Ubisoft's Michel Ancel had been working on an early prototype of Rayman for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The game was never completed nor released for Nintendo's home console, but an early prototype of Ancel's work managed to make its way back into the spotlight and online for gamers to play-test on the SNES.
Omar Cornut from Lizardcube posted up the link to a Dropbox file containing a dumped version of the Rayman SNES prototype in a 716KB zip file containing an SFC ROM. The link was shared through his Twitter account, enabling gamers to download the prototype and play the ROM through any of the publicly available SNES emulators floating around on the net.
The game is well over 20 years old, and it's a somewhat playable game. There's no sound or music. The level is visually working, featuring parallax assets and proper scrolling; Rayman himself can also be moved around, and he has a jump button and a charge-up punch that I couldn't quite seem to figure out how to make work properly. He also has another feature with the 'A' button but all it seemed to make him do is taunt toward the screen.
He moves at a rather plodding pace throughout the level and only slowly manages to traverse the environment. There is a button that allows him to speed up slightly, which works more as a jog than a flat-out run.
Graphically, the game actually looks really good. It has that Earthworm Jim and Oddworld vibe going for it, and the foreground and background elements all seem to gel together nicely. The one stage present in the prototype has a pretty dark vibe going for it, but there's no real way to know exactly where the stage fits into the game's story and if it was closer to the end, the middle or the beginning.
According to Polygon, Cornut explained to them that he managed to get his hands on the prototype after asking for it nicely from Michel Ancel -- who had been posting up images of the working prototype over on his Instagram account. Given how good the prototype works, Ancel teased that maybe he should get the team back together and work on porting it to the Nintendo Switch. Obviously, fans would love being able to take a crack at the game on the Switch, assuming it's ever released in a fully playable state.
I'm sure that after Cornut dumped the ROM and uploaded it online, Ubisoft can gauge the attention and feedback from the community regarding the title. If there's enough traction and attention, maybe it will take Ancel up on his suggestion to finish Rayman and release it on the Nintendo Switch.
At the moment Ancel is busy working on Beyond Good And Evil 2 for PC and home consoles. The game is an open-galaxy, quest-driven simulator with explorable planets, space travel, vehicular combat, and multiplayer questing. Maybe after Ancel finishes up work on the sequel to Beyond Good and Evil he can put together a ragtag team and finally release an official version of Rayman for the SNES?