DMA Design

Grand Theft Auto [Nintendo 64 – Cancelled]

A Nintendo 64 port of the original Grand Theft Auto was planned by DMA Design (along with a Sega Saturn version), but unfortunately the game was never released. A few previews of GTA 64 were published in websites such as IGN, revealing some more details about this port:

“Rockstar isn’t releasing much on the Nintendo 64 version of Grand Theft Auto, except to say that it’s not the sequel or an add-on pack. IGN64 has learned that the game, though essentially a port of the PlayStation original, will feature significant additions in the vein of souped-up graphics and added levels and characteristics. “

While websites never shown any official screenshot for the N64 version, a few alleged images were published by some magazines in Spain and Italy, showing “blurred” textures / 3D graphics for the environments that really looks like something a Nintendo 64 could do. Here is one of these articles, found by Luchi in Spanish N64 Magazine (issue 19, july 1999):

GTA Nintendo 64 cancelled

Unfortunately without any official statement it’s hard to say if these screenshots are really from the cancelled GTA 64, but it’s interesting to notice that in the official  design document for Grand Theft Auto (at the time titled “Race ’n’ Chase”) the game was indeed planned to be released on the “Ultra 64”.

 

Cutie Poo (DMA Design) [Mega Drive – Cancelled]

Cutie Poo is a cancelled action / platform game planned for Mega Drive and Amiga that was in development in 1990 by the legendary DMA Design team (Lemmings, GTA, Body Harvest), and it’s probably one of the lost games with the most bizarre titles ever. Cutie Poo was conceived from a character animation created by Gary Timmons just for fun and inspired by Disney cartoons and their smoothly animations: when David Jones (DMA founder) saw Gary’s animation he was so impressed that proposed him to develop a full game using that same character (named Bob).

Tony Colgan (a friend of Mike Dailly from the Abertay Computer Club) was hired as a freelancer coder to help Gary with development of Cutie Poo and they had to imagine what kind of game they could create with Bob as the protagonist:

“When Tony started on Cutiepoo, he and Gary sat down and came up with a simple game design. Basically, Cutiepoo (the main character), was trying to save little furry Tribbles (as inspired by startrek), from a character called Doc. Mallet.

This was the days of simple games, and true to this mantra, Dr. Mallet ran about trying to kill the tribble by squishing them with a huge mallet. This all took place inside a chocolate factory – for some reason.

Gary was now trying to get levels together for Cutiepoo, and had drawn the first in a series of test backgrounds. He, Tony and Dave then sat down to decide which style to use. The winner turner out to be the chocolate factory, since they could all see some funny situations cropping up in here.”

It seems that the main objective of the game was to guide Bob through the levels and find the exit as fast as possible, while avoiding traps and trying to save as many Tribbles as possible. Tribbles would also move around the levels and could die in traps or be killed by Doc. Mallet.

Unfortunately Gary’s fluid animations became a pain to code into the game and after a year of development Tony didn’t make enough progress, so DMA decided to cancel the project and focus their efforts on other, more successful games (such as Lemmings).

A playable demo of Cutie Poo was shown at the European Computer Entertainment Show London in September / October 1990, along with other DMA demos such as Walker and Gore (another cancelled Amiga action game), so we can still hope that one day someone could find this demo and share it with the world.

Some scans below are from Raze magazine Issue 1 and Retro Gamer issue 62

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Zenith (Climber) [N64 – Cancelled]

Zenith (also known as Climber in its early days) is a cancelled action / racing game hybrid planned for Nintendo 64 that was in development by DMA Design, the studio that created such popular games as Lemmings and the first Grand Theft Auto, other than cult titles as Space Station Silicon Valley and Body Harvest. Before working on the new 64 bit console, DMA already had a successful collaboration with Nintendo on the SNES with Uniracers, an original racing game in which players use unicycles to compete in high-speed tracks while doings tricks to gain more acceleration. In 1995 DMA pitched a new ambitious sandbox project to Nintendo for the yet-to-be-released Ultra 64: Body Harvest. Nintendo were quite interested in such an interesting concept, so they worked together with DMA for 2 years, before to split up because of delays and different views on how the game should have been played.

body-harvest-dma-design-n64

While Body Harvest was heavily publicized by Nintendo as one of the first games for their new console, another mysterious project was also in development at DMA for the Ultra 64, with a work-in-progress title of “Climber”. Climber was never shown to the public in any form but it quietly popped up in some early N64 release list, also to be published by Nintendo like Body Harvest. Without any more info about the project, some magazines even speculated that the game would have been a N64 version of Ice Climber, sometimes referring to it as “Ice Climber 64”.

Only many years later we found out that Climber was not related to Nintendo’s Ice Climber and DMA even changed the name of the project to Zenith after a while. The Zenith team was composed by a few young members of DMA Design: Andrew Eades, Andrew West, Richard Ralfe, Frank Arnot, Gary Thompson, Doug Smith, Paul Reeves, David “Oz” Osborne and John Gurney.

As it happened with Uniracers, Zenith was going to have an original twist to the racing genre, in which players were able to choose among a good number of characters to combat and run to the top of various towers with different themes (for example medieval and wild-west levels), avoiding obstacles and fighting against other competitors. There was a wide variety of available characters in the early prototype of Zenith, such as humans, strange creatures and aliens. Characters were able to walk, run, jump, climb, hang and swing through the different hazards of the levels and had different combat moves, a few simple punch and kick moves plus a unique special attack.

We had a really innovative split screen effect that showed the leading player on top but as the follower caught up the split would start to rotate until it was vertical as they were side by side. The effect of an overtake was really awesome as the split would turn upside down as the bottom player became the top player. It’s hard to describe in words. I left DMA to go to work for Virgin Interactive but I think you can see the ideas of Climber in the agency towers of Crackdown. – Andrew Eades, Climber Lead Programmer

In this old photo of Richard Ralfe (Body Harvest level and game designer) taken at the DMA offices during the development of Body Harvest and Zenith, we can see on the wall what could be a group image of some of the characters from the game.

Richard-Ralfe-level-designer-zenith-N64-DMA

This seems confirmed thanks to an hidden Easter egg: on the walls of one of the ancient buildings in the Java level on Body Harvest there is a texture that show characters from Zenith, hidden in there by a former Zenith dev. Thanks to JaytheHam who found this texture, we can notice how the characters from the poster in the photo are quite similar to the ones on the texture:

From the few info available we can speculate that Zenith would have been a more complex and “mature” version of Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls (a rather obscure racing / action game with tower-based levels developed by Iguana Entertainment and released for N64 in 1998), mixed with a little of Super Smash Bros.

Zenith was basically a vertical obstacle course racing game – first to the top wins. [below] is the original concept image for the Zenith project. Drawn by David “Oz” Osborne – Head of Art at DMA… this is currently on the wall of his office. – Frank Arnot

zenith-climber-n64-DMA-Design-concept

Unfortunately because of the many problems and delays with the development of Body Harvest, DMA Design decided to cancel development on Zenith and to move that team to help finishing their most important project for Nintendo. As we can read in an old article published on Edge Magazine issue 121:

On its return home, DMA noticed a distinct pattern emerging – more bad news. Body Harvest was being developed alongside another game called Zenith – an original mix of platform and racing action. Zenith was to be canned and several people were given the unpleasantly singular option of joining the Body Harvest project. It was a difficult situation and White found himself “trying to motivate people who didn’t want to be motivated.” When tensions reached breaking point, about ten people decided to leave en masse. White describes the episode as “a lot of fun,” in the same way that crashing your car is a lot of fun. It is easy to imagine that Body Harvest may never have reached completion without White’s intrinsic skills of diplomacy.

We tried to get in contact with people from the original Zenith team and they were able to share a few more memories about this lost game with us, but unfortunately they were not able to find any screenshots left from the project. If you worked on this game and still have images left from the project, please let us know!

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Gore [C64 PC ST – Cancelled]

Gore is a cancelled side scrolling action game planned to be released for Amiga/PC/ST in 1990,  in development by DMA Design and published by Psignosis. The project was canned early in development when it became obvious that there wasn’t enough memory for all the graphics. Some images from this lost game were shared online by Mike Daily on his Flickr account, other scans and info are from Javalemmings and PsygnosisAmiga!

Post by Elian

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Lemmings [Arcade – Prototype]

Lemmings is a puzzle  game developed by DMA Design (now Rockstar North) and published by Psygnosis in 1991, originally for the Commodore Amiga.

The popularity of the game on the Amiga led to its rapid porting to many other platforms, and is considered to be one of the most widely-ported video games of all time. [Info taken from wikipedia]

The Lemmings Arcade prototype was never released in arcades, though a playable version for PC was found and dumped many years after 1991. It seems that they had planned on using a trackball and buttons to control it, though my friend optiK and I have been discussing that it seems to be based more off the genesis build than anything. Still, it feels somewhat incomplete…

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Old Lemmings Into found in the original demo.

This is an original concept art of lemmings made for show Psygnosis how the game was going to look like.

The disk the ORIGINAL demo shown to Psygnosis was on, SAVED when DMA's Dundee office shut down, and donated back to Russell Kay.

The original photo of the old intro. 

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