Playstation

Youngblood: Search and Destroy [PC / PSX – Cancelled]

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Youngblood: Search and Destroy is a cancelled action/Role-Playing game published by GT Interactive Software and developed by Realtime Associates around 1997-1998, for the PC and the Playstation. It was based on the comic-book of the same name.

The game featured in various magazines from the Summer of 1997. Electronic Gaming Monthly #97 wrote:

Based on the popular comic book, Youngblood uses the power of the Playstation to give gamers a title that looks similar to Crusader: No Remorse. (…) Control one of the main characters from Youngblood in an isometric view. (…) Pick one character to control or form a group of two to four.

Game Informer #52 told us:

While most would think this title should be strictly action, GT is filling the game with less action and more RPG elements. (…) At times, the game does resemble Project Overkill, but otherwise, you’ll be controlling a party of characters, and the battles will be turn-based.

GT Interactive’s former producer Kurt Busch explained in the issue 31 of Next Generation that they initially planned to make the title a First-Person RPG, before trying a 3rd person action game, somewhat similar to Tomb Raider, and finally taking an approach much more similar to Diablo:

Initially, I felt very strongly we should do this as a first-person RPG (…). But the more we thought about it, the more we realized it would be very difficult to do it because you want to show off the characters, and in first-person we couldn’t work out the right set of views so players could see who was beside them. In the end, it just wasn’t very satisfying. (…) The problem with doing a Tomb Raider-style, third-person game, was that the main attraction of the license was not in any single character, but in the interaction of the team, and at the time trying to do it with six people on the screen all running around just wasn’t appetizing – the interface was just very, very difficult to design. I think the best way I can describe this is as a Playstation version of Diablo, except you control more than one character. You have a team, and you build your team up.

On Playstation Museum, we can read more details:

Get Ready To Rage!

Enter a radical gaming evolution blending a full-on assault of real-time combat action with elements of strategic role-playing. Badrock, Diehard, Riptide, Battlestone, Chapel… Youngblood takes on the most grotesque gauntlet of abominations a DNA experiment ever spewed out. Guide 11 heroes on a series of complex, real-time missions from secret labs to the depths of hell itself! Counter Giger. Find the Drachma codex. Oh yeah… and save the world!
Features:
  • Guide the Youngblood team through 11 real-time missions that combine pulse-pounding action with strategic role-playing elements.
  • Battle through dense jungles, parched deserts, and smoldering volcanoes to the very pits of hell as mutant enemies grow more bizarre and violent.
  • You must destroy them before the evil Giger and the traitor, Dr. Leviticus, finds the Drachma Codex, the secret to global domination.
  • Players can build, train, and hone the skills of the team members.
  • Take direct control of any hero or command an entire squadron.
  • Employ R&D to create powerful, new super weapons.
  • 2-player cooperative option, real-time combat action, and more.

Still according to Playstation Museum, it seems the game was cancelled due to major technical issues, as late former programmer Eric Peterson wrote:

There were three things that really killed it. One was the AI, and one was memory. They had a fairly cute system for pathfinding, but they ran out of memory and made the pathfinding map one-fourth the resolution of the displayed landscape, botching it. Basically no AI movement worked, after that. It would have been a huge task to carve it out and put in something that worked, and I was steeling myself up for it when, mercifully, the end came. Fixing the AI would have meant fixing the memory management, which was huge and hideous. For example, the audio system used 1/8 of the PlayStation’s memory just for its data structure — that’s with no audio samples loaded.
Another, more technical problem, was the cavalier attitude that was taken with handling global variables in the code. All the character code modules were just copies of each other with minor changes, so global variables were declared many times. The worst side effect of this was when global pointers came into play — the very first example I looked at had a global pointer declared six times with four different data types, which was then referenced (extern-ed) in twelve more modules in six different types. The poor compiler didn’t know which one you were talking about, so it just used (I believe) the last one processed as it worked its way through a build. This means that any of the declared variables could be the one used in any particular build of that code module, with no way to tell which it was. General instability and hard-to-find bugs were the result. Trying to chase down the thousands of global variable collisions were what took all the time.
Remember, this monstrosity was nine times the size of the biggest thing I’d ever worked on, Mechwarrior 2. The sheer amount of code made any major surgery a monumentous undertaking. The way it was written made practically everything major surgery.
He added on Lost Levels forums:

Youngblood was something like 2 years in development when the lead programmer quit. I was brought in to salvage the project.

I designed and wrote most of MechWarrior 2. Youngblood, a 2D tiler, was nine times the size and had six times as many modules. There was one spot where there was an “#ifdef Playstation”, followed by a bunch of code, and then an “#ifdef Macintosh” (ditto), and an “#ifdef Saturn” thrown in there somewhere, and SIX THOUSAND LINES DOWNSTREAM was the “#endif” with no comment.

It probably took months to do, and none of it was even getting compiled.

I did a quick couple of tests. At least ninety percent of the comments were wrong, because all the modules were just copied from one another. He’d write some horrible buggy thing, and then (this is not an exaggeration) make 27 copies of it, one for each character.

When I first tried to compile it, MSDev gave 3500 warnings.

Youngblood originally took a minute and a half to load to the title screen, and would leak several tens of megabytes. Pro Tip: don’t null a pointer before you free it. Especially in 27 different modules.

A former animator corroborated:
I think Eric already addressed this issue in his assessment. Like he said it ran out of memory in the pathfinding for A.I. and the resolution of the environment maps suffered for it.
A demo for the PC was made available in some video games magazines, and is still playable today. You can download it here.
Article by Daniel Nicaise

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Gen13 [PC / PSX / Saturn – Cancelled]

Gen13 is a cancelled action game developed around 1997 for the PC, Playstation and Sega Saturn systems, that was going to be published by Electronic Arts and developed by Gray Matter Inc. It was based on the eponymous comic-book franchise.

As we can read on Playstation Museum, a deal between EA and WildStorm Productions was struck in February 1996 in order to make a series of video game based on this licence. High Score Entertainment was tasked to make design documents for EA:

The license granted EA exclusive rights to develop a series of 2-D and 3-D action-adventure interactive entertainment software products based on the Gen13 comic book series for personal computers, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and other advanced entertainment platforms.

EA’s games will feature the comic book’s seemingly average teenagers – the Gen13 – who are actually missing subjects from a top-secret government experiment to create super-humans. Escaping from their keepers, the youths are labeled as fugitives who pose a national security threat to the United States. Their only hope for survival is to use their newly-found powers to battle their enemies and to learn the secrets of their past. The Gen13 are kids on their own just trying to have fun – when they’re not running from spies or saving the world.

High Score Entertainment, the studio responsible for Madden NFL 95 and NHL 95, were in charge of producing and designing the Gen13 game. The high level concept was that the Gen13 video game will deliver the detail, depth and play-control of Mario, the great platform/shooter dynamic of Earthworm Jim, the hard-core action of Street Fighter and an adrenalizing soundtrack of heart-thumping techno and contemporary modern rock- with all the mind-blowing artwork and spectacular characters that only the Gen 13 universe can offer!

Regarding its gameplay, Gen13 was going to be a mix of vertical shooter, beat ’em up and one-on-one fighting game, with a cooperative mode:

THE GAMEPLAY:
The normal gameplay engine will be similar to that of Earthworm Jim where the player controls at least one of the five different Gen13 characters. There are also “team-up” levels where the AI controls additional players on the screen. In the case of a two-player game, both characters will be actively controlled.

In addition to side scrolling fighting/shooting, the engine will be designed to be flexible, allowing for a variety of scenarios such as: vertical shooter, static screen action, zoomed in cinematic sequences, zoomed out view of gameplay, and forced scrolling action.

The boss combat engine will be a dynamic 3-D environment where the characters can cruise around in an arena. The closer the character is to the “boss,” the closer the camera will be. The camera will zoom out respectively when the characters are apart.

CHARACTER DESIGN:
All your favorite Gen13 characters are in the game, each with their own special moves and animation. WildStorm Productions sent EA visual character specifications in order to ensure that the characters are intricately and properly portrayed.

The Gen13 characters can’t get by on their good looks and sparkling personalities alone. Throughout the game will be various ways to help the player survive, in the form of traditional gameplay “power-ups.” Of course, Gen13 offers that extra twist: The Ultra Move. The most potent powerup in the game is the “Ultra Move.” Each character has only one “Ultra Move” hidden somewhere in the levels of the game. The “Ultra Move” is the ultimate manifestation of a character’s Gen Active power.

BOSS DESIGN:
The design team asked Jim Lee and J. Scott Campbell to create the bosses for each of the levels. They have also been commissioned to create the mother of all end bosses to climax the Gen13 game. The mother of all bosses will require true teamwork from all of the Gen13 characters in order to defeat. The game ending boss would be introduced in comic form in an upcoming Gen13 series. A possible marketing ploy would be to offer a secret code that is unlocked upon completion of the game that will allow the player to send away for a poster of the mighty end boss.

LEVEL DESIGN:
Levels will provide diverse physics and game mechanics to give a variety of challenging gameplay experiences. Levels on skates, on ice, driving vehicles, flying, swimming, or climbing will give the user several types of gameplay to master. The different areas of Gen13 will be truly living and breathing environments. Locations will be chosen not only for good gameplay and storyline, but for exciting and realistic visuals. 25 levels were designed conceptually, many of which were drawn out for the developer. Some of the levels include the Grunge and Freefall traveling to Las Vegas in “Viva Las Vegas”, Fairchild discovering an underground complex under the city in “Down In It”, Grunge saving Freefall from One-Eyed Jack in “No Tut In Common,” and Freefall loose in a shopping mall after hours in “Mall Maul.”

BONUS:
Arcade classic bonus games will be hidden throughout the Gen13 game. The games will be spoofs of famous arcade games that are recognized by all. The goal of the bonus games is to score points to earn extra lives.

Once the design documents finished, EA was looking for developers that could have achieved the vision they had for their Gen13 game. Three different game companies made tech demos to show to EA. Those studios were Evolutionary Publishing, Realtime Associates and Gray Matter Inc. Ultimately, Gray Matter was the developer retained by EA.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY:
With the design documents completed, EA proceeded to entertain bids from possible developers. Potential developers included Evolutionary Publishing (Fox Hunt), Realtime Associates (Crusader: No Remorse, Iron Man & X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal), and Gray Matter Inc. (Perfect Weapon). Each developer submitted technical demos for review. It is important to understand that developers have concurrent projects in progress while technical demos are being created and some have more time and resources to dedicate on this than others. The technical demos are not to be taken as indication of how the resulting gameplay would be.

Evolutionary Publishing submitted two progressive interactive technical demos of Rainmaker and Qeelocke. Both demos allowed the user to move the character in a platform environment. The backdrop was from the “Viva Las Vegas” level. The more recent demo allowed Rainmaker to scale the wall of the pyramid in Las Vegas. Evolutionary Publishing decided to utilize 2D sprites for the characters whereas the following two competing developers used 3D models.

Realtime Associates submitted a playable demonstration of their progress in representing Freefall as a real-time rendered 3D model. This demo was put together in less than a week.

Gray Matter Inc. submitted a non-interactive art demo to illustrate the graphics style of the various Gen13 characters including an end boss as well as a fly through to the “Down In It” level. The graphics captured the essence of the design documents and ultimately Gray Matter was chosen as the developer.

But after some months of work, the game was cancelled for economical reasons. Gray Matter shutted down and EA decided to drop the licence.

CANCELLATION:
After just a few months of programming, Gray Matter developed two polished interactive levels, an arena mode, and FMV for both the PlayStation and PC. Three different characters were created for the two side-scrolling levels as well as enemies. Four characters and an enemy Boss were programmed for the Arena mode. Unfortunately the agreement between Gray Matter and Electronic Arts reached an impasse due to business politics. As a result Gray Matter closed down therefore ceasing all projects and all employees losing their jobs. Due to the amount of money spent and the popularity of Gen13 wavering, EA decided it was not financially feasible to engage another developer and instead decided to cut their losses.

Like many other games, over the years, the tech demo made by Realtime Associates and the prototype by Gray Matter leaked onto the internet.

Article by Daniel Nicaise

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Evolutionary Publishing’s version:

Realtime Associates’ version:

Gray Matter Inc.’s version:

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Gen13’s Realtime Associates prototype:

Gen13’s Gray Matter Inc. version:

 

Titan A.E. [PSX / PC – Cancelled]

Titan A.E. is a cancelled action/shoot ’em up game developed by Blitz Games Studios and published by Fox Interactive, from 1999 to 2000, for the PC and the Playstation. It was based off the animated Sci-Fi adventure film of the same name.

In August 2000, Eurogamer got in touch with Philip Oliver, co-founder of Blitz Games Studios, who explained what happened during the development of the game:

“When Fox purchased the Don Bluth studios they started developing Anastasia, and we were asked to put a concept together for a PlayStation game. They were very impressed, but it was decided that Anastasia was not the right game for the PlayStation, and they produced an activity centre for PCs with somebody else instead. However, they promised that next time they had an opportunity, they would consider us first.”

“Then in January 1999 I got a call asking if we would be available to produce an arcade action game for the new film from Don Bluth – Planet Ice. We started work in March 1999, and a few months later the film was renamed Titan A.E.”

The game was based very closely on the movie, in which a young man by the name of Cale finds himself racing across the galaxy to save what is left of the human race, after the planet Earth was destroyed by a powerful but xenophobic alien species called the Drej. “The storyline of the film reads very much like the plot for a video game, and therefore it made perfect sense to follow the same story and let the player control Cale and Akima [the movie’s love interest], and escape from the Drej to find the Titan.”

The game’s settings and visuals were also closely based on the movie, and “Fox Animation (the Don Bluth group) sent us monthly updates of the film, as well as concept artwork and 3D models of things likes space ships. It’s only been in the last few months that we’ve needed audio, and they have been very supportive.”

It was showed at E3 2000, and IGN wrote some more details on the title:

(…) Titan A.E. pits players as either Cale or Akima as they fight Drej aliens and search for the lost ship known as Titan, which holds the secret to salvaging the last of the human race.

Players can take the game on in two ways, through a third-person action/adventure game, or through the cockpit of a ship. Environments and detailed characters will appear from the movie itself, and the story will parallel the movie, but it’s likely that the development team will take some creative license to create an engaging game on its own.

But only a month later, the project was cancelled after the movie bombed in the box-office:

IGN learned today that Fox Interactive has decided to halt the development of Titan A.E. for PlayStation. Previously set for a fall release in North America, the title was based on the animated film by Don Bluth that completely tanked at the U.S. box offices with a total gross of just over $22 million.

While the poor showing of the movie at the box office seems like a good enough reason to cancel the PlayStation game, according to a PR representative from Fox Interactive it was only one of many different factors that resulted in the decision to discontinue the development of the game.

At Eurogamer, Philip Oliver added:

“Producing video games is a risky business. Development costs are high and time scales long. The public naturally buy things that they have heard of, therefore it removes a great deal of risk to produce games based on popular licenses. Unfortunately it means less creative freedom for us producing the game, and ultimately the game’s success is based more on the license than the game itself. Titan A.E. did not do well at the US box office, and that effected everyone involved in spin-off’s from the movie. It’s a great shame that the American public didn’t buy into Titan A.E. ; I believe lack of marketing had a great deal to do with it. It was a good film, and this sets back the whole movie industry in attempting to create SGI animated sci-fi movies, which ultimately could have been great, as well as a good source of material for the games business.”

Some years later, the playable demo of the game leaked on the internet, and a PSX demo CD is also available for purchase on Ebay.

Thanks to Matt for the contribution!

Article updated by Daniel Nicaise

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Superman: The New Adventures [Playstation – Cancelled]

Superman: The New Adventures, also simply known as Superman, is a cancelled action game published by Titus Interactive and developed by BlueSky Software from 1998 to 2000, for the Playstation. It was based on the animated TV show Superman: The Animated Series, itself based on the DC Comics‘ character Superman.

Initially, the game was supposed to be a port of the infamous Nintendo 64 game. However, over the years, it is known that the development of Superman 64 was plagued by constraints between Titus Interactive and the game’s licensors DC Comics and Warner Bros. For those unfamiliar with this story, you can read everything here.

Thus, BlueSky Software made the decision to recreate the game from scratch for the Playstation version, ultimately making a totally different game instead of adaptating the work done by Titus.

According to Playstation Museum, the game was rebooted around 1999, apparently due to the Columbine shooting:

After about a year of development, Superman was again re-designed. In April of 1999, the Columbine shooting happened and was a big blow to the industry as the media were using video games as a contributing factor for the shootings. Scuttlebutt has it that Titus suddenly changed the game from fighting Lex Luthor’s henchman to fighting robots. Supposedly the developer was not allowed to have shootings of human beings anymore or realistic looking weapons in the game. This changed a lot of what the gameplay was going to be into a more switch pulling, puzzle based game which was very different from the animated show and the N64 version.

Set to be released for June 2000, the title was ultimately canceled when the licence had expired preventing Titus to secure it again:

Unfortunately the license from Warner Brothers had expired. Essentially, Superman continued to be developed with no assistance from DC comics or Warner Brothers. The plan was to surprise everybody with a finished product. After almost 2 years of development, Superman reached a milestone: it received approval for release from Sony (…) but by  the time the game was completed, Titus was unable to secure the license. Superman for the PlayStation was officially laid to rest.

For its part, Eric Caen, founder and CEO of Titus Interactive, simply explained for Playboy Magazine:

“Sales were large, so we didn’t lose money on Nintendo 64 or Game Boy,” Caen said. “But Warner Bros. and Sony blocked the PSX version, and that was a heartbreaker. It was 90% completed and we had a half million units in back order.”

In December 2020, a complete build of the game was released on the web.

Article by Daniel Nicaise

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Marvel 2099 : One Nation Under Doom [PC, PSX – Cancelled]

Marvel 2099: One Nation Under Doom is a cancelled 2D sidescroller action game that was in development by Saffire for the original Playstation and the PC. The project would have been published by Mindscape in 1996, but the company decided to stop publishing some of their console titles and One Nation Under Doom was one of them. After Marvel 2099 was canned, Saffire started to develop Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. and Rampage World Tour for the Nintendo 64. It was based on the imprint of the same name.

As we can read on Wikipedia, by May 1996 CD-ROM and VHS video demos of Marvel 2099 were being shipped to game magazines for pre-release reviews, along with a one-page color brochure. The first public demo was shown at the E3 1996 show, and featured a playable single level of the Punisher 2099 fighting SHIELD troops, and also opening menus and some cut scenes. Electronic Gaming Monthly had two quarter-page previews of the game, showing grainy shots of actual gameplay, and a group shot of the player characters. At the 1996 San Diego Comicon, the Mindscape booth handed out brochures, and raffled off One Nation Under Doom pins, shirts, and posters. Some attendees were even allowed to play the demo at the booth, although no copies of the demo were distributed.

Years after its cancellation, Executive Producer Mark Flitman shared some details about the game in an interview:

D.2099: How did Mindscape first become involved with producing/developing a game based on Marvel’s 2099 characters?

M.F.: Prior to working at Mindscape, I was a Producer at Acclaim Entertainment in New York. At Acclaim, I was responsible for multiple titles including all the Marvel titles. I developed a great relationship with Marvel so when I went to Mindscape I kept in touch with them. I knew that Acclaim had a contract with Marvel that tied up every Marvel property for video games. In those days, they didn’t separate the characters into individual properties. I really wanted to work on another Marvel title and asked if they had anything that was not included in the Acclaim contract. Their first response was no, but then they found Marvel 2099. They told me it was available and sent me some of the comic books to check it out. I could not believe my luck! A Marvel property that included dozens of Marvel characters, it was in the future and the characters looked different, but it was full of recognizable Marvel characters (some looked ever cooler in the future!) and the main villain, Dr. Doom was awesome.

I convinced Mindscape that this was too good to pass up and I worked with Marvel and Mindscape management to negotiate a deal. The deal was more than reasonable and included the rights to do the game on PC CD-ROM, Playstation, Sega Saturn and 3DO.

D.2099: Do you recall at what stage the game was at when it was cancelled? 50% done? More? Less?

M.F.: Less than 50%

D.2099: Do you think….had the game been finished…that it would have been a good game?

M.F.: Absolutely!! We knew from the start that there was concern that the game was a side-scroller, but so was Mario! With our development schedule and budget we decided it was the best use of our time and talent to create characters and animation that looked better than any other comic book title, but it was too much of an undertaking to do all the characters in a fully free 3D environment. We wanted the character art to blow you away, so instead of doing a less than stellar job in a 3D environment, we decided to do a superior job in a 2D environment. We did plan to have some levels moving vertically and not horizontally. We also wanted to make sure that there were “branches” in the game play where the player had to choose which path to go down. This would allow replay-ability because you could complete the game without going everywhere. AND we were creating some incredible cinematic sequences to introduce characters or as visual rewards for completing levels. One cinematic sequence that was completed was Hulk 2099 coming down a ladder into an underground sewer system and running through a large pipe towards the player.

We can only hope that one of these playable demos could be found and shared with the community in the future.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!

Article updated by Daniel Nicaise

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