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Dragon Sword (Storm) [N64 – Cancelled]

Dragon Sword, officially announced in early 1998, is another cancelled game for the Nintendo 64. More precisely, it was a coop action-adventure / hack & slash developed by Interactive Studios / Blitzgames (the creators of Glover) and set in a fantasy world called Avantaria, where a group of four heroes had to stop the evil plans of Xyrus the mage.

It seems that originally Dragon Sword had a strong emphasis on exploration and adventure elements, but in the latest builds (shown in the screenshots below) it became a frenetic action game, similar to many memorable arcades of the past, as Gauntlet or Golden Axe. In fact Dragon Sword was supposed to play a lot like Gauntlet Legends 64, with generators that must be destroyed in order to  avoid the respawn of the enemies.

One or two players were able to play together and to chose from 4 different characters (Cutter, Kailan, Gouranga and Aisha)with which fight hundreds of soldiers. Each character had its own set of attacks and abilities.

Some features betrayed clearly a greater ambition than the usual hack &  slash, such as the presence of different weather conditions, large and  varied enviroments, a rpg-like experience system and many different magical weapons.

Other than the 2 players coop in the story mode, there was a fun 4 players deathmatch mode, that was more enjoyable than many of the standard fighting games released for the Nintendo 64. A “Time Trial” mode was also available!

Dragon Sword was basically finished, but unfortunately, like many other N64 titles, it was destined  to never see the light of day:  it seems that the game was cancelled because MGM Interactive (the publisher) though that it would have not sell enough to gain profit.

Supposedly the english 64 Magazine was able to play an almost-final build of Dragon Sword, which got 93% in their review. They liked the game so much that they tried to organize a petition in order to convince the  MGM to release it,  but sadly their effort didn’t work.

In the gallery below you can see many screens from the latest Dragon Sword build and some early target renders that look very different from the “final” game.

In April 2010, thanks to an anonymous collector, a playable beta of Dragon Sword was shared online: there are 7 levels available and even the deathmatch multiplayer mode is working! There are some bugs, but for an unfinished N64 game that was in development more than 12 years ago, the game is fun enough, especially if you can play it in coop mode with a friend.

From the internal HEX code, it seems that they planned to have 9 levels for Dragon Sword, but after you finish the 7th level in the beta, the game crashes. We still dont know how to load the 8th level or if it’s in the game at all. It’s possible that only level 1 to 7 are playable. A test-level could be hidden in the beta too.

You can see a lot of concept arts created for Dragon Sword in Ohnhai’s DA Gallery. In there, you can notice many scenes that were never developed into the “final” game, as a town filled with people, magic system and the possibility to ride a dragon to explore the world.

Edward Kirk was able to find some codes to access to all the playable levels and some test-areas, you can find more info at his website!

I looked at complete levels and found the following Gameshark code (after checking some fifty or so addresses): 801249B3 000X. X denotes the different level value. The Level Section Select code has been found. Gameshark code 801249B7 000X, where X is usually a value from 0 to 3, but this may depend upon the level. As you cannot progress beyond the first part of Level 8 if you use just the Level Select code, use this code to see the other parts of the level

Thanks to Celine for the contribution! Thanks to Christian Mohr Jensen for some of the videos below!

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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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Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths & Legends [N64 – Cancelled]

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Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends is a cancelled Nintendo 64 game that was based on the animated series with the same name, which (as you can guess from the subtitle), is inspired by sci-fi themes and aliens. The TV series was enough popular in the USA and the producers decided to create an action adventure for the Nintendo 64, Playstation and GameBoy Color. As already happened many times, the N64 version was cancelled, but you can check some screenshots in the gallery below. The Playstation version was released in 2001, developed by Red Storm Entertainment, and probably it’s similar to the unreleased N64 one.

In the end the game is just a mediocre, repetitive and linear action game, with two mini-games to try to cure the lack of variety in the gameplay. For once, we are almost happy that the Nintendo 64 version was never released .

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends è una serie animata uscita in america nel 1999, che da come si può intuire dal sottotitolo, si ispira ad uno dei luoghi comuni più utilizzati all’interno della sci-fi: gli alieni in realtà sono sulla terra da migliaia di anni ma preferiscono mostrarsi come il lupo mannaro e il conte dracula in modo da non far scoprire mai la verità sulle loro solite mega-cospirazioni.

Visto che la serie a quanto pare aveva incontrato discreti consensi in USA, i produttori decisero di farne un action adventure per N.64, Playstation e per buona misura anche GBC. Come già accaduto molte volte in passato, la versione N.64, i cui primi e unici screenshots sono apparsi nell’estate del 2000, non ha mai visto la luce. Impersonando i due protagonisti del serial Nick Logan e Sh’Linn Blaze, dovevamo cercare di investigare le conspirazioni in cui erano coinvolti gli alieni facendo attenzione nel contempo a mantenere segrete tali indagini.

Sembra accattivante come premessa, ma la versione Playstation, identica a quella che doveva essere la release N64, risulta essere un gioco veramente mediocre, ripetitivo e lineare per quanto riguarda il level design, e soltando due mini-games a cercare di rimediare alla scarsa varietà delle varie conspirazioni.. Anche la grafica, che in teoria doveva essere uno dei punti di forza per la sua particolare estetica, rivela che ci vuole ben altro che una ricercata stilizzazione per creare comparti tecnici originali e godibili. Corollario: Per una volta siamo quasi contenti che un titolo Nintendo 64 non sia stato rilasciato. [/spoiler]

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The Reign of Cats and Dogs [N64 – Proto / Unreleased]

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The Reign of Cats and Dogs is a mysterious cancelled Nintendo 64 game that was in development by Paradox Games, that tried to show it to various publishers to pitch for a contract. There are few info on the game apart from some small screenshots remained on the website of one of its original developers:

A prototype 3D action / strategy hybrid in C + + on SGI Performer, intended to be published on the Nintendo 64. This one has not seen the light of the open market.

As we can imagine from the title, we would have probably had to fight a war between cats and dogs, in an action game with some strategy elements. The prototype did not run on the real N64 hardware, but on a PC  to test the  controls and the interactions with the scenario. The Reign Of Cats & Dogs could have been a fun concept, but unfortunately it was cancelled for the lack of a publisher interested to release the full game.

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Questo misterioso gioco è stato un progetto quasi amatoriale, sviluppato da Paradox Games che sperava di convincere qualche distributore a pubblicarlo su Nintendo 64. Le notizie a riguardo sono scarse, ma fortunatamente è stato possibile trovare il sito web del Game Designer che ha lavorato su “The Reign Of Cats & Dogs”, dove è rimasta una traccia del gioco:

“A prototype 3D action/strategy hybrid in C++ on SGI Performer, intended to be published on the Nintendo 64. This one hasn’t seen the light of the open market.”

Il progetto doveva quindi essere un gioco d’azione strategica, probabilmente una lotta fra gruppi di gatti e cani, come possiamo immaginare dal titolo. Il prototipo non girava su vero hardware Nintendo, ma su di un computer in cui testare le varie possibilità di interazione e controllo. Il giocatore avrebbe preso il controllo di una delle due fazioni, combattendo contro l’altra e dando ordini ai propri compagni. Graficamente molto scarno, “The Reign Of Cats & Dogs” poteva essere un idea interessante, ma purtroppo è stato cancellato dal team di sviluppo, forse per la mancanza di un publisher che avrebbe diffuso il lavoro completo. Sarebbe stato inutile continuare i lavori sul gioco, per poi non poterlo vendere nei negozi.[/spoiler]

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