News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Starshot: Space Circus [N64 – Beta]

Starshot (under its original title Space Circus) was first conceived in July of 1994 by Xavier Schon, who worked for Infogrames since 1989 as a graphic artist and game designer. He sent around 10 game concepts to Infogrames management between 1992 and 1995, with Space Circus being the 1 which got off the ground due to it being a unique new concept, a 3D platformer. He sent management 3D concept drawings in July 1994, with management finally approving the idea 10 months later in April 1995. At this time the Nintendo 64 was not formally announced so the game was set for a PlayStation release as well as PC, though the PlayStation version would eventually be cancelled due to hardware concerns.

Once approved Xavier was given another Infogrames employee and they were tasked to make a 3D CGI video to show management what gameplay would look like. Some screenshots of this video exist in the design documents which show a different Starshot design and an unused mechanic of controlling other characters or objects, such as a large cannon which could shoot objects or possibly defend Starshot. In May 1996 Infogrames and Nintendo agreed on a Nintendo 64 version.

Screenshots were first shown in issue 44 of Edge Magazine in April 1997, showing another different Starshot design and an early view of the level Tensuns.

Starshot was scheduled to be finished for PC in June 1997, but after seeing Banjo-Kazooie’s demo at E3 in June 1997, and having been impressed by Mario 64 previously, Schon reluctantly delayed the game to try and rewrite and redefine priorities in the gameplay, though he agrees that the level design and range of actions weren’t good enough to compete.

Their 2nd master version was set to be finished in June 1998, but the team missed this date and finished in September after making N64 a main version. Towards the end of production many programmers and debuggers were moved off the project by Infogrames, but they were still paid for the rest of production which made the games development budget more expensive. At points the N64 version only had 2 programmers. The game suffered as the team had fewer resources than Nintendo and we’re inexperienced with optimizing PC versions for N64 hardware. A late release resulted in poor sales and the development team being split up into different projects.

Due to time constraints, an entire planet was cut from the game, Kripkon, named after Superman’s home planet Krypton and centered around Superhero parodies. In this stage players could grab onto superheros and fly to different parts of the level, and the planet even has a fully composed song unused on the PC version soundtrack.

It was considered for release in Japan at one point, with Schon flying out to Nintendo headquarters, however he believes they weren’t impressed enough with the gameplay to distribute the game.

Xavier kept all his design documents and even a timeliness of the games production. Every area was hand drawn before being modeled in 3D, with many areas looking identical to how they appear in game. Some art depicts areas or characters not in the final game, such as Miss Starling, a humanoid similar looking to Starshot who was a sharpshooter for the Space Circus.

Despite the game’s failure and mixed critical reception, when Infogrames asked producer Xavier Schon for movie concepts in 2002, Schon wrote and drew up a screenplay for Starshot the movie to try and being the character back, but this unfortunately never happened. You can download 3 PDF about the unmade Starshot movie: Space Circus story synopsisDrawing Script, Space Circus English.

This information comes from an interview done with producer, director, and original concept creator Xavier Schon on February 21st, 2018. It was a piece of research for our upcoming N64 book, the N-cyclopedia 64.

Article written by Jalyn.

In the gallery below we can also see various beta screenshots showing differences from the final version:

  • Different HUD
  • More Tourists  NPCs in the “jungle” area
  • Better / more detailed graphic
  • A couple of unknown areas (removed?)

Thanks to Henrique Resende for some of these beta screens!

Images [Beta Version]

Videos (final version):

Ohcouchi Gengorou Ikka [N64 – Unreleased]

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What is going on in this strange game? I’m not sure. There are not many informations about Ohcouchi Gengorou Ikka, but a prototype was sold in 2005 on a Japanese auction, for about 57,000 yen, which should be around 400 euros. Who bought this proto? Probably some lucky collector who can now be the only one in the world to know what happens in Ohcouchi Gengorou Ikka. We can not understand much from the few screenshots leaked, but with some imagination we can speculate that this was going to be a “family simulator”, in which the player would have had to monitor the mood and the needs of a Japanese family, to make them happy. Or maybe something else.

Links:

Japanese 2007 blog entry about this game

Images:

Pokèmon SNAP! [N64 – Beta]

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Various beta images of Pokèmon Snap show a bar in the bottom right corner where you can select Pokè Flute, Apple, and some bomb thing. Also unseen in the same images are shots of a desert area not used in the final game. There’s also some screens from the forest and swamp, showing some pretty big changes. Ekans, the snake Pokèmon was also in the beta version, but not in the final. Why Ekans was cut is unknown. If you can notice more differences in the beta screens below, please let us know!

Also, you could be interested in the “Jack and the Beanstalk” project , an unreleased Nintendo 64 game that evolved into Pokemon Snap!

[thanks to Michael Cheek for the confirmation for these beta screens!]

[Thanks to Henrique Resende for the contribute!]

Images:

Videos:

Sim City 64DD [N64 – Beta]

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SimCity 64 is a city-building video game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo, and believed to be a part of the SimCity series, although Maxis was not involved in the development or release of the game. The game is considerably obscure, given its Japan-only release and designation to run on the ill-fated Nintendo 64DD platform.

Although general gameplay in SimCity 64 is much like SimCity 2000, the game’s graphical textures and building tilesets are considerably different. However, the game sports several advanced features that were not seen in SimCity 2000 or even SimCity 3000 (1999): The ability to view the city at night (now also available in SimCity 4), pedestrian level free-roaming of a city, and individual road vehicles and pedestrians (which could only be seen while in the free-roaming mode). Cities in the game are also presented in 3D hybrid graphics. The game SimCopter 64, which was first planned as a stand-alone game, was later integrated into Sim City 64. [Infos from Wikipedia]

Henrique Resende has sent to us some screenshots from a beta version of the game, in which the HUD is different from the final version.. and maybe more?

Images:

Mortal Kombat: Special Forces [N64/PSX – Unreleased/Beta]

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Mortal Kombat: Special Forces is an action game for the original PlayStation. It was released in North America on July 30, 2000, and in Europe on September 29, 2000. The player to take on the role of Jax (a.k.a. Major Jackson Briggs) as he tracks down the Black Dragon. There were plans for a Nintendo 64 version but after Tobias’ departure and the release of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox systems, Midway management decided on a budget release of the game priced at $20.00 for the PS1 only. The N64 version could have been finished, but it was never released. [Infos from Wikipedia]

Thanks to Edward Kirk we can read more interesting info from the Mortal Kombat Special Forces’ development:

the game had a convoluted history which, with the departure of MK co-creator John Tobias from Midway, left it incomplete. The final release was only half the game that was originally planned, with the storyline shifting its place within the MK chronology

the game was reduced from seven levels down to five, and from two characters down to one (Sonya was originally playable, but then removed).

You can download a PDF with the full article written by Edward in here. It compares what was planned for the original game with the one that was released.

In mid 2018 Rhythm Lunatic found a playable prototype from the beta / unreleased version of the game. You can see some footage below!

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Videos: