Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, a 3D platform game released in 1997, allegedly paved the way for Super Mario 64. Jez San, founder of Argonaut Software, recounts the “sad beginning and happy ending” of Croc in conversation with Edge Magazine.
“We had this long-term partnership with Nintendo and we wanted to do a 3D platform game for them because no one had done one,” San recalls, “We invented that.” Argonaut doubted that Nintendo would give them permission to use Mario, so they decided to use Yoshi instead. They designed a game called Yoshi Racers, and “showed it to Miyamoto and he loved it and thought it was amazing. And then said: ‘No’.”
Interestingly enough, San recalls that “what we showed them looked a lot like what they did later for Mario 64.” Following Nintendo’s release of the game, San ran into Miyamoto at a show where he said, “Sorry we didn’t end up doing that game with you, but thank you for giving us the direction for Mario 64.”
San remarks that Argonaut still wanted to develop the game, so they created their own story and characters. This led to the birth of Croc, a green reptile bearing a notable resemblance to Yoshi. Croc: Legend of the Gobbos was a huge success for Argonaut, with a sequel following two years after its release. “If we’d had the funding earlier, Croc would have beaten Mario 64 to market, because we were way ahead,” San tells Edge, “We had been working on it for four years, but Nintendo have unlimited resources, and they got their game out first.”
While Mario would likely have always dominated the N64, it's interesting to consider a world in which it wasn't necessarily the quintessential example of the early 3D platformer it is today.
Take a trip down memory lane with our list of the best N64 games of all time.