Adventure

Gruesome Castle: Gee Whiz! Mystery Club [PC – Cancelled]

Gruesome Castle: Gee Whiz! Mystery Club is a cancelled adventure game that was in development by Gee Whiz! Entertainment for PC around 1998. It was announced as a ground-breaking project, the “first true 3D graphic adventure”, planning to “combining the 3D freedom of Nintendo’s Mario 64 with the classic adventure game play of LucasArts’ Monkey Island series” with cartoon horror setting and multiple protagonists, somehow similar to the Scooby-Doo cartoon.

As we can read on the old Gee Whiz! website:

“Gruesome Castle follows the exploits of Jake and Anna King and their pals Skip, Wendy, Brad and Jeepers the dino-monkey. Together they form the Gee Whiz! Mystery Club – an adventurous gang of teens who travel the world solving mysteries.

Their latest adventure brings them to England where they are to visit their cousin Edward at Gruesome Castle. Upon arriving they quickly discover that Edward has gone missing and that the castle is haunted. It’s up to our intrepid team to solve the riddle of the ghost and uncover the dark mystery of Gruesome Castle.

Game play features:

1) Taking control of Jake, players can explore a large castle with scores of rooms, including a Dungeon, Hedge Maze, Vast Underground Catacombs and a Spooky graveyard

2) Each location is very large with dozens of characters and objects to interact with

3) Witty dialog via a conversation system that allows you to talk to all the game characters

4) Inventory system lets you examine and manipulate all of the items that you find during your adventure

5) Ability to read books allows you to read from the extensive library and uncover the dark secrets of Gruesome Castle

6) Dynamic cameras in every room give a cinematic feel to game play with pans, tilts and dollies. Players can change from the default mode to any of the many alternative viewing modes allowing them to place the camera where they want it.

7) Includes a Bonus Mystery Quest mode where you seek out the Mystery Club Bonus Items that are hidden throughout the locations. Recovering all the Bonus Items reveals a secret room

8) Look around mode allows you to look at the 3D location from any angle”

A playable prototype was uploaded online some years ago, so you can take a look to see what the team had in mind for this lost project.

Images:

Videos:

 

The Insider: Back in Black (Dramaera) [PC, PS2 – Cancelled]

The Insider: Back in Black is a cancelled adventure game that was in development for PC between 1998 and 2001 by french company Dramaera (AKA In-Visio or Dæsign). The game’s protagonist was Simon Blurr, an international thief in search of new pieces for his private art collection. Set in 1920s Paris, The Insider was conceived as an ambitious exploration – simulation game, where each character had its own live and emotions, artificial intelligence and daily routine, probably following an internal clock.

Players could move around different buildings of Paris to plan their next robbery, by observing streets, houses, museums and people who live in them. French publisher Canal+Multimédia was initially supporting the team, but in March 2000 they closed their relationship with Dramaera because their project was not proceeding as expected. As we can read on Mobygames:

“The company then signed a contract with index+ in June 2000 with an investment for the game and an additional financial promise to cover the costs to port the game to the PlayStation 2. The companies knew each other well, as Réunion des Musées Nationaux had tasked Dramæra to create the game Paris 1313: The Mystery of Notre-Dame Cathedral, published by index+.

A few weeks after the contract however, index+ was sold to Wanadoo Edition. The relationship quickly deteriorated when Wanadoo decided to focus on more mainstream products. The Insider, the project Dramæra had been working since 1998 with an investment of € 900,000, was to be turned into a classic adventure game with a new team. Jean-Noël Portugal refused and because of this the studio ran into financial troubles at the end of 2001.”

We don’t know how much of the game was dove before its cancellation, but it would be interesting to see a prototype leaked one day, to understand what the team was able to achieve.

Images:

Videos:

 

My Neighbor Totoro [SNES – Cancelled]

Around 1992 Tokuma Shoten Intermedia planned to develop or publish a tie-in Super Nintendo video game for the popular Studio Ghibli anime My Neighbor Totoro. At the time Studio Ghibli was part of Tokuma Shoten and the company published a few anime-related games such as Yadamon: Wonderland Dream and Eternal Filena. As far as we know the game was never officially announced by the company, but in 2019 Itoh Shigeyuki (former artists at Tokuma) shared on Twitter a couple of images from the game pitch they showed to Miyazaki.

As translated by Nina Matsumoto on Twitter:

“About 27 years ago, I drew these from scratch pixel by pixel to pitch a My Neighbor Totoro Super Famicom game to Hayao Miyazaki. (*for Tokuma Shoten Intermedia. The game got shelved). There were no decent scanners back then, so I had to stare at an art book and draw these one pixel at a time”

And a few more details “translated” by Google Translate:

“At that time, I felt a good bleed out when I saw it with a CRT while working, and it was more anime-like. Tokuma Shoten proposed a plan because he wanted to put it out, but unfortunately the director’s ok did not appear.

I couldn’t tell you the details of the reason for the store, but as you pointed out, he didn’t seem to like the game.

I guess it was more like an adventure game. I want to ignore the project and put out a racing game on a cat bus (laughs)

I think that there was a certain amount of odds, and I think that I had a plan for Manager Miyazaki, but in terms of adventure-oriented content, it might not have been as meaningful to turn it into a game.

Because it was for planning purposes, I think that I use more than 16 colors. However, the number of colors is considerably reduced.”

In the end after this undeveloped Super Famicom pitch there has never been an official My Neighbor Totoro video game.

Images: 

Planetfall 2: Floyd’s Next Thing [PC – Cancelled]

The original Planetfall is sci-fi text-adventure written by Steve Meretzky, published by Infocom for DOS PCs in 1983. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“The game starts with the user assuming the role of a lowly Ensign Seventh Class on the S.P.S. Feinstein, a starship of the Stellar Patrol. Overbearing superior Ensign First Class Blather assigns the player to mop decks, not exactly the glorious adventures promised by the recruiters on Gallium. But a sudden series of explosions aboard the ship sends the player scrambling for an escape pod, which eventually crash-lands on a nearby planet. There are signs of civilization, but curiously no traces of the beings that once lived there. Eventually encountering a helpful but childlike robot named Floyd, the player must unravel the mysteries of the single deserted structure on the planet, Resida, and find a way to get back home.”

3 years later the company was bought by Activision and in the mid ‘90s they tried to create a sequel titled: Planetfall 2: Floyd’s Next Thing. The project was started at least a couple of times, but it was always cancelled in the end.

Two trailers were released promoting the two versions of the sequel: the first one looked a bit like Myst, with per-rendered graphics, while the second version of the game was in full, real-time 3D.

In 2012 Archive.org user Swizzley uploaded a playable demo of Planetfall 2 and another prototype was later uploaded in 2016 by Agustin Cordes. As we can read from the file description:

“Don’t get your hopes up: this is a very early prototype from the cancelled sequel to Infocom’s classic text adventure. It’s barely playable, though it does provide an interesting look at how the game would have played with a realtime 3D engine. The prototype does introduce a puzzle (at least the only one I could find) and features voice acting as well as a pretty cool soundtrack tune. Judging by the puzzle, you were able to give orders to your robot companions similarly to how Infocom’s classic text adventures worked.

[…] back in 2007, an alleged ex-employee from Activision was auctioning this CD on eBay. He couldn’t verify the contents of the disc, but many enthusiasts including myself still pledged hoping it was legit. My top bid was $40 (hey, it was a pretty decent sum at the time) but the CD was sold at a whooping $90. I wasn’t going to give up, so I contacted the seller who in turn put me in touch with the buyer. Turns out he was a nice guy who exchanged the same ISO I’m uploading right now for a physical soundtrack of Scratches and a signed copy of the game. It was a fairly good deal. This prototype brings back great memories.

It’s been almost ten years since that transaction happened, and I think the time has come to properly preserve this rare piece of software history. Enjoy!”

Images:

 

Apros: Tenku no Sho (WolfTeam) [Sega Mega CD – Cancelled]

The original “Apros: Daichi no Shou Kaze no Tankyuu Sha hen” was an adventure game based on a series of Japanese Sci-Fi Fantasy novels, developed by WolfTeam (now Namco Tales Studio, mostly known for their Tales Of series) and published in 1992 for PC-98. A few months later they were already working on a sequel for Sega Mega CD, titled “Apros – Tenkū no Shō” (アプロス天空の章), but in the end was quietly cancelled when the main developer / designer has left the team.

As noticed by Kid Fenris on the Lost Levels forums:

“The only screenshots I’ve found are in this vaguely worded capsule preview from the February 1993 issue of (Diehard) Gamefan.”

apros-wolfteam-sega-mega-cd-Gamefan-April-1993

“Apros was mentioned again in the June 1993 Gamefan, where the letters columnist informed a reader that the guy who was developing Apros has left Wolfteam (along with many others) and is starting his own company. He told Kei that he will continue development but is unsure of what format Apros will appear on. (It may be several.)”

apros-sega-mega-cd-Gamefan-June-1993

As noted by Zigfried these images from the Sega Mega CD version of Apros are completely different from their first PC-98 game, so we can assume it was really going to be some kind of sequel:

“It’s a fantasy adventure game with lots of (non-CG) animation. I’ve got the PC-98 game, and I’ve got a magazine that shows screens from *before* the Mega CD version was canned… and I’ve got to say, it looks nothing at all like those pics from the Gamefan mag.”

VGDensetsu also found more images in Beep! Mega Drive magazine (November 1992 + February 1993)

If you find out more about this lost game, please let us know