Lost Days of Thunder Game Reconstructed by Historians

Published: Monday, June 1, 2020 - 14:36 | By: Robert N. Adams
VGHF Rebuilds Never-Before-Seen NES Game

A lost Days of Thunder game has been painstakingly recreated by the Video Game History Foundation, restoring a never-before-seen piece of gaming history from the late programmer Chris Oberth that has never seen the light of day — until now.

Let's get right to it: check out this gameplay from the lost Days of Thunder game that's been put together by the VGHF:

 
 

Understanding what exactly this is will require a bit of explanation for anyone under the age of 30. Days of Thunder was a 1990 film starring Tom Cruise that's all about the world of professional car racing. The film was generally successful, making back nearly three times its production budget.

This film released in the days of fast and loose game licensing, so a Days of Thunder video game isn't entirely unprecedented. In fact, one such game loosely based on the film was released, but that's not the game we're talking about here. Chris Oberth's lost Days of Thunder game was an entirely different project that, for one reason or another, was never actually released.

Lost Days of Thunder game slice

How the Lost Days of Thunder Game Was Discovered — and Restored

Game programmer and designer Chris Oberth had a long history in the 20th century, making games for the Commodore 64, Apple II, and other systems. He was such an enthusiast that he bragged about owning an Apple II with Serial #201 — millions of these computers were made in subsequent years.

After a long and storied carrier, Oberth passed away in 2012. Eight years later, a friend of the family approached the Video Game History Foundation looking for help: they just didn't have the knowhow to make good use of the various personal computers and pieces of storage media that he left behind after his death.

The VGHF's first priority was to look for any lost works, and that's when they found it: a 5.25" floppy disk marked "NINTENDO HOT ROD TAXI FINAL." As any decently-informed Nintendo enthusiast can tell you, that is not the title (or close to the title) of any known N.E.S. game and warranted further investigation.

Unfortunately, recovering the lost Days of Thunder game hit a snag: while this disk had a more-or-less playable version of the game, it was missing art assets and other details. The VGHF then had to dig through tons of data backups and painstakingly recreate the source code before it was able to finally recreate this game.

This isn't the first such project from the VGHF by far; back in 2018, they recreated a prototype of SimCity for the N.E.S., another project that was created but never commercially released. (A version of SimCity was later released for the S.N.E.S.)

 

These are just the broad strokes of the story behind this lost N.E.S. game; it's well worth reading about the lost Days of Thunder game over at the Video Game History Foundation. Best of all, you'll soon be able to play it yourself one day — Chris Oberth's family has given the VGHF the greenlight to publicly release it in the future.

What do you think of this lost piece of gaming history? Do you think this game would have been better than the Days of Thunder N.E.S. game that was commercially released? Let us know in the comments below!


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Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!