Nintendo Software Technology

Untitled Wave Race: Blue Storm Sequel [Wii – Pitch / Cancelled]

In 2009, Nintendo Software Technology, some of the developers behind Gamecube launch title Wave Race: Blue Storm, were attempting to get a new entry in the Wave Race series into production for Nintendo’s Wii console.


The project began midway into the year, in the aftermath of their previous Wii title, best known as ‘Project H.A.M.M.E.R.‘, which was shut down after a tumultuous development of 5 and a half years. ‘H.A.M.M.E.R.’, which had evolved into the more casually oriented ‘Wii Crush‘ by the end, was a costly misstep for both NST and Nintendo at large. Not only was the financial toll reaching into multiple millions of dollars, the company lost over half of its entire workforce during a staff exodus as a result of it, due to reportedly poor working conditions, and accusations of nationalism levelled against the management; among other reasons.

Understandably, the ordeal left NCL with trepidations about entrusting NST with another large scale project, but a small team of developers at the company remained optimistic that the subsidiary could still see a resurgence. They proposed creating a new game in the Wave Race franchise for the Nintendo Wii, which would have taken the series to new territory with the introduction of motion control.

The project was lead by experienced NST engineer, Yoon Joon Lee, and designer, Rich Vorodi. The two were previously a part of the last Wave Race game, Blue Storm, which released in 2001 at the launch of the Gamecube. Vorodi, in particular, had been involved in a variety of ways: he had a hand in the both physics and level design, as well as voicing the character, Ricky Winterborn. Partnering with engineer/programmer, Jonathan Bryant, they began to develop a test prototype to present their ideas to Nintendo’s higher ups.

At the heart of the concept was an experimental, new control scheme, which revolved entirely around the motion sensing tech of the Wii remote. Users would hold the controller in a horizontal position with both hands over its face, emulating the handlebars of a jet ski. Tilting left and right steered the direction of the watercraft, while twisting it forward and backwards controlled acceleration. The device would vibrate when the virtual handlebars were tilted to their furthest limits. There was consideration for utilising the Wii remote’s speaker to blare out engine noises, too, but it is unknown whether or not this feature was implemented into the prototype build.

Control concept images:

By connecting a Wii balance board peripheral, it was possible to add an extra dimension of control to the game. Applying pressure to either side of the board would enable the player to perform sharper turns to help negotiate more trickier courses. An alternative system to the lone Wii remote was on the table also – in the form of the Wii remote & nunchuck combo. This worked by holding the two on their side, facing each other; similar to the controls of the ‘Power Cruisingmini-game seen in Wii Sports Resort:

Wave Race Wii Pitch Patent Concept - Wii Remote & Nunchuck

It was theorised that adding these new, more physical control elements with “real world turning” and tilting would lend themselves well to Wave Race – helping to mould a more “realistic” experience for the player.

On August 27 2009, Nintendo of America filed a patent to protect the new control scheme that NST’s developers had created. The filing covered not only controls for jet ski games, but all vehicles controlled by handlebars. In the patent’s documents, for example, we can see that motorcycles were used as a primary example:

After a brief development of no more than 3 months, work on the prototype concluded, and the group presented their pitch to NCL’s board. One source related to the studio claimed it had generated considerable interest among members of NoA and NCL alike, but it was ultimately shot down regardless. After the demo was tested by those present, complaints apparently were levelled at the game’s motion controls; specifically, that they simply “didn’t feel right“. Nintendo therefore declined funding to the project, and full development did not proceed, ending work on it as a result. 

Nintendo’s Harry Potter [Pitch / Cancelled – N64, GBA, GameCube]

Nintendo’s Harry Potter [Pitch / Cancelled – N64, GBA, GameCube]

In 1998, Nintendo of America’s internal team, Nintendo Software Technology developed a pitch to lock down exclusive access to the Harry Potter rights. Had it been successful, Nintendo would have secured the rights to produce all adaptations of the book series for the indefinite future in video game form; potentially preventing the eventual movie adaptations from being created altogether.

Nintendo and the Harry Potter license

Nintendo’s vision for Hogwarts.

According to one former artist of the studio, a sudden order from Nintendo’s management halted work on their three titles in development at the time (Ridge Racer 64, Bionic Commando and Crystalis) when news arrived that the license was to be auctioned off. This was a blanket license covering all formats of adaptation, including not only video games, but TV and film as well.

“The license went up for sale and all these major media companies were putting together pitches.”

The studio was then split into two: the primary group focused on devising on a pitch for a third person adventure title, whilst a smaller team worked on a potential game based around quidditch. The latter division reportedly included Marvel comic book artist, Adi Granov, who was responsible for character art.

Nintendo pitch for Harry Potter games

Hogwarts Express concept art by Nintendo ST.

Nintendo ST aspired to develop the adaptations themselves, with versions planned to be released on Nintendo 64, Gameboy Advance and later Gamecube; as well as any of Nintendo’s future platforms further down the line. These releases would have coincided with the launch of each new book.

“All together it was only a week of insanely furious scribbling things to the digital artists to create animations for mock game demos”

The license holder, JK Rowling, agreed to view Nintendo’s presentation, but this was not without some trepidation among the members of Software Technology. Our source alleges that there was a disagreement at one point over which art style would be most appropriate for the franchise. Towards the start, there was a push for character designs inspired by those of the first book’s cover art by Thomas Taylor. However, it wasn’t long before the studio’s higher-ups took against this idea and forced it in a different direction:

“…it went against all my instincts based on what I had read quotes from JK about keeping it strictly British, and I had to revamp my initial designs and go more manga/Japanese – I had a big fight about that, but my boss insisted”

Harry Potter concept art for Nintendo games

Hagrid’s Hut concept art.

We have unfortunately been unable to post images of these characters, since Nintendo would not allow its artists to share any of them publicly.

According to our source, the crew developing the quidditch game proposal had wanted to follow a similar route with regards to character design:

“[Name redacted] did get to do a more realistic take – I remember his Hermione being really nicely realized, but I doubt he saved anything from those days.”

Ultimately, Nintendo’s bid was declined by JK Rowling. Our source revealed that the writer turned it down in favor of several other proposals by media giants with greater resources, such as Disney and Universal. Whereas Nintendo was only able to offer forays into the realm of video games, these larger companies had the ability to spread out into TV and film; as well as gaming.

Rowling, in the end, sold the rights to Warner Bros. for a reported £1m. WB would later contract Electronic Arts to create video game adaptations of their film series based off the books. The first, Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone was released in 2001.



Wave Race [GC – Space World 2000 Tech Demo]


Wave Race: Blue Storm is a jet ski racing game released as a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube on November 18, 2001. It was a sequel to the 1996 Nintendo 64 game Wave Race 64 and was developed by Nintendo-owned development studio, NST. [Infos from Wikipedia]

When the new Wave Race project for the Gamecube was first shown at the Space World 2000, Nintendo presented a small tech demo with a different graphic style than the one used in the final game, more similar to the Nintendo 64 version. Probably this was just an early concept for the title and the final character design was still undecided.

Also, as noticed by Rusko Star, if you look in the booklet in the released game or in the old videos you can see that Serena had a ponytail in the beta version!