Cybernauts: The Next Breed, formerly know as DNAction: The NewBreed, Matrix Prime and Juggernauts: The New Breed, is a cancelled futuristic fighting game that was in development exclusively for theGenesis / Mega Drive that would have been published and developed by Accolade, Inc. around 1993-1994. Accolade made its name in the late 80’s and early 90s with franchise’s such as Test Drive, HardBall!, and Bubsy but started losing steam around the mid 90’s which caused the company to want to shift focus and reinvent itself. It is possible that this change of direction in the mid 90’s was the cause for some games to be cancelled in development such as Cybernauts. Accolade was also purchased by Infogrames in 1999 so any hope of the game being revisited seems to have ended there.
Although the game was never released, some info about the project and various character renders were found in old gaming magazines as Games World #1 and GamePro #56, plus some in-game screens from an early prototype found in Player One #43. Cybernauts/DNAction used pre-rendered sprites for characters and backgrounds, created with Silicon Graphics in the same way as Killer Instinct.
The game was to be placed in a future setting with scientists being able to genetically enhance humans to create their own superheroes. Some, however decide to use their powers for evil thus pitting a rivalry between those who received super powers. There were at least four planned playable characters: Pitbull and Hotshot who were members of Matrix Alpha, the superheroes trying to help society. Then the two members of the evil organization Overlord: Ground Zero and Tracer. Four additional characters were shown, Shockwave and Banzai, from Overlord, then Recoil and IronClad, from Matrix Alpha.
In May 2019, Eli Galindo, founder and CEO of Piko Interactive managed to retrieve an alpha prototype of the title. As it wasn’t complete enough to make a full game, the idea was first to launch a comic book centered around the background and characters from the game with a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter headed by a company named Virtual Comics in the summer of 2021. There was also the opportunity for the backers to play the unfinished prototype if the campaign was successful. As it turns out, it didn’t manage to reach its goal with 951$ gained on a total of 3,500$ required. Following this, Virtual Comics wrote:
Thank you to all of our backers!
We really appreciate you put time to review and pledge to our campaign!
We will go in another direction than kickstarter and release the comic book on our upcoming website and outlets like comixology.
We are in talks with publishers for physical version. In regards of the OST and the roms. We may re-use an OST in the future if we decide to fund a new game ourselves, and the roms we will try to partner with someone to make a video and a release!
The Virtual Comics Team.
Since then, it seems that no further attempts regarding Cybernauts have been made, with the Virtual Comics website appearing to be down, by the way.
Thanks to Celine and Rod_Wod for the contributions!
Fireteam Rogue is a canceled sci-fi action-adventure game published and developed by Accolade Inc.from 1993 to 1995 for the Super NES and the Genesis/Megadrive. The project was very ambitious for its time, as Accolade planned to launch alongside the game a comic book serie, with also discussion for action figure toys and a TV show.
Next information that will follow are from SNESCentral which was one of the first website to share many details as possible about this title. With a budget of 2,000,000 US $, this project was plagued by mismanagement that ultimately led to its cancellation:
Fireteam Rogue’s cancellation is probably due to having too much ambition. The people marketing the game claimed it would have 100 hours of gameplay, and that the characters would be larger than in most other action games. Personality conflicts and poor management due to this goal seem to have taken their toll, as stated by Russell Borogove (Bornschlegel):
“The project had a lot of problems in development. We spent a lot more time developing ridiculous data compression schemes to fit all the levels into the game, when we should have cut a couple of enemies and a handful of levels in order to get it done. There were also some personality conflicts that culminated with the producer of the project quitting when we were at beta. Shortly after that, the head of product development at Accolade asked us if we thought we should continue the project or not. It was unclear to me how much more work it was going to take to finish it and if the game was going to be good enough to compete in the market by the time we actually got it out, and I advised that we should shut it down. I don’t remember what the others said.”
The late Betty Cunningham on her website claims the game was complete. And it may well have been close to being finished. By the sounds of things, as development dragged on, it was increasingly clear it would not have been released. As artist Scott Ruggels recalls:
“Both of the game projects (Fireteam Rogue and the unreleased Genesis game, Cybernauts: The Next Breed) were helmed by John Skeel. I don’t know what happened to him after Accolade, but after the 2 million dollar budget for the game was spent, with about 750,000 spent on promotional materials, including a 6 foot tall roll of plastic with a life sized image of the main character computer generated within, and the prototype, that was, in all honesty, not very much fun to play, the game was cancelled, along with a lot of others soon after the new management took over, (…)”
The media give differing times for the ultimate cancellation. Gamepro, in its April 1995 issue states it was cancelled, coinciding with Warner Music Group buying a share in the company. Nintendo Power kept it in its upcoming releases section until the August 1995issue. Ultimately, a long development cycle can never be good for a game.
Two different prototypes exist and their source codes are both available on the web. The first prototype is apparently in early alpha and might be dated from 1994. It was leaked somewhere around 2006-2007 and is pretty incomplete and glitchy. A much later prototype was acquired in 2010 by Evan G., founder and owner of SNESCentral and is dated from 1995, although it is not clear from which month:
This later prototype of Fireteam Rogue was acquired by me in June 2010. The seller worked at a company called IMN Control. They were looking into publishing games to package with their controllers, and I guess by April 1995 (the letter that came with the prototype was dated April 6, 1995), Accolade was hoping to get another company to publish the game. The seller said that he did not feel the game would be complete in a reasonable amount of time to bother investing.
In addition to the prototype, there were some marketing materials and a three page FAQ. The FAQ explains the different levels, characters and goal of the game. There is a date of December 12, 1994 on the header of the FAQ. The package included a poster/information sheet that probably was used at the 1995 Winter CES. The poster has an expected March 1995 release date. The prototype itself came on four chips, with a date of “1/16” on it, which I assume means January 16, 1995. I guess that despite the fact that the prototype was sent in April 1995, either development had ceased, or they did not feel like burning a newer copy.
This prototype appeared to be more complete and less glitchy with the addition of Mode 7 levels and a password feature.
On his own article, Evan G. concluded:
Fireteam Rogue is definitely a game that had promise. It had an intriguing plot, excellent character artwork and a promising gameplay system. The Shadowblade level in particular shows the scope of what the levels may have entailed. The shooter levels play quite well and compare favourably with many similarly styled shooters for the SNES.
That being said, the two alpha ROM images available show a game that is not close to completion. Though I was told development may have extended all the way to 1996, the evidence seems to indicate that it was leading towards demise in early 1995. In particular, the statement in Gamepro in April 1995 and the fact that they were trying to find another company to publish the game show that its fate was decided by then. If the later alpha that I have is what was shown at the 1995 Winter CES (which I assume, considering the date on the prototype, and the included CES-style advertisement sheet), it would have had an underwhelming response. For instance, despite the impressive size and animation frames of the character sprites, the animation was not smooth, and led to unresponsive controls. The level designs are poor, and lack the key items to proceed through the stages. The graphics themselves don’t look bad, though they have a limited palette. The promised linking of the levels into a single story was not finished in the game.
The lesson of Fireteam Rogue is that focusing on hype and story before the creation of solid level design and gameplay can sink a game. The back-story of Fireteam Rogue rivals most contemporary RPGs, and the initial gameplay ideas could have rivalled Super Metroid. Instead, a development cycle mired by poor management and delays made this just another footnote in the history of the 16-bit era.
In October 1996, Accolade Inc. released a DOS game called Eradicator in which three different characters are playable. Those characters shares many similarities with the 4 main characters of Fireteam Rogue.
Panic World is a cancelled puzzle game that was in development by Digital Eclipse, planned to be released on Dreamcast. Gameplay was similar to Tetris Attack, Puzzle Bobble or Magical Drop, with players trying to combine 4 gems of the same colors to make them vanish, while doing combos to send magical attacks to the other player.
As far as we know Panic World was never officially announced by Digital Eclipse, but a former developer found a prototype and shared a few photos and a gameplay video on Twitter. It seems the team created an early demo before the game was canned because of the failure of the Dreamcast.
Mortimer in the Big City is a cancelled action adventure that was in early development by Imagitec Design for Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive / Genesis. The project is mostly forgotten today, but a short article about it was published in 1992 on Hobby Consolas magazine (issue 10), with a few details on it’s gameplay (translated with Google):
“Mortimer, who is the “protagonist”, must do everything possible to rescue his girlfriend Maria Mouse from the clutches of Rufus the Rat. There are six levels to explore in which you can find everything: from animals of all kinds to an infinite number of objects, platforms, some humans, puzzles, traps and, above all, bomb-proof action and exasperating gameplay.”
At the time Imagitec developed some fun games such as The Humans and Viking Child, so we can just wonder if Mortimer in the Big City could have been another interesting project. The only Mortimer image published in Hobby Consolas is a concept art, and we don’t know if they ever created a playable prototype before its cancellation.
Fanzuforumu / Fansform / Funsform (ファンズフォルム) is a cancelled action adventure / 3D platformer that was in development by Nihon MMI Technology around 1996, planned to be published on Sega Saturn. The protagonist was a polar bear with a red scarf, exploring a fantasy world inhabited by fairies, in which players could also enjoy many different mini-games.
The only screenshots available seem to be from a pre-rendered mockup, so we don’t know how it would play or how much of the game was done before its cancellation. We speculate Fanzuforumu could have been similar to other 3D platformers of its time, but unfortunately there are not many details about this lost game, just a short preview published in Saturn Fan magazine (issue 22 – 11/1/1996), translated with Google:
“The main character, Adobe Penchade, is a bear drawn in Polygon. The giller manipulates the cartridge, roaming over the field and adventuring into the world of fairy tales. In addition to the main story, you can also enjoy playing with mini games such as exercises and shooting.”
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