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Need for Speed beta (?)

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Hey all!


I have what looks to be a beta disc of the original Need for Speed. It's on an "official" EA CD-R and dated several months before the game's commercial release.


Unfortunately I can't get it to boot on anything. My dev system (testing station) just sits there at a black screen when it's in unencrypted mode. If set to encrypted, it just spits the disc straight back out, same as a retail console.


I imaged it on a PC and decrypted the filesystem (the disc is encrypted) - it reads fine, but I can't get it to work in an emulator either. It has lots of file-level differences with my retail NFS disc, so something's changed. It does look like most of the game is there. There are some images and sound effects that confirm it definitely is NFS. EA Canada (DSI)'s offices aren't far from where I live, so I have no reason to doubt the disc is real.


Do any of you have experience hacking around with 3DO games? I'd love to get this thing to boot & see what's on it, but I don't even know where to start. (I.e. where is the boot code or executable I should look for?) If someone here is an expert on 3DO stuff or knows who I should hit up, I'd love to hear from you. :) I don't want to spread this out into the wild until I know exactly what it is.


Any of you guys have a testing station?


Because people on the internet are weird and like to make things up, I've attached a pic. :P



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Okay, I got it to boot in Phoenix using a hacked FZ-10 BIOS that disables the RSA check. First time I've seen this version in action!


I don't know why it won't run on my Testing Station - all I can think of is it can't handle an encrypted disc that isn't code signed as a retail release?? Does that make sense? I got the disc WITH the testing station so I would've thought it would be able to play it.


It seems like it's pretty much complete, I didn't notice any differences from retail in a casual playthrough. This disc is either dated March 1994 or November 1994, depending on which way they wrote the date, placing it either several months before or after(!) the retail release in August 1994.


Here's a comparison of the two file systems, there are definitely some differences (for some reason '--ignore-file-name-case' didn't seem to do anything) :

diff NFS_3DO_Beta NFS_3DO_retail --ignore-file-name-case -r -x ".*"

Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/FrontEnd/Display: bg.tga
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/FrontEnd/Display: bgnd.tga
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/FrontEnd/Display: bold.tga
Binary files NFS_3DO_Beta/FrontEnd/Display/nvram.3sh and NFS_3DO_retail/FrontEnd/Display/nvram.3sh differ
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/FrontEnd/Display: Pausegame.3sh.old
Binary files NFS_3DO_Beta/frontovl and NFS_3DO_retail/frontovl differ
Binary files NFS_3DO_Beta/LaunchMe and NFS_3DO_retail/LaunchMe differ
Binary files NFS_3DO_Beta/rom_tags and NFS_3DO_retail/rom_tags differ
Binary files NFS_3DO_Beta/signatures and NFS_3DO_retail/signatures differ
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Drivers: BLINK.ROM
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Drivers: blink.rom
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Drivers: CPORT1.ROM
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Drivers: cport1.rom
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Drivers: CPORT41.ROM
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Drivers: cport41.rom
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Drivers: CPORT49.ROM
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Drivers: cport49.rom
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Drivers: CPORT4D.ROM
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Drivers: cport4D.rom
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Folios: AUDIOFOLIO
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Folios: audiofolio
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Folios: GRAFMATH
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Folios: grafmath
Binary files NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Kernel/boot_code and NFS_3DO_retail/System/Kernel/boot_code differ
Binary files NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Kernel/misc_code and NFS_3DO_retail/System/Kernel/misc_code differ
Binary files NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Kernel/os_code and NFS_3DO_retail/System/Kernel/os_code differ
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: ALLOCATE
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: allocate
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: BANGON
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: bangon
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: CDROM
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: cdrom
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: CERTIFY
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: certify
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: CHKNVRAM
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: chknvram
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: COPY
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: copy
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: CPDUMP
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: cpdump
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: DELETE
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: delete
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: DISMOUNT
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: dismount
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: DUMPFILE
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: dumpfile
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: EEPROM
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: eeprom
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: FOCUS
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: focus
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: FORMAT
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: format
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: GDBUG
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: gdbug
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: GENERIC
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: generic
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: HELLO
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: hello
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: INSTALLHWCONTROLDRIVER
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: InstallHWControlDriver
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: ITEMS
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: items
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: LAUNCH
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: launch
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: LMADM
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: lmadm
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: MOUNT
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: mount
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Programs: WALKER
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Programs: Walker
Only in NFS_3DO_retail/System/Scripts: STARTOPERA
Only in NFS_3DO_Beta/System/Scripts: startopera
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If it is March (makes the most sense... though it could be a v1.1 kind of thing which may never have been pressed) then it's not surprising its not obviously different. Have you tried looking at those few extra images?


Might need to give it to some 3DO NFS fans to see if they can find any differences.

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^^ looked through the manual for the retail and I didn't see any info on how to access it, other than "Note: the game may prompt you to free up NVRAM for high scores."


I realize this thread is kind of useless without further info - I'll definitely upload the ISO somewhere eventually, just gonna sit on it a bit while I seek out some expertise. Actual beta releases tend to blow up & I don't want to spread BS or misinformation around. For now, here are some "screen" shots that show the "beta" running on Phoenix (note presence of those extra TGA files.)




...and even some gameplay video of it in action (sorry for the low quality!)


Honestly, to my eyes it plays and looks exactly like the retail. The videos are there, all the options are there, all tracks & cars accounted for. I thought the voiceover at the end was different, but I double-checked and I might have been thinking of the PC version.

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Even if it's not a true beta it's clear something is different. Probably need to take a disassembler to the main executable. I've been fooling with doing that with some of the 3DO libraries and OS in hopes to better understand it but haven't turned to games yet.

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  • 6 months later...
  • 2 years later...

I collect artifacts related to the classic games of the Need For Speed series. Could you please consider uploading an image of the CD on archive.org or hiddenpalace.org to preserve it? I think that many people that are interested in beta versions of games would be really happy to know that there is another beta of the classic NFS. Thanks ?

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Hey all, sorry it took me ages to get around to this. I've uploaded the disc image to the Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/details/nfs-3do-beta


This will boot & play on Phoenix with a modded BIOS. Go nuts! If you guys find out any more info about the contents on this disc or what it is, please post up here or PM me!


Feel free to spread this around to the usual places (except for "betaarchive" as I despise the way they treat dumps of data they don't own as some kind of currency & paywall off their ftp with it.) Optional but appreciated credit to 'xjas' or 'oldskooljay' as the original uploader if you rehost it somewhere.


PS: I also did a stream of the 3DO NFS with a friend who was a dev at DSI / EA Canada back when the game was being created a while ago. You can check out the recorded broadcast here:



I'll try to check back here more often. Have fun!

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  • 1 month later...
  • 6 months later...
On 8/9/2021 at 7:59 AM, derSammler said:

Pretty certain however that it is from November, not March. In the US, you use M/D/Y normally.


I'd assume it's an updated version that would include the NVRAM manager as an additional feature.

Recently have been found the press release of the 3DO version of Need For Speed, and it was released on December 1994. So even if it is from November it's still a beta.


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