To complete the Ninja Gaiden pre-release trifecta, video game prototype collector Danny “Armageddon Potato” Tatro has given me the digital back-up of his Ninja Gaiden III Nintendo Entertainment System sample. He said that he could not find any in-game changes. A file comparison explains why that is so.

There is only one byte difference between this sample and the North American release, and it is located in the header, which means that it has no bearing on the game.

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Danny told me that he acquired his sample from former Tips & Tricks magazine Senior Editor Jason Wilson. The cartridge was originally found in a Funcoland by a man named Jay Tilton (link).

Tilton has a history of incredibly lucky finds. He also once walked out of a pawn shop with two other Nintendo Entertainment System prototypes for $10; one of which turned out to be an early version of Terminator 2: Judgment Day back when it was going to be published by Acclaim instead of its scandalous subsidiary, LJN (link).

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Another Ninja Gaiden III sample copy with the same outer label but dark green EPROM chip stickers appeared on eBay in April 2013 for $3,000; the listing was ended by the seller (link).

The Japanese on the back of the cartridge translates to “Ninja.”

Probably the most interesting detail is the inclusion of “The Final Story” in the subtitle on the game’s front label. The released American version replaces this caption with “Episode III” on the title screen.