News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Survivor Day One [N64 – Cancelled]

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Announced officially at E3 1998, Survivor Day One is an interesting action game that was in development by Konami. As in Fade To Black, the protagonist had to escape from a spaceship infested with mysterious aliens, but unlike Delphine’s game, Survivor Day One’s hero is much more athletic and we would have been able to perform various actions to explore the levels, as in the various Tomb Raider. In the screenshots released we can see the protagonist while jumping, climbing, swimming and so on. The gameplay would even had some puzzle elements, as usual with this kind of action adventures.

From what Konami had promised, the enemies would have react realistically, according to the context and to the player moves. The Original music from the only trailer ever released was composed by Mark Lindsey.

Unfortunately the graphic was pretty bland for a 1998 game and while the game was still in early beta, some management problems slowed down the development team: in the end the project would have not be able to be released before the death of the Nintendo 64 and so they decided to just cancell it all togheter.

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Mostrato ufficialmente all’e3 98, Survivor Day One era interessante action game tridimensionale sviluppato da Konami. Come in Fade To Black il protagonista si ritrova a dover scappare da una nave spaziale infestata da misteriosi alieni. Fortunatamente a differenza del titolo delphine il nostro eroe è nettamente più atletico e ci si ritrovare ad effettuare azioni non troppo dissimili dai vari tomb raider, come saltare, arrampicarci, aggrapparci al volo a piccoli appigli, nuotare e via dicendo, sebbene non mancassero gli enigmi e le parti esplorative tipiche degli adventure.

Inoltre particolare enfasi doveva essere posta nell’AI dei nemici, che dovevano reagire realisticamente secondo il contesto. Sfortunatamente il titolo era piuttosto blando tecnicamente per un gioco di seconda generazione, e diversi problemi di organizzazione fecero rallentare il team di sviluppo:  Konami non sarebbe riuscita a finire il gioco prima della morte del Nintendo 64 e decise quindi di cancellare del tutto il gioco per evitare ulteriori perdite di denaro.[/spoiler]

Thanks to Hey Hey & Mark for the contributions!

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Goldeneye 007 [N64 – Beta]

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GoldenEye 007 is a FPS developed by Rare for the Nintendo 64, based on the 1995 James Bond film with the same name. In the gallery below you can see various screenshots from the beta of the game, in which there are various differences and some weapons that were removed from the final game.

GoldenEye 007 was originally announced for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System before being stepped up to the Nintendo 64. The intention for the first few months of development was for the game to be an on-rails shooter similar to Virtua Cop (as seen in the very first trailer released); it only became a traditional free movement first-person shooter later in development.

GameShark users found several text references to a level called “Citadel” in the game. It was thought that a few textual references were all that remained of the level, but in 2004, GoldenEye 007 fan sites uncovered an unplayable but viewable single-player version of the level (with implemented sky and water textures). The test map is largely a mass of shapes and ramps that the players can climb upon, thus giving players many opportunities for sniping and for hiding. [Info from Wikipedia]

We can read some more info on Goldeneye’s development thanks to Martin Hollis’ talk in 2004 at the European Developer’s Forum:

Come March 1995 work was underway with a team of new recruits. Mark Edmonds, my first ever interviewee, was programmer, Karl Hilton was background artist and B. Jones was character artist. I had prepared my first ever game design, a 9 page document. The first sentence of that design may be a surprise to you. It was: “The game will be similar to Virtua Cop in terms of gameplay”. For those not familiar with Virtua Cop it is an old classic, an on-rails shooter, made by Sega, and released first in the arcades. So yes, for the first months, GoldenEye was partly envisioned as a simple on-rails shooter only with no lightgun. But I also wanted it to be a FPS. At this point the team was happy to contemplate making two modes for the game, an on-rails mode and a FPS mode. Yes, there was some vagueness here. You have to understand, we didn’t know what the control of the N64 would be like, so it made designing the control system difficult at such an early stage. We didn’t have any N64s, or anything like them. […]

So, in the specific case of GoldenEye, and with the benefit of hindsight, the gameplay model was Virtua Cop with a bit of Doom, plus some Mario 64. The theme or setting was (obviously) the Bond universe and particularly GoldenEye. Many of the visual effects and kinetic moments I took from Hard Boiled or other John Woo flicks. Especially, things exploding. Visually, there’s more to that than you might think.[…]

For example gadgets, I compiled a list of about 40 gadgets from various Bond films, most of which were modelled, and then Dave and Duncan tried to find levels where we could use them. This is backwards game design, but it worked very well. These models were the game design; there was very little written down on paper. And the models were researched and milked extensively. And, importantly, they all gelled together very well. […]

Also, in a beta screenshot found by Kek8, we can notice that the Cradle mission had a background in the beta version, while in the final game there’s just a lot of fog.

Also an article from NowGamer has some more beta-related differences and cuts:

Karl Hilton recalls the first mooting of the project: “I started at Rare in October 1994 and they had me modelling cars and weapons to see if I could do it for no particular game. Martin Hollis wandered in – he tended to float around – and said he was leading a team to do a Bond game.”

Initially, the intention was to do a 2D side-scrolling platformer for the SNES, a genre that Rare excelled in after the seminal Donkey Kong Country, but Hollis insisted the game should be in 3D and produced for Nintendo’s enigmatic Ultra 64, which was still in development. He also made explicit his design model: Sega’s lightgun arcade hit Virtua Cop.

Karl: “When I got involved, the first thing I did was model the gas plant. We put a spline through the level so you could follow a route like in Virtua Cop, but it didn’t go further than that. We decided to take it off the rails. Some of those early builds had bits missing because you’d never be able to see them and I remember going back and filling in the holes.”

Considering how the finished GoldenEye feels so suited to the N64, it’s easy to forget the machine didn’t exist for the first year and a half of its development. The team was using SGI Onyxs, hugely expensive Silicon Graphics machines, guessing at what the specs of Nintendo’s new console might be and using a butchered Saturn controller to playtest.

For a game with more than its fair share of wanton destruction, the team became remarkably good at recycling. The radar on multiplayer mode is actually an oil drum texture, which explains the cloudiness on the right, and sometimes whole levels were created with the detritus they had to hand.

How Martin had done a 3D gun barrel that had to be dropped due to frame rate issues; how code had been written to let you drive the van, but it caused too many problems if you got the vehicle stuck in a dead end; how the unreachable island you can see far in the distance from atop the dam originally had a solitary guard patrolling it; how they’d had to label certain wall textures as ‘floor’ so guards could ‘see’ you, which meant they would occasionally leap out of bunkers inexplicably.

“At one point, we were going to have reloading done by the player unplugging and re-inserting the rumble pack on the controller”, remembers Steve. “Nintendo weren’t keen on that idea and I think it might have affected the pacing a bit…”

For more info check our Goldeneye 007 Beta Analysis

Thanks to D-vide Kek8 and BM for the contributions!

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Buggy Boogie [N64 – Proto / Cancelled]

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There are just few informations available about this strange project developed by Angel Studios, that at first appeared to be some sort of car-battle game, but then it became something more similar to Mario Kart, before being cancelled.

Thanks to an interview on GamaSutra we can read some more details from one of the original developers:

“When I was working on the Dream Team [at Angel Studios], they wanted us to do this DNA-based driving game called Buggy Boogie. You had these vehicles that would eat other vehicles and adopt their powers and morph. It was really cool. But they would sign three month contracts, and Miyamoto himself would say that he did not want any documents. He would just say, “Find the fun, and I’ll be back in three months to take a look at what you have.”

We went through about three iterations of that. We busted our hump trying different things, but at the end of it, he kept coming back and saying that it wasn’t there, and it wasn’t fun. We were a new company that didn’t know how to make games. After about six or nine months, he came back and said, “You guys have really worked hard, and we see the progress, but we’re not seeing the product. But another opportunity has come up for a fantasy golf game, so why don’t you guys work on that? In three months, we’ll be back. Show us a golf game.”

Even if Buggy Boogie looked like an interesting project, it seems that Nintendo killed it for a reason or another… really a shame. In the few screens and concept arts remained from the game, we can see some of its development changes.

Thanks a lot to Hey Hey for the contribution!

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Perfect Dark [N64 – Beta]

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Perfect Dark is a FPS developed by RARE Ware for the Nintendo 64 and released in 2000. Martin Hollis, the director of GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, described the development of the game in an interview with Retro Gamer magazine. He explained that Rare rejected the prospect of working on the GoldenEye sequel Tomorrow Never Dies “without hesitation”, as the development team felt they had spent too much time immersed in the James Bond universe.

Originally Hollis hoped that the difference between light and dark would be a significant feature of the gameplay, and the title was intended to reflect this focus. A flashlight was implemented by Steve Ellis (responsible for much of the multiplayer mode in GoldenEye), but it was not included in the final game due to the limitations of the N64 hardware. [Info from Wikipedia]

In the images preserved in the gallery below, you can see many beta differences: different weapons, changes in the levels, characters unseen from some of the single player missions (the grey Aliens seem to have been used more in the beta and they were enemies, while in the final game the grey aliens are friends), the removed “Face Mapping” feature that let players to map their face on the game’s characters thanks to the gameboy camera (an option removed because of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999), censored red blood, removed multiplayer maps and much more.

We have a deeper article that compares most of the major beta differences, check the Perfect Dark Beta Analysis!

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Mini Racers [N64 – Cancelled]

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Mini Racers is a cancelled 96Mbit multiplayer racing game that was in development by Looking Glass Studios for the Nintendo 64. The project was announced in 1998, but unfortunately it was delayed many times and in the end in was never released. Mini Racers was going to have a strong multiplayer mode, similar to Micromachines or RC PRO-AM, for up to four players, and it could have been an interesting addition to the already rich list of arcade racing games for the N64.

Mini Racers had several game modes in single and multiplayer, including a track editor to create your own course, and a random track generator. The radio-controlled cars could be given a turbo boost with a press of the Z button. N64 Magazine played an early version are voiced their frustration at the poor camera, though when they next played it at Spaceworld 1999 they noted the angle and viewing distance were now configurable and could even be played in a top-down view. Most likely the game was cancelled because it was shown in the final days of the Nintendo 64, when the new 128-bit consoles were almost out.

A playable beta / almost finished ROM version of Mini Racers was leaked online in April 2012 , thanks to olivieryuyu

Thanks to Gilgalegrouik for some of these images!

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