This prototype was sold on Yahoo Japan auctions in May 2012, ending at 4200 yen. The title screen indicated that this certainly differed from the final version. Matthew Callis purchased this and has shared the ROM image for me to dissect.
First difference is the title screen. The introductory scene that is in the final version is not present, and the title screen has a simple black background. Below the title it says "version 0.55". Perhaps this means it is only 55% done? There is also no continue option.
After starting a game, the initial scene looks the same. When the character moves down though the pillard object, it flashes in the final version, but not in the prototype. The sprites of the knight on the bottom left, as well as the sprite behind the character in the pillars are different. The scrolling speed of the text is different as well. There is a black bar at the top of the screen, which does not exist in the final version.
Disappearing sprite on the top of the pillar. Oops.
The クッ guy changes his character portrait here in the final version. Also note that the main character sprite (the teal guy) is different.
Demon characters are more demon-like. I should also note that the music is far more complex in the final version.
This guy comes in and says something completely different.
Proto: You wanna go off like that, huh? Go outside and beat me to death by yourself!
Final: You wanna go off like that, huh? Then take me on.
Proto: What he says is quite right...
Final: This guy... he can do it...
More evil to the party in the prototype version. The music changes here again in the final version, but stays the same in the prototype. The text boxes in this scene do not sync up the same.
When you finally gain control, there are a few less characters walking around in the final version. Note again how the main character sprite is different.
This guy tells you information about the game, but the menu is not programmed in the prototype.
Proto: Oh! This is the "Information Shop". You don't need any money at all, so don't worry!
Final: Oh! This is the Information Shop! What information do you want?
I think this guy allows you to edit/store characters, but again, it is not programmed in the prototype. Proto: This is the Mercenary Shop! Final: This is the Mercenary Shop! Strong guys are gathering.
The weapon shop is also not programmed in yet.
Proto: This is the weapon/armor shop! What do you want to do?
Same with the item shop.
This is the tool shop. What do you want to do?
Ditto for the magic shop.
Proto: This is the magic shop. Leave exchanging magic (spells?) to me.
Final: This is the Magic Guild. We exchange magic.
This guy has an extra box of text in the prototype (shown) and has a different palette.
Proto: Hmm. I want to rise in status too, but I cannot bring myself to do evil unto people... (the speaker uses stereotypical "old man" Japanese)
The soldiers here have more armour in the final version. They say the same thing, though.
In the prototype, the castle is glowing when you step outside.
One less skeleton in the prototype, and the tree on the top left is a tile higher.
There is a tree in this area in the final version.
These two guys are not letting you through. In the prototype, they say nothing.
Final: One who has not received a task may not leave the castle.
This demon has a different head.
This guy has a whole lot more to say in the prototype.
Proto: The occupation of Zeno lasted only six months and now Apurana is falling. They've got their backs against the wall to the end.
Final: The devil king's army came here to Iruranto from the land of God.
In the canteen in the left tower, this character is not in the final version.
Top dialogue: What? You! Don't you know only legitimate soldiers can enter? (the word for "you" here is extremely insulting, like saying "You jerk!" or worse)
Bottom dialogue: I am a legitimate soldier...
I should note that the entrances/exits are different between the prototype and final. In some cases, the prototype lets you leave a building a tile higher than it should.
There is a barrel just above the stairs here in the final version. Probably to prevent you from going into that useless gap in the wall.
Moving along, this knight is different, and there are spears on the wall in the final version.
This is sort of an end of the road in the prototype. In the final version, the stairs lead up to a room (shown here). In the prototype, it is a dead end.
This guy tells you how to enter the arena for a test. Since the functionality is not programmed in the prototype, nothing happens.
Proto: Welcome! This is the arena's information desk.
Final: The arena is just ahead. Would you like an explanation of the arena?
This is another spot that is the end of the road. These guys are preventing you from going further into the arena, but they are not there in the prototype. In the prototype, there is nothing of note behind them.
Final: You still haven't received a task, have you?
Back to the left tower, where you need to go to proceed, the conversation between your character and this guy goes on a lot longer before the demon comes by. Also note how the entire room is shifted one tile up in the final version.
This guy has a much longer conversation with you in the prototype.
And he doesn't leave, meaning you cannot go any further in the prototype. In the final version, you go to the arena and fight your first battle, probably to prove your worth. In the prototype, this is not programmed in, as noted earlier.
Proto: I let him handle it.
Disappointingly, the prototype doesn't allow you to go far enough to see the battle mode. There are a couple of things I didn't touch on, namely the menu. In the final version, you bring it up with the "B" button, while in the prototype it is with "X". Using things in the menu brings on some bad glitching.
More options are available in the first selectable option in the prototype.
Try to access it, and the game glitches up.
The third option brings up a much different screen.
If you select the last option on the first menu, and the bottom left option on the subsequent menu, the screen that shows up in the prototype is quite a bit different and also glitched.
The menus brought up by the "L" and "R" buttons are somewhat different, probably because multi-character parties have not been programmed in.
The final thing I thought I would mention is that the select button resets the game in the prototype.
So, this prototype of Dark Kingdom seems to be in a pretty limited state. It only allows you to wander through the first castle, stalling before you can even fight your first battle. Perhaps things could be hacked to access other parts of the game, but I'll leave that to other people.
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