Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, a 3D platformer released in 1997, is said to have paved the way for Super Mario 64. Jez San, founder of Argonaut Software, recounts Croc’s “sad beginning and happy ending” in a conversation with Edge Magazine.
“We had this long-term partnership with Nintendo and we wanted to do a 3D platformer for them because no one had done that,” San recalled, “We came up with that.” Argonaut doubted that Nintendo would give them permission to use Mario, so they decided to use Yoshi instead. They made a game called Yoshi Racers, and “showed it to Miyamoto and he loved it and thought it was amazing. And then he said, ‘No.’
Interestingly, San recalls that “what we showed them was very similar to what they did later to mario 64.” After Nintendo released the game, San bumped into Miyamoto on a show where he said, “Sorry, we didn’t end up making this game with you guys, but thanks for giving us the direction of 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. Fang: Legend of the Gobbos was a massive hit for Argonaut, with a sequel two years after its release. “If we had had the funding sooner, Croc would have beaten Mario 64 to market, because we had a head start,” San told Edge, “We’ve been working on it for four years, but Nintendo has unlimited resources, and they got their game first.
While Mario would have probably always dominated the N64, it’s interesting to consider a world in which it wasn’t necessarily the quintessential example of the first 3D platformer that it is today.
Take a trip down memory lane with our list of best N64 games all time.