Demon Driver is a cancelled point & click adventure / racing game hybrid that was in development for PC by french team Haiku Studios around 1996. During their short existence Haiku Studios released only two games, The Koshan Conspiracy in 1994 and Down in the Dumps (probably their most popular title) in 1996. All of their other projects such as Elric and The Island of Dr. Moreau were never completed, lost and forgotten when the studio closed down in 1997.
From the few Demon Driver screenshots shared online by Abandonware France we can assume it was going to be a funny adventure game similar to Down in the Dumps, but with some kind of racing gameplay added to it. While their only released games were welcomed with mixed reviews, it’s unfortunate they did not have another chance to complete another promising project.
Necessary Evil was an ambitious project for its time: it merged point & click adventure gameplay with RPG mechanics and an online multiplayer mode for up to 2 players. One player would take the role of a vampire, while the other would be the hunter who tries to kill them. To defeat your rival you had to manipulate and talk to NPCs to put them against the other player, changing the course of the story and the in-game factions.
Unfortunately there’s not much more information about this lost game and the only proof of its existence is some footage shown on Electric Playground TV show (Season 1, episode 8, November 1997). If you know someone who worked on Necessary Evil and may know more about it, please let us know!
LoveDeLic were one of the most interesting and creative Japanese developers active during the late ‘90s / early ‘00s. They developed cult-classic, peculiar adventures such as Moon: Remix RPG Adventure (PS1), UFO: a Day in the Life (PS1) and Lack of Love (Dreamcast). Unfortunately all of their games were too bizarre and unusual for their time, selling low number of copies and leading to the closure of the team in 2000.
Moon was their first project and after the game was published by ASCII Entertainment in 1997 for the original Playstation, LoveDeLic pitched a sequel titled MooN 2: Mansion Omnibus Occupant Nest. Concept art and a photo of the early design document were posted on Twitter by former LoveDeLic’s Character Designer Kazuyuki Kurashima in 2017.
In the end the project was changed from a sequel to MooN to a different, original adventure: it became “UFO: a Day in the Life”. UFO was later published in 1999 by ASCII, an interesting game that somehow mix together point & click adventures, characters and events which follow an internal clock (just like the original Moon, or Zelda: Majora’s mask) and a “photography simulation” somehow similar to Gekibo (PC Engine, 1992) or Pokèmon Snap (N64, 1999).
If you take a look at the concept art, you can see how it’s similar to the main idea behind UFO: a building divided into different rooms, inhibited by quirky characters. Instead than a cancelled “Moon 2” you could also see this as an early concept for UFO.
“LucasArts’ Hal Barwood has made the excellent point before that unless adventure games stay on the cusp of technology, they are doomed as a genre. Enter Media X. The company’s goal is nothing short of redefining the traditional adventure game.
To that end, the company has discarded the 2D point-and-click interface that has dominated the genre since the death of infocom. In its place is a realtime 3D engine and a combination of inventory, slider, and Mario-style environment puzzles. To reduce player confusion – a common problem for anyone who has played Myst or its descendants – text messages (for instance, “You unlock the steam vent”) appear on the screen at appropriate times.
Initially disconcerting, these messages quickly blend in and enable players to concentrate on the game without wondering what they are supposed to be doing. That’s good because the game should be exceptionally difficult on its own.
Set in George Orwell’s 1984 universe, players must rescue their fiancee from the Thought Police. It’s a simple goal, but one that requires traversing 12 levels and solving hundreds of puzzles (there were originally 60 levels, but since early play testing indicates that each level takes about five hours, the number was culled).
Graphically, the game should be very impressive. Media X has created an original first-person 3D engine for the game, and, notably, the textures are very, very high-resolution, with little or no blurry filtering noticeable (the game will require a 3D card to run), even when directly against objects. The art direction is equally good: The plot is slightly different from that of 1984, with a corrupt regime that’s crumbling even more than in the book. The disintegration has carried over well – think crumbling brick buildings and steam vents.
Sales of adventure games (and publisher support for them) is down, but if ambitious projects like Big Brother and GT’s Wheel of Time manage to become hits, this genre could quickly pick up momentum. Based on early looks. Big Brother has a better chance to help the flailing genre than anything else we’ve seen in years.”
Sounds promising? Maybe it could have been..
If you know someone who worked at Media X and could help us to preserve something more on their lost game, please let us know!
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.
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.
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