisingly common occurrence. Certain items or concepts end up as unused or even removed. Sometimes these are available in the game’s code. Other times we hear about them from the developers through interviews. For the most part, these pieces of unused content are insignificant. You may get a few hidden music tracks or textures.
However, there are times when developers were forced to leave out larger segments of the game. This could be due to a variety of reasons like budget cuts or strict deadlines. Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt these dropped pieces of content could’ve made a lasting impact. Especially if they affect the game’s story or core mechanics.
Today we’re going to go back to gaming’s past. We’ve compiled a list of 25 games from the 1990s that have significant amounts of cut content. You’ll be surprised to see how different some iconic titles could’ve turned out had the developers been able to realize their vision. It also gives us some insight into the difficult choices game developers face all the time. It’s always tough when you have to decide what to remove and what to keep.
Some of the removed content is actually amazing and could’ve made a huge difference. In an ideal world, we’ll get to see some of these games in their fully complete form. For the time being, we can wonder about what might’ve been. As a disclaimer, there will be some spoilers (e.g endings of games) below.
25 Xenogears - Disc 2 Was Not A Finished Product
Xenogears has gained a strong following over the years. It’s a solid turn-based RPG with a really wacky story. Fans of the game will know that there’s a massive difference in quality between Disc 1 and 2.
The game had several development issues meaning that something had to be cut.
In order to complete the story, Disc 2 was shortened and several dungeons and exploration sections were removed. Instead, the story is told in the form of a montage. Despite this massive cut, Xenogears still takes over 50 hours to beat.
24 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island - Removed Transformations
In Yoshi’s Island, you play as none other than Mario’s green pet, Yoshi. It took the franchise in a new direction and spawned several sequels where you play as Yoshi. In the game, Yoshi has the power to transform into several “vehicles” altering the way he moves. Three of these power-ups were cut from the final game; a walking tree, plane Yoshi, and mushroom Yoshi.
The plane being cut makes sense as there was already a helicopter form. However, the tree and mushroom could’ve been awesome. Perhaps the developers had more levels planned that would require Yoshi to become one with mother nature.
23 Final Fantasy VI - Czar Dragon Superboss
The Czar Dragon was a planned super boss for the original version of Final Fantasy VI. Superbosses in Final Fantasy are always a huge deal. They tend to have a lot of HP and require careful planning to overcome. You also need a lot of time as some of them (e.g. Penance from Final Fantasy X) can take almost an hour to beat.
It’s not clear why Czar Dragon was cut from the final game. It has a slick design and could’ve been the end boss of a secret sidequest. This idea was eventually re-done as Kaiser Dragon in the GBA port of Final Fantasy VI.
22 Age Of Empires - New Time Periods
What a classic! Age of Empires is still a fun RTS game to play despite being over 20 years old. There’s also a surprising amount of content removed from the release. The original game was supposed to have an Ice Age and a Republic Age which would have been the first and last periods respectively.
The Republic Age, in particular, is intriguing as it could’ve added a new dynamic to the game. Would it have been possible to start a full-blown democracy? Could the villagers vote for a leader or even become one themselves? Regardless of what was planned, we are still yet to see it in action.
21 Quest 64 - A Larger End Game
Quest 64 is one of the few RPGs on the Nintendo 64. While it did have some hype behind, the game left many disappointed. Quest 64 wasn’t as fleshed out as the competition at the time leading to a lacklustre experience.
The game did have a few unused locations connected to the World of Mammon. Perhaps the developers had bigger plans for the last stages of Quest 64. This may be a stretch, but what if the World of Mammon was supposed to be a “dark” version of the regular map? While that won’t fix all the issues with Quest 64, a substantial end game is always good.
20 Sonic Adventure - Sky Chase Dragon Boss Fight
The first 3D Sonic game actually has an unused boss fight. The battle was supposed to take place in Sky Chase Act One, involving both Sonic and Tails. The dragon has an awesome mechanical aesthetic and three whole heads. That’s better than all the lame dragons with one head.
Sonic games can have awesome boss fights and this sounds like a good idea. An aerial battle against a giant robot dragon has so much potential. Although apparently not enough to make it into the final game.
19 Killer Instinct 2 - Multiple Unused Endings
Older fighting games didn’t have proper story modes like now. At the end of the arcade mode, you will get an ending specific to the character you used. While it sounds basic, these endings can go a long way in fleshing out characters.
Killer Instinct 2 has numerous endings that were cut from the game. These were for characters like Spinal, Sabrewulf, Maya, and several others. It appears they weren’t implemented due to time constraints. That’s sad to know as these endings were the only way the story was told.
18 Streets of Rage III - There Were More Levels?
Streets of Rage III actually has a few stages that were cut from the final product. Two of these happen to be motorbike stages. These were supposedly going to be “pathways” between other levels. Like most types of removed content, these levels are in an unplayable state.
Also, Stage 6 has a lot more to it than we can physically see. Beyond one of the walls, there’s a whole section with some enemies and a couple of screens. It is essentially another route to reach the boss of the stage. Branching pathways are always cool and this is no exception.
17 Secret Of Mana - Another Unfinished JRPG
This game is by no means bad, but it was supposed to be much more. Originally, Squaresoft was planning to develop this game for the SNES-CD add-on. However, when talks between Nintendo and Sony went sour, so did the system. That left the developer in an odd spot.
They had no choice but to reduce as much content as they could. Their true vision for the game required the CD add-on. Without it, Secret of Mana had to be reworked into an inferior product. Squaresoft went on to make Chrono Trigger though, so things turned out great.
16 Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64) - The Final Smash
This may be well-known trivia now, but the first Super Smash Bros. game was supposed to feature Final Smashes. These are ultra powerful attacks that can knock others out of the ring even at low percentages.
The Final Smashes don’t make an appearance until two games later with Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It’s surprising that it took them two console generations to get it right as Nintendo is usually smart about these things. Well, at least we have them now because they rock.
15 Super Mario 64 - Boo Keys
This revolutionary title is already full of content as it. There are 120 stars to collect from a combination of stages, bosses and hidden areas. However, there are a few cool items that suggest the developers had more in mind.
The Boo Key was in an early demo of the game. This key holds so much potential. It could have been the “key” to new levels. Perhaps the Boos were supposed to play a bigger role in the story? Well, we can’t complain too much since the final game is robust as is.
14 Silent Hill - Animal Friends
This classic horror game is known for the fearsome creatures it sends to hunt down the player. It seems that wasn’t enough as the developers had to cut several enemies from the final game. This includes deformed versions of butterflies, monkeys, frogs and even a snake.
One of the potential enemies, a chicken-like creature, could have been a boss fight. A boss fight against a chicken? That’s a brilliant idea, how did it not make the cut?
13 Pokémon Red/Blue - The Final Showdown
There was actually another battle planned for after the Elite 4 and Champion. The player was supposed to be able to challenge Professor Oak at the end of the story. Data for the fight is still in the game and the old man even has high-level level Pokémon (level 65+).
He also uses the starter Pokémon that was left behind by the player and rival characters. Well, it’s nice to know that someone picked the poor guy. Even though this fight never actually happens.
12 Sonic The Hedgehog 2 - More Zones
The Sega Genesis version of the game has several unused stages. There are around 3 unused zones in the game. Trying to access them leads to empty areas based on other areas, like Emerald Hill Zone.
No one would complain that Sonic 2 doesn’t have enough levels. Yet, we can’t help but wonder what sort of ideas the developers had for the game. It’s entirely possible some of it was reworked into Sonic 3. Hopefully, these lost zones don’t stay lost forever.
11 Mega Man Legends 2 - Play As Your Favourite Character
This game was actually going to have other playable characters alongside Mega Man. The five we know that was planned for this feature are: Roll, Tron, Bon, Glyde, and Gatz. Alternatively, these can be accessed as skins using some codes.
Game design is the reason why alternate characters were removed. The developers had already designed the game with Mega Man in mind. It wouldn't have been worth effort to re-balance the gameplay for other playstyles. Having multiple characters in an action game is a hard mechanic to implement.
10 Fallout 2 - Lots Of Missing Content
This entry has some of the most cut content on the list. The bulk of the removed content is in the form of locations and quests. On top of that, there were also more endings, characters and items which didn’t make the final product.
It’s quite surprising to see how much content was removed. No doubt the developers had greater ambitions for Fallout 2 but for whatever reason, it couldn’t be achieved. However, they are doing a pretty good job with the recent Fallout titles.
9 Chrono Trigger - The Singing Mountains
Chrono Trigger had an entire extra section removed from the final game. It was a dungeon called Singing Mountains, accessible in the Pre-History era of the game. The clue leading to this discovery was actually an unused musical track for the area.
This dungeon idea was replaced with the Black Omen. This could mean the Singing Mountains was going to be a plot integral location. Maybe it was going to be another entry point for the Lavos battle. We are still yet to see what the Singing Mountains were supposed to be, as none of the later ports of the game had the dungeon.
8 Crash Bandicoot - Stormy Ascent And More
The original Crash Bandicoot features some unused levels. The most famous of which is Stormy Ascent, which is available as DLC in the recent HD remaster of the game. There are two others though which aren’t as well known.
One of them is an unnamed cavern level. It’s an awesome stage with acid pits and an ancient ruins aesthetic. The other is a bonus round. You can access this level with a cheating device, but beating it will crash the game. So maybe don’t do it.
7 The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time - Useful Medallions
In Ocarina of Time, you have to collect some elemental Medallions. These are important to the plot but you don’t actually use them like other items. That wasn’t always the case.
The initial plan was to have the Medallions work alongside your bow and arrow. Essentially, they would power up the arrows with their respective element. For example, the Fire Medallion for Fire Arrows. Instead, this feature was replaced with Fire and Ice Arrows as unique items. Some Medallions missed out as we never got Dark Arrows or Wind Arrows.
6 Banjo Kazooie - Stop And Swap
In Banjo Kazooie there are some egg collectibles. Collecting them all unlocks the Stop and Swap option. This was a planned feature to work with the sequel Banjo Tooie. The player would activate these items by swapping cartridges.
Sadly, this feature became impossible to implement because of the newer Nintendo 64 models. In short, the player had to swap cartridges in under 1 second because of how the hardware worked. That’s what happens when you don’t communicate with your partners.
5 Pokémon Gold And Silver - That's Not A Real Pokémon
A special Pokémon Gold demo had a vastly different set of Pokémon than what we have today. The starters of Generation 2 had different designs and we were going to get plenty of baby Pokémon.
The demo also had some completely new designs that are yet to be implemented in a Pokémon game. The final game added around 100 unique Pokémon, but to think that we could’ve had several more. Some of the designs were actually great and hopefully we get them in a later game.
4 Saga Frontier - Chapter 8, Where Art Thou?
Xenogears may have botched Disc 2 but at least the entire story was told. Too bad the same can’t be said about Saga Frontier which lost a whole chapter. A lost Chapter 8, you could say. This was going to have more story, items, characters, and other content cut from the game.
Chapter 8 was going to star Fuse and wrap up any story threads involving the character. To be forced to remove an entire chapter must be the result of insane deadlines. It’s sad when the developers can’t even finish the story they wanted to tell.
3 Final Fantasy Tactics - More Fighting
While, thankfully, no story elements were removed, there were a few cut maps from Final Fantasy Tactics. Maps are only used during battle, so this implies that a few more combat sequences were planned.
The most interesting ones are the maps set in Lesalia. You don’t really fight here in the game, which is strange considering Ramza (the protagonist) is a wanted criminal at this point. It’s possible that you had to siege the city when attempting to enter it.
2 Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night - The Worst Ending
While the final game already has a few endings, one of them was cut during development. Sound files indicate an ending where both Richter Belmont and Maria are unable to escape the castle. This would’ve been the worst ending by far as Alucard is the only survivor.
In particular, the passing of Maria would’ve been difficult for Alucard to handle due to their growing relationship. The only reason to remove this scene would be how depressing it is. Maybe the developers didn't want players to feel punished if they got such a sad ending.
1 Chrono Cross - Guile Is Magus?
The original vision for Chrono Cross was actually going to have Magus as a character. The developers changed their mind as they felt it would take away from the main story. This makes sense since Magus was a major character in the first game.
Instead, we got a new character called Guile. You can still see some similarities to Magus in the way he walks and his usage of the Black Element. While a new ending in Chrono Trigger DS suggests Magus could still be Guile, there’s no official confirmation.