Cybernauts: The Next Breed, formerly know as DNAction: The NewBreed, Matrix Prime and Juggernauts: The New Breed, is a cancelled futuristic fighting game that was in development exclusively for theGenesis / Mega Drive that would have been published and developed by Accolade, Inc. around 1993-1994. Accolade made its name in the late 80’s and early 90s with franchise’s such as Test Drive, HardBall!, and Bubsy but started losing steam around the mid 90’s which caused the company to want to shift focus and reinvent itself. It is possible that this change of direction in the mid 90’s was the cause for some games to be cancelled in development such as Cybernauts. Accolade was also purchased by Infogrames in 1999 so any hope of the game being revisited seems to have ended there.
Although the game was never released, some info about the project and various character renders were found in old gaming magazines as Games World #1 and GamePro #56, plus some in-game screens from an early prototype found in Player One #43. Cybernauts/DNAction used pre-rendered sprites for characters and backgrounds, created with Silicon Graphics in the same way as Killer Instinct.
The game was to be placed in a future setting with scientists being able to genetically enhance humans to create their own superheroes. Some, however decide to use their powers for evil thus pitting a rivalry between those who received super powers. There were at least four planned playable characters: Pitbull and Hotshot who were members of Matrix Alpha, the superheroes trying to help society. Then the two members of the evil organization Overlord: Ground Zero and Tracer. Four additional characters were shown, Shockwave and Banzai, from Overlord, then Recoil and IronClad, from Matrix Alpha.
In May 2019, Eli Galindo, founder and CEO of Piko Interactive managed to retrieve an alpha prototype of the title. As it wasn’t complete enough to make a full game, the idea was first to launch a comic book centered around the background and characters from the game with a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter headed by a company named Virtual Comics in the summer of 2021. There was also the opportunity for the backers to play the unfinished prototype if the campaign was successful. As it turns out, it didn’t manage to reach its goal with 951$ gained on a total of 3,500$ required. Following this, Virtual Comics wrote:
Thank you to all of our backers!
We really appreciate you put time to review and pledge to our campaign!
We will go in another direction than kickstarter and release the comic book on our upcoming website and outlets like comixology.
We are in talks with publishers for physical version. In regards of the OST and the roms. We may re-use an OST in the future if we decide to fund a new game ourselves, and the roms we will try to partner with someone to make a video and a release!
The Virtual Comics Team.
Since then, it seems that no further attempts regarding Cybernauts have been made, with the Virtual Comics website appearing to be down, by the way.
Thanks to Celine and Rod_Wod for the contributions!
Fireteam Rogue is a canceled sci-fi action-adventure game published and developed by Accolade Inc.from 1993 to 1995 for the Super NES and the Genesis/Megadrive. The project was very ambitious for its time, as Accolade planned to launch alongside the game a comic book serie, with also discussion for action figure toys and a TV show.
Next information that will follow are from SNESCentral which was one of the first website to share many details as possible about this title. With a budget of 2,000,000 US $, this project was plagued by mismanagement that ultimately led to its cancellation:
Fireteam Rogue’s cancellation is probably due to having too much ambition. The people marketing the game claimed it would have 100 hours of gameplay, and that the characters would be larger than in most other action games. Personality conflicts and poor management due to this goal seem to have taken their toll, as stated by Russell Borogove (Bornschlegel):
“The project had a lot of problems in development. We spent a lot more time developing ridiculous data compression schemes to fit all the levels into the game, when we should have cut a couple of enemies and a handful of levels in order to get it done. There were also some personality conflicts that culminated with the producer of the project quitting when we were at beta. Shortly after that, the head of product development at Accolade asked us if we thought we should continue the project or not. It was unclear to me how much more work it was going to take to finish it and if the game was going to be good enough to compete in the market by the time we actually got it out, and I advised that we should shut it down. I don’t remember what the others said.”
The late Betty Cunningham on her website claims the game was complete. And it may well have been close to being finished. By the sounds of things, as development dragged on, it was increasingly clear it would not have been released. As artist Scott Ruggels recalls:
“Both of the game projects (Fireteam Rogue and the unreleased Genesis game, Cybernauts: The Next Breed) were helmed by John Skeel. I don’t know what happened to him after Accolade, but after the 2 million dollar budget for the game was spent, with about 750,000 spent on promotional materials, including a 6 foot tall roll of plastic with a life sized image of the main character computer generated within, and the prototype, that was, in all honesty, not very much fun to play, the game was cancelled, along with a lot of others soon after the new management took over, (…)”
The media give differing times for the ultimate cancellation. Gamepro, in its April 1995 issue states it was cancelled, coinciding with Warner Music Group buying a share in the company. Nintendo Power kept it in its upcoming releases section until the August 1995issue. Ultimately, a long development cycle can never be good for a game.
Two different prototypes exist and their source codes are both available on the web. The first prototype is apparently in early alpha and might be dated from 1994. It was leaked somewhere around 2006-2007 and is pretty incomplete and glitchy. A much later prototype was acquired in 2010 by Evan G., founder and owner of SNESCentral and is dated from 1995, although it is not clear from which month:
This later prototype of Fireteam Rogue was acquired by me in June 2010. The seller worked at a company called IMN Control. They were looking into publishing games to package with their controllers, and I guess by April 1995 (the letter that came with the prototype was dated April 6, 1995), Accolade was hoping to get another company to publish the game. The seller said that he did not feel the game would be complete in a reasonable amount of time to bother investing.
In addition to the prototype, there were some marketing materials and a three page FAQ. The FAQ explains the different levels, characters and goal of the game. There is a date of December 12, 1994 on the header of the FAQ. The package included a poster/information sheet that probably was used at the 1995 Winter CES. The poster has an expected March 1995 release date. The prototype itself came on four chips, with a date of “1/16” on it, which I assume means January 16, 1995. I guess that despite the fact that the prototype was sent in April 1995, either development had ceased, or they did not feel like burning a newer copy.
This prototype appeared to be more complete and less glitchy with the addition of Mode 7 levels and a password feature.
On his own article, Evan G. concluded:
Fireteam Rogue is definitely a game that had promise. It had an intriguing plot, excellent character artwork and a promising gameplay system. The Shadowblade level in particular shows the scope of what the levels may have entailed. The shooter levels play quite well and compare favourably with many similarly styled shooters for the SNES.
That being said, the two alpha ROM images available show a game that is not close to completion. Though I was told development may have extended all the way to 1996, the evidence seems to indicate that it was leading towards demise in early 1995. In particular, the statement in Gamepro in April 1995 and the fact that they were trying to find another company to publish the game show that its fate was decided by then. If the later alpha that I have is what was shown at the 1995 Winter CES (which I assume, considering the date on the prototype, and the included CES-style advertisement sheet), it would have had an underwhelming response. For instance, despite the impressive size and animation frames of the character sprites, the animation was not smooth, and led to unresponsive controls. The level designs are poor, and lack the key items to proceed through the stages. The graphics themselves don’t look bad, though they have a limited palette. The promised linking of the levels into a single story was not finished in the game.
The lesson of Fireteam Rogue is that focusing on hype and story before the creation of solid level design and gameplay can sink a game. The back-story of Fireteam Rogue rivals most contemporary RPGs, and the initial gameplay ideas could have rivalled Super Metroid. Instead, a development cycle mired by poor management and delays made this just another footnote in the history of the 16-bit era.
In October 1996, Accolade Inc. released a DOS game called Eradicator in which three different characters are playable. Those characters shares many similarities with the 4 main characters of Fireteam Rogue.
Brett Hull NHL Hockey was developed in 1994 by Accolade Inc. and Ringler Studios. There was going to be a version for both the cartridge and Jaguar CD add-on although they were never released in the Jaguar’s lifetime. To avoid licensing issues the name of the proto has been changed and released as “Jaguar Hockey”. This game became legendary to have the longest loading times out of all the other Jaguar CD games.
Test Drive Cycles is a cancelled motorcycle racing game that was in development in 1998 / 1999 by Accolade’s San Jose studios, the same studio responsible for Test Drive Off-Road 2 and 3. Infogrames wanted to expand their Test Drive series (Test Drive, Test Drive Off-Road, Test Drive Rally and Test Drive Le Mans) to focus solely on motorcycles with licensed manufacturers such as Harley Davidson, BMW, Moto Guzzi, and Bimota, but in the end the project was never released.
Up to two players can go head-to-head on 12 tracks from locations all over the world, including the streets of Washington DC, the beaches of Bali, the canyons of Utah, the Alps, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, the French Riviera and even the historic site of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
Players choose from three game modes: Quick Race, Championship and Head-to-Head (two players). In addition to five opponents racing to win the cup, players must also deal with traffic, oil slicks and unpredictable weather conditions. Smashing through certain obstacles will open up new track paths and shortcuts, while trophies, new bikes and upgrades are won along the way. Infogrames even went the extra mile to get the licenses for real manufacturer upgrades, giving each bike its own upgrade pack.
Charles Barkley Basketball is the working title of the Atari Jaguar version of Barkley Shut Up and Jam!, a 1993 basketball video game developed by Accolade for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The Atari Jaguar version was developed by Ringler Studios. The game was previewed in various magazines and even advertised. Cyberroach reports, in a great interview with Faran Thompson, an Atari Jaguar tester, that the game was almost completed but in the end it was not released:
CR: Charles Barkley Basketball looked pretty far along though? FT: Yeah, and that was a very difficult title to produce just due to the developer and in some ways it was a very painful process but I think what almost got done was, you know, kind of interesting and it would have been nice to actually see that released. I’m not exactly sure what the final status of that project was but when I left it was almost complete. But apparently it was never released, never really got over that hump.
The problem with the game lies in the fact that although mighty close, it is not complete. A sign of this is the time for the quarters. One minute only gives you 37 seconds, three minutes gives you 1:52 & five minutes 3:47. The biggest though is probably the lack of sound in the game. All you really get is the bouncing of the ball & not a lot else. No taunts from Sir Charles or words of encouragement either. No background music too. Another problem I found was that playing two player using the team tap did actually cause frequent crashes. Maybe I was just not good enough at the game, but I couldn’t find any Easter eggs which are known to be in other versions of the game.
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