According to the founder of Argonaut, Super Mario 64 was inspired by Croc Legend of the Gobbos, a PlayStation game that was born as the prototype of a 3D Yoshi game that Nintendo rejected… although they were inspired by him for Mario 64.
3D platformers flourished during the late 1990s, and while not technically the first, Super Mario 64, released in June 1996 alongside the Nintendo 64 system, is considered the game that started the 3D platformer genre with polygon graphics.
In October 1997, a year and a half after the release of Super Mario 64, Argonaut released Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, a platform game by Argonaut Software for the PlayStation. Although not as successful as Crash Bandicoot, it was one of the best-selling platform games on Sony’s console.
Y the relationship between Croc and Super Mario 64 is closer than it seems… and between them, there is a very unexpected bond. Yoshi!
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As he has told Jez Saintfounder of the now defunct British studio Argonaut Software, in EDGE magazine (via GamesRadar), Super Mario 64 is very similar to Croc…so much so that it would have been inspired by him.
And it is that Argonaut began to work on a prototype of a 3D platform that was going to star Yoshi, called Yoshi Racers. Argonaut had a close relationship with Nintendo having worked on Star Fox and the Super FX chip for the Super Nintendo.
However the pitch of Argonaut that Miyamoto personally saw was rejected. “We showed it to Miyamoto and he loved it, he said it was great. And then he said no“.
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As a result of that, Argonaut severed its relations with Nintendo and they turned their Yoshi prototype into what later became Croc (with a character very similar to Yoshi). But according to Saint, “what we showed them was very similar to what they did with Mario 64“.
In fact, Jez San says that she later met Nintendo at a fair, and when talking Miyamoto confessed the inspiration for the Croc prototype in Mario 64. “We’re sorry we didn’t make the game with you, but thanks for giving us the address for Mario 64.Miyamoto said.
What’s more, San says that if he had enough funding, Croc could have come out before Mario 64 on the market, because they had been working on it for four years, “But Nintendo has unlimited resources, and they released their game before“.