Cubivore / Doubutsu Banchou on the Nintendo 64

I know I’m a bit late to the party on this one but in May last year, there was an unreleased version of Cubivore (Doubutsu Banchou in Japan) for the Nintendo 64 that was unearthed. Let’s have a look through how it all got to this point.

To get the ROM, you can download it from, or from the download page here by using the password SurvivaloftheFittest. Note that if you want to get this game to work on an Everdrive, you need to open up save_db.txt and add “0xEB85EBC9=5” or else you’ll get this error message:

“Update pack is broken. Try again.”


Like most games with a large ROM, Cubivore was originally meant to be developed for the 64DD. Since that system was short-lived, it made its way to regular Nintendo 64 cartridge format due for release around February 2001. However, the N64 was having some trouble with sales because of the PS2 release and people looking forward to the Gamecube, so a lot of games (like Dinosaur Planet or Doshin the Giant) were pushed to have a GameCube release instead. Doubutsu Banchou finally made its way to the GC in Feb 2002, six months after the console launch, amidst fears that such a weird game would be a risk to have in its opening lineup.

The game was eventually localised to the North American market for a Christmas release later that year. Critics praised its uniqueness and gameplay but disliked its technicality, being a fairly obvious port from the N64 in terms of graphics, audio and camera controls.

Commercially the game did fairly poorly, partially due to Atlus’s fairly small size. Back then, they mostly just published niche Japanese games abroad and any small excess of unsold product was much more detrimental than potential losses from under-production. Because of this, Cubivore is one of the rarest games on the Gamecube, commanding prices of over $500 on ebay.

Cubivore found

From April 2020 to May 2021 Martin Nielsen from Nesworld wrote a couple of articles that talked about the discovery of an old N64 prototype cartridge that he had in his possession for over a decade. The initial ROM dump seemed to be mostly corrupted, but people on Discord helped investigate what little information was available. Eventually, they managed to match the textures to the unreleased Doubutsu Banchou (aka Cubivore / Animal Leader).

That was all that was known for the duration of 2020, but the discussion continued since there still wasn’t a proper ROM dump of the game. After a bit of back and forth, Martin eventually sent it to Marshall (creator of 64Drive and Ultra HDMI) who found the fault caused by a damaged trace on the PCB. After patching it up with a jumper cable, the ROM was able to be dumped without an issue which is what we have today.

The game is an almost-complete version of Doubutsu Banchou. It is missing a few things, for instance I couldn’t find the hidden bonus animal in Stage 1 even though the area for it does exist. The game is also meant to be 128 Mbit (16MB) but this ROM is 256 Mbit (32MB), indicating that they probably still had to do some optimisations to the code to make it more compact before release.

Some differences

Though the game is identical to the Gamecube version for all intents and purposes, there are a few differences here and there. Here are a few shot comparisons, generally speaking the Gamecube ones have a higher resolution and text in English. GC footage is from Youtube user Japancommercials4U2.

The creature from the title screen is changed from the N64 logo to the GC one. Honestly I think the N64 one looks better since the other one has a weird black filling to make it more solid.

The bestiary at the end of the stage has a completely different look and feel. The character’s position, the colour scheme and the text’s location each vary significantly.

The main character had its snout turned into a flat face, completing the cube form. The GC version looks a bit more pig-like and the N64 one looks more like a pink crocodile.

Since the N64 version of the game was still in development, they probably didn’t have a finalised logo to work with, so there was just this plain text placeholder in its stead.

The Killer Cubivore looks identical, with some higher-res textures in the GC version.

Some enemies also have different designs and patterns.


It’s always great when a relic like this is finally unleashed on the public. From what I’ve played so far, this version of Cubivore is playable with the exception that it’s in Japanese so some of the main character’s quirky internal monologue would be lost if you can’t read the language.

I don’t think that the creators of the game are going to go after this release to take it down, given that it was made by a development team that doesn’t exist anymore and it’s an old niche game that didn’t get much attention, even back in the day.

It’s a fun game with an indie feel to it – before that concept was a thing. It’s a bit genre-defying, but I’d consider it a creature builder like Spore or a survival game set in a linear journey. Good simple fun overall, especially if you can’t afford the GameCube version on eBay.

Articles across the web

The N64 development ROM for Cubivore (Doubutsu Banchou) by Saru Brunei has been found and leaked after being hidden for over twenty years.
Article published on N64 Squid


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