Nintendo

Redemption (Cranberry Source) [N64 – Cancelled]

Redemption is a cancelled action adventure in development by Cranberry Source, that may have been published by Philips Media Interactive for Nintendo 64. While it remains an obscure and forgotten project, from what we have gathered it could have been quite the original and revolutionary game for its time, merging many different genres and viewpoints together: FPS, third person isometric puzzle-platformer and open world exploration on vehicles.

Redemption was designed by Jon Ritman, founder of Cranberry Source and mostly known for his work on cult-classic 1980s computer games such as Head over Heels, plus Monster Max for Rare on the original Game Boy. Unfortunately the team never shown any screenshots from their unreleased N64 adventure, but few details are scattered around the web and in old magazines. On the Playstation Museum website we can read:

“Cranberry Source had a multi-product deal (three, in fact) with Philips Media Interactive. QAD was to be the first game released, Super Match Soccer (or Match Day 3 as it was known then) the second, and the third game had a provisional title of “Redemption”. QAD and SMS were developed at the London office, and Redemption was to be developed by staff at the Cranberry North office. Ultimately, Redemption never really got much further than the drawing board, but the initial designs focused around the kind of puzzle elements found in Jon Ritman’s previous games such as Head over Heels and Monster Max.”

In PC Zone magazine (Issue 41, August 1996) they published an interview with Cranberry Source, along with few details about Redemption:

PZ: What about Redemption?

JR: That’s our epic.. John then goes on to explain the basic concept behind Redemption. In summary, it’ll be a very large action-cum-puzzle-cum-exploration game, using several different viewpoints. Parts of it are Doom-like, parts of it hark back to the classic isometric platform/puzzle games of yore (such as Head Over Heels, another of John’s past glories), and parts of it take place outdoors. In vehicles. It’s quite ambitious, in other words.

JC: To rationalise how we’ve got all this different stuff in one game, we’ve come up with quite a weird scenario which involves a mad, serial killer surgeon who’s grafting bits onto you. All this stuff takes place in your own head, and each level is a different operation. It’s, er, a bit odd really.

JR: It is a bit odd, isn’t it?”

An interview with Ritman conducted by Blood in Autumn 1996 for Emulate! Magazine (issue 6) also mention Redemption:

What are Cranberry Source working on at the minute? Which machines are you concentrating on?

Three games each on PC, Playstation & Saturn –

Q.A.D. – A fly over a stunning landscape rescuing hostages game (2player)

The Net – A multiplayer soccer game

Redemption – An epic game, this would take me too long to describe!

[…] For HoH fans I suggest a look at Redemption (it won’t be released until the end of next year).”

It’s not clear if the game was originally conceived as a PC or Nintendo 64 project, but in N64 Magazine (Issue 12, February 1998) they mentioned Cranberry Source were developing it for Nintendo’s console:

“Our wrinklier readers will undoubtedly remember Head Over Heels, a 3D puzzly platform adventure that was one of the Spectrum’s best games back in the 1980s. Well bless our souls if it’s not about to rise again. Jon Ritman, the chap behind the Speccy original, set up a development company called Cranberry Source who, after a bit of PC-based action, have decided to turn their hands to the N64. And their first Nintendo game will be a 3D puzzly platformer adventure that incorporates the best elements of – yes – Head over Heels. Superb!”

A couple of months later, in April 1998 Jon Ritman and other developers of Cranberry Source were hired by Argonaut Games, possibly because the studio were really impressed by their work with Redemption for the N64. As we can read on IGN:

“The co-founder of Cranberry Source, Jon Ritman, and several other members have left the company to join the British independent developer Argonaut, best known for the original Star Fox and the Super FX chip.

According to IGN’s morning news service, GameAddict, Ritman and his team will be working on an action adventure due to release late next year. Prior to the switch, Ritman was working on an N64 semi-sequel to the classic Head Over Heels. It is not yet known how Cranberry Source will cope with the loss and what will happen to its projects in progress.

Argonaut’s Jez San commented on Ritman’s move: “Many of us at Argonaut have been long standing fans of Ritman’s work, especially of Batman, Match Day, and Head-Over-Heels. I feel he will develop some of his finest work at Argonaut and could help some of our existing games further refine their gameplay.” Although Argonaut has only announced one title so far (Buck Bumble), industry insiders have told IGN64.com that Argonaut is heavily investing in N64 development with numerous titles on the way.

It’s not clear if Argonaut also acquired the rights to develop Redemption, but in the end the project was never completed.

We hope one day to preserve more details or even images for this fascinating and unrealized project.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!

 

Ochanoma Densetsu [SNES – Cancelled]

Ochanoma Densetsu (お茶の間伝説) is a cancelled RPG / board game hybrid that was in development for the Super Famicom (SNES) and would have been published by Information Global Service. There are basically no details about what the game was going to be like, but an advertisement announcing the game was published in an old IGS catalog.

Ochanoma-Densetsu-SNES-Super-Famicom-Cancelled

By looking at the two, tiny screenshots featured in this scan it seems it could have been a multiplayer board-RPG, somehow similar to the Dokapon series. Japanese translation says it supported multiplayer mode up to 4 players at the same time, using a SNES multitap.

Maybe one day we could find more images or information still hidden away in other forgotten japanese magazines. Fingers crossed!

Thanks to Celine for the contribution! 

Demon Hunter [GBA – Cancelled]

Demon Hunter is a cancelled action RPG in the vein of Diablo, that was in development for Game Boy Advance by Independent Arts Software in 2002. The team planned 8 huge areas to explore, each one divided into several procedurally generated sub-levels so you had a different layout every time you would play.

As we can read in an old preview by IGN:

“Even though the game is designed with an ending in mind, players can continue to dungeon-hack through the areas after the quests have been complete, fighting increasingly difficult enemies the more advanced the players’ abilities become.

Like in most RPGs, players level-up their character as they battle through the different areas, earning experience points with every death. The game also features a fog-of-war type element used in real-time strategy games, limiting the player’s visibility so that he cannot see hazards that are coming from far ahead or behind certain objects.”

At the time Demon Hunter still did not have a publisher, so we can assume they never found one and the project was quietly cancelled, forgotten by everyone.

Images:

 

Cosmic System [NES / Famicom – Cancelled]

Cosmic System is a cancelled NES / Famicom Disk System sci-fi RPG that was in development sometime in the late 80s by WaveJack / Imagineer / Atlus. Only a single screenshot was published in Famimaga magazine (April issue) when developers made some kind of contest asking to the readers to send character designs that would have been used for their new game.

It seems this contest was quite a success: they received 23.141 drawings of which they selected a bunch of winners that would seen their designs remade in pixel art for the project. Something went wrong during the development and in the end Cosmic System was never released.

There are probably hundreds of lost Famicom games we’ll never seen a single screenshot of, so we can say we were already lucky with Cosmic System.

Images:

 

Hanasaki Gassen [GBA – Cancelled]

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.

hanasaki-gassen-gba-nintendo-blue-planet-rts

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!