go-kart racing

BaiJiu Racer (Spicy Horse) [PC – Cancelled]

BaiJiu Racer is a cancelled online kart-racer that was in development for PC in 2008 by cult-following game designer American McGee and his team Spicy Horse. After working on their episodic American McGee’s Grimm game series and with support from ICE Entertainment, Spicy Horse pitched Baiju Racer as a competitor for Crazyracing Kartrider, an online racing game that was quite popular at the time in the Asian market.

As wrote by American McGee on his blog:

“Announcing “BaiJiu Racer” – An MMO-lite racing game concept with China as the core theme. The concept has been in focused pre-production for the past three months here at Spicy Horse. Working with our Chinese publishing partner ICEE we’ve crafted a solid Game Design Document, Technical Design Document, Art Bible, Visual Target Demo, and Development Plan. Together these materials constitute a compelling pitch for a title we think will be a strong competitor in the worldwide, lite-MMO, online racing category (think “Kart Racer”).

A lot of teams dream of a “Mario Kart” or “KartRider” killer – and we think our concept goes a long way towards being a viable contender. For one, it’s the first Chinese cart racing game developed with an authentic and original Chinese art style, set in real-world locations, and featuring some of the funkiest racing vehicle designs the world has ever seen (inspiration coming from actual Chinese vehicles). We’re focusing on semi-realistic (and fun) physics-based racing dynamics, going light on the power-ups, and throwing in a lot of visual action.”

Gameplay would have been mostly skill-based, with just a few Mario Kart style power-ups:

  • Distinctive art style featuring a timeless portrayal of everyday Chinese people and locations
  • Core gameplay focused on skill-based racing, avoiding fun-killing power-ups
  • Strong narrative backbone and emotional drama – “everyone can be a hero”
  • Unique and interesting vehicle designs based on real-life Chinese vehicles
  • Track locations that reveal a China few foreigners have seen

Baijiu Racer would have been free to download and play on PC, with heavy emphasis on cosmetic paid content. For this reason playable characters were designed with an “ugly” style, to incentivize players to buy cosmetic stuff. As wrote by American McGee in 2010:

“Online games dependent on microtransactions and purchase of items must create and maintain a compelling library of buyable content. Generally this content is geared towards improving player’s abilities in-game, either upgrading performance of a vehicle, allowing access to a bigger weapon, or resupplying ammo/fuel for those weapons and vehicles. Purchases can also be purely cosmetic, improving Player’s outfit, hair style, or physique. It is agreed that in a fair and balanced PvP environment purchased items should not upgrade or influence a Player’s ability to win. This means purchased items are purely cosmetic.

Solution: Our brains have evolved to be powerful facial characteristic readers. We are walking face “value scanners”. A game geared towards the creation and maintenance of facial “value” taps into this most basic skill of the human brain. Facial beauty is a function of ratios and relational harmonies. A character creation system with built-in flaws limits Player to creating only ugly faces.

Typical facial creation systems assume Player will build a face at the start of the game and then leave it until the end. By linking the facial manipulation mechanic into the store we create a constant driver to spend time/money on making a player character more and more attractive. The promise of all those marketing campaigns becomes a reality.

Races (crashes specifically) will deliver damage to Player Character’s face, clothing and body. This way we create an instantly recognizable value system within the game which can be monetized through make-up, insurance, surgery and more.”

While ICEE was announced as the publisher of the game in China, as far as we know Baiju Racer was never released in any way, as confirmed by a former Spicy Horse developer’s resume.

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Oh My Goddess! (Aa! Megami-sama) [Super Famicom – Cancelled]

Oh My Goddess! (Aa! Megami-sama) is a manga and anime series by Kosuke Fujishima, serialized since September 1988 in Japan. It was quite popular at the time and it even got a few tie-in games for NEC PC-98, Sega Dreamcast and Playstation 2.

In the late ’90s a Super Famicom (SNES) Oh My Goddess! game was also announced in Japanese gaming magazines, as reported at the time by some english fansites. It would have been an arcade racing game similar to Mario Kart, set in the series’ NIT’s festival (?). It also seems each kart would have been driven by 2 characters at the same time (?):

  • Belldandy & Keiichi
  • Urd & Peorth
  • Skuld and Banpei-kun RX.
  • Megumi & Sora
  • Tamiya & Ootaki

Unfortunately it seems they never shown any actual screenshots from the game, only promotional artworks for the characters. Maybe something more is still hidden away in old japanese magazines?

Oh-My-Goddess-Aa-Megamisama-Super-Famicom-Cancelled 

Go Carts (DMA Design) [Nintendo 64 – Cancelled]

Go Carts is a cancelled racing game 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 mid ‘90s DMA pitched a new racing project for the yet-to-be-released Ultra 64: Go Carts. Unfortunately it was never released and only a few prototype images remain to remember the existence of this lost project.

The game was never officially announced and probably it was just one of the many ideas that DMA had to develop a new game for Nintendo’s 64 bit console. We can speculate their plan was to create a fun go-kart racing game, somehow similar to Mario Kart, but with a more realistic look and feel. In the end Nintendo did work with DMA Design on a new game, but that game was Body Harvest.

Go Carts was quietly cancelled and we’ll never know what it could have been if only completed.

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Crash Tag Team Racing DS [Cancelled]

Crash Tag Team Racing is a kart-racer developed by Radical Entertainment and published in 2005 by Sierra Entertainment for GameCube, PS2, Xbox and PSP. A Nintendo DS version was also announced, but later cancelled. This unreleased DS version was in development by Sensory Sweep and in 2014 a few images from the prototype were found by Crashmania’s user Bitmap.

As we can read on Wikipedia:

“The main hook of Crash Tag Team Racing is the “clashing” feature found during the racing sections of the game. The player can “clash” with another vehicle by pressing a certain button depending on the gaming platform. The player’s vehicle will merge with a nearby opponent’s vehicle, and the player will then take control of a powerful turret weapon to shoot at other vehicles.”

Crash Tag Team Racing DS would have been a fun multiplayer title for Nintendo’s dual-screen console, but unfortunately it seems Sierra though the game would have bombed because of the competition with Mario Kart DS. Other rumors say the real reason for its cancellation were internal issues between Sierra and Sensory Sweep, but we don’t have any official statement.

Thanks to Andrea for the contribution

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Kunio-kun Kart [SNES – Cancelled / Concept]

Kunio-kun is a famous series developed by Technos Japan and it was their mascot in Japan. Despite the first game was a beat’em up, soon Technos used the characters for games in other kind of genres, even puzzle games. The most well known Kunio-kun spin off were those concerning sport games ( dodge ball, beach volley, football, basket, hockey, baseball ), always presented through Kunio-kun crazy and not-so-serious atmosphere the series is known for.

Yoshihisa Kishimoto, one of the main men behind Kunio-kun, revealed on his site how a go-kart racing game starring Kunio for Super famicom was in a preliminary phase in early ’90. The idea probably sprung after witnessing Super Mario Kart huge success on the platform. Unfortunately it seems the game never went into production and soon after ( 1996 to be exact ) the japanese developer declared bankruptcy.

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