Game Preservation Community Hidden Palace has released a batch of prototype games for the Sega Dreamcast and Microsoft Xbox. It’s about early builds and games that never came out. 349 titles are for the Xbox and 135 for the Dreamcast.
Xbox titles include games such as Hail to the Chimp, He-Man: Defender of Grayskull and Pac-Man World Rally, as well as Sega games such as Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller, ToeJam & Earl III and Jet Set Radio Future. . Hidden Palace finds it remarkable that so many of the games on the Xbox list have never been released. They speculate that that’s because the first-generation Xbox was so new that they weren’t sure the platform would be worth the investment. At the same time, its competitor, the PlayStation 2, was performing very well in the market at the time.
On the Dreamcast side, it involves games like Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Round 2, San Francisco Rush 2049, Shadow Man, Test Drive Cycles, Vigilante 8: Second Offense, WWF Attitude, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Many of these games have just entered the market; the difference with the release versions is that these are builds that are not yet completely finished. They may have a different title, videos that have not yet been post-production, or have debug options still enabled.
Dumping roms often not a simple process
Hidden Palace also provides a detailed account of how the roms’ dumping and testing process went. With the Xbox games, the challenge was that the data is always stored alternately. The medium switched from CD, to DVD and dual-layer DVD. In addition, the partition schemes also often differed, which made launching the games a changeable process. One game ran fine on an emulator while the other required an original Xbox devkit.
The Dreamcast dumps were harder to obtain. These all required original hardware because Sega worked with its own ‘gd-rom’ disc format. This slight variation on the CD left the team with no choice but to use an authentic ‘Katana’ Dreamcast devkit, or a so-called System Disc 2, which allows for reading the prototypes on a regular Dreamcast. A System Disc 2 cannot be copied, according to Hidden Palace.
Hidden Palace has the complete lists of Xbox and Dreamcast games on separate pages. The individual pages for the games also contain quite extensive notes, about the state of development, copy protection, whether the game can be run with an emulator, and more. Many screenshots are also shown.
Hosting for these titles is provided by Archive.org. Hidden Palace is not very talkative about the origin of the prototypes: “all this has been made possible by the dedication of an extremely sympathetic person, who has taken on the task of dumping everything from this collection on his own”.
The prototypes fall under the so-called Project Deluge of Hidden Palace. Under that heading they previously released PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Sega Saturn and Philips CD-i prototypes.
Prototypes of Jet Grind Radio (DC) and Psychonauts (Xbox), two games from a collection totaling 484 pieces