Hanasaki Gassen (in Japanese, literally translated as “Flower Blooming Competition”) is a cancelled real-time strategy game for GBA that was in development by Blue Planet Software (AKA Bulletproof Software), the same company that created the original Tetris for Game Boy and today act as the exclusive agent for The Tetris Company.
The project was officially announced as one of the first games in development for the GameBoy Advance and it was being funded and published by Nintendo themselves. It would have been one of their major titles to be shown at E3 2001, but that never happened: Hanasaki Gassen vanished and was forgotten forever by most Nintendo fans.
Unfortunately Nintendo never shown any image nor screenshots from this lost game. We tried to get in contact with former Blue Planet Software developers who worked on the game, but with no luck. The few details remaining to remember the existence of this cancelled project are a few online resumes.
“There were many factors that the AI needed to evaluate, and simulated annealing was used to allow the AI to learn strategies by playing itself overnight, adjusting its internal weights until the best strategy was found. The AI could thus adjust to changing game rules, and even discover new strategies! It was written in C++ with STL for the GBA.”
From this info and its japanese title we can speculate Hanasaki Gassen was going to be a flower-themed strategy game …with different type of flowers and seeds fighting against each other to conquer the garden? Its Artificial Intelligence could have been quite impressive and ambitious for a GBA game, with… enemies learning new strategies overnight while you were asleep? That sounds cool.
We hope one day we could save more details about Hanasaki Gassen and maybe some screenshots too. If you know someone who worked at Blue Planet Software, please let us know!
a couple things:
-Blue Planet Software and Bulletproof Software are *not* the same company. They have the same founder and worked together on certain things, but they are not a single entity. It seems Blue Planet was split off(?) from Bulletproof in 1996. So they are more like siblings.
-it seems that this game was likely going to be an adaptation of “Genesis”, a prototype concept that Blue Planet demonstrated to several different publishers, but which was apparently never developed into a retail game. Relevant links:
>This has a brief summary of the game, as well as three tiny thumbnails for demo/mock-up movies. Unfortunately, the first two movie links are corrupt and the third is outright missing. Strangely, the movies were removed from the page between February 2001 and April 2001 – maybe before or during that window of time, they started redeveloping the game as Hanasaki Gassen. But it might be that something happened in 2002 to stifle the company, and by 2003 their site was totally redesigned. Eventually they just became about Tetris.
>This page describes their method of prototyping games, noting that The Next Tetris was developed this way, “while Genesis is being pitched for Realtime 3D versions for PS2 and X-Box, and in its 2D Topdown “prototype” version for Win2000 and GameBoy Advance platforms.” That line is in Wayback’s last capture of the page, April 2002, so it was probably forgotten about at some point.
>this March 2000 article mentions Blue Planet & Genesis, and how they had already shown the concept to a few publishers, and were hoping to make more (private?) presentations at GDC. The game described late in the article doesn’t sound a whole lot like Hanasaki Gassen…except for the fact that they are both strategy games about planting seeds to fight a rival faction. The article also says that Blue Planet was developing a game called “Black Onyx”, presumably related to one of the earliest BPS franchises, but based on timing and budget, it was unrelated to the Japanese remake for Game Boy Color that came out in March 2001.
One more thing: that SF Gate article also mentions the unrelated matter of Andrew Leker developing a refined version of a game called “Resurrection” for Sega, which I’ve never heard of:
Perhaps it was renamed to something else?
wow awesome finds! Thanks a lot for your research, Genesis really sounds like an early version of Hanasaki, and it’s incredible to see footage from their protos, I was able to download them and they work! I’m going to save everything and re-upload them in our archive :O Also, I’ll update the article ASAP