Dylan Cuthbert is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the earlier days of Nintendo. He would know, because he was there in the thick of it! One of the main men behind the StarFox franchise, Cuthbert always has interesting stories to share about Nintendo's 8 and 16-bit days. In an interview with USGamer, Cuthbert shares yet another round of amazing info. First up, he covers how he reversed engineered a Game Boy for Argonaut, which eventually lead to the creation of X.
"We hacked together a Game Boy development kit with a camera pointed at the Game Boy. We took a cartridge—I think a Tetris cartridge—and unscrewed it all. We connected up wires to chips and connected them to this circuit board one of the guys had at Argonaut [made]. They'd gotten into circuit printing and were printing the circuit boards in this bath full of acid."
The work Cuthbert did eventually made it to Nintendo, and they were blown away. Argonaut worked up wireframe 3D that ran on the Game Boy, which was then utilized for X on the Game Boy. X was going to come to the states and Europe as Lunar Escape, but was cancelled at the last moment. What happened to hold the game back at the last moment? Cuthbert had this to say.
"We made the English version, and then Nintendo of America felt it was too complicated. At that time, there wasn't a Nintendo Europe to kind of stick up for it, you know? [NOA] said, 'Our audience right now expects something like Tetris.' 'There's too much text.' That kind of thing. There wasn't really that much hungriness for 3D in America at that point. Later on, after Star Fox came out, you know, there was a lot more."
Of course, X was just the start of Cuthbert's 3D work for Nintendo. He eventually created StarFox for the SNES, which was the first game to utilize the Super FX Chip. In a truly interesting revelation, Cuthbert mentions that Nintendo was actually trying to figure out a way to get Super FX chip-like tech into the SNES before it launched, but it just didn't pan out. This all stemmed from showing Cuthbert a demo of Pilotwings, with Nintendo discussing the limitations of what they could do due to system memory.
"That's what they actually tried to do first. They were thinking about it. [The chip] still seemed a bit kind of like, in a buggy kind of state. We thought maybe there was a way to rush it and get a chip on there even quicker than that if we just used something from the Konix [Multisystem] directly. But they didn't have enough time to do that, because the Super NES was already building up to final production. They thought about everything, you know. Any kind of way to get that performance into the Super Nintendo."