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TANGENT Some games never see the cathode-ray light

Some of the most infamous Nintendo Entertainment System games are the ones that weren't finished.

Activision announced, then scrapped "Aliens vs. Predator." Hi Tech abandoned its "War in Middle Earth" strategy game. And that "New Kids on the Block" game proposed by Parker Brothers? Mercifully, It never came out.

Nintendo was even known to change its mind. It canceled the release of two games: "SimCity" and "Earthbound."

Based on the popular PC series, Nintendo's "SimCity" reproduced the game in console format. Plans were made to release two versions of the game -- one for the NES and one for its bigger brother, the Super NES.

To the dismay of 8-bit gamers, though, Nintendo axed the NES version. The reason? Nintendo hoped to increase Super NES sales.

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Even more tormenting to fans was the cancellation of "Earthbound." This role-playing game bucked industry trends by avoiding a Medieval setting. Instead, the game chronicled one boy's adventure in modern America.

The story, while intriguing, wasn't considered marketable. "Earthbound" was canceled just before it went into production.

Such cancellations showed popularity of the once dominant Nintendo Entertainment System was waning. It was time for Nintendo to move on …

; Didja Know?

A group of "Earthbound" fans obtained Nintendo's prototype cartridge in 1998 for $400. The group promptly copied the game, then distributed it freely online.

Happy Endings: Mega Man

After defeating the nefarious Dr. Wily, players are told they've "restored the world to peace." But victory was not absolute. The game warns that Mega Man's struggle will continue until "all destructive forces are eliminated."

As the credits roll, Mega Man is shown victoriously running across the countryside until he returns to his creator, Dr. Light.

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Playing with Power is a monthly retrospective by Joshua Lynsen recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Look for future columns the last Saturday of each month through December.

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