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A while back, Retrology sent me this prototype of Cybernator, with a label that predates the game's release in both Japan and North America. The prototype was dumped and the ROM image is the same as the "Cybernator with Sound Test" version that is in various ROM auditing programs. The prototype ROM image was actually released on a BBS board by "NEWLOOK/QTX" in late December 1992/early January 1993, well before the game actually came out (which was sometime in April 1993). The prototype label says November 1992, which was even earlier than the BBS leak. It is unknown if this prototype is the source of the BBS leak, but it remains a distinct possibility.
One of the first things that is immediately apparent from the prototype compared to the final is that they removed the portraits of the characters when they talk in the final version, replacing it with the text of the character name. No idea why they would do that, as I think it is stylish to have the portraits. My only guess is they wanted the player to know the character name. Here are a couple of examples:
As for the text of the game, aside from the lack of character names, it appears to be identical to the final version.
As implied by the title from the ROM auditing programs, the prototype has a sound test, while the final version does not. Again, it is puzzling why they would remove a feature from the game.
As far as changes in gameplay, I went through the first level and did not notice any differences from the final version. The binary looks pretty similar between the prototype and final versions. The graphics appear to be fairly compressed, so would be a difficult slog to try and find anything different. Anyone looking for a port of all the missing features from the Japanese version will likely not find anything here (except for the character portraits). It is pretty strange that they did remove features from the final version that were included in the prototype, though.
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