Hotline Miami is a 2D top-down action video game developed by Dennaton Games, a team composed of Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin. The game was published by Devolver Digital and released on October 23, 2012 for Windows PCs. Hotline Miami is the final product of a development process starting back in 2004, when Swedish developer Jonatan Söderström (better known as cactus) began working on one of his many videogame projects called Super Carnage.
Cactus stated, in an interview with PC Gamer UK (Issue 247):
What was the original idea for Hotline, why did you want to make it?
JS: My original idea, when I made the first prototype called Super Carnage, was just to make the goriest game I possibly could, with as many weapons as possible. I was only 18 at the time so it was a pretty silly and incomplete idea.
Cactus was inspired by different games for this prototype, especially by a number of games from Japanese developer Ikiki, another prolific mass-producer of indie games like him. Hakaimanin particular, with its top-down style and gore grapichs, was one of the main influences (even for the enemies’ patterns and AI).
Cactus also stated that he really liked the game Nikujin (also made by Ikiki), featuring a naked ninja, because he gave him the feelings of possessing all the abilities from the beginning of the game, not acquiring them through the game but trying to master them from the start, as he said in the same interview with PC Gamer UK:
I really wanted to capture that feeling of always being outnumbered and having to master the controls and plan your actions to beat a level.
Shortly after the successful first season of the Heroes TV series concluded in May 2007, Ubisoft entered talks with NBC Studios to use the license for a video game adaptation. This was to be the second big TV property Ubisoft would adapt following the development of LOST: Via Domus, which had began earlier that year in February. While Ubisoft’s Montreal division was busy working on that game, the publisher reached out to external developers including High Voltage Software.
At the time, High Voltage already had experience with developing TV tie-in games, including the Family Guy video game, and was therefore “a natural choice for Ubi”, one developer recalled. Ubisoft successfully negotiated a deal with NBC, which they announced in June, but the final decision to secure High Voltage as its developer was made over the following few months without ever being revealed to the public.
High Voltage Software’s Vision For Heroes
Just as LOST: Via Domus introduced an original character, Elliot Maslow, as its protagonist, the Heroes video game would have centred around a new female character of High Voltage Software’s own invention. Given how short the project’s lifespan was, it appears as though this redheaded heroine had yet to be named, but you can see some concept art of her below.
In the vein of Ubisoft Montreal’s character, this new member of the Heroes mythos would have acted as the player’s vessel through which they could explore the world of the show and interact with its extensive cast of superhumans. She would have enabled High Voltage and Ubisoft a higher level of creative freedom as they attempted to delve into the Heroes universe without too greatly interfering with the pre-established lore.
In 1998, Nintendo of America’s internal team, Nintendo Software Technology developed a pitch to lock down exclusive access to the Harry Potter rights. Had it been successful, Nintendo would have secured the rights to produce all adaptations of the book series for the indefinite future in video game form; potentially preventing the eventual movie adaptations from being created altogether.
Nintendo’s vision for Hogwarts.
According to one former artist of the studio, a sudden order from Nintendo’s management halted work on their three titles in development at the time (Ridge Racer 64, Bionic Commando and Crystalis) when news arrived that the license was to be auctioned off. This was a blanket license covering all formats of adaptation, including not only video games, but TV and film as well.
“The license went up for sale and all these major media companies were putting together pitches.”
The studio was then split into two: the primary group focused on devising on a pitch for a third person adventure title, whilst a smaller team worked on a potential game based around quidditch. The latter division reportedly included Marvel comic book artist, Adi Granov, who was responsible for character art.
Hogwarts Express concept art by Nintendo ST.
Nintendo ST aspired to develop the adaptations themselves, with versions planned to be released on Nintendo 64, Gameboy Advance and later Gamecube; as well as any of Nintendo’s future platforms further down the line. These releases would have coincided with the launch of each new book.
“All together it was only a week of insanely furious scribbling things to the digital artists to create animations for mock game demos”
The license holder, JK Rowling, agreed to view Nintendo’s presentation, but this was not without some trepidation among the members of Software Technology. Our source alleges that there was a disagreement at one point over which art style would be most appropriate for the franchise. Towards the start, there was a push for character designs inspired by those of the first book’s cover art by Thomas Taylor. However, it wasn’t long before the studio’s higher-ups took against this idea and forced it in a different direction:
“…it went against all my instincts based on what I had read quotes from JK about keeping it strictly British, and I had to revamp my initial designs and go more manga/Japanese – I had a big fight about that, but my boss insisted”
Hagrid’s Hut concept art.
We have unfortunately been unable to post images of these characters, since Nintendo would not allow its artists to share any of them publicly.
According to our source, the crew developing the quidditch game proposal had wanted to follow a similar route with regards to character design:
“[Name redacted] did get to do a more realistic take – I remember his Hermione being really nicely realized, but I doubt he saved anything from those days.”
Ultimately, Nintendo’s bid was declined by JK Rowling. Our source revealed that the writer turned it down in favor of several other proposals by media giants with greater resources, such as Disney and Universal. Whereas Nintendo was only able to offer forays into the realm of video games, these larger companies had the ability to spread out into TV and film; as well as gaming.
Clockwerk is a cancelled puzzle platformer game, which was in development at Next Level Games; the creators of the Super Mario Strikers games, as well as the unreleased Super Mario Spikers. The title was planned to be worked on for multiple unspecified home console platforms during mid-late 2011 (believed to be Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3) , but was never produced.
Two Grumpy Old Men Who Just Want To Retire
The project began towards the start of 2011 and was being worked on in tandem with Next Level’s other main undertaking at the time, which was Captain America: Super Soldierfor the Xbox 360 and PS3.
A poster created for the pitch of Clockwerk.
It was conceived as the story of two old men, Otto & Herman, who work as Hausmeisters (caretakers) in a magical floating clock tower suspended in the clouds called ‘The World Clock’, that governs the flow of time throughout the universe. On their final day before retirement, a faction of evil gremlins attack the tower, dismantling its innards and disrupting the behaviour of time. In order for the grumpy twosome to finally retire, they must defeat the invaders and repair its inner workings.