Point And Click Adventure

It Came for Zog [PC – Cancelled]

It Came for Zog is a cancelled point & click adventure that was in development around 1999 – 2000 by Pixeleers Entertainment, a now-forgotten Danish team with not much information online. Luckily we were able to find an old preview for the game on the Web Archive, written in June 2000 by Bob Mandel for The Adrenaline Vault:

“Scheduled to be published by TopWare Interactive, this product shows every sign of bringing the laughter back into personal computer gameplay. The story is that Zog is a prehistoric character who unexpectedly finds himself in the midst of an alien civilization, having been kidnapped by purple creatures from outer space. Zog’s father was the greatest warrior of all time, but now he is old, weak and is facing death. His trusted club, Whammi, is to be inherited by Zog, and it is the most powerful weapon around, capable of even knocking out huge aliens and steel doors. Meanwhile, in the other end of the universe on the Anabolic Asteroid, a bright young scientist named Barfly had created a leader named The General for his people, the Boinks. The General became a feared dictator, and had gotten out of control in training and took to arming the Boinks for war. From this point on, you can perhaps guess what is going to happen as Zog enters the picture.”

“In the words of writer/developer Kristian List when describing the overall tone of It Came For Zog, Zog just cannot help being funny “everywhere, all the time.” When asking Zog to do a simple thing, such as turning the lights on or opening a door, you can be assured that he will find an awkward Neanderthal way to do it. Zog is not the only weird one, as the rest of the bizarre cast promises to be zany and silly as well.

The development team has always considered the adventure genre to be one of their personal favorites. The team wanted to tell a truly unique story, and found that the basic fish-out-of-water conflict with a Neanderthal in an alien outer space setting was the perfect choice. The original rough script was written way back in 1997, but surprisingly there are precious few changes compared to the present work in production. Nonetheless, the developers have been quite happy with the flexibility of their design process: from the beginning they had in mind to make room in the schedule for adjustments as they went along.”

“To guide Zog through his adventures, you must apply the proper Stone Age logic, often yielding surprising results. A little good old-fashioned violence goes a long way in achieving your objectives. List claims the very best element of It Came For Zog “has to be the political incorrectness” — Zog does all the things a main character should not.

It Came For Zog contains an interesting mix of 2D perspectives and 3D settings, combining real-time scenes for indoor environments and pre-rendered scenes for outdoor environments. The developers planned this pattern to make the game run smoothly even on ordinary computers. Because the title’s universe is built as one physical entity, you move absolutely seamlessly between indoor and outdoor areas, not realizing the differences between them in their mode of graphics construction.

As List points out, the basic guideline of the gameplay in It Came For Zog from the beginning has been, “We don’t want the player to get seriously stuck at any point.” The developers desire the gaming experience to be fun and laid back, not frustrating or exhausting. If they had to compare the gameplay contained in this title to that in other releases, they perceive that the style of It Came For Zog has certain similarities with games like Grim Fandango and Full Throttle. The designers do not hide at all that LucasArts has been inspirational to them, having had a large impact on their adventure upbringing.”

After a while the game just vanished without any trace. It seems Pixeleers also worked on another cancelled game, “Aeropa: Fall of the Covenant”, but at the moment we did not find any remaining image from it. We can speculate Pixeleers just close down when their projects became too ambitious to be kept alive.

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Cloak: the Naked Mind (Sierra) [Cancelled – PC]

Cloak: The Naked Mind is a cancelled adventure game that was in development by Sierra Entertainment around 19961997, to be published on Windows 95 PC. It was conceived as an ambitious (for its time) spy-fiction, sci-fi adventure, mixing thriller investigations with space-mind-travels.

You would have been able to project your consciousness into a robot on an alien planet to resolve many different situations at the same time, using its multitasking skills. Some more information can be found in old gaming magazines, such as Interaction Magazine (holiday 1996 and fall 1996 issues):

“Imagine an alien race with telepathic  powers so strong that none of your secrets can remain hidden  from their probing. You’ll find them in Cloak: The Naked Mind, a new  kind of adventure game coming from Sierra in early 1997.”

“With Cloak, Sierra has  taken its trademarked adventure game interface  and revamped it from the ground up. Everything you see and do is completely new, seamless, and  phenomenally lifelike. The point of view is first-person — through your character’s eyes — with breathtaking,  animated sequences and cutaways. Game play and puz- zles are integrated into a seamless experience. And the story reaches beyond adven-  ture into the realms of science fiction and spy thriller.”

“In Cloak, you take the role     of a secret agent on the planet Altopia.  You’ve been strapped into a telepres- ence pod — a kind of virtual reality  environment — and linked to a highly developed, bipedal robot code- named Cloak.   After you’ve bonding to the Cloak, the robot is transported to a trading world where humans and the mysteri-  ous, alien Bulbs interact to trade human-manufactured robots for Bulb technology. There, you must find a way to the Bulb’s forbidden home planet,  where no flesh-and-blood aliens are allowed. Your mission is to delve into their mysterious way of life and discov- er if they are building a secret weapon  to use against humankind.”

“The Bulbs can read any biological  mind. Fortunately, they cannot read your mental signature inside the Cloak     robot. Because you will stay bonded to the Cloak until your mission is complete,  you are safe as long as you stay undis- covered. Remember that if the robot is destroyed, there will be no way to  retrieve your consciousness. You will be — in every sense of the word — dead.”

“The Cloak robot you occupy is an  extraordinary device that not only conceals your consciousness, but  contains tools that give you super- human abilities. Bipedal and roughly humanoid,  this type of robot is highly valued by the Bulbs both for its versatility and for command over  other robots. Operating its many sensors and attached devices allows you to do several things at once,  such as monitoring a security camera you planted in an abandoned ore mine, while using your command influence  to interrogate a robot bartender.”

“Cloak pioneers  new game technolo-  gy that takes advantage of the  Windows 95 multi- threading technique Multi-threading is a clever 32-bit way to make a computer do many dif-  ferent things at once, so you can play one aspect of the title while another loads. There is no waiting on game play.  (Utah sports an exciting new triple- window interface that lets you engage in three distinct activities at once. You can, for instance, spy through a  camera you’ve planted while explor- ing the abandoned mines of Baccos and consulting a map.”

Gameplay could have been quite interesting with these multitasking puzzles, and by reading previews it sounds like Sierra had at least a playable prototype in their hands. We hope one day someone could find a copy and share it online to be preserved by fans.

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Star Trek: Voyager (Looking Glass) [PC – Cancelled]

Star Trek: Voyager is a cancelled PC point and click adventure game that was in development by Looking Glass Studios, directed by Ken Levine and was to be published by Viacom New Media. It was in development between 1995 and 1997. It was to be based on the then currently airing Star Trek: Voyager television series, the fourth iteration in the overall Star Trek television franchise. The game was to follow the bridge crew of the USS Voyager as they attempted to rescue members captured by the Kazon, a villain race featured within the series.

Not much more is known about the plot or the overall game itself, as the game was not revealed to the wider public in any significant fashion, outside a brief showing at E3 1996, and was quietly cancelled before any significant information was revealed on the plot or gameplay. It is known the game would be split between “episodes” mimicking the format of the actual TV series. One of the producers of the game, Alan Dickens said,

“We want to make it a lot like you’re watching the TV and yelling at the characters. You’re giving them, as a team, guidance and direction on where they should go and how they should address the various problems that come before them”.

Star Trek: Voyager would have featured interactions with the environment involving typical Star Trek staples such as tricorders, allowing you to scan and take items in a typical point and click adventure fashion. The game was also to feature 3D laser scans of the actors heads, to make the game mimic and feel like the television series as much as possible. Other than that, information on the game is practically non existent, so the game remains a mystery. Screenshots from the game were leaked online a few years ago.

The game was to the first game released in a multi-title agreement between Viacom and Looking Glass, even resulting in Viacom buying a minority stake in Looking Glass. The deal fell through after Viacom decided to exit the video game industry in 1997, leading to the cancellation of the game. This abrupt cancellation led Ken Levine and others to form Irrational Games, out of frustration with Looking Glasse’s handling of the cancellation. According to Ken Levine, the technical limitations in allowing characters to express emotion especially frustrated him, and this impacted his future writing of games such as Bioshock: Infinite, making this cancelled Star Trek game a pretty influential cancelled game.

Article by Let’s Have A Discussion

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Brooklyn Stories [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Brooklyn Stories is a cancelled adventure game that was in development in 2008 / 2009 by French team Lexis Numérique, planned to be released on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The project was quite ambitious and original for its time, mixing interactive storytelling, several playable characters, multiple narrative paths and some kind of “time travel” mechanic in which you could go forth and back in time to modify the fate of its protagonists.

Brooklyn Stories would have been played somehow like a mix between The Sims, Disgaea Infinite, Shadow of Memories and games by Quantic Dream (Omikron, Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human) and Telltale (The Walking Dead, Batman: The Telltale Series). Players would have been able to play as many different characters living in Brooklyn in the same townhouse building, following an intricate storyline spanning from the 1930s to the ‘00s.

Each character had their own life and problems to resolve. You would have been able to observe them living in their apartment and listen to their thoughts or dialogues with other characters, to help them or interfere with their actions by choosing how they would react or which item to use in different situations. Each choice would then change the course of the following events and each event would affect other characters and their related events, until reaching one of the many different endings. You could always go back in time to make different choices and see different reactions to each different action.

The game was divided into chapters set in several years, but always following the lives of the inhabitants of the same townhouse building. Each chapter had many endings which would then affect what would happen in the following ones. It was quite the intricate and epic storyline, touching the daily lives of normal people but also political, social and criminal intrigues. You could interact with the characters living in Brooklyn Stories to trigger funny and comical skits but also to save their life from violent murders.

Unfortunately after 2 years of development Brooklyn Stories was canned by its publisher, leaving Lexis Numérique with an incomplete project and without funds to continue working on it. In the following years the team developed less ambitious games such as Tales of Elastic Boy (2010, WiiWare) and  Amy (2011, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC), but with low sales and without publishers backing up other major projects they had to close down in 2014.

Only a few images and a short trailer are preserved below to remember the existence of this promising, lost game.

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Jonny Blastoff and the Kremling Armada (Rare) [PC – Cancelled]

Jonny Blastoff and the Kremling Armada is a cancelled point & click adventure game similar to Monkey Island that was in development by Rare for PC / Mac in the early ‘90s, before the team fully started working on Donkey Kong Country for Nintendo. The Kremlings, a race of anthropomorphic crocodilians that appear in the DK franchise, were originally conceived for this lost game and only later reused for DKC, becoming canon in the Donkey Kong world.

Gregg Mayles – Creative director at Rare and designer for the Battletoads and Donkey Kong Country series – is quite a fan of the piracy world and lore. Jonny Blastoff and the Kremling Armada was conceived as a game to fulfill his love for pirates and it would have been set in a series of islands with coconut palms, galleons and hidden treasures. This same tropical setting planned for Jonny Blastoff was later reused for Donkey Kong Country.

While Rare never officially announced this game to the public and no image from the prototype was ever released, in September 2015 Gregg shared some concept art on Twitter, showing off the original Kremlings designs that somehow resemble the Battletoads characters designs.

While no details about Jonny Blastoff’s gameplay were ever revealed we can imagine it would have been played like a traditional point & click adventure game, with many strange characters to interact with, items to retrieve, weird puzzles to resolve and Rare’s classic english humor.

After Donkey Kong Country Gregg Mayles and Rare worked on other piracy-inspired games such as the cancelled Project Dream for SNES (later Banjo & Kazooie for N64) and lately Sea of Thieves for Xbox One.