Unseen News

Contest: design the front cover for the Unseen64 book!

Contest: design the front cover for the Unseen64 book!

After 1 year and half of collective volunteer work during our (not much) spare time, sleepless nights researching, contacting developers and writing about lost games, 40+ authors that contributed with articles… our book is almost complete! Articles, related content and interviews are about 95% ready, all our (last) energies and efforts are focused to be able to publish the book this summer or early autumn. When the content will be 100% complete, we’ll have to insert these 300+ pages into the book layout, adding screenshots, photos, concept arts.. it will still take a while, but as this year is the 15° anniversary of Unseen64, the book will be the best way to celebrate together :)

Now it’s time to find a great front cover for the book… but we suck at drawing, so we’d like to ask to all our readers for help: are you an artist or do you just love to draw random stuff with Paint? Would you like to feature your artwork on the front cover of a book about cancelled games? Send us your artworks!

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The plan is to publish 2 versions of the book, one in full color and a cheaper one in black / white interior, so there will be 2 different covers, one for each version. We’d like to reward the authors of the winning covers with a copy of the book: the author of the cover chosen for the the full-color book will receive this version, while the author of the cover for the black / white book will receive the b/w version. Both covers will still be in full color but we will not rule out the possibility to use a black / white cover if there will be a great one.

Naturally as it will be a book about unseen games, we cannot left out all the unused covers: ALL PROPOSED COVERS will still be published in a “lost covers gallery” at the end of the book, with each author’s details, as their name, email and link to their online portfolio, so that readers will be able to admire everyone’s effort and talent.

Cover ideas:

There’s not a specific brief for the cover artwork, so feel free to drawn your own ideas. What would you put on the front cover of a book titled “Videogames you will never play”? There could be a group of characters from some of these lost games (here are some examples) drawn in your own style, a symbolic image with people that cannot play unreleased games or awesome pixel art to show games forgotten in a dusty warehouse, X-Files style. Whatever your imagination can cook up!

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Contest and file details:

 

Saints Row: Undercover – watch the live streaming in a few hours!

Update: you can now download the playable prototype of Saints Row: Undercover

Some days ago we wrote about Saints Row: Undercover, the cancelled PSP game revealed by Volition during one of their weekly Twitch Streams. Today you will be able to see even more from the game thanks to a dedicated stream (watch it live at 2pm pacific time), in which they will play the Saints Row: Undercover prototype, share their memories on the project, explain how they were able to save it from being lost and answer to all your questions.

The Stream is Over!

If you missed it, you can rewarch the full episode on Volition Twitch Archive

Join us on the Volition Stream at 2pm pacific time, to watch live the prototype being played and to learn more interesting details about its development! As we wrote before, please show Volition your support during the stream (ask questions in the Twitch chat, share the stream on your social accounts, etc.), as if they will get enough good feedback then in the future they could show even more lost games that are still hidden away in their archives! 

Saints Row: Undercover [PSP – Cancelled]

Saints Row: Undercover (also known as Saints Row: The Fall in its early phase) is a cancelled chapter in the popular over-the-top open world series by Volition, planned to be released for Sony’s PSP. This game was meant to be the first entry of Saints Row for portable consoles and while a 3DS version was also announced many years ago (titled Saints Row: Drive-By), neither of them were ever released.

Development on Undercover was originally started by Mass Media Games (that already worked with Volition on the PS3 version of Saints Row 2) and then transferred to Savage Entertainment (the same team that ported Star Wars: Battlefront II and Medal of Honor: Vanguard to the PSP). Initially Volition wanted to simply port Saints Row 2 to the PSP, but after a while the project became a new, original sequel, with its own story and characters.

Saints Row: The Fall  was to be set between Saints Row 1 and 2, but thanks to the success of SR2 they later decided to create a sequel to the second game, to expand its story and making it more interesting for the fans. In Saints Row PSP the city would have been split as a result of a civil war within the Saints. The Third Street Saints, who the player would have joined, possessed only a little area in the middle. We would have took the role of an undercover cop, charged with investigating the civil war within the Saints, and at the end of the game we could have decided to join them and betray the police.

The plan for Undercover was to create something similar to the GTA games for the PSP, keeping the core gameplay of the series, with crazy gameplay, a fun world to explore, character customization and coop multiplayer. The game would have had 20 main story missions to complete, along with the usual SR side activities to earn respect points.

Savage Entertainment developed a short playable prototype, but unfortunately after multiple reviews Volition decided that Undercover just wasn’t meeting the standards of what they thought a Saints Row game should be. The game was cancelled and the PSP dev kit on which the project was created was hidden away in one of Volition’s storage rooms.

Only many years later Saints Row: Undercover was found again thanks to Josh Stinson (Associate Video Editor at Volition), that stumbled upon that PSP dev kit while looking around their office. After talking about it with colleagues and with the support of Alexander Mejia (Video Producer at Volition) and Mike Watson (Community Manager at Volition), they were able to convince their bosses that such a lost games should have been shared with the fans, as an interesting curiosity and a piece of gaming history to preserve. During Volition’s stream on Twitch on the 22January 2016 they officially shown Saints Row: Undercover to the world and this Thursday (Jan 28) they will do a dedicated stream around 4pm CST.

Please join their stream on Twitch the 28th of January to see more from this lost game and to ask every questions you have directly to Volition! This is really important as if this stream will be successful Volition will release even more info on other cancelled games!

Below you can download Saints Row: Undercover walk through, design doc and fully playable prototype, also shared by the lovely people at Volition. Huge props to them!

Images:

Videos:

 

We are ready for another year of unseen games, thank you!

While we keep working on the Unseen64 website as much as we can, plus taking extra time to write articles and organize interviews for the Unseen64 book (that we hope to be able to release in mid / late 2016), another year passed. 2015 was an important year for U64 as we were able to remain an independent website by getting enough support from Patreon to fully pay the server for a couple of years and also rise enough donations to create a Preservation Fund to be able to save enough money for future needs.

This means that we can work on the site without having to sell ads space to spammy or useless advertisers that want to buy links or banners from us, we can have resources to be sure that the Unseen64 book will be as good as we want it to be and if there could be some technical problems with the site in the future, we should have enough funds to fix everything! This is why we are really happy :)

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As we wrote in the past big gaming networks such as IGN or Kotaku have the resources to own powerful servers and to pay a team to work full-time on their websites, keeping their sites online and publishing daily updates. We don’t have their resources, but we think we have something better: we have you, a community of gamers that know why it’s important to remember beta and cancelled games, even those little, unfinished and bad-looking lost games that no one else would ever care to commemorate. For us, every unseen game should have a chance to be archived.

In 2016 we will keep to add new games to the archive every week, while publishing daily updates in our Twitter account. There are many ways to help Unseen64 and thanks to all the other gamers, youtubers and websites that also work to preserve beta, unreleased and unused gaming documents, we can save as many unseen games as possible.

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Unseen64 is still online thanks to all those awesome people that shared one-off donations and pledges on Patreon: together, we can do it!

We’d like to thank all of you (in random order) that are helping U64 with your donations and support:

Daan Koopman, joef0x, Louis Noguera, Mark J. Lang, Thomas Whitehead, allan paxton, David Galindo, Frans Aymes, robert Smith, Emiliano Rosales, alejandro muñoz, Kristian Binder, Paul Benson, Faisal AlKubaisi, Aarón Moleón Acosta, Quade Zaban, Julian Lord, Paul Cunningham, Rav, Justin Moor, Daniel Gulyas, Shane Gill, Ash the dragon, Ryan Jessee, Conrad A Fursa, Lukas Steinman, Christopher J Canberg, Chris Rosenthal, Edd Hannay, Reuben M, Shaun Moore, Anders Moberg, Will Richardson, HellaSkella-X, Corentin, Andrew Eleneski, KiddoCabbusses, Nick Greene, Alex MacIntyre, Thomas, Liam Robertson, Henry Branch, Matthew, Coldi, Otto Nordling, Pug Hoof Gaming, Joe Brookes, Austin Murphy, James Jackson, Andrew Crawford, Aaron Sharratt, James Champane, Dan Berends, Jonathan Pena, Eduardo Raposo, Tiago Pereira dos Santos, Jacob Walker, Jonathan Cooper, Paul Stedman, Viraj, Jrg McJrg, Noru-Da T, David Seijas, Toadsanime, Mhee123, Brice Onken, Aaron Morley, Dylan Durmeier, Alex Stutzman, Guilherme Killingsworth, Pablo Bueno Navarro, Paul Robinson, Levi Wyatt, Josh Mann, Brice Dirden, Rhys, Kerry-Lee Copsey, Dan Thomas, Daniel Hannen, Adrian, Ben Cowling, Alex Wawro, Niels Thomassen, netsabes, Lou, Matthew Gyure, PtoPOnline, Jesus Tovar, Jacob, Brandon, Lisa, Akspa, Martin, Elmo Bluegeek, Irvin, Raphael Pinheiro, James Steel, Tony, Alex Kupse, Anders Captain N Iversen, No Reward, Tommy Wimmer, Goffredo and everyone else! (did we forget someone?)

 We <3 you

unseen64 thank you 

The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Volume 2

review untold history japanese game developers volume 2The first volume of the untold history of Japanese game developers, released about one year ago, was basically unique: a large collection of interviews that finally documented some of the most obscure aspects of the history of Japanese games, from the humble beginnings on the first personal computers to the more recent doujin titles.

Now that the second volume is finally out, we can safely claim that the author had made a worthy follow up of the original, both in regards of the content and, especially, of the editing: the original conversations were re-translated by a professional, with the result that the flow of the interviews feels now more natural.

The first article of the book is a collective discussion, taken in a japanese game bar called Area 51, with some game developers that preferred to remain anonymous. It’s without a doubt the most controversial section of this work, because the interviewees sincerely talk about the dark role of the Yakuza in the early japanese videogames industry.

Another fascinating chapter of this second volume is dedicated to Zainsoft, a little software house that in the 80s created sidescrollers with dark atmospheres and eccentric stories such as DIOS for PC-88. The president of the company, Takahiro Miyamoto, was a really odd character: obsessed by money, he was later arrested for fraud and disappeared forever.

But the largest part of the book is rightly devoted to Human Entertainment, which not only made revolutionary titles  like Clock Tower and Mizzurna Falls, but also pioneered game development teaching with their Human Creative School; for example, highly original productions such as SOS and The Fireman for SNES actually started as graduation projects.

The author was also been able to interview a few women that were / are in the japanese videogames industry, and while almost everyone of them answered that it wasn’t particularly hard to work in gaming studios,  Rica Matsumura, veteran programmer and Agatsuma‘s general manager,  talks rather honestly about the discrimination she suffered not just in japanese companies but also in America.

Other important highlights of this Volume 2 include: extensive discussions with Masaya (mainly known in the west for Cybernator) former employers;  an in-depth look to Hudson games and their virtually unknown, yet just as innovative, hardware;  an interview with the man behind the seminal Hydlide saga. Oh, and don’t forget the full transcript of our interview with Yukiharu Sambe, R&D manager of the unreleased Taito WOWOW.

Moreover, Mr. Szczepaniak is an huge fan of beta and unreleased titles. These are just some of the cancelled games discussed in the book:

  • An hi-res 2d remake of Golden Axe done in a similar style to Vanillaware titles for Ps3 / Xbox 360.
  • An unnamed Space Harrier clone for Virtual Boy made by Hudson.
  • Notorious, a shooter developed by Gearbox where some american marines somehow ended up in 16th or 17th century Japan. It was supposed to be published by Square-enix.
  • Satellite Man, a SNES side-scrolling beat-’em-up created by t&e soft.
  • Geo Catastrophe, a SNES isometric RPG with an ecology theme. It was in development at Hudson in the middle of the 1990s.
  • Tiger house, a third person shooter made by Tri-Ace, cancelled due to its low quality by publisher Square-enix.
  • An unreleased PS1 RTS co-funded by Nintendo, via the Marigul company.

If you love reading about obscure, curious and strange stories from old-school Japanese gaming studios, The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Volume 2 is a must-have book (especially as a Christmas present!), that shows how it’s still possible for western journalists to preserve information on the history of japanese videogames, before it could be forgot forever.

You can buy “The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Volume 2” from

Video review from Youtube by StopDrop&Retro:

 

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