Blade & Barrel, also known as “Ultra Combat” in the U.S., was going to be one of the launch titles for the new Nintendo 64 console, but sadly it was cancelled. Developed by Software Creations and Kemko, the game was an arcade third-person shooter, focused on battles between flying vehicles that looked a bit like helicopters. An important aspect of Ultra Combat was meant to be the multiplayer mode up to 4 players.
Looking at the beta screenshots and videos below, the environments of the game were just simple 3D arenas, with some empty buildings and roads, but when it was announced, the graphic looked really spectacular for its time. The weapons available were able to create huge explosions, that completely filled the screen with a truly impressive fire effect. Probably the single player mode was similar to the multiplayer deathmatch, with the only difference being that we had to fight against bots, rather than challenge friends.
Unfortunately Blade & Barrel 64 was postponed for too long, perhaps because of low quality gameplay achieved in the beta, and in the end the project was canned altogether. Some concepts of Ultra Combat could have been re-used to develop another game by Kemko, Knife Edge, released for the N64 in 1998.
The two games are somewhat similar: Knife Edge is a shooter with flying machines, but the main difference is that KE is played in first person view as a on-rail shooter, while Blade & Barrel was meant to be a free flying shooter… at least in its original concept: from the Pickford Brothers’s website we can read that:
Blade & Barrel (Nintendo 64): A game originally designed to be simple, 3D update of the old Atari console classic Combat, but which changed to an on-rails shooter once it was signed to a Japanese publisher after John left Software Creations to form Zed Two. In the end the game either abandoned or ‘canned’ by publisher.
Thanks to fiatbravodriver for the contribution!