point & click adventure

Route 66 [PC – Cancelled]

Route 66 is a cancelled point and click adventure game that was in development in the early ‘90s by Disney Software/Buena Vista, initially planned to be released for 386 (or 286) PCs with 320×200 VGA cards. The game was formatted onto 2 or 3 floppy disks that would play on these computers. The team behind this lost game was composed of talented developers, artists, and designers, such as Darlene Waddington (game design), Jeff Hilbers (art and graphic design), Sue Chow (game design) and Jimmy Huey (programmer). At this time, Disney Software was just a small division of Disney Consumer Products, but they were working hard to create games based on new and existing IPs.

Route 66 was intended to be an interesting mix of adventure and survival gameplay. The main protagonist was a young man named Dart Stranger who was busy hitchhiking from St Louis to Santa Monica along Route 66, a world-famous series of highways in America. Dart’s grandfather (or another distant relative) had died in LA, and had supposedly left some much needed money to Dart. Since Dart lived back in Chicago, players had find a way to get to LA within a certain amount of time in order to be there for the reading of his will. The player would start the game with only a few dollars, not enough for a bus ticket, so the only way to reach Santa Monica was through hitchhiking on Route 66. Getting to Santa Monica alive was the main objective of the game.

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Hitchhiking revolves heavily around the drivers who pick you up, and the development team wanted to focus on that aspect of it. There was an interesting gameplay mechanic where each of the drivers had a special personality and the player would have to figure out how to respond to them correctly while in the car. Some want to talk and tell jokes, hear your stories, or maybe they just want to remain quiet. Players could gauge how well they were doing by the driver’s expressions. If handled correctly, they’ll drive you to the next city. If you don’t, they would boot you on the street and force you to find another ride. Just like classic point and click adventures from the ‘90s (Monkey Island, Day of Tentacle, Full Throttle, Sam & Max, etc.), Route 66 was full of humor and weird characters that added charm and funny dialogue to the game.

While traveling on Route 66, Dart would reach several main cities, and the gameplay would become more like a side-scrolling exploration survival game. Players had to look for a place to stay and eat, and hopefully finding some money to survive until you arrive in Santa Monica. During the game, Dart would get good rides and bad rides, make good decisions and bad decisions, meet with good folks and crazy folks, get thrown in jail and beat up by cops, eat bad food, sleep in the rain, get robbed by fellow travelers, become sick and held in hospital, and so on and so forth. This was an original hitching simulation in which strange things could happen, including your own death, all depending on how much attention you pay to the NPC’s behavior.

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The flow of all these gameplay segments was controlled by a simple but detailed decision tree, reminiscent of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. The team’s goal after all was to achieve some semblance of interactive fiction. Darlene and Sue were busy writing stories and lines for all these diverse eventualities, while Jeff was creating sprite artworks/animations and Jimmy created all the code that made the game run, coming up with a lot of inventive techniques and tools to overcome the restrictions of their target platform (such as a conversation editor tool). They were able to develop some nice playable demos for Route 66 and everybody at Disney Software liked them; all that was left for them to do to complete the game was keep creating new content.

Unfortunately, internal issues among Disney killed Route 66 before more content could be made. The business world became fascinated with “multi-media” and the new “CD Revolution” in 1992 and 1993. Disney’s management also fell into this hype-disease and suddenly Disney Software wasn’t just an uninteresting division of Disney Consumer Products anymore, but a potential cash cow. High-rank producers at Disney wanted a piece of the multi-media gaming pie and the new political environment in the company led to a lot of nasty fratricide among producers, all of whom were looking to improve the status of their own projects by killing somebody else’s. Even with a fun and interesting playable demo, Route 66 was doomed.

After Route 66 was cancelled along with other titles in development (“Jungle Cruise” and “Dog Eat Dog”), the team was fired. They tried to pitch these concepts to other companies, but were turned down time and time again. Luckily, Dog Eat Dog was greenlighted by Trilobyte, the studio founded in December 1990 by Graeme Devine and Rob Landeros (known for such games as The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour). The team was able to keep working on Dog Eat Dog, an original policemen simulator, until its second cancellation in mid/late ‘90s.

Thanks to Jeff and Chris for the contribution! Article edited by Ryan DePalma

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Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis [Beta – PC]

Disclaimer: This is mostly a backup of an old page created by ATMachine with details about the beta differences in the early versions of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. It seems that the original page does not exist anymore, so we re-posted this to archive all the interesting details and changes. Enjoy!

The game was developed by LucasArts and released in 1992 as a sequel to “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure”. Originally Fate of Atlantis was meant to be a tie-in to Indiana Jones and the Monkey King/Garden of Life, a rejected script written by Chris Columbus for the third, lost movie. In the end Hal Barwood and Noah Falstein wrote an original story and chosen the Atlantis setting for the project. Many beta screenshots were released in gaming magazines at the time and below you can see all the differences spotted by ATMachine

Legions of Fear (La Toile du Diable) [Cancelled – PS2, PC]

La Toile du Diable (“Devil Canvas” in english) was a PC tech demo created by Delphine Software (DSI) in 2002 in order to show to publishers the technical and gameplay features of a planned PC / PS2 adventure game called Legions of Fear. According to ex-delphine employee Paul Cuisset, Sony was interested in the project, but they wanted Delphine to finish Moto Racer Traffic first (which, ironically, got cancelled too). Unfortunately, Delphine was already going bankrupt at the time, and consequently Legions of Fear was quietly dropped shortly after.

The game was supposed to be set during the first World War, with the main characters being a sister (Helena) and her brother. The story began when the heroine got lost and entered the mysterious Wildcastle Manor. Inside the mansion she discovered that the deceased Anton Wildcastle had apparently promised Helena’s soul to his “masters”.

As seen from the videos below, Legions of Fear was a mix between a survival horror and a point & click adventure: during the action sequences we directly controlled the protagonist and fought enemies in pre-rendered backgrounds. When indoors in order to find clues it was necessary to interact with the environments by using a mouse or – in in case of the Ps2 version – the controller buttons.

Thanks to Thierry Levastre, La Toile du Diable’s lead animator, for the contribution!

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Zblu Cops [Cancelled – Wii]

Zblu Cops was a cancelled adventure game based around the French comic book of the same name. It was being developed by Biodroid exclusively for Wii with a release being targeted for mid-late 2010.

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Bringing Back The Classic 90’s Adventure Game – Zblu Style

The original Zblu Cops comic series, a comedy about a group of incompetent yet reluctantly heroic group of law enforcers, grew a modest cult following in its country of origin throughout its run. However, with no official English translations of it ever released, its fanbase was never able to expand beyond there in any great numbers. Biodroid’s video game would have been its first foray into English-speaking markets with the team hoping for an international release.

The title entered development midway through 2008 with ambitions high, one former developer recounted, calling it “an attempt to revive the classic 90’s adventure game”. Biodroid’s initial pitch to comics publisher Glénat placed a high emphasis on accurately conveying the humour and goofiness of the comic, but was very much set on blazing its own trail. It would have seen players controlling 10 different members of the Zblu Cops, each with their own unique abilities used to solve puzzles and take down enemies. Two officers were rendered on screen at a time, but you could cycle through a wheel of other playable characters to alternate between them in real time; similar to the LEGO video games. It was to be fully playable in 2 player local co-op, as well.

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Excerpt from the initial press release:

On a criminal trail which takes them underwater, through the jungle, down the sewers, up the tower-blocks, inside a volcano – and even into deep space – the Zblucops display all of their notorious dysfunctionality, bad taste and even worse humour… before emerging triumphant with a fist-full of medals.

This action/adventure game brings to Wii the kind of strong storytelling, humor and dialogue found in traditional adventure games.

Cutscene art:

Zblu Cops was presented in a cel-shaded art style; a play to authentically represent the hand-drawn look of the comics. Even more crucially, we were informed that Bill and Gobi, the writing duo responsible for the series, were actively involved with development on the project from its inception. Their contributions mostly included overseeing the art direction, in addition to having final say on any other aspects. We were told that the two were very laidback when it came to writing duties, allowing the developers plenty of creative freedom. 

Myst IV: Adventure Beyond the D’ni Ultraworld [Cancelled]

Myst 4 IV Adventure Beyond the Dni Ultraworld cancelled

In 1998, Cyan Worlds Inc. and Mattel decided to outsource the work on future Myst game to other developers. This would let Cyan work on their upcoming project Uru while still keeping the Myst main-series afloat duringsaid development period.

Various developers were given a chance to pitch their idea for a story and soon enough Presto Studios was working on the next game in the series, Myst III: Exile. However, they were not the only developer to be assigned the Myst license.

DreamForge Intertainment, the developers of the horror themed adventure game Sanitarium, started work on the fourth Myst game one year after Presto Studios effort. This game, known internally as Myst IV: Adventure Beyond the D’ni Ultraworld, would never be released or shown to the public during its development.

After having worked on the game for two years (June 1999 to June 2001), it was cancelled as the rights to the Myst franchise transferred from Mattel to Ubisoft. Myst III: Exile was released the next year and the next game in the franchise was to be developed internally at Ubisoft and was released in 2004 as Myst IV: Revelation.

Patrick Fortier, the creative director of Myst IV: Revelation, opened up about the unreleased version of Myst IV, hereby referred to as Ultraworld to avoid confusion, in 2004 on the Uru Obsession community.

According to Fortier, Ultraworld’s development was only about 20% finished, but the designs themselves were completely done. The game was presented in realtime 3D, a first for the series at that point. Some ideas from Ultraworld even managed to carry over into Myst IV: Revelation. Specfically the inclusion of Sirrus and Achenar, the two brothers from the original Myst. 

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