Mega Drive / Genesis

Dwagons [SNES, Mega Drive – Cancelled]

The 16-bit era is often mentioned as the Golden Age of Gaming. A graced period that gave us hundreds of awesome classic games. It was a time when 2D game development was maturing and lots of ideas from the 8-bit generation would be revamped with new technology and graphics. Some old concepts and gameplay would still do pretty well in 16-bit, others had to be reworked and adapted, while still using similar and already successful mechanics. The latter is the case for Dwagons, our featured game.

Dwagons is a cancelled maze-puzzle game planned to be released on the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive (Genesis). It was in development by UK based company Imagitec Design. As noted in a magazine preview found by the spanish board SEGASaturno, Dwagons shared similar ideas with Pengo (a 1982 arcade game by Sega) and Sokoban (a japanese puzzle game from the same time).

In Pengo the player must navigate through a maze and push ice blocks to defeat every enemy on screen in the shortest time possible. In Sokoban a more strategic approach is needed: the player have to move and fit blocks into specific areas to open the next level. Both had very simple but very successful formula for the 1980’s gaming market.

Dwagons would add a little more depth into the “static-screen block pushing” type of game in “a combination of adventure, strategy and arcade“.  It would feature multiple-themed levels, co-operative multiplayer, multi-layered puzzles and a lot of secrets to uncover, everything wrapped in a cartoon-like medieval fantasy theme.

Developers even thought about other gameplay elements like magic spells, teleporting blocks, rafts to move through water places and trap doors that could make the player backtrack. By that time, gameplay variety was a central idea among gamers and developers and core mechanics for puzzle games were evolving (see Capcom’s Goof Troop for the SNES for example).

We don’t know how close Dwagons was from completion or how much of the game had actually been made, but judging from screenshots and detailed previews it seems it was already in a pretty advanced stage. It even had a whole scenario and a plot of its own. Two dragons (Dwagons) named Snort and Snail set on a quest to retrieve the Magic Talisman of Power and rescue their brother, Snarf, captured by the evil Lord Flame.

Imagitec was responsible for a variety of  arcade game ports released mostly on Atari and Amiga platforms. They worked with other companies such as Atari Corporation, Gremlin Graphics, and Electronic Arts until early 1997 when Imagitec was purchased by Gremlin and renamed Gremlin Interactive Studios.”

Thanks to Marçal Mora Cantallops for the scans!

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Cutie Poo (DMA Design) [Mega Drive – Cancelled]

Cutie Poo is a cancelled action / platform game planned for Mega Drive and Amiga that was in development in 1990 by the legendary DMA Design team (Lemmings, GTA, Body Harvest), and it’s probably one of the lost games with the most bizarre titles ever. Cutie Poo was conceived from a character animation created by Gary Timmons just for fun and inspired by Disney cartoons and their smoothly animations: when David Jones (DMA founder) saw Gary’s animation he was so impressed that proposed him to develop a full game using that same character (named Bob).

Tony Colgan (a friend of Mike Dailly from the Abertay Computer Club) was hired as a freelancer coder to help Gary with development of Cutie Poo and they had to imagine what kind of game they could create with Bob as the protagonist:

“When Tony started on Cutiepoo, he and Gary sat down and came up with a simple game design. Basically, Cutiepoo (the main character), was trying to save little furry Tribbles (as inspired by startrek), from a character called Doc. Mallet.

This was the days of simple games, and true to this mantra, Dr. Mallet ran about trying to kill the tribble by squishing them with a huge mallet. This all took place inside a chocolate factory – for some reason.

Gary was now trying to get levels together for Cutiepoo, and had drawn the first in a series of test backgrounds. He, Tony and Dave then sat down to decide which style to use. The winner turner out to be the chocolate factory, since they could all see some funny situations cropping up in here.”

It seems that the main objective of the game was to guide Bob through the levels and find the exit as fast as possible, while avoiding traps and trying to save as many Tribbles as possible. Tribbles would also move around the levels and could die in traps or be killed by Doc. Mallet.

Unfortunately Gary’s fluid animations became a pain to code into the game and after a year of development Tony didn’t make enough progress, so DMA decided to cancel the project and focus their efforts on other, more successful games (such as Lemmings).

A playable demo of Cutie Poo was shown at the European Computer Entertainment Show London in September / October 1990, along with other DMA demos such as Walker and Gore (another cancelled Amiga action game), so we can still hope that one day someone could find this demo and share it with the world.

Some scans below are from Raze magazine Issue 1 and Retro Gamer issue 62

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Metal Lancer [Genesis / Mega Drive – Cancelled]

Metal Lancer is a cancelled first-person space shooter that was being developed by Yuji Naka for Mega Drive / Genesis in 1990. It’s the last project on which the the legendary japanese programmer worked on before Sonic The Hedgehog (1991). As we can read from a 2016 Denfaminicogamer interview with Naka, the game’s main character was a girl who controlled a space robot. Metal Lancer would also have featured complex scaling effects similar to what the SNES could accomplish with Mode 7

metal-lancer-mega-drive-yuji-naka

Unfortunately, Naka doesn’t say in the interview why he dropped the project, though we can speculate that either he simply found the game too complex to develop on a Mega Drive or Sega just wanted him to work a more promising title like Sonic.

Thanks to Youloute for the contribution and Michele Zanetti for the japanese translation! 

Space Race [Cancelled Pitch – MegaDrive / Genesis]

Space Race was a game being pitched by Warren Spector to Origin for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive either on cart form or for the Sega CD. According to pitch documents, Spector was looking for concept approval so they could then create the script. Space Race could have also been developed for PC as well and would have required 4 Megs of RAM and a 320 x 200 VGA. The PC version would have been based on Wing-3 technology and had the possibility of modem/network play.

The game is described as a 3D racing game with a difference and was likened to Road Rash and Super Monaco Grand Prix, but taking that intense racing action into outer space, with the player at the helm of a futuristic space-racing ship. The basic plot for the game would have been based in the distant future mankind has met a myriad of alien races in the solar system, and they together have created a championship of space racing that would pit the very best from each planet against each other.

Some of the design elements promised within the pitch document were that the ships would be customisable so depending on your race style or the course, you, the player would be able to make alterations to your ship to suit.

Some of the tracks are also described, there would be tracks that would have a road type surface, but more interestingly there were tracks that would be wide open and would have no horizontal or vertical constraints and as long as the player touched the appropriate checkpoints they would continue in the race. There would also be enclosed winding tunnels with walls made of energy that if the player touched them their ship would take damage but nothing is described as to what this would affect.

A few race types are mentioned, there could be straight up races where no contact between vehicles would be allowed, but there were also planned demolition derbies where it would be last vehicle standing. When the player wins or ranks in a race, they would earn points for their standing in the Space Race championship and money so they could upgrade their vehicle.

All of the items described may seem like it could be quite hard to implement on the Sega Genesis but Warren Spector said “Technologically, I don’t think there’s anything challenging in here, and the design would be a piece of cake, one of the simplest we’ve ever done.” The proposed budget for developing the game was $200,000 for the Sega Genesis but would have been higher for a PC version.

Also pitched was that the drivers and ships could be licensable allowing for more revenue to be made from the game if it was a success. Spector believed that the only game that was being developed at this time that was close to Space Race was CyberRace for the PC and that looked like it was going to be a hit. CyberRace can still be played using DOSBox emulation, but the game came out with middling reviews and was described as “Stylish but not very good”.

This could be one of the reasons that Space Race was not taken any further than this pitch, but as all of the information that can be found about this game is in this document, it is hard to obtain anymore details. If you do have any more details please feel free to contact us.

Many thanks to Joe Martin for the document.

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Frog Dude [Genesis / MegaDrive – Cancelled]

Frog Dude is a cancelled platformer that was in development by Twilight for Genesis / Mega Drive in 1993. The game was never officially announced but, in 2014, Gamesthatwerent contacted Andy Swann, the lead programmer of Frog Dude, which shared a short playable demo of the game.

The main character was a strange man who used a mace to attack and could transform himself into a long-tongued frog. There is nothing to interact with, no enemies to fight, and no sound effects or music. However, at least a nice cutscene welcomes players at the beginning of the prototype.

According to Gamesthatwerent, the project was shelved before it could even be touted at publishers:

Andy’s agent, John Cook, had come in and said that the Frog Dude title was “workman-like” and suggested they didn’t bother with finishing it.

Read more about this game and download the proto on Gamesthatwerent.

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