Interview with Yukiharu Sambe, R&D manager of the unreleased Taito WOWOW

A long time ago, Unseen64 was just a shell of itself. It was hosted on the notoriously bad hosting service, and looked pretty much like a 90’s website horribly made with Microsoft Frontpage. However, as old as Unseen64 looked back then (it was 2004!), it wasn’t the first site dedicated to unreleased games maintained by Italians. That particular accolade belongs to The Strange (and Rare) Videogame Pics Page, created by Fabrizio Pedrazzini, an Italian games journalist, known for his work at magazines such as the glorious ‘Super Console’. TS(&R)VPP, as the name says, wasn’t solely about beta games. There were pictures of pirated software, obscure and limited edition consoles, demos, and more. Hidden among those pages was the Taito/JSB/ASCII WOWOW console.

Consoles Plus 010 - Juin 1992 - Page 010

Page 10, Console+ Issue 10 (June 1992) (click to enlarge)

For years, the only available information on the Taito WOWOW was limited to this report from the 1992 Tokyo Toys Show, via French videogame magazine, ‘Console+‘:

Another alliance between publishers and manufacturers has been established in Japan. It’s about JSB (that controls the satellite channel Wowow), ASCII and Taito.

A prototype has been developed. It’s small and equipped with a CD-Rom player. The basic idea is innovative: it’s about distributing games via satellite, like the streaming of TV programs, and to charge only the time really spent to play.

The other interesting thing about the console is that the games that will be released to the public will be the same of the arcade versions, with the video and audio quality of the originals.

The first games available will be Darius, Bubble Bobble and Parasol Stars…

A released date has not been disclosed yet.

Taito's booth at the Tokyo Toy Show 1992

Taito’s booth at Tokyo Toy Show 1992 (picture courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101 blog)

The interview with Yukiharu Sambe

We have been able to get in touch with the Research & Development manager of TAITO Corporation Mr. Yukiharu Sambe, Professional engineer at the time the Wowow was created, and he was kind enough to share some new informationpreviously unknown, about this unreleased console. Enjoy! 

Random interviews & info on lost games: Chapter 2

Our friend Ross Sillifant send us a lot of contributions every week, with info and interviews about lost videogames and their development, from different software houses and for various consoles / PC. To be able to publish all those info we’ll need a lot of time so we are adding these in the Unseen64 archive in different chapters, here’s the second part, be ready for a lot of obscure unseen games and canned ports of popular titles!

Prolific’s Return Fire 2 was also planned for Playstation 1 as well as PC. Edge Issue 58 has it previewed under PC/Playstation. PSX version was never released.

From an interview with Mick west, one of the developers behind the cancelled Big Guns for Playstation:

‘We did an futuristic racing game, a rally race game, a golf game, and a mech 3rd person shooter called “Big Guns”, which we eventually got Sony to let us do, and at about the same time landed the MDK gig. Big Guns was a fun game, but it kind of got designed out of existence by the Sony Producer, and eventually was cancelled. That’s a shame, but then that led to Apocalypse and hence Tony Hawk, so it’s all good.’

About the cancelled UNITY for GameCube: Jeff Minter’s chief sponsor at Lionhead, Pete Hawley, left whilst Jeff was working on Unity, and Jeff carried on for a while, but as he did Lionhead were getting closer and closer in regards to the relationship with Microsoft and Pete thinks Unity simply did’nt fit in with Microsoft’s plans for what MS wanted Lionhead to develop for their xbox hardware and instead let Jeff loose to develop it as the Virtual Light Machine for Xbox 360 instead. Pete also talked of how he so badly wanted Aphex Twin on-board to do the music for Unity, as that was “The Missing Piece”

About NATIVE II [Nuon]:  More info on why Jaguar version was canned:

Native was stopped because it was a Jag Server game (underground – so no official tools, no alpine, no cart, no CD) ALL code had to be loaded up in one go to ram so thats everything, in 2MB – it’s just not enough ram… on a bank switched cart there’d be AMPLE room, but Duranik are no longer interested in the project and nobody who’s taken it on later has really done much with it. […] Hmmm so this game could not be put onto a cart….Well even if they do bankswitching for it, They still didnt have enough work RAM he said …So did this 1 level game max out the RAM on the Jag for the 1 level so no Music/Weapons/Bosses….rotation effect could be added? Duranik did not have an official dev kit. That means they did not have the compression tools to put this on a 2 meg cart.


Unseen Interview: Brian McNeely (Lobotomy Software)

lobotomy software interview

Do you know Lobotomy Software? If you played Exhumed / PowerSlave on Saturn or Playstation, you probably remember that it was a real masterpiece, a Metroid-alike adventure in first person view, before Metroid Prime even existed.  Lobotomy were founded in 1993 and they released some other games like the successful Sega Saturn ports of Duke Nukem 3D and Quake, that shown to the world what the 32Bit Sega Console was able to do with 3D graphic when great developers were able to work on great games.

They were also planning 2 new original games, Aquaria (Nintendo 64 + Playstation) and Exhumed 2 (Playstation), but unfortunately these were cancelled before being completed and gamers will never be able to enjoy them. In 1998 Lobotomy’s talented developers were acquired by Crave Entertainment and the team was renamed to Lobotomy Studios, to work on a Caesar’s Palace game for the Nintendo 64, but after a year of development the game was postponed and eventually cancelled. As we can read on Wikipedia, at that point Lobotomy Studios was closed and employees were let go or given the option to be relocated to another position at Crave Entertainment.

Thanks to our friend Ross Sillifant we are able to publish this interview with Brian McNeeely, one of the main Lobotomy Software developers that worked on all their games, to ask him about his memories on their released projects and their cancelled titles. And if you still don’t know why it’s such a shame that we lost Exhumed 2 and Aquaria, please take your time and watch the video below (created by Tatsu  from Lobotomy Software Blog), to understand why Lobotomy Software was one of the most talented development team in the mid ’90, affected by an unlucky fate.

Interview with Brian McNeely by Ross Sillifant

Before we get started, i’m going to try and ‘avoid’ as many technical-based questions as possible, or least phrase them in a more general manner, as i think these type of questions would be better suited to coders like Ezra Dreisbach, with your goodself i’m looking more for the insights into the company itself, hopefully being able to get a few rumours from the press cleared up etc etc.

Q1) Starting with the standard, cliched opener, Brian, please introduce yourself to our readers, in terms of your background, if you could be so kind.

Brian: Thanks for this opportunity Ross.  My name is Brian McNeely (my name was actually Brian Anderson up to around 1996 when I changed my last name to McNeely, which is my birth name).  I’ve been working in the gaming industry since January 1989, when I was hired at Nintendo of America as a Game Play Counselor.  It’s hard to believe that was over 26 years ago!  I look back at those days as a golden era both in the gaming world and in my career, and I feel very lucky that I was at Nintendo’s epicenter during that period.  The NES, SNES, and Gameboy hardware and software were all the rage, and I had the privilege of playing those games full-time and helping gamers all over the world with game tips and “counseling.”  It really was a ton of fun.  I love what I do now and what I’ve done since then, but that was one of the best times of my life for sure. 

Random interviews and info on lost games!

Ross Sillifant sent us a lot of contributions, info and interviews about cancelled videogames and their development, from different software houses and for various consoles / PC. To be able to publish all those info we’ll need more time, but to start here’s a first collection of random facts that should be saved in the Unseen64 archive!

Mike Singleton (RIP) was working on Midwinter III, for PS2 and Dolphin (GameCube) working title was Skyfall Year Zero: Total Midwinter.  See Arcade Mag Timewarp March 1990 and this tweet by Chris Wild.

Activision CANNED PS1 Hyperblade (A futuristic rollerblading sport game) after almost 12 months in development, Activision unwilling to disclose reasons why it was canned though.

Interview with Andrew Hewson:

Q) Is it true you had a PC Engine version of Paradroid ’90 all finished and it was to be Hewson’s 1st crack at the emerging console market? If so, what became of it? Was it never released because PCEngine didn’t get a UK release?

Andrew:Umm, that’s news to me.


[Unheard Interview] Retro City Rampage Creator talks about the game and its unseen features

After starting life as Grand Theftendo, an NES de-make of Grand Theft Auto 3, Retro City Rampage has become what the creator calls an “Open World Action Parody”, and all that remains of GTA is the gameplay. In an audio interview for Unseen64, the creator, Brian Provinciano, reveals a new vehicle, the reason behind parodying the TMNT Water Level of legend, and a feature he wanted to include, but plans instead to use it in a hopeful sequel.

Retro City Rampage should be available for download on WiiWare, PSN and XBLA in the next few months! Check for more info and news about the game, or listen the video below for our interview with Brian!


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