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Gamer Tuesday

March 12, 2013

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights Wreck-It Ralph Week: The Hidden Levels of Mickey's Speedway USA

Developed by: Rare

System: Nintendo 64

One of the reasons I love Wreck-It Ralph so much is the attention to detail when it comes to presenting a digital game world. Despite not having the same timeless appeal as that of film and music, video games have intricate elements that make them fascinating. Their creation can often be as intriguing as the birth of a film. And much like in film, many elements are created that are left on the digital cutting room floor for one reason or the other. Wreck-It Ralph sets out to pay tribute to this in a clever way, Today's Gamer Tuesday celebrating Wreck-It Ralph takes a look at a locale found within Sugar Rush, and use a Disney video game example of the concept behind it.

Wreck-It Ralph

In Wreck-It Ralph, right after Ralph and Vanellope create their cart and are chased by King Candy they arrive at Diet Cola Mountain. After they have an argument over their current fate, Ralph notices that the falling Mentos create an explosion thanks to the boiling soda below. That's when Vanellope explains to Ralph that Diet Cola Mountain...

Wreck-It Ralph
Is some sort of unfinished bonus level

The writers behind Wreck-It Ralph are clever and observant of video game culture. Sometimes game developers create many new ideas for their game, and at times many of those ideas never leave their heads as they feel it is too complicated to pull off in a short amount of time. Other times those ideas do begin to take form, but for one reason or the other they are abandoned in mid-development. What's really cool is that sometimes game developers leave those hidden levels, characters and ideas hidden within the game's coding not expecting anyone to find them as they focus on the actual finished product. Gamers, however, are more clever than that. Thanks to the invention of game hacking developers and smart coders and designs they have been able to look behind the doors of the game's code to find elements that almost made it. Most of the time, though, these are very unfinished and have no function.

Mickey's Speedway

To give you guys an idea of what exactly I am talking about, let me use a Disney video game (and one that happens to be a racing game just like Sugar Rush): Mickey's Speedway USA. I've already talked about the game here on Gamer Tuesday, but here is a brief synopsis of it: the weasels have kidnapped Pluto in order to steal his diamond collar. Mickey Mouse enlists the help of his friends to race across the USA and find Pluto. The game was created in the same vein as Nintendo's Mario Kart series, and even though it doesn't quite reach the same potential as that series it does provide a fun time with Mickey and friends.

The game was developed by English developer Rare, a company that gained some infamy with their lengthy development cycles. This mean that one of their games would take many, many years to complete. But it all yielded excellent to amazing results as some of their games became the best ever made, like Goldeneye 007, Banjo-Kazooie among others. Mickey's Speedway USA didn't experience such a long development cycle but it did have many ideas that would end up being locked behind the code. And luckily for us, someone hacked the code and we now get to see what was behind it!

Mickey's Speedway

The first idea that was created, but never used, was a floating Mickey Mouse head. Yeah, you read that right, a floating Mickey Mouse head. It looks as if Rare tried to emulate the character opening cards that would open their short films, and make that the game's opening sequence. Yet, it seems that Rare caught notice of the fact that a 3D Mickey Mouse head that just bobs its head back and forth is too creepy and abandoned it.

The second idea left behind is a castle level. Most likely paying tribute to Disney's love of castles, this area would have either been a fantasy-based racing level, or the setting for an award ceremony once gamers completely the whole game. And speaking of awards, the other idea recently found is a trophy scene that showcased gold, silver, and bronze Mickey Mouse trophies.

Mickey's Speedway

Much like Diet Cola Mountain was in Sugar Rush, there are many hidden racing levels in Mickey's Speedway USA. Many believe that these are beta race tracks, tracks that were created to test out the racing mechanics and iron out any issues left in the coding. My belief, though, is that these were meant to be bonus level to be unlocked through gameplay. The first of these bonus levels is a track based off of Rare's on Jet Force Gemini, a sci-fi game that came out on the same year as Mickey's Speedway USA. The second hidden level in Mickey's Speedway USA is Greenwood Village, which hails from another one of Rare's classics, Diddy Kong Racing.

Mickey's Speedway

Another hidden tidbit in Mickey's Speedway USA is a multiplayer mode that would have emulated the formula in Nintendo's Mario Kart series, including a balloon race in which you must pop the opponent's balloons in order to be crowned the winner of the race. The final hidden element in the game is a really cool nod to Disney's classic blue screen castle opener that is seen on many of their movies. If this were to be combined with the floating Mickey Mouse head, Mickey's Speedway USA would have paid tribute to Disney's movies in a cool way.

It just goes to show you how Wreck-It Ralph set out to pay tribute to video game development by integrating it into a vital part of the story, and it did it in a successful way. The secrets behind Mickey's Speedway USA is just one of the hundreds of secrets behind your favorite games. Hopefully it doesn't take a game jumping hero to figure them out.


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