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Nintendo

The Wonderful 101 [Beta / Concept - Wii U]

The Wonderful 101 is an action game for the Wii U, developed by Platinum Games in partnership with Nintendo and was directed by famed Japanese designer, Hideki Kamiya, of Okami and Devil May Cry notoriety. It was released in 2013 and has since developed a small cult following among Wii U owners.

The game follows the adventures of The Wonderful 100, a team of superheroes, as they fight to defend Earth from an alien menace known as the ‘GEATHJERK Federation‘. Despite being released almost a full year into the Wii U’s lifespan, the project had in fact been in the works for a few years prior. As revealed by the staff who worked on it over the course of its development, its direction underwent some considerable shifts along the way.

Video Game All Stars, Unite Up!

As disclosed by Hideki Kamiya at Gamescom 2013, The Wonderful 101 began life as an entirely different entity. Kamiya’s involvement with the project started a few years earlier, when the President and CEO of Platinum Games, Tatsuya Minami, tasked him with creating an action game with a cast of some of gaming’s biggest icons. It was set to feature Nintendo characters primarily, as well as guest stars from third party companies.

The project in this form dates all the way back to 2011 and was planned to be developed not on Wii U, but on the Wii.

At that time it wasn’t necessarily based on any specific platform. But when we took it to Nintendo, the discussions went from there, and we decided to put it on Wii.” – Hideki Kamiya, on the first iteration of The Wonderful 101 project.

Although it has been never stated which characters from companies outside of Nintendo were planned, Kamiya did elaborate on the main cast of this original vision at 2013’s Penny Arcade Expo. During an interview with Siliconera, he mentioned that Link and Mario were among those featured. This suggests that the two might have been the basis for the ‘Unite Hand’ and ‘Unite Sword’ moves, based upon the traits of either character.

Initially, the idea was proposed by Mr. Minami, to create a game featuring Nintendo characters or other popular characters together in one game. With the idea of putting characters like Mario and Link into the same game, you end up with a situation where fans of Mario are forced to play as Link.

Moreover, during Platinum’s panel at the event, Kamiya described one piece of concept art for the project, involving other Mario characters. He gave the example of a portion where Peach, Luigi and Yoshi attempt to grab hold of one another to form a bridge, with Mario hopping across the top of them, allowing him to traverse a large bottomless pit. One artist, Kibbles, has put together a sketch for us to illustrate what this roughly might have looked like.

Wonderful 101 mario bridge concept

It appears that this idea might well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The director went on to to say that the people at Nintendo viewing this concept in particular was the point at which they decided the project could not be realised

Conscripts [N64 - Cancelled]

Conscripts is a cancelled game that was in development by Software Creations for the Nintendo 64. There are not much info on the project and no images are left, as it was canned in early development, but we know that it was going to be an action / strategy game in which we had to guide to safety some soldiers, with helicopters and tanks, through various battlefield.

The idea was to have many little soldier characters on the screens (swarms of them) in a huge world, but they never got as far as creating the main 3D landscape. The gameplay could have been like a 3D Lemmings, but with a war theme. The Conscripts 64 team was composed by Marc Dawson (director), Weston Samuels (concept arts), Allan Findlay (3D engine) and Francis O’Brien (3D Artist).

Conscripts by Software Creations for N64

The game was cancelled along with many others Software Creations projects for the N64, as Space JellyForever Dragonz, Dead Ahead, Blade & Barrel and Creator, as they moved their resources onto other projects that were paid for by publishers. Even with various teams full of talented developers, probably Software Creations at that time had too many original prototypes in development and they had to cut some of them to switch resources to those project that had more chances to be profitable.

In the end, the only games developed by Software Creations that were released on the Nintendo 64 were Carmageddon, FIFA 99, Hexen, World Cup 98 and a couple of Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey: all their more interesting and original games (like Conscripts 64) were never released.

Thanks to Francis and Allan for their help in preserving some info about this lost game! 

Mario Takes America [CDI - Cancelled]

Mario Takes America [CDI - Cancelled]

Mario Takes America is a cancelled action platformer game that was in development from 1992 to 1994 at the Toronto-based Cigam Entertainment for the ill-fated Philips CD-I console. This was intended to be the third Mario game planned for the CDI, following Hotel Mario and the unreleased Mario Wacky Worlds. It would have formed a trilogy of Nintendo-licensed Mario games published by Philips, just like the infamous Zelda CDI trilogy: Zelda’s Adventure (by Viridis), Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Link: The Faces of Evil (by Animation Magic).

Mysteriously, while even the unfinished Wacky Worlds gained some exposure from savvy prototype hunters online, Mario Takes America was since forgotten by the wider world, fading into obscurity, and until recently, next to zero information has been available on it. However, thanks to an anonymous contributor, research by Interactive Dreams, LiamR and a former Cigam employee on the AssemblerGames Forum, we are able to preserve some more memories about this unreleased Mario project. 

Super Mario Strikers 2 [Beta / Concept - Wii]

Super Mario Strikers Charged (also known as Mario Strikers Charged Football in European and Australian territories) was released on the Nintendo Wii in 2007 and created by Next Level Games in partnership with Nintendo. It is the sequel to Super Mario Strikers on the Gamecube.

Before it gained the subtitle ‘Charged’ later in development (a reference to the game’s ‘skillshot’ charging mechanic), the game was initially going under the simple title of ‘Super Mario Strikers 2‘. The original title was scrapped before its first public showing at the “Wii Prove Our Promise” keynote in August 2006.

Super Mario Strikers 2 Beta

The original name and logo, before it became Mario Strikers Charged.

More art from early on in development on the game has been found by Unseen64, which offers insight into some of the smaller concepts played around with towards the start of the project.

At one stage, ‘ball launchers‘ were considered as an aesthetic addition to levels. These were machines that would have propelled multiple balls up towards characters during mega strikes. In the final game, these were dropped and only one ball model is shown when a player is able to activate one. Any additional balls earned during the attack’s initiation aren’t shown to the player (up to 6 can be gained at a time); this is a process which happens off screen. These small mechanisms weren’t implemented into the game, as they were viewed as an unnecessary detail that would have needlessly extended the animation sequence.

One of the concepts for the proposed 'ball launcher'.

One of the concepts for the proposed ‘ball launcher’.

Another visual idea that the artists at Next Level experimented with towards the start of development were mechs and other vehicles, which would have decorated the perimeter of certain stages during gameplay. In most of the concept art, these are commonly seen operated by Toads. They would have been dotted around the sides of pitches, acting as security guards and performing other miscellaneous tasks. One concept, for instance, sees one of the Toads operating a crane-like contraption and another in a large digger. 

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