Venom Spirit is a cancelled action adventure that was in development for Super Nintendo around 1994 by the Pickford Bros, while they were working at Software Creations and after publishing their cult-classic Plok. The game was planned to use pre-rendered 3D graphics on the 16-Bit console, somehow similar to what Rare also did with their Donkey Kong Country series. While Venom Spirit was never officially announced by the company, many details about the project were shared online by John and Ste Pickford:
“This was just after we’d licensed our concept / game design for Plok to our employers Software Creations, and directed the development of the game internally for the SNES. We felt flushed with success, and Venom Spirit was going to be our ‘follow up’. The game was completely unrelated to Plok, but it was a new character and an original game design for the SNES, which John and I worked on near constantly for about two years in our spare time.
We would have been ahead of our time if we’d been allowed to pursue John’s idea of creating all the graphics as 3D models, then using renders of these in the game. […] We also did a hell of a lot of work on the game design itself. We planned a real big, Capcom style action adventure, somewhere between Super Metroid, MegaMan and Strider. We had all the levels laid out, characters and bosses designed, set pieces planned.”
“Seeing Donkey Kong Country come out months later made us realise that we were on the right track. We had the ideas and we had the skills to make great video games, we just didn’t have the opportunity.
We did the deal with Software Creations, and the game ended up in development briefly (with some cool tech too), but, as is so often the case with jobbing development studios, being paid to do movie license games is a much more attractive proposition than risking money making original IP, so the game was dropped in favour of a Cutthroat Island game for Acclaim (with the cool tech being used in that game instead), and Venom Spirit never happened.”
Nandemo!? Taihoman (なんでも!? タイホマン) is a cancelled action platformer that was in development by Namco around 1995, planned to be released on the Super Famicom / SNES. A short preview of the game was also published in EGM (April 1995 issue), but in the end the game was never released in any region. It seems gameplay would have been similar to Kirby and MegaMan, with the robotic protagonist (Taihoman) being able to absorb abilities / fuse with other objects to gain new skills.
“The robot cop from a popular manga bounces into side-scrolling action! Taihoman is an unbelivably advanced mech who has been designed to combat an inept criminal syndicate. He can fuse with many devices to gain powers, line a fan to fly, a lighter to spew flames, a battery to zap foes and even a pop machine to bombard enemies with cans of cola!”
Robosaurus is a cancelled action game that was in development around 1992 by Adrenalin Entertainment and THQ (at the time known as “Toy Headquarters”) for Super Nintendo. Players would take the role of a mechanical T-Rex to destroy cities and fight against aliens, tanks, helicopters and other military enemies. While there are not many more details about this lost game, it was mentioned in Nintendo Power Magazine issue 36, from May 1992:
“Speaking of HQs, thq (Toy Headquarters) has a line-up that includes Swamp Thing (for all three Nintendo systems). Where’s Waldo?, Family Dog, Robosaurus, James Bond Jr. and this Pak Watchers favorite moose, Bullwinkle, all for the Super NES. One-time Power editor and game guru, Howard Phillips, now directs the creative projects for T.HQ. Will Waldo be wearing a bow tie? NOT!”
Two more screenshots were found by Gavin in another gaming magazine:
We can assume the game was based off the real-life Robosaurus, a transforming dinosaur robot created by inventor Doug Malewicki in 1989. As written by SNES Central, the game was possibly shown at the Winter and Summer 1992 CES shows:
“Aliens want to take over the world, and they’re starting with Los Angeles. The one thing they didn’t count on was Robosaur! Use Robo’s giant metal jaws to munch enemies and fry the outposts with Robo’s flame breath.”
PoPoLoCrois is a cult-following series of RPGs based on a ‘70s manga by Tamori Yohsuke, of which just a few games were translated and published outside of Japan. The first game was developed by Epics (G-Artists) in collaboration with Sugar & Rockets and released in 1996 in Japan for the original Playstation, but it was initially conceived as a SNES / Super Famicom CD System project. This 16-bit PoPoLoCrois game was cancelled when the console add-on was canned by Sony and Nintendo.
A few photos from the design document for this SNES version were found and shared online by fans of the series and former developers, so we can preserve some proof of the existence of this lost RPG. As far as we know only this design doc was completed for the SNES CD version of PoPoLoCrois before being cancelled, but it would be nice to know if a 16-bit prototype was already in the works. Afterall, even the released Playstation game had a graphic style very reminiscent of old-school SNES RPGs, more than its 32-bit contemporaries.
Some details and theories about this unreleased 16-bit PoPoLoCrois were shared by Japanese website popolo-crois.com, “translated” by Google translate:
“The plan for the Super Nintendo Popolo shown on the left side of this photo is drawn by Mr. Fukushima in 1989 for Popolo’s animation project, so naturally this plan was created. It was after that. And the notation “EPIC/SONY RECORDS” (all caps) in the lower right of the proposal came to be used after its predecessor EPIC/Sony was absorbed and merged with CBS/Sony in March 1988. However, since CBS Sony changed its trademark to Sony Music Entertainment (SME) in April 1991, it has been mixed with lower case letters such as “Epic/Sony Records”. Therefore, the use of all capital letters in this plan suggests that the plan was created before April 1991 when the notation changed, so that period from 1989 to 1991 I’m guessing it will be until the end of March.
*As far as the date drawn on the setting data of 2 is concerned, it is from September to November 1992. The date of the monster design drawn by Mr. Tamori was also in October 1992, so I wonder if it was probably in the process of becoming a game by this time. In this material, not only Popolo 1’s enemies such as the Ice Demon King and Shitenno, but also Barbara, Myra (also transformed into Sanya!), Zilva, Leona, and other characters that appear in Popolo 2 as well as pilot films will appear. The tango and the figure of Paul the Lion are very widespread, so I have no idea how much story was planned at this stage. However, in July 1992, Sony decided to enter the home-use game console, and since the production of the Playstation version Popolostarted in January 1993, as described below, all of this material is for the Super Famicom version. It is unknown whether or not the PS version was also in view (some people say that Pietro’s hairstyle is shaved due to the memory of Super Famicom).
*3 The reason why the PS version of Popolo started to be produced around January 1993 was that Tetsuji Yamamoto said in a magazine interview (CONTINUE Vol.52) that it was three years from the start of Popolo’s production until release. It is said that it took a month, so I calculated backwards from the release date of Popolo. Also, Mr. Yamamoto seems to have been in charge of the PS business preparation room 10 months before the establishment of SCE, so it means that the production of PS version Popolo started at about the same time when the project of this PlayStation unit started. Right. If so, it is considered that Popolo’s production platform moved from Super NES to PlayStation between July 1992 and January 1993.
As I arranged the flow of production of the PS version of Popolo as described above, it is a question about “the circumstances have changed considerably since the pilot film and the design of the scenario and characters have changed”, but the circumstances have changed significantly Rather, it was before the pilot film was produced, and since then, I have not seen so much movement, including changes in the character design. As for the scenario, the essence of PS version Popolo is concentrated in the pilot film. By the way, what is the story behind the pilot film? At the stage of the pilot film, there was already a design image of the Ice Demon King, so was there any reason why I dared to bring in a Skinnag?”
Popil is an obscure platform game that was in development by Sunsoft for the Super Nintendo / Super Famicom. This lost project is practically forgotten today and there was no proof of its existence online until Dosunceste found a couple images in Console Plus magazine (issue 1). While the game looks a bit like Twinbee: Rainbow Bell, we don’t have any more details about its gameplay. Maybe there are more screenshots and information in other gaming magazines from the ‘90s? If you find something more about Popil (or recognize it among other Sunsoft released titles) please let us know!
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