Blitz & Massive is a cancelled “point & click” adventure game developed by Spellcaster Studios, following two robots in their adventures all over the galaxy in what was conceived as a parody of sci-fi movies from the ’60s and ’70s. The game used a retro-futuristic look inspired by the same sci-fi movies they referenced to and the 3D engine was in a cell-shaded style.
Just like in a tv series, five episodes were planned, each one containing a tv-like intro with credits and all of them were self-contained, meaning the the story would always be introduced and resolved in the same episode. Spellcaster Studios were inspired by tv series like Star Trek (their main inspiration) and they compared the style of Blitz & Massive to The Secret of Monkey Island and movies that parodied a genre like Spaceballs or Scary Movie.
Developed for PC and Xbox 360, with an investment of 250.000 euros shared between Gameinvest and their own capital, Blitz & Massive was almost complete when it was canceled, with the exception of the cutscenes which were supposed to be created by Overseas Animation Studios, lead by Bruno Patatas.
Spellcaster Studios closed in 2010, mainly because of the worldwide financial crisis and the subsequent reduction of subcontracting work they received. Today the team only remains as a hobby project by Diogo Andrade and Diogo Gomes.
In the gallery below you can see some images from the alpha version presented to Mega Score (Portuguese videogames magazine), that although small and low quality show all parts of the gameplay. Below you can also check a video showing the tutorial section of the game.
“Shadow of Memories” is a 2001 released Visual Novel by Konami in guise of a Third Person Action Adventure for the PS2. Set in the fictive German town of Lebensbaum, the game combines solving a murder case (the protagonist’s very own) with a time travel element and gothic fantasy elements. Like Visual Novels, the game did not offer many possibilities to stray from the predestined path(s), which baffled a portion of its players and reviewers at the time as well as its total lack of action elements in any form. Yet, like Visual Novels, its strengths are its setting, atmosphere and story, which branch into not less than half a dozen different endings. Known as “Shadow of Destiny” in the US, the game was ported to several other platforms: in 2002 it was released in the EU for the original XBox, a short time later a PC version was produced for the west and finally in 2009/2010 it came out for the PSP in Japan and North America.
Marking the fourth installment in the Momodora series, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight began development as Momodora IV. Some footage of a playthrough of the alpha / beta Momodora IV has a placeholder music that sounds like someone tapping on a xylophone in parts and in other parts reminds one of Legends of Mana. The game’s beautifully nostalgic graphics appear to contain much of the elements of the game with the exception that the 2-D backgrounds seem to be enhanced in later versions.
While a large number of elements would remain the same between early and later playthroughs of Momodora, there were some noticeable developments made. A shader was added to the final product to shift the overall color palette to better fit levels. The game HUD was improved with the it being switched to the other side of the screen and fonts that were more suitable for the tone of the game. Grass in early playthrough also had not been developed yet to respond to a player’s movement. The characters and animations in the game would remain mostly the same but the boss in Karst City hadn’t been fleshed out. You can see that the sprite is a static image and probable one single sprite rather than a series of sprites layered over one another. Gamepad controls hadn’t been implemented in the Momodora IV beta.
Momodora IV was developed by Bombservice and published by Playsim, the change in title to “Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight“ was likely because the series was still unknown to most of the world and a more interesting subtitle could have attracted more people. In addition to the Momodora games, Bombservice has also developed Bunny Swordmaster Story.
Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight was released on March 2016 for PC. A year later on March 2017, the game was released for the Playstation 4 and XBox One.
Death to Spies 3: Ghost of Moscow is the cancelled third game in the Death to Spies franchise, in developed in 2010 by Haggard Games and to be published by 1C Company on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. While the original project was never released on the 7th generation of consoles, the game was later reworked and rebranded as Alekhine’s Gun and published by Maximum Games for PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on March 2016.
Previous Death to Spies chapters (Death to Spies and Death to Spies: Moment of Truth) were set during World War II and the protagonist is a member of the Soviet counterintelligence agency SMERSH called Semyon Strogov. In Ghost of Moscow players had to use stealth to resolve different missions and kill enemies without being detected, exploring non-linear levels with multiple ways of completing objectives, somehow similar to the Hitman series.
As one member of Haggard Games explains, Death to Spies 3: Ghost of Moscow was originally canned because of internal changes at 1C Company:
“Not related to the game. It’s more of their change in business strategy. They closed almost all projects in development and all their internal studios after financial problems and focused only on distribution/publishing already finished products.”
To continue development of the title, Haggard Games ran two crowdfunding campaigns: one on Indiegogo in 2013 and another on Kickstarter in 2014. Unfortunately both campaigns failed to reach the funding goal but they were later able to collaborate with Maximum Games to continue the development of the game as Alekhine’s Gun. This new version follows the same SMERSH (now KGB) agent, Semyon Strogov, who was recruited in the CIA during the 1960’s to untangle a plot inside the United States that could spark nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States.
The original beta version of Death to Spies 3 had two other playable characters: Olga Godunova-Lopes and Victor Kovalev. Players could switch between each character at any time during a mission. Alexegy Agamalov, lead developer of Haggard Games was able to provide more details about some the cuts and changes made on the game:
Matt Redmond: I’ve noticed from media, such as screen shots that Victor Kovalev and Olga Godunova-Lopes were to be playable. Was that removed for gameplay balance or to focus the narrative on Semyon Strogov?
Alexegy Agamalov: They were removed because of complexity. It was too much work to design/balance/playtest/focus test/etc.. And we had to cut some features to release the game in time. (After we signed with Maximum Games additional work related to consoles were added). Story also did change, some levels were redesigned to be played by Semyon only.
MR: What kind of abilities were planned for Victor and Olga?
AA: Olga was able to attract guards and other NPC’s, also climbing into some special places (such as small passages not wide enough for the men). Victor was a sniper and knife master, able to hide in shadows or grass. Semyon was able to use disguises.
MR: How was the story modified as the characters were reduced to only Semyon?
AA: Story was completely changed. First story was based mostly on Bay of Pigs invasion. We also had to change the story because rights on it belonged to our previous publisher.. Well, mostly there was gameplay feature cuts (like removing multi-characters), levels were redesigned. Two of the levels were changed from Cold War era to WW2 era (Dts1 levels remakes).
MR: Did Maximum Games decide to pick up the title as they announced plans that the company wanted to expand their publishing portfolio to more mature/adult games? Or was because of the original gameplay demo? (And how much of the game was completed before Maximum Games picked up the project?)
AA: I can’t speak for Maximum Games, but I guess it was a way for them to expand their portfolio. As for how much it was completed, on the moment of signing with MG, Death to Spies 3 was about half-way completed for features/gameplay and 70% on content (graphics/animations/sounds/etc..)
The original Project V13 MMO was canned after a lengthy court case with Bethesda as Interplay lost the rights to make the MMO using the Fallout IP. Interplay could have probably tried to rework their MMO into an original IP, but we can assume they understood it would have been difficult to successfully develop and complete a quality MMO without enough money and without a recognized IP to work with. That’s when they decided to redesign their game as a classic isometric turn-based strategy RPG using a new setting, but still similar to the original two Fallout games. This kind of project is something they could have easily completed with way less money, using their previous experience on strategy RPGs.
To work on this second version of Project V13 Interplay decided to reconstitute the previously closed Black Isle Studios, using their fame to hype up the game, even if only Mark O’Green and Chris Taylor were back from the original team. In december 2012Interplay and Black Isle opened a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to create a prototype of their new strategy RPG, raising slightly over $6000.
Donating to the campaign gained access to the Black Isle Forums on which they posted updates and pieces of concept art from the game, as well as a picture of the tabletop prototype that they were using to test out the rules for the digital game.
Here’s the original details available on the Black Isle website / crowdfunding campaign:
“Project V13 (PV13) is the first planned Black Isle Studios release in years, a post-apocalyptic strategy RPG. You will create a character to represent yourself within the game world. Your character will be a hardy adventurer from a variety of backgrounds; one of the last remaining humans, a new breed mutant, or a technologically advanced cyborg. The choice is yours.
Once you have determined your character’s background, you will found your “colony”. From a deserted city, a broken down military base, or even the ruins of an oil pumping station, the colony will be yours to rebuild and control. Attract non-player characters for guards, peons, scientists, and other activities. Or, if you are the type that so desires, shanghai the NPCs. Put them to work rebuilding your society and improving your colony.
Meanwhile, you will experience grand adventures to gather the resources and ancient technologies as well as fight back the enemy hordes. Your character will gain experience, advance skills, learn new talents and gain access to incredibly powerful equipment. Or die trying.
Explore the world, meet friends, and fight your neighbors for control of resources. PV13 will be your chance to rebuild a devastated world.
About the Team
We’re an experienced team of game developers. We love the post-apocalyptic genre and want to do something exciting with it. PV13 has been in development for years, but we’ve had to make some major changes recently. We believe the changes are for the better and we’re excited about working on this new iteration of PV13.
We Need Help
But we can’t do it alone. We need to raise money to put together a prototype. We need more developers and staff. This is a big world we’re developing.
The prototype will be a “proof of concept“. It won’t have the entire world or a finished game. We’ve got some great ideas, but they haven’t been tested in the crucible of actual play. We need time and money. We’ll have most, if not all, systems in the proof of concept. We’ll be able to run around the world, interacting with NPCs and objects, basic combat, building and worker management, and test the other core gameplay mechanics.
We can then use this prototype to raise the additional funds necessary to complete the game.
Our backers will have immediate access to a private forum, where you will be able to interact with the developers. You’ll have the earliest possible access to the friends and family beta test towards the end of development. You will be able to influence the game’s ultimate direction by providing valuable feedback.
Sounds great, but what will you do with my money?
We have been working hard behind the scenes to resume operations as Black Isle Studios. Since we are no longer constrained by licensing issues, we have the opportunity to build a new IP from the ground up and there is a lot more latitude to unleash our creativity, try some new ideas and even incorporate your suggestions. Our goal at this stage is threefold: 1) prove to management that you want Black Isle Studios resurrected – and all the history and tradition of excellence that goes with it; 2) to continue to staff up BIS and complete our PV13 game design; and 3) to develop a tech demo/ proof of concept for our design that will open the doors to additional funding.”
Unfortunately feedback on this new project was not very good, only hardcore fans of Black Isle and old-school strategy RPGs supported the crowdfunding campaign, it was not enough to really develop a playable prototype and raise more funds. Interplay quietly removed any references to Project V13 from their website, the supporters’ Forum were closed down sometime later and there are no official statements on what happened to it.
“After seeing it and realizing it was months past the deadline, I decided to check it out again and see where the project stood. It hasn’t changed much at all, in fact the ability to donate was still up and running until August 15th, 2014, eight months past the original deadline and two months past the Forum deadline. They ended with only $6,630 (Campaign Successful!), with donations trickling in once every couple months according to their feed.
They haven’t provided public updates since January 3rd, despite continuing to take donations for another eight months. Did anyone around here contribute? Has anyone heard any news? Or was it really just a shady cash-grab by Black Isle/Interplay?”
Only a few concept arts and a photo from the tabletop test-game remains to remember this unreleased project. On September 2016 Interplay sold off all their remaining intellectual properties and video game assets, ending their long troubled existence.