A long lost Days of Thunder Nintendo Entertainment System game has been found and reconstructed. The game was thought to have been lost forever, but thanks to the Video Game History Foundation and their hard work, the game is ready to play. The game was originally archived on a single hard drive backup, spread across 21 5.25-inch floppy disks. Everything was donated by the family of late programmer/designer Chris Oberth. Leftover CD-Rs, floppy disks, computers, and other stuff was all given to the Video Game History Foundation.
The video game was originally supposed to be based on the 1990 Tom Cruise movie Days of Thunder. However, the project was cancelled at some point down the line and a new tie-in game was released by developer Beam Software. The game that hit the shelves was far from a hit, even though it was based on a successful movie across multiple platforms, including the NES, Gameboy, and PC. Now, the world can finally see what Chris Oberth's original vision for the game was going to be like.
This NES game is a stock-racing game and it looks similar to what was released, though it has better graphics. Players participate in a qualifying run without any other racers before going on to take on competitors in a cockpit view. An Interview with retro-gaming fan newsletter Retrogaming Times was the only time that Chris Oberth talked about an unreleased prototype for the game that he had laying around. After receiving everything from Oberth's family, the Video Game History Foundation started to poke around and look for things.
They then stumbled on to a file named, "NINTENDO: HOT ROD TAXI, FINAL." This turned out to be Chris Oberth's unreleased Days of Thunder prototype. From there, the team found 21 floppy disks that completed the game and painstakingly compiled it into a playable version of the Nintendo game that Oberth set out to release to the world. Archivist Rich Whitehouse detailed some of the struggle to get the floppy disks read. He had this to say.
"I extracted every archive in every known format in every one of the drive backups, and did the same for every other disk image that we'd managed to recover. I ran another search over the whole thing, and there was a single hit on a 128KB binary file. Oh yes."
The original Days of Thunder game by Chris Oberth can now be ordered in cartridge form from his family via, This Room Is An Illusion. All proceeds go back to Oberth's family. And if you want to learn more about how the game was reconstructed and a crash course in programming, the Video Game History Foundation has you covered. They have uploaded everything their engineers used to write and publish the ROM to a Github repository, which means that anybody with the smallest bit of curiosity can watch and learn. You can check out a video of the gameplay above.