News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Freak Boy [N64 – Cancelled]

Officially presented at E3 1996, Freak Boy was certainly one of the most interesting and bizzarre games planned for the Nintendo 64, in development by Zono Incorporated / Burst Studio and to be publishe by Virgin. As a strange protagonist known as “Freak Boy”, players had to save the world Hedron from a horde of strange aliens in what at first glance seemed like a three-dimensional action/adventure with an abstract graphic style. The protagonist was able to interact with the environment in order to modify parts of its body (head, chest and feets) and thus acquire new skills to solve puzzles and to defeat various enemies, somehow like with the different heads in Dynamite headdy (Mega Drive / Genesis).

Unfortunately Freak Boy’s development was troubled and after the game’s publisher asked to remade it from scratch at least two times, they lost interest and the project was  dropped.

Here’s the original press release:

IRVINE, CALIF., May 16, 1996 — Enter the world of FREAK BOY in Virgin Interactive Entertainment’s (VIE) first NINTENDO 64 (N64) game. Three-dimensional graphics, addicting play mechanics and cutting-edge technology that uses morphing special effects define the world in which FREAK BOY lives – an alien world N64 players won’t ever want to leave. Created by Burst, VIE’s in-house development team, FREAK BOY is scheduled to be in stores in early 1997.

Created using SGI workstations, FREAK BOY utilizes the N64’s advanced 3-D technology, allowing all aspects of the game to be experienced in 3-D. Not only are the characters presented in realistic full 3-D, but their worlds and interactions with other beings are amazingly multi-dimensional. The 3-D power of the N64 also gives players the ability to experience gameplay from thousands of different points-of-view.

The result is a unique visual experience that intensifies the gameplay to such a degree that even the most experienced game player will be challenged. Players will be drawn into the intense 3-D action as they assume the role of FREAK BOY, the lone survivor of a massive alien invasion.

On New Year’s Day, when the planets are aligned with the sun, the ZoS, an alien race from a parallel dimension, take over the Hedron Universe, extinguishing the sun and transporting all of the Hedrons to the alien dimension. The only Hedron to evade capture is FREAK BOY, who is destined to become the hero of his people, provided he can rid his universe of the alien threat and return the captive Hedrons to their rightful dimension.

As FREAK BOY, players can absorb remnants of the destruction into their body and utilize them as weapons to destroy the alien invaders. What’s more, the variations

on these weapons are almost endless. Capable of holding three new artifacts at a time, each with a different capability when used as head, chest or feet, FREAK BOY is never the same character twice. FREAK BOY’S body is constantly morphing as new artifacts are assimilated and old ones are discarded. In managing the inventory of weapons as they enter and exit FREAK BOY’s body, the player gains new abilities in his fight to destroy the more than 50 enemies who have set out to conquer the Hedron universe.

On their quest for more powerful weapons and the alien enemy, players will explore more than 25 distinct worlds throughout five levels of difficulty. Each world is radically visual, arid and stark, yet with texture, mystery and entertainment that lure the player further into the world of FREAK BOY.

“FREAK BOY’s out-of-this-world graphics take the N64’s capabilities to the limits,” said Chris Yates, a vice president at Burst. “What is more, play mechanics such as Freak Boy’s have never been used before. When combined with these intense graphics, you have a level of gameplay that is altogether unprecedented.”

Burst, based in Irvine, California, is a division of Virgin Interactive Entertainment. The company is dedicated to high quality entertainment title development

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Yoshi’s Island 64 (Yoshi’s Story) [N64 – Beta]

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The beta version of Yoshi’s Island 64 (later called Yoshi’s Story) has some graphic differences, various minor changes in the level design and a removed “underground” level. This beta level had a black background, water and giant mushrooms, as well as some enemies that are bigger than the ones in the final game. The soil was covered with moss and we can notice huge flying bubbles that Yoshi was able to move.

Jose Felipe Riveros Navarro noticed that in the second beta video there are early Shy Guys that are smaller than the final ones, a beta version of the jungle hut stage at 0:06 – 0:07 and at 0.11 a “?” block is moving in a different way than the final version. In some images from the Yoshi’s Story japanese commercial there are some differences too: changed background, the colors of the “tall tower” and the sun, the heart is a little different from the final one.

Also in and old Japanese commercial about Yoshi’s Story, you’ll notice Yoshi had a different, more girlish voice (behind the 0:15 mark:). Of course, since this was the first game where Yoshi had an actual voice, he might have sounded a whole lot differently today. Thanks to Yosher for the contribution!

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]La versione beta del secondo gioco di piattaforme dedicato a yoshi (yoshi’s island 64) rispetto alla versione finale (yoshi’s story) presenta alcune differenze soprattutto a livello grafico, niente di speciale, le immagini difatti si commentano da sole, oltre naturalmente ai due loghi ben diversi tra loro alcuni elementi grafici sono cambiati leggermente nella versione definitiva.

A livello strutturale, tralasciando piccoli cambiamenti nel design dei livelli inutili da menzionare, è ben più importante notare come un livello di gioco sia stato completamente cancellato, dai video e dalle immagini beta notiamo che il look di questo sia molto “underworld”, dando quindi un senso di irrealità e di fatato, lo sfondo è nero, a terra vi è dell’ acqua, vi sono funghi giganti, e anche alcuni nemici sono più grandi del normale, il terreno è composto da composizioni di terra dalla forma sferica ricoperte da muschio, sospese per aria troviamo delle bolle enormi, che yoshi può spostare.

Rilasciato nel ’98, yoshi’s story è stato ed è un gioco indimenticabile, irripetibile, purtroppo molti ai tempi lo snobbarono, forse aspettandosi un vero e proprio seguito di yoshi’s island per snes o un gioco più longevo e meno facile.[/spoiler]

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Creator / Mario Artist [64DD – Beta / Cancelled]

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Mario Artist and Creator 64 are a set of creative software / development tools that were meant to be used for the Nintendo 64DD.  Before the 64DD was published, Nintendo talked about many options and different programs for this new Mario Artist series, but in the end only few ones were finished. Paint Studio, Polygon Studio, Talent Studio and Communication Kit were available in shops, but Game Maker, Graphical Message Maker, Sound Maker, Video Jockey Maker and Creator remained unreleased. In the gallery below you can see a collection of old images from the original Mario Artist Set, in which there could be some screens of the cancelled discs and early versions of the released ones (with different icons and HUD).

Sadly, as we never played the final Mario Artist, we are not sure about which screens are beta and which are not. Please, if you played Mario Artist 64DD, let us know!

From the official Pickford Brothers’s website, we can even read about a cancelled american version of Mario Artist for the Nintendo 64, that was in early development by Software Creations:

Mario Artist: Paint Studio / Sound Studio: Originally intended as a single product – a sequel to Mario Paint in 3D for the N64 – this eventually saw light as multiple Japanese only products released for the N64 and the 64DD disk drive system.

Software Creations were initially asked to pitch a concept to Nintendo of America for a Mario Paint style product for the N64. John came up with a concept based on living 3D environments where the user could mess about with the creatures in the world – both editing the textures on the models themselves, and modifying the parameters of entities themselves – the physical size of a dinosaur, say, and its other visual attributes, as well as its AI properties such as aggression, speed etc. The result would be living playground where the player could mess around and play God.

The project was caught up in political infighting between NOA and Nintendo of Japan over who was controlling the project, and eventually the Japanese took control and rejected many of the ideas which had been accepted enthusiastcally by the Americans, steering the project in a different direction after John left Software Creations to form Zed Two, and throwing away loads of work.

Thanks to Robert Seddon and Vaettur for the contribution!

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Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards [N64 – Beta]

Kirby 64 had a long and complex developed cycle, with many delays. The project was developed by HAL and it was designed to be a real sequel for Kirby Dreamland 3 for SNES. The beta screens in the gallery below shown an early version of the game, in which it seems that other playable characters (as Dedede) could have been used in many more levels. If you have more info on the differences in this beta, please let us know!

[spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Kirby 64 ha avuto uno sviluppo piuttosto complesso, subendo ritardi su ritardi, cosa del resto poco sorprendente vista la storia del Nintendo 64. Ad occuparsi del gioco fu HAL, della quale è anche una sorta di mascotte. Venne pensato fin dall’inizio per essere un vero e proprio seguito di Kirby Dreamland 3 per SNES: in breve niente salto in 3d, ma formula classica riproposta con grafica poligonale in stile Klonoa. Dalle prime immagini mostrate, fino alla versione finale, non è che cambi molto, tutte le aree che si vedono nelle foto sono state proposte anche al momento della commercializzazione, così come i personaggi giocabili, seppur per brevi periodi (ad esempio Dedede, quello celeste e obeso).

La differenza principale, oltre alle varie rifiniture ed alla maggiore pulizia grafica, sta nell’interfaccia: se le stelle sono state rimpiazzate da alcuni blocchi rappresentanti l’energia di Kirby, i semicerchi dorati, così come i tre piccoli contenitori quadrati sulla sinistra, sono scomparsi nella versione finale (anche se i semicerchi, forse, sono stati sostituiti da una semplice barra orizzontale, che quando è riempita dona una vita); per il resto il contatore delle vite (il numero a sinistra) e le abilità combinate (a destra), sono rimaste immutate nelle sostanza anche se migliorate nella forma.

Per finire vi proponiamo una foto trovata recentemente (l’ultima, in basso), che rappresenta una fase realmente presente in Kirby (dotato di spada laser di Darth Mauliana memoria), ma mostra un’interfaccia che non esiste nel gioco finale: più schematica, quasi futuristica, ma uguale nei dati segnalati.[/spoiler]

[spoiler /Cliquez pour lire la version en français/ /Click on link to read the french version of this article/]

Kirby 64 eu un cycle de développement long, coûteux, complèxe, avec beaucoup de retardement. Le projet était développé par HAL et il était conçu au départ pour être une suite au jeu Kirby Dreamland 3 de la SNES. Les captures d’écrans du stade beta qui se trouve dans la gallerie en bas de cet article, montrent une version antérieure, dans laquelle il semble possible de contrôler plusieurs autres personnages (Comme Dedede), dans plusieurs niveaux différents. Finalement, le seul personnage qui ne semble pas pouvoir être contrôlé par le joueur, c’est Adeline.
Si vous avez plus d’information sur les différences entre la version finale et la version beta, s’il-vous-plaît veuillez nous le signaler!

(Ceci est une traduction intégrale de la version de l’article en anglais plus haut)[/spoiler]

Thanks to Joe Long, FullMetalMC, Nick, ToadTReborn, Hydrozor & Ultraman82 for the contributions!

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Eternal Darkness [Nintendo 64 – Cancelled]

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Created by Silicon Knights, Eternal Darkness was an interesting game for the nintendo 64 that seemed to be able to bring new life to the Survival Horror creating the first “psychological thriller”. However, it was later ported to the Gamecube. Was it really never released for the Nintendo 64 or it was just an insanity effect ?

For more information check our article about eternal darkness

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