Innovation and wacky ideas take time. Time that Nintendo and Rare just didn’t have to implement Stop N Swap in Donkey Kong 64.
If Nintendo’s consoles are known for anything, it’s for taking creative risks and pushing the envelope. These sorts of ventures don’t always pay off (the likes of the Virtual Boy and Wii U are testament to this), but they’ve also led to some of the company’s biggest success stories.
The company’s systems have all had their quirks, for better and for worse. The Nintendo 64 first launched in Japan in June 1996, and is so beloved by Nintendo fans that its games are still being enjoyed (and its hardware is still being tinkered with) today. One of the more unique –yet unsung– functions of the classic console was the cancelled Stop N Swap feature, which, it has now been revealed, was supposed to be implemented in Donkey Kong 64.
Why didn’t it make the grade? As Nintendo Life reports, Chris Stamper, formerly of Rare, received a letter from Nintendo’s Director of Technical Support, explaining that the company didn’t have the time or the inclination to take the risk that adding the feature to the game seemingly posed. The contents of the letter have been revealed by Rare Gamer on Twitter:
“While we respect the creativity of this feature,” the missive states, “after testing and discussing… we must ask that you remove this feature from Donkey Kong 64.” Stated reasons include simple time constraints, the potential for damage to the system or Game Pak during the swap, and even the possibility of “overheating and potential consumer safety problem.”
For the uninitiated, this feature was essentially intended to be a way to (most famously) ‘pass’ special items from Banjo-Kazooie to follow-up Banjo-Tooie, by collecting them in the former then quickly swapping cartridges to the latter. The idea didn’t come to fruition in the end (except in the Xbox Live Arcade version of these titles).
Fans may not have known that Stop N Swap was also supposed to be implemented in Donkey Kong 64, as well as other Rare titles such as Conker’s Bad Fur Day, but in the end, it seemed to have just been a creative idea too far. As an alternative, in the case of Donkey Kong 64, Nintendo suggested adding a passcode that would enable access to the same features Stop N Swap would.
Secret codes are a classic way of unlocking extras in games, after all (such as Donkey Kong Country 3’s Christmas stages, for instance). It’s workable, but it’s a shame that the console and several Rare titles were limited in this way.
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Chris is a freelance video game journalist and entertainment writer from a small town in England. While he’s an ardent fan of video games, regardless of platform, he specializes in retro games. His heart will always belong to the Sega Genesis. When he isn’t gaming, Chris will usually be found catching up on the latest and greatest movies, whether at the theater or at home. He has sat through the Harry Potter movies more times than you have, and he doesn’t care if you disagree.
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