News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Mission Impossible [N64 – Beta / Tech Demo]

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Mission: Impossible is an action game / third-person shooter for the Nintendo 64, based on the 1996 film Mission: Impossible. It was developed by Ocean Software and distributed by Infogrames Entertainment. It later received a PlayStation port, with minor additions such as voice acting, but reduced graphics.

The N64 version was released in 1998, after it was postponed for many years. The game was originally announced in March 1996 as one of the first titles in development for the new 64-bit console. Ocean even confirmed that the game would had some special features for the Nintendo 64DD, but obviously there is no such option in the final game.

The very first images released looked like an High-Definition version of the game, with a cleaner graphic that was unthinkable for the real N64 hardware. Today these screens can make us to smile, but in 1996 these target renders were the most beautiful graphic ever. The final version of the game had no such graphic detail, with blurred out polygons and textures.

Unfortunately none of the U64 staff has played Mission Impossible 64, so we don’t know if the scenes in these beta screens were ported somehow in the final version. If you played Mission Impossible 64 and notice any differences, please let us know!

Thanks to RagingD and John Doom we found out some more details about the differences in these early screens:

This level only ends up being a cutscene in the final version.

The wet suit is not in the final version

This suit is changed from white to red in the final version

Screen 1: It’s the exit from the KGB HQ

Screen 2: This stage it’s not in the game

Screen 3: She (should be) Candice Parker in the prison of the KGB HQ. However, in the game she has a different hair cut.

Screen 4: A room in the KGB HQ where it should be a missing agent (but in the screen he isn’t there)

Screen 5: KGB HQ’s closet (But in the game you can’t drag enemies’s corpses).

Screen 6: The stage is not in the game (and who is that guy? o.o)

Screen 7: Same as above

Screen 8: Another missing level

Screen 9: Missing level (And the hud is VERY different)

Screen 10: Missing level

Screen 11: A cutscene (as RagingD said)

Screen 12: ??? maybe it’s the first level (but I’m not so sure…)

Screen 13: Head Security Officer’s room (but in the game there is a Communist flag instead of an american flag. The situation in the screen it’s totally different from the game too)

Screen 14: The second level (but in the game Ethan wears a different suit)

Screen 15: ??? Maybe it’s the hallway to exit from the KGB

Screen 16: The embassy (but the Lenin’s statue is missing)

Screen 17: Head Security Officer’s room as in the game (but the suit is different, just as RagingD said, and Ethan looks more Tom Cruise than in the game)

Screen 18: It seems a beta embassy’s room because the door and the plants are the same of the game). Or it could be a totally different level missing in th game.

Screen 19: The secret room in the KGB as in the game

Screen 20: it seems the entry to that beta-embassy. (the hud is totally different)

Screen 22: It’s probably a beta first level

Screen 23: First level

Screen 24: It could be a beta version of the escaping level from the KGB HQ

Screen 25: A beta version of the Head Security Officer’s room

Screen 26: Maybe is a beta version of the escaping level from the KGB HQ (but the enemy is totally different from the one in the game)

Screen 29: The bathroom in the embassy and the Deputy Ambassador (but the mirrors don’t reflect in the n64 version)

Screen 30: ???

Screen 32: VR sequence?

Mission Impossible 64 remains without doubt one of the most fascinating beta games to look at, to have an idea of what were the expectations of the gamers about the new Nintendo hardware. We dreamed for months to play with this high level of graphic with the Nintendo 64, but only with the release of the Dreamcast we were able to have something that looked as clean as the original Mission Impossible 64 target renders.

A sequel, Mission Impossible 2, was announced in 1999, but it was soon cancelled for the N64. MI2 was going to be developed for the Dreamcast, but when Infogrames lost the Mission Impossible license, the game became “La Femme Nikita” for the Playstation 2, cancelled after 2 years of development.

Thanks to Robert Seddon for some of these screens and to RagingD and John Doom for the contributions!

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Uscito solo nella metà del 1998, Mission Impossible per Nintendo 64 ha dovuto aspettare alcuni anni, prima di essere completato. Il gioco fu infatti annunciato nel marzo del 1996, come uno dei primi titoli in sviluppo per la nuova console a 64 bit. Ocean confermò addirittura la presenza di alcune caratteristiche speciali, che sarebbero state sbloccate grazie ad un espansione per 64DD. Ovviamente nessuna opzione per 64DD è presente nel gioco finale.

Le primissime immagini diffuse erano una versione esagerata delle capacità 3D del N64: visuali ad alta definizione (almeno per l’epoca) ed una pulizia grafica impensabile per l’hardware Nintendo. Oggi queste foto possono farci sorridere, ma nel 1996 la grafica sembrava davvero realistica. Come già successo per altri giochi, presentati durante le fasi iniziali dell’Ultra 64, gli screenshot si riferivano probabilmente ad una serie di tech demo, creati per avere un’idea di come sarebbe stato Mission Impossible su di una console a 64 bit. Le specifiche tecniche del Nintendo 64 si rivelarono però meno potenti del previsto, ed il gioco completo è in realtà più sfocato e poco definito, rispetto a quanto volevano farci credere inizialmente.

Purtroppo nessuno dello staff ha mai giocato a Mission Impossible 64 e non possiamo quindi riconoscere se le situazioni qui mostrate siano presenti nella versione completa, oppure erano semplicemente degli scenari provvisori. Se avete finito M:I 64 e notate qualche differenza nei livelli, saremmo felici di ricevere una vostra e-mail con queste informazioni!

Gli Unseen di Mission Impossible 64 rimangono senza dubbio fra i più affascinanti da osservare, per avere un idea di quali erano le aspettative delle software house, rispetto al nuovo hardware Nintendo. Milioni di videogiocatori hanno sognato per mesi di poter avere una simile qualità grafica nei propri videogames, ma solamente con l’uscita del Dreamcast hanno potuto avvicinarsi all’aspetto che mostrava questo Tech Demo di M:I.

Un seguito del gioco era stato annunciato, ma presto cancellato senza lasciare nessuna traccia.[/spoiler]

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Zelda: Majora’s Mask [Beta – N64]

The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask / Gaiden, released for Nintendo 64 as a “sequel” to Ocarina of Time lost some of its original features, including 4 days of the original 7 disappearing from the game, some dungeons, quests and a fishing mini-game (Jabu Jabu fishing) were removed. Yet even so, Majora’s Mask has managed to become one of the best games of the series.

Some more info on the beta development from an interview:

One of the developers for Ocarina of Time, Yoshiaki Koizumi, was not initially involved with the conception of Majora’s Mask, and was working on a different title until he was asked to abandon it. This turn of events resulted in the famous time limit.

Koizumi: That’s what he told us! I remember thinking to myself “That’s not helpful at all!” [Laughs] I’d originally been designing a board game, based around the theme of cops and robbers. I wanted to make it so that you technically had to catch the criminal within a week, but, in reality, you could finish the game in an hour. I figured I’d just throw what I already had into Majora’s Mask.

From Iwata Asks interview for the release of Majora’s Mask 3DS we can read more info on the early differences:

Aonuma: Right. But at first, it was one week.
Iwata: Three days was originally one week?
Aonuma: That’s right. But when you returned to the first day it was like “Do I have to go through an entire week again…”, so we thought three days would be just right.
Iwata: Wait, it got decided just like that? (laughs)
Aonuma: (laughs) In this game the townspeople do different things each day and many different things happen, but when the timespan becomes a week, that’s just too much to remember. You can’t simply remember who’s where doing what on which day.
Iwata: moreover, you probably wouldn’t have been able to make it in a year if you were aiming to make a game filled with so much content for seven days.
Aonuma: right, we never would have been able to do it. We felt it would be best to make it a three-step process, and we compressed all sorts of things we had planned for over a week into three days.

In an interview by Famitsu with Aonuma we can read some more info about the early development of Majora’s Mask:

Because of the tight schedule, the team needed to solve how to deal with the smaller volume. That’s when Yoshiaki Koizumi talked about a popular movie of that time, Run Lola Run, in which a heroine lives the same time periods multiple times. Koizumi suggested using a similar structure for the game. Originally, the cycle was planned to last a full week, but in that way Majora’s Mask couldn’t be finished in a year. The cycle was changed to contain of a start, a middle, and an end as a result.

In the gallery below you can see some beta screenshots released when Majora’s Mask was announced, with some interesting differences: there was an adult Link mask (later changed into Fierce Deity’s Mask), the instruments used by Deku Link, Zora Link and Goron Link were different, in the screenshot with Epona we can see a breakable wall that is not there in the final game, the moon did not have a face yet, some textures were different and we can notice a room full of skeletons that was completely removed.  For more info on the development of Majora’s Mask read this article: Project Zelda 3D – The Development of Zelda 64

Thanks to Nick Bizzozero for the english translation! You can find more info about Zelda: Majora’s Mask in the Zelda Wiki!

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Dracula 3D / Castlevania 64 [N64 – Tech Demo / Beta]

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While in development at Konami Computer Entertainment Kobe (KCEK), Castlevania was originally known as Dracula 3D. United States news media referred to the game by this title as well as Dracula 64. In September of 1997, the game was approximately 10% finished and was 20% complete in February of 1998. In October of 1998 the game was featured at the Tokyo Game Show; several levels were playable and the game was a hit with the crowd. Later that month, it was revealed that KCEK decided to drop two of the planned four characters from the game “in favor of focusing the programming team’s development efforts and moving completion of the game forward”. [info from Wikipedia]

Most of the images preserved in the gallery below are from an early Dracula 3D tech demo, showing the main characters that were planned to be in the game. The graphic of this tech demo is much more detailed and definited than the final version and 2 playable characters were removed.

For more info on the beta: Castlevania 64 Beta Analisys

Most of the features planned for Castlevania 64 were later added to its sequel, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, that realizes some of the original game designers’ vision. For example, Cornell was present in early development media and press information for Castlevania 64, but was ultimately removed before the game’s release.

Thanks to Gilgamesh for some of these images!

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Dinosaur Planet [N64 – Cancelled]

Dinosaur Planet was going to be Rare’s swan song on the Nintendo 64. However, the game was finally released in 2002 only on the Gamecube, and the title changed to Star Fox Adventures. According to many, in the porting Rare dropped some of the most interesting features, so we may never know if the Nintendo 64 version was better. Certainly much has been changed in the porting process: the main character, Saber, became Fox Mc Cloud, Crystal’s role was heavily cut (she should have been a fully playable character), and many scenes from the old Dinosaur Planet build are missing. Even more interesting are the pre-production artworks, which shown a more adult version of the characters, maybe because Saber was required to grow up during the adventure, or because there was a time traveling device like in Ocarina of Time.

For more info, check the Starfox Adventure GameCube Beta page too.

[English Translation by yota]

Thanks to Karrunaniara and Ducky Wensel for the contributions! Huge props to IOnEIFalcon for sharing more than an hour of gameplay from Dinosaur Planet’s E3 1999 / 2000 (?) demo!

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Teo 64 (Fin Fin) [N64 – Cancelled]

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Teo 64 was a pet simulation video game, very similar to “Hey You Pikachu!”, the Nintendo title where the player could interact with the pokemon talking to him through a microphone connected to the N64. In this game, however, the protagonist was a strange cross between a dolphin and a bird. Speaking with the animal it was possible to became his friend, feed him and explore the world.
For many it will be a shocking news, but “Teo” is not the name of the dolphin / bird, but of the planet where he is living. Known under the title “FinFin on Teo, the Magic Planet”, the virtual puppy FinFin made his first appearance on a PC game released in 1996. According to the producers, the 64DD version was not a porting, but a completely new game. The development of Teo for 64DD was probably stopped because of the failure of the Disk Drive, and it is likely that we will never know how different the 64DD game was supposed to be.
If you are curious to learn more about the PC version of the Teo or try it for yourself, you can download the iso of FinFin from these sites:

http://www.alassea.net/finfin/
http://home.arcor.de/emge/index_e.htm

[English article by yota]

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]

Teo 64 doveva essere un simulatore di animale virtuale, molto simile a “Hey You Pikachu!”, titolo Nintendo in cui il giocatore può interagire con il pokèmon, parlando con lui attraverso un microfono collegato al N64. In questo gioco invece, il protagonista era uno strano incrocio fra un delfino ed un uccello, dall’aspetto abbastanza inquietante. Parlando con l’animale era possibile fare “amicizia”, accudirlo, offrirgli del cibo ed esplorare il mondo.

Per molti sarà una notizia sconvolgente, ma “Teo” non è il nome del delfino/uccello, ma del pianeta in cui abita. Conosciuto con il titolo di “FinFin on Teo, the Magic Planet”, il cucciolo virtuale FinFin fece la sua prima apparizione su Personal Computer, uscito nel 1996. Stando alle affermazioni dei produttori, la versione per 64DD non era però un port del titolo PC, ma un gioco completamente nuovo. Lo sviluppo di Teo per 64DD è stato probabilmente fermato a causa del fallimento del Disk Drive e non potremo mai sapere quali novità avrebbe portato questo adattamento.[/spoiler]

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