[The above image is a mockup created by Unseen64, though it apparently does look like the real thing]
Lost videogames are brilliant to find out about. Lost Mario games are a whole other level of brilliantness.
Step forward Unseen64, the site dedicated to finding the unreleased and unknown games of the world, and their fantastic digging into the cancelled CDi game Mario Takes America.
According to a former employee of developer Cigam:
"The idea behind Mario Takes America was to educate younger audiences about American culture, under the guise of a fun 3D platformer. It was to feature Mario travelling all over the country, running around in levels based off real life locations, such as New York."
Those real life locations would be based on photographs and videos the developers took, leading to a sort of Who Framed Roger Rabbit-style to proceedings. Except with a far lower budget, and no Bob Hoskins.
You can find images of these photography expeditions around the US - and a lot more detail - over on Unseen64.
The game itself would have had first-person view, on-rails sections as well as more traditional 2D platformer-style levels. Well, I say 'traditional', I mean 'really rather different for a Mario game because of all the video elements'.
But why has the game gone missing? Why has it been a 20-year blackout on information? Well it seems that Philips, the company behind the CDi, was unhappy with what Cigam had created and cut funding during development.
The studio attempted to make other deals - including with Sega, to use Sonic - but was unsuccessful. Cigam went bankrupt, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce took all of Mario Takes America's assets with them.
So they're probably on some discs and hard drives somewhere, gathering dust in a vault of other miscellaneous bits and pieces. That's kind of sad.
Hopefully it'll turn up one day, though.