Zodiac is a cancelled shoot ‘em up in development at Ubisoft around 1992 – 1993, by a team composed of Frederic Houde (one of the designers behind the original Rayman and Tonic Trouble) and Laurent Cluzel (who worked on Starush, a 1992 Amiga shmup, and later on The City of Lost Children). Frederic talked about the game in an interview by Arcade Attack:
“How did you get the opportunity to work for Ubisoft?
My best friend Frederic Markus worked on a game called Starush for Amiga, Atari ST & PC while I was finishing my military obligation. Then, I tried an approach to join the team. We had a strategy to show something big to Ubisoft to be able to make another (console) version, me as the main programmer. We decided to show a huge boss on the Amiga platform, something the current programmer for this game was not capable of… Ubisoft had no more than 50 employees at this time. I remember showing my Game Boss Demo to Yves (best Big Boss on earth), he told me “ok, I don’t know the project you will work on but here’s some money, consider yourself working for Ubisoft. It was the beginning of my career.
Tell us a bit more about the first game you worked on:
I ended up making ZODIAC (Starush inspired) on the Sega Mega Drive. It took me a year and a half, with Laurent Cluzel as graphic artist, making the engine, coding the tools, alone in my apartment… No internet at this time… The game was 100% finished, but Sega Mega Drive began to slow down at that time and unfortunately Ubisoft decided not to release the game. Only 2 roms exist at this time, Laurent’s and mine. Maybe someday I will give to the Mega Drive Emulator Scene a copy”
As posted by VGDensetsu on Twitter, a Zodiac prototype was shown by the Conservatoire National du Jeu Video (CNJV) at the Bibilothèque National de France (BNF). In there we can read Ubisoft decided to cancel the game because of the competition from Thunder Force IV and the high cost of cartridges, that would make hard to profit from its release.
As far as we know, the game ROM is still not released to the public, but we hope Frederic could share it in the future.
Thanks to Dylan for the contribution!