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Looney Tunes: By A Hare [Arcade – Cancelled?]

Looney Tunes: By A Hare is a side scrolling racing game featuring Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, that was developed by Sega of Japan for arcades and shown at Jamma 1993 (Amusement Machine Show). After this show the game vanished and as far as we know if was never officially released to the public.

As wrote to us by Sam:

“Next to nothing is known about this title, and the only images available are from old gaming magazine scans. No video footage either and no available ROM. What’s been described for the game is that it would’ve been a side-scrolling 3-player racing game where players choose from Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig while Taz the Tasmanian Devil is always CPU controlled while other Looney Tunes characters can interfere with the race.”

It seems Looney Tunes: By A Hare was developed for Sega System 32, the same hardware used for such games as Sonic The Hedgehog Arcade and Combat. Other websites (Lost Media Wiki, Arcade Museum, Sega Retro, Undumped Wiki) featured this lost game in their archives, but for now there is still no evidence it was ever released.

As wrote on X-Cult:

“The races take place on land, in water, or other planets as well as other types of terrain. Several familiar characters show up in the background and may interfere with or try to slow the players down. Some of these include Sylvester chasing Tweety, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner, Yosemite Sam, Marvin the Martian, and Elmer Fudd. The player moves as fast as the run button is pressed so that there are no unfair advantages. The game has high quality graphics, and the characters’ movements are taken directly from the cartoons. This description can be found in the May 1993 issue of GamePro Magazine on page 16.”

If you find out more details about this unseen arcade game, please let us know!

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9th Power [PS2, PC – Cancelled]

9th Power is a cancelled action adventure developed by Eworks and planned for Playstation 2 and PC. It was going to be the first known project for a major console fully developed in Portugal and at the time it was shown in some of the biggest gaming events of the country.

Thanks to an interview with Marco Vale who worked as an intern (2D and 3D artist) for Eworks during the development of 9th Power, we were able to obtain some more details about this interesting game:

“In 9th Power players would control a character belonging to the resistance, a group of humans who had rebelled against the Atlantids (inhabitants of Atlantis) who oppressed them. As the Atlantids had superior intelligence and superhuman skills, such as the ability to mind-control, it was an easy task for them to take control of the earth.

Only few Atlantids were still alive after their society vanished, but they would do whatever is possible to bring back to life the rest of them. By using advanced technology they were able to revive some more Atlantids using their remains: as an example one of them was rebuilt from his brain and mandible, now depending on his robotic body to survive. The only hope for humanity was a single Atlantid who had also rebelled against the actions his own people, joining the rebels and risking his life to help them.”

The 9th Power prototype was developed using the Alchemy and Havok Physics engines and it was meant to be an action-adventure RPG with a sci-fi theme. The team planned to implement new mechanics that would set it apart from other action games of its time, such as the use of a skill tree and destructible environments.

Eworks was formed in 2000 specializing in software development, but David Rodrigues (company’s founder) always had the dream of making games, so in 2002 he participated to the Game Developer Conference with a friend, to “see how the industry worked, how things were done”.

Eworks found out that they could develop a prototype and present it to companies, but this process was not as easy as it seemed.  They took an early 9th Power prototype to E3 and Game Developers Europe where it was very well received, as they managed to show detailed models and high poly-count for its time.

They managed to gather the attention of Take-Two Interactive, that even sent them a dev-kit console to speed-up development. Unfortunately with the economic recession in early ‘00s there was a reduction of investment in original IPs and a turn to safer investments with already popular franchises.

Eworks’ investment in their first game was already expensive for the company (200.000 euros, with 50.000 coming from the European Commision) and even though they pitched it to various publishers, in the end they were unable to secure a deal.

Unable to find other ways of financing themselves, they cancelled 9th Power and were left in need of a financial restructuring, making them to focus on outsourcing work. During an interview with the Portuguese magazine “Mega Score” in September 2005 the team said they planned to fully return to video games development after the end of a few outsourcing projects. Unfortunately that never actually happened.

Slowly the team fell apart and with the closure of the company, their members ended up creating or joining other companies, such as Ignite, RTS and Vortix (which Marco Vale helped to create). In the concept art and screenshots you can see all the areas and characters created for the first playable demo shown to publishers, kindly provided to us by Marco Vale.

Article by Jump/Error, original version in Portuguese on the Videogame PT Blog!

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The Island of Dr. Moreau [Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a cancelled adventure game that was in development by Haiku Studios, to be published by Psygnosis for the original Playstation and PC in 1997. The game seems to have been based off an 1896 science fiction novel by H. G. Wells and maybe even related to the 1996 movie starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer.

“The text of the novel is the narration of Edward Prendick, a shipwrecked man rescued by a passing boat who is left on the island home of Doctor Moreau, who creates human-like hybrid beings from animals via vivisection. The novel deals with a number of philosophical themes, including pain and cruelty, moral responsibility, human identity, and human interference with nature.”

During their short existence Haiku Studios released only two games, The Koshan Conspiracy in 1994 and Down in the Dumps (probably their most popular title) in 1996. The Island of Dr. Moreau would have been their third project and by looking at the screenshots published in a few magazines at the time (such as Spanish Micromanía Issue 29) it looked like a promising game for fans of sci-fi adventures.

During those years Psygnosis was publishing many games for the original Playstation, as in 1993 they become part of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, but a few of them such as The Island of Dr. Moreau were planned for PC too. The game used real time 3D characters over pre-rendered backgrounds, similar to Resident Evil or Parasite Eve, also using Full Motion Videos and footage with real actors, filling up 3 CDs.

It seems the game would have been divided into three parts, probably one per CD-ROM: the whole Dr. Moreau’s mansion, exploration of the island (estimated area of 13 hectares) and finally an epilogue in an ancient Mayan temple. Gameplay would have been a mix between a classic point and click adventure (Myst) and a real time action game (Resident Evil, Tomb Raider). Haiku Studios were able to develop a complex timetable system to move 60 NPCs around the island, each one with their own activities following the game’s internal clock.

Unfortunately something went wrong near the end of development, Psygnosis abandoned the project and soon Haiku Studios closed down. The team was also working on two other cancelled games, Elric and Demon Driver.

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Iron Angel (Ocean) [PC – Cancelled]

Iron Angel is a cancelled sci-fi flight / combat simulator that was in development for about 3 years by Meta Mode Design, to be published in 1994 / 1995 by Ocean Software for PC. This was meant to be Meta Mode’s first game and while it looked promising, unfortunately it was never completed and soon the team vanished without any trace. The only details remaining from this interesting project are from a series of previews published in 1994 in various gaming magazines. It seems Iron Angel was also shown at ECTS 1994 but we did not find any footage yet.

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In a preview published in PC Gamer (august 1994) we can read:

“From the people who brought us TFX (that’s Ocean, not Digital Image Design), comes an even more futuristic flight sim, with the action taking place both above and below the Earth’s atmosphere as you battle to save the world from Armageddon (again).

What’s so special? Well, have a look at the screenshots. Although this is Meta Mode’s first game, it’s already clear they’re no donkeys – it moves as impressively as it looks. Strike Commander and the forthcoming Inferno could have some serious competition…

If you’re into flight sim in any way, shape or form it’s going to be difficult to turn a blind eye to a game which promises not only mind-blowing visuals but an innovative campaign structure across over 150 missions.

Robert Muir and Alan MacDonald had known each other for years before, but decided to get together in 1991 to write a PC game because they weren’t impressed with what they were seeing in the software shops. So they had an idea, took it to Ocean, who liked it, and away they went. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

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Well, three years on, and Muir and MacDonald, alias Meta-Mode Design (as a game design duo, they’re probably the smallest team working on the PC today), are now all set to unveil the fruit of their collective labors, Iron Angel – a futuristic flight combat game that nestles snugly between the simulation and arcade goalposts. But despite comparisons that are already being drawn between the likes of TFX and Strike Commander, Meta-Mode isn’t pushing the issue – the game was conceived long before most of these youngsters arrived on the block, so they can hardly be accused of plagiarism.

Set in the year 2025, Iron Angel has its front a little more into the future than Ocean and Digital Image Design’s impressive TFX. You’re cast as a pilot in the United Nations Space Force, at a time when the Cold War has re-emerged more threatening than ever before.

Four main superpowers compete for control of the globe, with a sophisticated SDI system protecting against nuclear attack. But a new breed of fighters, capable of destroying the SDI satellites, has made nuclear war a threat again, so the UNSF is set up to keep a lid on the things above and below the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Iron Angel, an ultra-sophisticated high-altitude fighter, is the UNSF’s main weapon, flying against opponents ranging from the relatively primitive F-16s and MiGs in service today to the superior ships flown by the largest superpower, an alliance of giant corporations.

Iron Angel’s main hook is its settings – a mix of sci-fi fantasy and reality. “This is a world where you’ll still see conventional planes, but the technology has improved” says Muir.

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Meta-Mode vision of the airborne military of 2025 includes aircraft whose cockpits have been replaced by gyroscopic cradles that turn inside the plane to counteract the effect of G-forces, landing claws that enable an aircraft to land down on the site of a mountain, and even fighters that can fly underwater! But there’s more to this than just futuristic fancy. Muir becomes animated when he talks about the game’s structure and design. “I’m not impressed by the mission structure of most conventional flight sims, I get bored of just flying from waypoint to waypoint, hitting a target and coming home again. We’ve tried to make Iron Angel as different to that as possible. The closest thing to it is F/A-18 Interceptor on the Amiga, which really broke new ground when it first appeared. We’ve got about 150 missions and they can take up to two hours to complete, which will give you an idea of how involved they are. the gameplay’s much more strategic, you’ll be using your wingmen a lot – like in X-Wing. And we’ve got plenty of hidden extras, like enemy reinforcements if you hang around too long”

After three years in development, Iron Angel is still only 80% complete, so the Meta-Mode boys will have to pull their fingers out to get the job done in time for Christmas.”

Unfortunately it’s unknown if they ever completed the game before its cancellation and Ocean never gave an official statement about its demise. For sure the Iron Angel looked awesome for its time, and it could have been a revolutionary combat simulator, with players able to use planes, cars and mechs – all of them in the same game.

Robert Muir and Alan MacDonald seem to have worked on just a couple of other games, before to also vanish into nothing. If you are in contact with Robert or Alan and could help to preserve more info, images or footage from Iron Angel, please let us know!

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Star Trek: Secrets of Vulcan Fury [PC – Cancelled]

Star Trek: Secrets of Vulcan Fury is a cancelled adventure game that was in development from 1997 to 1999 by Interplay Entertainment that would have been the third entry in their Star Trek adventure game series, the other two being 25th Anniversary and Judgment Rites.

Like the two previous games, it would have featured the entire cast of “The Original Series, principally William Shatner, Deforest Kelley, and Leonard Nimoy, and would have been written by Original Series writer D.C. Fontana, and directed by Original Series director John Meredyth Lucas.

Like the two previous games, it would have been a faithful recreation of the original series, an interactive episode essentially. The game would open with a plot involving the murder of a Romulan ambassador, that would lead into a whole series of stories exploring the backstory of the Vulcan and Romulan races, including why they split into two (something that has not been explained to this day in any official Star Trek television series or film).

The reason for its cancellation was apparently that the game was far too ambitious. Full Motion Video was in its infancy at the time and the game would have been entirely interactive FMV sequences using clay models similar to Interplay’s Fallout series, with full voice acting, something that was simply too expensive to produce at the time. It also became clear that the actual game was not resembling what was advertised. One only need see the trailers and compare them to actual gameplay footage to see this. All of this cascaded into a long and largely fruitless development cyclce. So the game was cancelled with only five percent of the game complete.

There are claims the entire script was recorded by the Original Series cast, however this is false. The script was never finished, and audio recording never seemed to have went beyond small bits of dialogue being recorded, much of it only for test purposes. It’s unclear if even the entire original cast would have been able to record the entire script, or any dialogue at all. For example: Deforest Kelly was apparently too ill when development commenced, and had to be replaced by an impersonator (he passed away in 1999, the year the game was cancelled). All in all, it’s unclear exactly how much work was done audio wise, and to add insult to injury, all files were accidentally deleted by Interplay, making a revival of the game all but impossible unfortunately, regardless on how much was done.

The FMV and motion capture technology however did impress Paramount Studios, the owners of the Star Trek license at the time, who planned to use it to make a CG-I television series fearing the Original Series cast and characters, but that too was cancelled. The game remains one of the more famous pieces of lost media in the franchise’s history.

Article by Let’s Have A Discussion

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