Video game development is a tough business. A game can come out and be hailed as revolutionary for something that was done in an older game that didn’t hit it big, or in some cases, didn’t come out at all.
One such case is that of “Game Zero,” a Nintendo GameCube exclusive that was in development from 2000 to 2002. The project was never officially announced or shown to the press or the public before being quietly swept under the rug after three years of development.
Why bring up “Game Zero” in 2016? Well, it turns out that if the project had come to fruition, it might have beaten the most popular game in the world to the punch by several years.
“Game Zero” could have been “Minecraft” well before “Minecraft” existed.
The story of its development is a rocky one, as documented by the unfinished games database Unseen64 last year.
Basically, one of the developers of the massively popular “Goldeneye: 007” left that studio to form his own game development oufit called Zoonami, out of a desire to make something new and fresh. Zoonami signed a deal to develop an exclusive game for the then-new GameCube console, and “Game Zero” was born.
“Game Zero,” according to Unseen64, would have been a “sandbox platformer” where players could “mine rocks and terrains, gaining items and resources to build new structures.” Sound familiar?
The destructible environments would have been made out of voxels, which in layman’s terms is fairly similar to how “Minecraft” builds its worlds. The game’s levels would have been closer in scale to “Super Mario 64” than the endless environments of “Minecraft,” though.
Sadly, the GameCube supposedly couldn’t handle what was being asked of it. Market realities also contributed to the game’s death, as the most popular GameCube games were much more traditional.
Since “Game Zero” was never shown to anyone outside of Zoonami until late 2015, its lead developer Martin Hollis insists nobody involved with the creation of “Minecraft” could have seen it and been inspired by its ideas. Instead, it was simply a case of multiple people coming up with the same idea at different times.
Sometimes, that’s just how video games work. It’s worth noting that “Minecraft” has been accused of lifting its ideas from a lesser-known game called “Infiniminer” in the past. It can be difficult to pin down just who originally came up with what ideas at times.
If things had worked out just a bit differently, we might all be talking about “Game Zero” today. Maybe it would have been a huge hit, maybe it would have come and gone with little fanfare. As it stands, a handful of screenshots and some developer quotes are all we’ll likely ever have from it.