Starshot (under its original title Space Circus) was first conceived in July of 1994 by Xavier Schon, who worked for Infogrames since 1989 as a graphic artist and game designer. He sent around 10 game concepts to Infogrames management between 1992 and 1995, with Space Circus being the 1 which got off the ground due to it being a unique new concept, a 3D platformer. He sent management 3D concept drawings in July 1994, with management finally approving the idea 10 months later in April 1995. At this time the Nintendo 64 was not formally announced so the game was set for a PlayStation release as well as PC, though the PlayStation version would eventually be cancelled due to hardware concerns.
Once approved Xavier was given another Infogrames employee and they were tasked to make a 3D CGI video to show management what gameplay would look like. Some screenshots of this video exist in the design documents which show a different Starshot design and an unused mechanic of controlling other characters or objects, such as a large cannon which could shoot objects or possibly defend Starshot. In May 1996 Infogrames and Nintendo agreed on a Nintendo 64 version.
Screenshots were first shown in issue 44 of Edge Magazine in April 1997, showing another different Starshot design and an early view of the level Tensuns.
Starshot was scheduled to be finished for PC in June 1997, but after seeing Banjo-Kazooie’s demo at E3 in June 1997, and having been impressed by Mario 64 previously, Schon reluctantly delayed the game to try and rewrite and redefine priorities in the gameplay, though he agrees that the level design and range of actions weren’t good enough to compete.
Their 2nd master version was set to be finished in June 1998, but the team missed this date and finished in September after making N64 a main version. Towards the end of production many programmers and debuggers were moved off the project by Infogrames, but they were still paid for the rest of production which made the games development budget more expensive. At points the N64 version only had 2 programmers. The game suffered as the team had fewer resources than Nintendo and we’re inexperienced with optimizing PC versions for N64 hardware. A late release resulted in poor sales and the development team being split up into different projects.
Due to time constraints, an entire planet was cut from the game, Kripkon, named after Superman’s home planet Krypton and centered around Superhero parodies. In this stage players could grab onto superheros and fly to different parts of the level, and the planet even has a fully composed song unused on the PC version soundtrack.
It was considered for release in Japan at one point, with Schon flying out to Nintendo headquarters, however he believes they weren’t impressed enough with the gameplay to distribute the game.
Xavier kept all his design documents and even a timeliness of the games production. Every area was hand drawn before being modeled in 3D, with many areas looking identical to how they appear in game. Some art depicts areas or characters not in the final game, such as Miss Starling, a humanoid similar looking to Starshot who was a sharpshooter for the Space Circus.
Despite the game’s failure and mixed critical reception, when Infogrames asked producer Xavier Schon for movie concepts in 2002, Schon wrote and drew up a screenplay for Starshot the movie to try and being the character back, but this unfortunately never happened. You can download 3 PDF about the unmade Starshot movie: Space Circus story synopsis, Drawing Script, Space Circus English.
This information comes from an interview done with producer, director, and original concept creator Xavier Schon on February 21st, 2018. It was a piece of research for our upcoming N64 book, the N-cyclopedia 64.
Article written by Jalyn.
In the gallery below we can also see various beta screenshots showing differences from the final version:
- Different HUD
- More Tourists NPCs in the “jungle” area
- Better / more detailed graphic
- A couple of unknown areas (removed?)
Thanks to Henrique Resende for some of these beta screens!
Images [Beta Version]
Videos (final version):