Towers: Lord Baniff’s Deceit was a first-person RPG / dungeon crawler developed by JV Games (AKA JV Enterprises) and originally published on PC in 1993, with a Game Boy Color port published by Vatical Entertainment in 2000. A sequel titled “Towers II: Plight of the Stargazer” was later released in 1995: JV planned to also port this one to the GBC, but unfortunately the project was cancelled.
Robert was able to get in contact with Vince Valenti of JV Games, who shared some details and screenshot from their cancelled game:
“We estimated it would take 3-4 months to convert. It took about 6. We took the Towers I game code we wrote for the GBC and improved on it to lay out the Towers II game. Came out nice, we thought. Too bad it never made it out to market.
Towers 2 – Plight of the Stargazer, picks up a couple of months after their initial landing. The crew is discovering that there is something very strange in the land of Lamini. There is no outside trade or information, and the locals seem only interested in the current affairs of Lamini.
During this time repairs have been made to the ship, which is almost complete, and the crew is more then anxious to leave the island. This is when the new sheriff requests our audience. Lord Daggan, one of Lamini’s highest council members appears to have gone mad. The council’s elite guards and mages were sent in to stop Daggan, but none have been heard from since.
According to the sheriff, you are Lamini’s best chance. It seems that the only people that have been able to enter the Towers and escape have been individual or small groups of thieves. Several thieves were questioned, and their confessions were amazing. They spoke of large eyes with wings, men made out of metal, and living fire. It is now up to you, with a companion if you choose, to enter Daggan’s towers, and unravel the mystery.
In this game, the mysteries of the island of Lamini start to unravel as well as the deceit of the council.
FGB is a cancelled action RPG / hack ‘n slash in development between 1999 and 2001 by Plasma Works, planned to be published on the Game Boy Color. You could imagine it as a mix between Gauntlet, Robotron and Zelda, featuring coop multiplayer (using GB’s link cable), 128 Levels and 50 different Monsters to kill during your adventure.
In 2000 IGN wrote a preview of the game with their impressions:
“To add to the gameplay, you will be able to play through the game with different characters, each with their own abilities and attributes. Playing the game as one character will key different conversations than another character, so half the fun is discovering how each character handles the same situation.
The look of FGB is very old-school, but very appropriate. Instead of focusing on detail of characters, the artists instead made basic shapes to represent enemies and heroes. What’s more, the programmers have made an engine that can push an amazing number of sprites without flicker the Game Boy Color has a 10-sprite-per-line limitation, but through a bit of programming trickery Plasma Works was able to get around it. According to the company, up to 256 enemies, bullets and explosions can be on-screen at once in FGB. Not too shabby.
Plasma Works is currently looking for a publisher for the game”
In the end Plasma Works did not find a publisher interested in funding FGB’s development and the project was cancelled. A few years later, the team released their own prototype online, to be preserved by the community.
As we can read in the description file shared among the ROM:
“Hi there! You hold in your hard drive a great Game Boy Color game called FGB (the name doesn’t stand for anything). It is a weird and wonderful game that combines elements of an adventure/RPG like “Zelda” with those of an action/shooter like “Gauntlet“.
FGB was developed by Plasma Works over a period beginning December 17, 1999, and ending May 16, 2001. That’s about a year and a half, if you’re counting. Being a small, independent developer, we approached quite a few publishers over that time but were unable to come to an agreement. Game Boy Advance was just around the corner at this point and everyone was slobbering over it, so sadly we decided to terminate FGB and move on to other stuff.
So it was that the adventures of Captain Flour and his merry crew went unheard of and unplayed… until now. To ring in the New Year, we are releasing the final build of FGB to be freely distributed. The game is 100% complete in terms of programming and locations, and 50% complete in terms of quests, conversations, and upgrades – don’t worry, there’s still lots to do, and the game plays through to a definite ending that’s just shy of reaching the grand finale that was originally planned.”
Metro Panic is a cancelled RPG that was in development by Nichibutsu (Nihon Bussan) for Game Boy in early ‘90s. From the only screenshot found by Celine in Famitsu (Issue from 92/09/18) we can speculate it was some kind of adventure game set in subway stations?
It may have been somehow related to Nichibutsu’s Tube Panic, a 1984 shooter that seems to have been the first “3D game” (it used tubular vortex levels) developed in Japan. Or maybe they just use a similar / same title because they already own the copyright for it.
This could have a been a lost masterpiece for the GameBoy, or just another forgotten RPG. We hope someone could find more details still hidden away in some old japanese magazines.
“Metro panic (provisional)
A thrilling and suspense chase over Tokyo’s subway! This is also a Game Boy but the title has been discontinued.
The stage is a complicated Tokyo subway. Children who come to play from the countryside get lost on the Tokyo subway. Players act as runners or chasers. Runners find the children and get away to the target station. Chaser will help you chase it. As a rule, it seems to be something like a tag game. Of course, it seems that communication battle was also possible.
You can confirm that the actual route and station name appear in the screen picture. According to the description, it seems that there was also a mode that can actually search the subway map.
Was it a problem that Tokyo local was, I do not know if I did not get a subway permit, It is a pity that it has been discontinued for interesting content as a plan.”
Game Boy Gallery is a collection of Game & Watch mini games (Ball, Vermin, Flagman, Manhole, and Mario’s Cement Factory) released in Europe and Australia in 1995 for the original Game Boy. Aidan noticed that a 1994 UK ad for the Super Game Boy has beta footage of Ball, Vermin, Manhole, and Vermin’s mode select screen. The footage is only a couple of seconds (or, in Ball’s case, a couple of frames), but you can check a few screenshots here, with comparisons to the original G&Ws and the final version of Game Boy Gallery. Manhole’s character also changes his expression!
Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Curse is the cancelled Game Boy Color version of the Rare Ltd. project that would later become Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge, released on GBA in 2003 by publisher, THQ. Initially established midway through 1999, Grunty’s Curse represents the original vision for the title with an alternate storyline, and levels that never saw the light of day.
Unlike the game released, Grunty’s Revenge, the GBC game does not take place mere months after the events of the first Banjo. Instead, it begins “a few years” after it, according to design documents recovered by a former Rare employee. Whereas Revenge features a tale about time travel, in which the newly resurrected Mecha-Grunty escapes to the past in order to stop the titular duo from ever meeting, the plot of Curse tried another approach.
The title would have opened with Mecha-Grunty confronting Banjo and his friends, placing curses on each of them (with the convenient exception of Banjo himself), as her reign of terror resumes. She starts by morphing Kazooie into a “monster” version of herself; a larger blue bird with allegiances to Grunty. Then, she transforms Bottles into a “funny creature”, as the documents describe it, before manipulating Mumbo‘s mind into making him attack Banjo. While the two fight, she takes off with Kazooie in tow.
The hero, however, is soon able to out-duel Mumbo, releasing him from the spell. A determined Mumbo then chases after the villainous witch, but to no avail. In a planned comedy set piece, the character inexplicably falls victim to all manner of bad luck: a black cat pounces on him, he runs under a ladder, before a mirror falls and smashes over his head. When Banjo catches up to him, he finds that Mumbo has been stricken with amnesia as a result of his injuries. His memory fails him, but he is able to recall that Banjo must collect several magical ingredients in order to relieve Bottles of his condition.
Banjo, however, comes to the realisation that he has forgotten his moves in the time since his last adventure. With Bottles incapacitated, he will need to seek out a new mentor to provide tutorials. Thus, he chases down Grampa Mole, the elderly father of Bottles. As development progressed, Grampa Mole would evolve into ‘Bozzeye‘, the NPC that teaches Banjo in Grunty’s Revenge during his visit to the past.
Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Curse featured two worlds that were ultimately dropped from the slate as time went on. These were dubbed ‘MohendraBanjo’, and ‘Fiery Furnace’ respectively.
MohendraBanjo was a stage set in and around the ruins of a jungle temple in the far East:
Fiery Furnace, on the other hand, is described as a ‘dark industrial’ themed level filled with machinery and fire hazards:
While MohendraBanjo appears to have been scrapped fairly early on in the project’s life span, Fiery Furnace would make it considerably further. It even appeared in a leaked early prototype build for the GBA game, albeit in a largely unfinished state. Due to time and storage limitations, the team reduced Fiery Furnace in size and adapted it into a small part of the Freezing Furnace level.
Fiery Furnace protoype video:
We have been able to ascertain that a plethora of enemies were explored during Grunty’s Curse, before being abandoned. In MohendraBanjo world, for example, the developers imagined enemies based around cobras and scorpions, in line with its far Eastern theme. You can see some illustrations of these lost baddies here:
According to the design plans from October 1999, Rare had originally intended to include the ‘Bee Banjo‘ transformation that first appeared in Banjo Kazooie. This would have allowed players to fire stingers in a straight line to attack foes, as well as the ability of flight for an unlimited period to traverse larger platforming gaps.
Early in development, the team was exploring the possibility of ‘useless transformations‘ too. These were power-ups that served no other purpose than comedic effect; a hidden extra in the game to amuse players. Only one of them was slated to be added due to storage restrictions, but a number of them were being looked into:
Unused Transformation Functions
There were considerations for a handful of secondary functions for transformations that were left on the cutting room floor:
Tank Banjo originally was going to allow players to directly control the crosshair for greater precision. Players would tap the ‘B’ button to switch from directional movement to manipulating the aim of the cannon. In the final game, tapping the ‘B’ button does nothing. In addition, the tank originally fired eggs. The Grunty’s Revenge tank, however, fires missiles.
Octopus Banjo originally was set to be able to swim faster by double tapping the D-pad in any direction.
Mouse Banjo was intended to have a ‘shrinking’ function mapped to the ‘B’ button. This would enable Banjo to manually reduce his size for a limited period to fit through smaller gaps in his environment.
Alternative Level Titles
The documents provided also reveal numerous stage names that were eventually changed over the course of development. Among these are ‘Cottage Farm’, which became ‘Cliff Farm’, ‘Soggy Bog Swamp’ was revised to ‘Bad Magic Bayou’, ‘Freezing Furnace’ was originally ‘Freezing Fjord.
Although a playable prototype of the game in its GBC form is not to have ever been made, we have learned that the team of artists assigned to the project at Rare produced a multitude of digital art assets intended for one in 1999. These included sprites of some of the main characters, as well as designs for UI screens, like a pause menu.