Infogrames

Test Drive Cycles [PSX – Cancelled]

Test Drive Cycles is a cancelled motorcycle racing game that was in development in 1998 / 1999 by Accolade’s San Jose studios, the same studio responsible for Test Drive Off-Road 2 and 3.  Infogrames wanted to expand their Test Drive series (Test Drive, Test Drive Off-Road, Test Drive Rally and Test Drive Le Mans) to focus solely on motorcycles with licensed manufacturers such as Harley Davidson, BMW, Moto Guzzi, and Bimota, but in the end the project was never released.

As we can read on IGN:

Up to two players can go head-to-head on 12 tracks from locations all over the world, including the streets of Washington DC, the beaches of Bali, the canyons of Utah, the Alps, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, the French Riviera and even the historic site of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Players choose from three game modes: Quick Race, Championship and Head-to-Head (two players). In addition to five opponents racing to win the cup, players must also deal with traffic, oil slicks and unpredictable weather conditions. Smashing through certain obstacles will open up new track paths and shortcuts, while trophies, new bikes and upgrades are won along the way. Infogrames even went the extra mile to get the licenses for real manufacturer upgrades, giving each bike its own upgrade pack.

As we can read on the Playstation Museum:

According to some sources within the studio, a major setback occurred when the lead programmer left the team. Coupled with Infogrames’ desire to close the studio, TDC was forever cancelled.

A Dreamcast version of Test Drive Cycles was cancelled too, while GameBoy Color and PC versions  were released in 2000.

Thanks to Father PSX for the contribution!

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Valerian [PSX – Prototype]

Valerian is a cancelled Playstation game that was in development in 1998 by Virtual Studio, a french team owned (?) by Infogrames. There are not many info on the project but thanks to Daydi we found out that the game was based on a french comic, “Valérian and Laureline”. The character model that can be seen in one of the images, it’s identical to the comic’s male protagonist. As we can read on Wikipedia:

The series centres around the adventures of the spatio-temporal agent, the dark-haired Valérian, and his redheaded female companion, Laureline, as they travel the universe through space and time. Valérian is a classical anti-hero, strong and brave but with a tendency to follow the orders of his superiors even if he feels, deep down, that it is the wrong thing to do. […] Influenced by classic literary science fiction, the series combines elements of space opera and time travel.

The game was probably going to follow the comic’s plot, and the player would have been able to explore levels in different spaces and times. We can speculate that Virtual Studio tried to pitch a game based on the comic to some french publishers, but without any success. In the end  a game based on the Valerian comic was never relased and only few target renders remain, saved in the gallery below to preserve its existence.

Thanks to Daydi for the contribution!

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La Femme Nikita [DC/PS2 – Cancelled]

La Femme Nikita is a cancelled action game that was in development in 2000 / 2001 at Infogrames Lyon House: the project originally started in 1999 as “Mission Impossible 2”, a sequel to the original Nintendo 64 game. It seems that Infogrames soon decided to stop the development for the N64 and port MI2  to the new-released Dreamcast.

Fabien Lacaf, a professional story boarder, worked on MI2 and created different level environment (for 3D artists) and some parallel action designs  for the missions. The first concept to MI2 was based on levels that would have been completed following the progress of the main protagonists that worked in parallel at the same time.  The player was going to use different characters to complete the missions divided in different parts: in every single part the actions would have affected the next parts of the mission with the following characters.

After some months of work, the studio did not have the “Mission Impossible” license anymore and so they had to change the game into “La Femme Nikita”, based on the film / TV series with the same name. The project was then moved to the Playstation 2 but after 2 years of development, the publisher (Atari) decided to cancel “La Femme Nikita” for economic reasons.

That was the end of “Mission Impossible 2” for the Nintendo 64.

Thanks to Hey Hey for the contribution and to Rodolphe for his help to preserve more images from the project! 

Mission Impossible [N64 – Beta / Tech Demo]

mission64logo.jpg

Mission: Impossible is an action game / third-person shooter for the Nintendo 64, based on the 1996 film Mission: Impossible. It was developed by Ocean Software and distributed by Infogrames Entertainment. It later received a PlayStation port, with minor additions such as voice acting, but reduced graphics.

The N64 version was released in 1998, after it was postponed for many years. The game was originally announced in March 1996 as one of the first titles in development for the new 64-bit console. Ocean even confirmed that the game would had some special features for the Nintendo 64DD, but obviously there is no such option in the final game.

The very first images released looked like an High-Definition version of the game, with a cleaner graphic that was unthinkable for the real N64 hardware. Today these screens can make us to smile, but in 1996 these target renders were the most beautiful graphic ever. The final version of the game had no such graphic detail, with blurred out polygons and textures.

Unfortunately none of the U64 staff has played Mission Impossible 64, so we don’t know if the scenes in these beta screens were ported somehow in the final version. If you played Mission Impossible 64 and notice any differences, please let us know!

Thanks to RagingD and John Doom we found out some more details about the differences in these early screens:

This level only ends up being a cutscene in the final version.

The wet suit is not in the final version

This suit is changed from white to red in the final version

Screen 1: It’s the exit from the KGB HQ

Screen 2: This stage it’s not in the game

Screen 3: She (should be) Candice Parker in the prison of the KGB HQ. However, in the game she has a different hair cut.

Screen 4: A room in the KGB HQ where it should be a missing agent (but in the screen he isn’t there)

Screen 5: KGB HQ’s closet (But in the game you can’t drag enemies’s corpses).

Screen 6: The stage is not in the game (and who is that guy? o.o)

Screen 7: Same as above

Screen 8: Another missing level

Screen 9: Missing level (And the hud is VERY different)

Screen 10: Missing level

Screen 11: A cutscene (as RagingD said)

Screen 12: ??? maybe it’s the first level (but I’m not so sure…)

Screen 13: Head Security Officer’s room (but in the game there is a Communist flag instead of an american flag. The situation in the screen it’s totally different from the game too)

Screen 14: The second level (but in the game Ethan wears a different suit)

Screen 15: ??? Maybe it’s the hallway to exit from the KGB

Screen 16: The embassy (but the Lenin’s statue is missing)

Screen 17: Head Security Officer’s room as in the game (but the suit is different, just as RagingD said, and Ethan looks more Tom Cruise than in the game)

Screen 18: It seems a beta embassy’s room because the door and the plants are the same of the game). Or it could be a totally different level missing in th game.

Screen 19: The secret room in the KGB as in the game

Screen 20: it seems the entry to that beta-embassy. (the hud is totally different)

Screen 22: It’s probably a beta first level

Screen 23: First level

Screen 24: It could be a beta version of the escaping level from the KGB HQ

Screen 25: A beta version of the Head Security Officer’s room

Screen 26: Maybe is a beta version of the escaping level from the KGB HQ (but the enemy is totally different from the one in the game)

Screen 29: The bathroom in the embassy and the Deputy Ambassador (but the mirrors don’t reflect in the n64 version)

Screen 30: ???

Screen 32: VR sequence?

Mission Impossible 64 remains without doubt one of the most fascinating beta games to look at, to have an idea of what were the expectations of the gamers about the new Nintendo hardware. We dreamed for months to play with this high level of graphic with the Nintendo 64, but only with the release of the Dreamcast we were able to have something that looked as clean as the original Mission Impossible 64 target renders.

A sequel, Mission Impossible 2, was announced in 1999, but it was soon cancelled for the N64. MI2 was going to be developed for the Dreamcast, but when Infogrames lost the Mission Impossible license, the game became “La Femme Nikita” for the Playstation 2, cancelled after 2 years of development.

Thanks to Robert Seddon for some of these screens and to RagingD and John Doom for the contributions!

italian_flag.jpg [spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Uscito solo nella metà del 1998, Mission Impossible per Nintendo 64 ha dovuto aspettare alcuni anni, prima di essere completato. Il gioco fu infatti annunciato nel marzo del 1996, come uno dei primi titoli in sviluppo per la nuova console a 64 bit. Ocean confermò addirittura la presenza di alcune caratteristiche speciali, che sarebbero state sbloccate grazie ad un espansione per 64DD. Ovviamente nessuna opzione per 64DD è presente nel gioco finale.

Le primissime immagini diffuse erano una versione esagerata delle capacità 3D del N64: visuali ad alta definizione (almeno per l’epoca) ed una pulizia grafica impensabile per l’hardware Nintendo. Oggi queste foto possono farci sorridere, ma nel 1996 la grafica sembrava davvero realistica. Come già successo per altri giochi, presentati durante le fasi iniziali dell’Ultra 64, gli screenshot si riferivano probabilmente ad una serie di tech demo, creati per avere un’idea di come sarebbe stato Mission Impossible su di una console a 64 bit. Le specifiche tecniche del Nintendo 64 si rivelarono però meno potenti del previsto, ed il gioco completo è in realtà più sfocato e poco definito, rispetto a quanto volevano farci credere inizialmente.

Purtroppo nessuno dello staff ha mai giocato a Mission Impossible 64 e non possiamo quindi riconoscere se le situazioni qui mostrate siano presenti nella versione completa, oppure erano semplicemente degli scenari provvisori. Se avete finito M:I 64 e notate qualche differenza nei livelli, saremmo felici di ricevere una vostra e-mail con queste informazioni!

Gli Unseen di Mission Impossible 64 rimangono senza dubbio fra i più affascinanti da osservare, per avere un idea di quali erano le aspettative delle software house, rispetto al nuovo hardware Nintendo. Milioni di videogiocatori hanno sognato per mesi di poter avere una simile qualità grafica nei propri videogames, ma solamente con l’uscita del Dreamcast hanno potuto avvicinarsi all’aspetto che mostrava questo Tech Demo di M:I.

Un seguito del gioco era stato annunciato, ma presto cancellato senza lasciare nessuna traccia.[/spoiler]

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