By now I think everyone knows about the Turok Rage Wars gray variant. To quickly sum it up, the original version of Turok Rage Wars was released with a game breaking glitch that prevented gamers from being able to complete the game in co-op mode. Gamers who discovered this glitch and complained to Acclaim about it were told they could mail their cartridge back to Acclaim and get a fixed replacement. Of course not very many people were aware of the glitch and Acclaim kept quiet about it so very few replacement copies actually made it out there. The standard version of Turok Rage Wars was released in a black coloured cartridge but this fixed version came in a gray coloured cartridge. This of course makes it very easy to tell the difference between the two. For many years the fixed gray version of Turok Rage Wars was relatively unknown. That is until 2012 when a box of 120 copies were found and listed on eBay. The listing quickly sold out and nowadays a gray version of Turok Rage Wars will set you back over $100. The gray version of Turok Rage Wars is indeed fixed and working, but sadly the game is more of a collector's item than anything else.
The strange thing about this is just one year after the release of Turok Rage Wars, history would repeat itself with another Nintendo 64 game. WWF No Mercy was published by THQ and released in late 2000. This game is considered by many to not only be the best wrestling game for the N64, but the best wrestling game of all time. Sadly WWF No Mercy would also suffer from a major game breaking glitch.
This glitch found in WWF No Mercy is a little less predictable. WWF No Mercy used on-cart saving and would save using FLASH. This method was rather expensive and very few third-party releases actually used it. The development team at AKI must not have implemented this saving method very well as some gamers were having issues with save data suddenly being completely lost. The exact cause of this lost data is not known 100%.
After multiple complaints THQ opened up a support page for WWF No Mercy on their website. They suggested that gamers reset the cartridge to factory defaults and play through the game again to see if that fixed any issues. Of course this solution did not help and a fixed version of the game had to be made. THQ created a replacement program and gamers affected by the glitch were able to send their copies back to THQ for a fixed replacement copy.
It's quite easy to tell the difference between the two versions of Turok Rage Wars, but the two versions of WWF No Mercy are almost identical. Here are some pictures of the front and back of the fixed version:
There are only two small ways of telling the difference between the two: The product code on the front of the cartridge, and the punchout on the back of the cartridge. A standard copy will have the product code NUS-NW4E-USA while a fixed version will have NUS-NW4E-USA-1. The punchout on the back of a standard copy will also be two numbers. On the back of a fixed version it will be two numbers followed by the letter A. In the case of my fixed copy, it's 08A.
The story doesn't stop here though. In mid 2014 a former THQ employee got a hold of some leftover copies of the fixed version of WWF No Mercy and listed them on eBay. At the time I was looking for a regular copy of WWF No Mercy for my collection and since I like variants I bought a copy.
Of course after buying myself a copy I had to ask the seller a few questions. I first asked him how he acquired them. He said they were found and given away to the employees when THQ moved offices from Calabasas, California, to Agoura Hills, California. I then asked him how many copies he had and he said he got a hold of 2.5 cases. Since there are 24 copies per case that adds up to 60 copies total. I've seen a few sell here and there but they're mostly still available on eBay right now. Interestingly enough there were more copies available but they were thrown away. This particular employee worked at THQ several years after the release of WWF No Mercy so he wasn't able to provide any specific information on the glitched version or the replacement program.
Here are his original 3 pictures from the auction:
The interesting picture is the one of the shipping box they were in. The former employee said he did not save these shipping boxes though. Also as you can see, when you sent your standard copy of WWF No mercy in, you were given an entire copy with a box and manual as well. This is different from Turok Rage Wars where you were just given the cartridge. I have checked the box and manual that came with my fixed copy and as far as I can tell the box and manual are 100% identical.
The PAL version of this game had the same save issue so THQ offered replacements for that as well. Oddly enough this PAL replacement version does not display any blood. All the violence still remains as is, but wrestlers just don't bleed anymore. Both NTSC-U versions still display the blood as expected. One theory about the removal of blood in the PAL version might have had to do with plans of releasing this game in Germany. Several games like Carmageddon and Turok Dinosaur Hunter had to be censored for their German releases. Both of these replacement copies are dumped and can be found in the N64 goodset.
If you're a fan of WWF No Mercy then perhaps this variant is for you. Brand new copies from the THQ seller were available for sale when this article first went online and in the months that followed. Now it's sold out. In less more copies are found the only one to find one will be to squint at cart-only copies listed on eBay until you see the variant's product code. If you're unable to get a hold of one, then I'd recommend backing up your data every once in a while. It certainly wouldn't hurt.
Thanks very much to the former THQ employee for the pictures and information you provided me with.
Thanks to Karilas for some additional information on the PAL version.
Written by Kevin Ames
August 20 2014
Updated January 11 2015