Action Adventure

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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Attack! (DMA Design) [PC, N64 – Cancelled]

Attack! was an action game developed by DMA Design (the same software house responsible for Body Harvest and Silicon Valley) that was officially announced in april 1999.  It was described as a Spiritual successor to Lemmings and gaming magazine at the time wrote that it was planned for PC, Playstation and N64. Edge saw design sketches littering walls of DMA HQ during a visit. Game was described as “Millwall supporters let loose in Jurassic Park’ and set to feature a range of diminutive dino’s.” It seems, however, that the game was going to be released only for the pc.

Mike Dailly that worked at DMA, wrote:

“Well, Attack was never for the N64, it was a PC only (at the time) title and was canned well before other ports were started or even considered.”

There is virtually no information about it, and the only images that we have are some artworks. Judging from these few pics that we managed to recover, Attack was set in the prehistory, and the protagonist was going to be a caveman. According to some rumors, the main character was able to tame the various creatures and use them to advance in the game. The project was potentially very interesting: the titles that DMA developed for the nintendo 64 had many innovative features that were later used as the foundations for some successiful titles. In the autumn of 1999, DMA Design was acquired by Rockstar and renamed Rockstar North, the team that two years later created GTA III.

[English translation by yota]

Thanks a lot to Gilgalegrouik for some of these images and to Ross Sillifant for the contribution!

Some images from www.flickr.com/photos/mikedailly/sets/

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Spooky [N64 – Cancelled]

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Spooky is a cancelled action game that was in development by ICE (International Computer Entertainment), shown for the first time in October 1997, but later vanished without any official statement. The gameplay was going to be somehow similar to Freak Boy, another unreleased Nintendo 64 game. The player would had to save a bizarre alien world, from the menace of the “ArchMorph”, an evil alien race survived after a major disaster. The screenshots in the gallery below seem to be taken from a target render, as the graphic looked a bit too much nice for a N64 title.

As in Freak Boy, the protagonist would have been able to mutate into three different forms, to resolve puzzles and to fight better. In the game’s levels we had to collect 30 pieces of a mirror, to be able to “absorb” the evil Arch-Morph, transform into it and be able to win the fight. Sadly Spooky was never finished, probably because ICE never found a publisher interested in the project and the N64 software market was in serious decline at the time.

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Max Payne [Beta – PC]

Max Payne [Beta – PC]

Max Payne is a third-person shooter video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Gathering of Developers on July 2001 for Windows PC. Conceptualization of the game started as early as 1996, after the successful publication by Apogee Software, Scott Miller‘s company, of Remedy’s first title: Death Rally. In an interview with Matt Barton, Scott Miller recalls how he was impressed by Remedy’s work ethic, so he decided to further his collaboration for a different title, with Remedy pitching three different ideas, as it’s stated in Rus McLaughlin “The History of Max Payne” on the Escapist:

Everyone wanted to keep the momentum going. Remedy soon pitched Apogee founder Scott Miller three new ideas: another racing game, a Decent: FreeSpace– like space-combat sim, and Dark Justice, an isometric, neo-noir shooter inspired by Interplay’s twisted death-a-thon, Loaded.

Dark Justice was Max Payne’s first working title, and the title is of course a reference to the vengeance theme that persists through the game, although the game was still an isometric shooter. The plot was written by Sami Järvi (better know by the pen name of Sam Lake), but few elements of the game’s mechanic were ideas of Scott Miller, who explained part of Max Payne’s development process in a post on his blog Game Matters:

Max Payne was conceptualized during Tomb Raider’s peak run, and the design purposely avoids the special elements that made Tomb Raider unique and popular, such as swimming, the acrobatic moves, settings, horrible third-person camera, stuff like that. […] The game was designed with several interesting hooks to help it stand-out and generate buzz. The key hook is bullet-time, which I won’t go into further. But perhaps overlooked are other important hooks:  The game’s film noir style,  the game’s graphic novel story presentation, and [3] the game’s Hong Kong flick cinematic action. […] The game was originally titled Dark Justice, as this well describes the game’s theme. But, we felt it was more important to focus on the game’s lead character like we had previously done with Duke Nukem.

Given the fact that they needed to focus on the character, to build up a transmedia franchise, according to the Apogee FAQ on Rinkworks.com, Scott Miller came up with the name Max, soonly expanded in Max Heat, which later became the final title Max Payne (the title Max Heat appears in the final games, in both Max Payne and Max Payne 2, as the title of pornographic magazines and movies):

So we needed the name of the game to be the name of the character, and we needed a great, memorable character name that conveyed the essence of the character.

I came up with Max, but I couldn’t think of a good last name. At one point,the best name we could think of was Max Heat, and we spent over $20,000 trademarking this name worldwide. Then someone from Remedy proposed Payne as the last name, and immediately we ditched Heat and spent another load of money trademarking Max Payne. Truly a perfect name.

Development of the game started in 1997, with Remedy going for a full 3D game with a proprietary graphic engine, MaxFX. The lead technical artist Sami Vanhatalo in The Making Of: Max Payne recalls how:

One of the first things we did technologically was the particle system, and once you started seeing the particle effects with this huge slowdown it was like: ‘God, something good must come of this.’

The game was first shown to the public at the E3 1998 with this trailer, featuring a Max Payne’s prototype at a very early stage:

The video shows many prototype features, early stage levels and unused characters and weapons. Most notably: different sights for your weapons, unused weapon like the TASER shown at 1:50 or a pistol with a laser sight, early stage levels of Roscoe Street Subway Station, Jack Lupino’s Hotel and randoms NYC streets (presumably used only as tests levels), unused characters like a motorcyclist enemy with a UZI, a giant enemy with a striker shotgun and a smoking enemy (I’m not sure if a smoking enemy is included in the final game). I’m not sure if the comic panel shown at 0:51 is unused, and I don’t remember if in the final game Max limps if excessively wounded like he does at the end of the trailer, drop a comment in the comments section if you know.

The game was set for release for Summer 1999, however it was postponed numerous times, and a multiplayer mode was also dropped by the developers. Rockstar Games was questioned for a port to Xbox and PS2. Remedy also traveled to New York City to took pictures of streets and places potentially interesting for the game’s scenario, as documented on 3D Realms’ website. Indeed, the game was still in a very early beta status for E3 1999, as shown by this E3 1999 trailer:

(this trailer is credited by IGN.com as gameplay of the Dreamcast version, which probably was never coded)

Other notable differences in this trailer: the smoking enemy appears again, doing a mexican standoff with Max Payne (an element from John Woo’s movies, which never appears in the final game), the sight is different again, and unfinished version of levels like Roscoe Street Subway Station and the basement of Jack Lupino’s hotel.

Another trailer, this one from E3 2000, this is possibly the same beta build as the previous trailer, although in some closer shots Max 3D model is the same as the final game (notice how the part near the belt is different from other angles, and the face and the orange jacket are more detailed too):

I don’t remember the part with the exploding barrels (it could be a beta version of Casa di Angelo’s level? What do you think?)

The game was released on 23 July 2001 in North America, and the trailer from the E3 2001 looks pretty much like the final build of the game.

It’s been a long time since I played the game, can you spot more differences in these trailers or in the gallery’s images? Did you spot an error in this article? Drop a comment in the comments section and let us know what you think. Thank you for your help!

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Hybrid Heaven [N64 – Beta / Tech Demo]

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Konami was one of the first software houses to announce full support for the Nintendo 64, after the happy and profitable experience with the SNES. In addition to Castlevania 64, one of the first games announced for the console was Hybrid Heaven, a strange cross-game between Turn-based RPG, action, adventure and fighting, that promised an open ended gameplay.

In the early images and videos released, the project had an incredible graphic for its time, much more definited than the one in the final version.  When Hybrid Heaven was finally released after many delays, players found themselves in front of a very different game, graphically poor and with a linear gameplay.

Probably the early media released were just Concept Renders and when Konami started to create the game on the real N64 hardware, they found out that it was impossible to reach such level of details. We dont know exactly how many parts were removed (some places and characters seen in the concept renders were not in the final game), but we can speculate that the developers had to heavily cut the project, because their original concept was too ambitious for its time.

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]La Konami fu una delle primissime Software House ad annunciare il pieno supporto alla nuova macchina a 64 Bit di casa Nintendo, dopo le felici e redditizie esperienze con lo SNES. Oltre al precedente Castlevania 64, uno dei primi giochi annunciati fu questo Hybrid Heaven, strano incrocio fra RPG a turni, azione, esplorazione e picchiaduro. Dalle primissime immagini il titolo faceva graficamente paura e sembrava avere tutte le potenzialità per divenire l’ennesima Killer Application per l’N64. Eppure, quando il gioco finalmente venne completato dopo anni di ritardi, i giocatori si trovarono davanti un prodotto molto diverso, graficamente povero e dalla giocabilità fin troppo lineare. Del progetto originale probabilmente si era salvato ben poco.[/spoiler]

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