By Michael Fontanini / February 9th, 2015
File this A new Unseen64 report has revealed that Nintendo was one of the companies that vied for the rights to make the Harry Potter games back in the late 90s. They were up against Disney, Universal, and Warner Bros. Of course, Warner Bros. won that fight in the end.
In 1998, Nintendo of America’s NST studio was given just one week to develop a pitch. The team drew up plans to create a game version of each Harry Potter book as they were released. They were planned for the Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, and the GameCube (which was still in development at the time). According to an employee who worked at the NST studio at the time, “All together it was only a week of insanely furious scribbling things to the digital artists to create animations for mock game demos”. While Nintendo’s pitch for the rights to make the Harry Potter video games was taking place, the studio’s first three projects (Ridge Racer 64, Bionic Commando and Crystalis) were all put on hold.
Development of Nintendo’s pitch wasn’t smooth sailing though, as there were internal disagreements. The artists originally were going for a look similar to the original book’s British cover image, but Nintendo higher-ups stepped in and forced them to change it to a more manga style. “It went against all my instincts based on what I had read quotes from J.K. Rowling about keeping it strictly British,” the employee said. “I had to revamp my initial designs and go more manga/Japanese – I had a big fight about that, but my boss insisted.”
This seems like a rather strange choice considering Harry Potter is a very British story, as J.K. Rowling intended. This change may have lessened Nintendo’s chances of winning the bid, especially considering they were up against much larger offers from the other companies (so their chances weren’t the best to begin with). Of course, JK Rowling would end up selling the rights for making the Harry Potter video games to Warner Bros. (who then contracted EA to make a video game adaptation of each Harry Potter book and a Quidditch spinoff game).
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