MSR Playable Alpha Discovered

I remember the first time I ever saw a screen of Metropolis Street Racer in a magazine. It was a tiny little image that showed a couple of sports cars blasting through a Tokyo bus station, and what really excited me was that a game featuring real-world locations was coming to the Dreamcast. As we all know, MSR isn't one of those fabled games that was teased but never released - it went on to be one of the Dreamcast's most championed racers, and even spawned a host of semi-sequels on the Xbox and Xbox 360 in the form of the Project Gotham series.
Buses are behind barriers in the final game
But lets go back to that early image I mentioned (see above). Looking at it now, it's clear that MSR underwent some drastic redesigns before it became the game we know and love today and it'd probably be fairly safe to assume that the early alpha version had been lost to the mists of time, or at the very least rotting on an old Bizarre Creations dev kit in a rubbish tip somewhere. However, we're very happy - and slightly shocked - to report that this isn't the case.

A reader and contributor to the Junkyard named James very recently contacted me to express his excitement at securing a large bundle of pre-production GDs in a private sale, and it turned out that several of the discs contained never-before-seen alpha builds of certain games. One of those games is MSR, and here for the first time are images of the alpha that was teased in those magazine shots all those years ago. These shots are not from the (earlier) build as seen at Unseen64, but are from a later version where the scope of MSR had begun to take shape. Adding weight to this theory, the notes written on the GD and shown onscreen confirm that date of this build is 04.11.1999 - almost one year to the day that the first (buggy) version of MSR was released to the public on 03.11.2000.
The best bit about this, is that the game is fully playable and features a multitude of circuits and vehicles and even includes a 'free roam' mode where you can literally fly around the entire landscape of the cities and just look at the buildings, parks and streets. We know that there is an unlockable free drive mode in the final version of MSR (available after you complete the main Street Racing career), but to be able to fly around the environments of London, San Francisco and Tokyo is a pretty incredible proposition.

We'll have more on this find in the near future, and hopefully have some video of the game in action but for now, enjoy these images of another game we thought we'd never see. Well, at least not in this form.


xanderten50 said...

I seriously want to play that free-roaming bit! Nice find :D

RJAY63 said...

Hi Tom, this version you've found was probably made just before the Honda cars were removed. The cars should also leave the ground too when you go up/down the San Francisco Hills.

I've found some videos on Youtube that show the various stages of development for this game. They are hosted on my blog here (from bottom to top):

Feel free to use them as you see fit (they are not my videos anyway) :)

Tom Charnock said...

Thanks RJAY - love your blog, there's loads of interesting MSR stuff on there :)

Dr. Bilal said...

Fascinating. It has a cell shaded feel to it.

Unknown said...

I remember this screenshot and some other earlier ones. Had me so hyped about the game. I did get it day 1 but never felt it lived up to the early screenshots, graphically at least.