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Never before seen Samurai Shodown prototype discovered after being left outside under a tree for 20 years

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • March 18, 2021 at 4 p.m. PDT • Comments: 13

The likelihood of this story playing out the way it did, with such an elusive piece of gaming hardware being discovered by parties who would appreciate it a just before it would have been lost forever, has to be astronomical.

Collector Anthony Bacon of Video Game Esoterica currently has a super rare Hyper Neo Geo 64 Samurai Shodown 64 prototype in his possession. This prototype version differs fairly heavily from the one that actually hit shelves back in 1997, and Bacon has produced a video showing off how different it is as well as detailing the somewhat unbelievable story of how it endured for 20 years in a pile of junk left outside and narrowly missed being hauled to the scrap yard by about a week's worth of time.

If you didn't know there even was a Samurai Shodown 64, we wouldn't blame you. The title dropped for SNK's ill-fated Hyper Neo Geo 64, a console that very much lost the three dimensional war of the late 1990s with Nintendo 64 and PlayStations 1 and 2.

The Hyper Neo Geo dropped in 1997, featured only SamSho and six other titles in total, and was discontinued in 1999. Suffice it to say there wasn't a ton of production of these consoles or of their related hardware to begin with, so you can appreciate why a prototype version of one of its seven titles is an especially rare find.

This particular prototype was left out in a heap of junk under a collapsed tree somewhere in California. An arcade and pinball machine repairman by the name of Craig Weiss was called for a job on an especially dilapidated pinball machine, and the hardware was so worn down that Weiss was prompted to ask where it came from and how it ended up in such poor condition.

As it turns out, this was a case of an old auction collector dying and leaving a bunch of miscellaneous items behind. Much of it was simply left out in the elements in a heap of pallets under a fallen tree. His wife eventually got around to dealing with all of it, and reportedly told Weiss she was just a week away from having it all hauled off to the dump.

Weiss asked if he could look through the pallets for any hidden treasures, and acquired the SamSho prototype as a result. He then contacted Bacon who eventually wound up with the prototype, which, much to his surprise, still worked.

You can hear the story from Bacon himself as he showcases footage from both the standard and prototype versions of the 1997 title in the video below.

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