News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Superman 64 [N64 – Beta / Proto / Tech Demo]

It would be nice to say that this game developed by Titus was completed with a better graphic than the one we can see in the screenshots below: unfortunately this has not happened. The bare polygonal models of the scenario in those early images are almost identical to the final version. To be honest, the final version is so much worse than those early screens. In 1999, Superman 64 was released with a pandemic and ugly fog that the player had to see all around the levels. That “fog effect” is a common feature in many N64 games, but it’s really too much in this game and the developers thought to justify it somehow. In the plot of the game, the fog is presented as a weapon created by Superman’s enemies, a lethal gas that surrounded the city. Brilliant!

Certainly at the time of these images, the fog was not yet included in the game and the graphics had a cleaner look that Superman 64 can only dream of. In one of the screens, the light effect was probably created with Photoshop! Breathtaking. Probably these images were taken from a target render, created to show what the game could have looked like.. if it could have been released on the Dreamcast. For sure, the Nintendo 64 was never able to show such a definite graphic.

Yet, if these images can look bad, the final version is even worse. It’s like if Superman 64 was put on sale in a Beta version, without worrying too much about the poor result. We must therefore thanks Titus, for giving us the opportunity to play a beta game in our N64!

It seems that the reason Superman 64 was so bad was because the license owners crippled their creativity and keeping them from releasing the game they wanted to. As we can read at Proto Jon’s Blog:

Superman 64 was the first 3D action/adventure game that Titus worked on, as your prior 3D releases were racing and chess games. Do you feel that this hindered development?

Eric: The main issue was working with the licensor. They caused us so much trouble. Also our design originally was too ambitious compared to what an N64 was able to deliver…

Jon: Did Superman 64 turn out to be near what your team had envisioned at the start, or was the finished product sidetracked by hardware or other limitations?

Eric: Of course not. It is not even 10% of what we intended to do, but the licensor killed us!

Jon: What content was cut from the game? If you cut a lot from the game, then what were the big things that you wish you could have kept in the game?

Eric: I am not allowed to detail what we had to remove, but it was a lot.

Also, at Rareware Central we can read some interesting info from a beta versione of Superman 64, that… seems to have been better than the released one!

What it really seems like is that Titus were forced to completely remake the game one month before release. There are no rings, none of the stupid metropolis missions exist in the early version. And since the metropolis missions seemed very quickly made, it would make sense that they had to add them in the final stages of development.

A common problem with Superman 64 is how common glitches can be. In this version, glitches do still exist but it’s actually less glitchy than the retail. Also, remember when flying and you’d always get stuck? That rarely happens in this version.

One thing that actually shocked me was how they could remove the mission objectives screen. In the early version, at the start of a mission, text on the screen will let you know what your objectives are, once you’ve completed an objective, the objective screen get’s shown again with a check next to your completed objective. Along with that, you can pause the game at any time to view all your objectives, something Superman 64 really needed.

Kevin Ames also wrote a detailed article on the leaked beta:

Now this is where things get a little interesting. In 2011 An early and unfinished prototype version of Superman 64 came out of the woodwork. This prototype version was owned by someone working at RareWareCentral.com. The guy at RareWareCentral uploaded a 14 minute gameplay video and did the first article on beta Superman. For the first time ever we got to really see how the game should’ve been, before the licensor had gotten to it. Let me tell you it looked awesome. Some began to wonder, when would this get dumped? The guy at RareWareCentral had no intention of releasing the game.

Thanks to Celine, Andrew, Zero7, Kevin Ames and Rareware Central for the contributions!

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Top Gear Rally [N64 – Beta / Target Render / Proto]

topgearrally64logo.jpg

During the early days of the Nintendo Ultra 64, many racing games were announced for the console, including this Top Gear Rally, sequel of Top Gear for the Super Nintendo. The early images released showed a stunning graphics for its time, with wonderful light effects, high definition and good polygonal models: obviously, all these screens were taken from a target render, as the Nintendo 64 was never able to do such kind of graphic detail. The real Top Gear Rally is actually very different what they wanted us to believe, with more rough graphic, blurred out scenario and without all the lighting effects that made the tech demo so impressive. Some of the cars that we can see in the early screens seem almost cut and pasted in there with Photoshop.

We can also notice a different HUD and a smaller map. Probably these screenshots were created with the sole purpose of giving an idea of the look of the project, but without taking into account the actual technical features of the N64, not powerful enough to run a 3D engine too much complex for its time.

Also, ezri85 noticed some beta differences in the second video below:

The differences between it and the final version are subtle, but they are there. Not to mention the unused musical score that plays over it. From what I can see, the differences between this beta, and the release game are: some unfinalised vehicle textures, physics appear to be different/incomplete, track map is visible and some minor HUD differences.

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Durante i primi mesi di vita del Nintendo 64 furono molti i giochi di corse annunciati per la console, fra cui questo Top Gear Rally, seguito dell’omonimo Top Gear per Super Nintendo. Le immagini precedenti all’uscita mostravano una grafica davvero straordinaria per l’epoca, con effetti luce e modelli poligonali che lasciavano a bocca aperta, promettendo qualità estetiche davvero realistiche.

Come ben sanno tutti i giocatori che hanno potuto provare la versione finale, l’aspetto di Top Gear Rally è in realtà molto diverso da come volevano farci credere queste foto del suo prototipo. Il gioco completo presenta una grafica decisamente più approssimativa, sfuocata e poco definita, senza tutti quegli effetti luce che rendevano impressionanti le foto beta. Osservando meglio il prototipo, è facile capire come questa versione di Top Gear Rally non girasse in tempo reale sul Nintendo 64, ma fosse solamente un concept in computer grafica, tanto che molte delle auto sembrano addirittura ritagliate ed incollate con Photoshop sui disegni poligonali delle piste.

Confrontandolo con le immagini della versione finale (a destra), possiamo notare anche la differente disposizione degli HUB con le informazioni della gara ed una mappa più piccola. Probabilmente questi screenshots erano stati creati con il solo scopo di dare un idea del proggetto futuro, ma senza tenere conto delle reali caratteristiche tecniche del Nintendo 64, non abbastanza potente per far girare un motore 3D di questa portata.[/spoiler]

Target Render:

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Final Version:

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Wild Water World Championships [N64 – Cancelled]

The Nintendo 64 has a good number of racing game, with the most various set of environments. However, from Wave Race 64 to Hydro Thunder, fans of the genre certainly felt the lack of more boat-racing game. In 1999 Promethean Designs and Interplay finally decided to satisfy all those requests and started to work on Wild Water World Championships. It was meant to be an arcade racing game similar to Mario Kart, with emphasis on the multiplayer mode.

There are just few tiny screens available and we don’t know how much work went into this game: Wild Water World Championships was soon cancelled for the Nintendo 64, but Promethean Designs continued the development  for the Playstation, Dreamcast and PC, chancing the name into “Renegade Racers”.

Sadly, even the Dreamcast version was cancelled shortly after. In 2000, Renegade Racers for the PC and PSX was released: the game received low ratings and it was soon forgotten … we can just wonder if the original Nintendo 64 project could have been better.

There was another cancelled water racing game titled “Wildwaters” that was planned for the Nintendo 64, but it should not be confused with this one as Wildwaters was developed by Looking Glass Studios.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!

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Shadowman [Beta – N64/PSX/DC/PC]

ShadowMan is an action adventure game developed by Acclaim Studios Teesside and published by Acclaim Entertainment. It was designed by Guy Miller and Simon Phipps. It is loosely based on the Shadowman comic book series published by Valiant Comics and was released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast and PC. [Info from Wikipedia]

In the gallery below you can see a series of beta screenshots from a very early version of the game: the 3D model of the main character was still incomplete and different from its final one, the tree looked nothing like the final ones and even the scenario shown in these images seems to have been removed or changed in the released game. Probably Acclaim worked a lot on the game, to create a title that was really good for its time.

Below you can also see a video from a leaked early beta demo of  ShadowMan:

For anyone interested here’s a very early shadowman demo from 1997, its really basic, has differerent models/ sounds to the game. If you burn it to a disc and run it you get to here the ingame audio,
* To start press space on title page
* space to jump cursers to move
* W – wireframe on/off
* H – get lighter
* Y – get darker
* R – respawn
* F6 – free cam on
* F5 – Free cam off
* esc – to quit

 for best results burn it to a CD and run it from there

Credit to the following pages:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/15818496890/
There you can find some of the original developers of the pc game, as Tim Haywood (composer of the awesome music of the game) and Trevor Storey (game designer)

http://shadowman.freeforums.org/index.php
It´s a forum create by Tim Haywood, good things in there.

As BO3000B wrote as a comment to the beta video on Youtube:

I just recently played through it and don’t really recognize anything in this video. Louisiana is the only part that looks vaguely like the final game. This must’ve been really early in development.

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Dead Ahead [N64 – Cancelled]

“The Dead Ahead project was a very unsual one. The game was being funded by Tomei, but there was also a middle company; Optical Entertainment who was also involved. Optical were designing the game for Tomei and Software Creations were chosen by Tomei (Tomy) to develop it. It was a very ambitious design which included free roaming in large environments, fighting, vehicle use and puzzle solving. One of the intentions of the game was to, at some point, create Toys based on the main characters. I was responsible for managing the team developing the game. Even before production started, this was already known as the “hot-potatoe” project that nobody wanted to do. Myself and the team made a good account of ourselves, but the game was never finished.” – Haydn

Thanks to Haydn Dalton for the great contribution!

Thanks a lot to Gilgalegrouik for some of these images!

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