Melbourne House

Swords of Yi [PS2 – Cancelled]

There is scant information about Swords of Yi. The game was co-created by Artoon and Melbourne House around 2002, planned to be published by Atari as a PS2 exclusive fighting game. Players would have been able to use weaponry, which likely judging by the title would have included swords. The game is also reported to have utilized story-based themes, which was not a very common element in fighting games at the time. Expected to launch sometime in mid to late 2004 initially, Swords of Yi was canceled early in its development and never made it past internal testing phases before being work on the project ended.

Unfortunately neither Artoon or Melbourne House ever released any images from Swords of Yi, but we hope to find some screenshots in the future, maybe with the help of former developers.

In the end Artoon only published two games for the PlayStation 2: Ghost Vibration in 2004 and Swords of Destiny in 2005.  In April 2011 Artoon merged with their parent company “AQ Interactive“, along with Feelplus and Cavia. In June of the same year, AQ Interactive merged with Marvelous Entertainment and Liveware, closing down their original studios. Melbourne House released Transformers and Test Drive Unlimited on the Playstation 2, before being sold to Krome Studios and renamed Krome Studios Melbourne.

Article by Blake Lynch, thanks to Tim Reimer for the contribution!



The Big One [PS2 – Cancelled]

The Big One is a cancelled action adventure / open world sandbox game that was in development by Melbourne House for the Playstation 2 in 2004 / 2005. After releasing Transformers on the PS2, the same team got started working on Transformers 2, but after only a few months this sequel was canned:  Atari was starting to go through its financial troubles, and as a result they sold the Transformers license back to Hasbro to gain some money.

As we can read on Wiki News, Bruno Bonnell, then-head of Infogrames/Atari, had an a idea for a game that involved natural disasters and aliens having weapons that could cause earthquakes. The project was given to Melbourne House to make, that started to brainstorm different game designs and gameplay around natural disasters, while the art team went ahead and built ‘look-and-feel’ concept arts for destructed environments.  This new game was going to be based on the great  Transformers 3D engine, so the coders started updating it where necessary.

After some thoughs, they decided that the game would have followed a number of different characters in the aftermath of “The Big One”, the biggest earthquake to hit San Francisco. Similar to Raw Danger / Disaster Report 2, players would have been able to do different tasks depending on the character (one of which was a firefighter, as seen in the video below) and then the available area would open up and allow to freely explore the city (in a “Prince of Persia Sands of Time” style. to climb in and out of broken buildings) and to help more people (or leave them to die).

Melbourne House had an idea for a “karma system” based on the good / bad actions of the players and their interactions with the NPCs, but they did not have enough time to finish its design before the cancellation.  The Big One would have included physics puzzles (for example you had to use crates and rocks to stabilise a tettering bus before rescuing the driver) and heavy use of fire, water and destruction-related effects (smoke, debris, etc).

The game had potential, but sadly only an early prototype was done and the apartment level seen in the video below was just a tech / art demo that had gameplay forced on it for demonstration purpose. When Atari’s Eden studio was working on Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360 launch, Atari decided that to offset the risk of the launch title, they would have Melbourne House port TDU to PS2 and PSP, instead than to keep working on a tricky project as The Big One. TBO was cancelled and TDU PS2/PSP was the last game from Melbourne House before they were bought out by Krome Studios in 2006.

Thanks to TN for the contribution!