Before Rockstar North broke the games industry in 2001 with Grand Theft Auto III, they were DMA Design Limited, a development team best known for creating the puzzle-platformer series Lemmings. But more interesting and to the point, DMA Design Limited also developed a violent open-world title for the N64, Body Harvest. And for better and for worse, they did so with the help of Nintendo.
Initially announced as an N64 launch title, Body Harvest is an open-world sci-fi adventure title that follows a genetically engineered soldier navigating through time to kill giant alien bugs who want to harvest humans of earth. It was a bloody, clunky game upon its 1998 release, but despite its average review scores, it is fondly remembered as being charming and unique. It was also a commercial failure, but it presented core gameplay and design elements the studio would utilize in the future with Grand Theft Auto III.
A comprehensive story on Body Harvest and its development process is told in a new documentary by YouTuber Game Brain, titled “Grand Theft Granddaddy.” The video features interviews with ex-DMA developers who detail Body Harvest’s development cycle and explain where, how, and why the finished product lost its soul. It also speaks on Nintendo’s relations with its development, diving into how the company demanded RPG elements be incorporated in order to align with Nintendo’s ideas of the time. The game was initially pitched as an homage to sci-fi films of the ’40s and ’50s, but it was tweaked to work with Nintendo.
There’s also a short story on how artist Stacey Jamieson accidentally spilled blood on Shigeryu Miyamoto in a restaurant in Japan.
More neat details about Body Harvest and some of Rockstar North’s earliest history can be watched above. If you’re looking to play the game today, you’ve got no luck outside of owning an original cartridge and N64.
Kevin Cortez is a writer with bylines at Genius, Ambrosia for Heads, Mass Appeal, Leafly and EARMILK. He plays video games in his spare time.