Spy Hunter Returns (AKA Spy Hunter Millennium) is a cancelled 3D racing game / adventure that was planned by Midway for Nintendo 64. It’s not clear which team was working on this project, as a new Spy Hunter for Nintendo 64 was listed by different magazines / websites with different names and developers, sometimes confusing it with the “next-gen” (PS2, GameCube) Spy Hunter developed by Paradigm. In Electronic Gaming Monthly (Issue 102, January 1998) the N64 game was titled “Spy Hunter Returns”, in development by Midway:
“With games like GoldenEye 007, Mission: Impossible and the jaw-dropping Metal Gear Solid making headlines recently, it’s no surprise that espionage games are suddenly en vogue. Spy Hunter Returns is one driving game Midway is said to be bringing to the N64 somewhere around 1998 or 1999. As one could expect of a N64 racer, SPR will be in 3D, but the game will also feature adventure elements, fast action and, of course, gadgets galore. […] On a related note, Midway is looking to support the 64DD in a big way, and Spy Hunter Returns is thought to be one of their key games to utilize Nintendo’s add-on.”
“Digital Eclipse is finalizing Spy Hunter Millennium for N64. […] Details on this remake are not clear, but the game will have a polygonal 3D engine. Many different vehicles will be playable, such as cars, boats and planes. Millenium should be released in late 1999.”
While it’s unclear what really happened with this project, we assume Midway was really working on a new Spy Hunter for Nintendo 64, but we may never know nor see more about this lost game
Trans Am Racing 1968-72 is a cancelled racing game that was in development by EAI Interactive and would have been published by GT Interactive on PC. In 1998, Papyrus / Sierra released Grand Prix Legends, a historic-based racing simulator based on the 1967 Formula 1 season: the selling point (other than the historic accuracy of the 1967 F1 season) was its advanced 3D physics model.
GT Interactive announced it’s own retro simulator, Trans Am Racing 1968-72, which was to focus on the golden era of Trans Am racing, in which the American “Big 4” (Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, American Motors) all fielded cars. The romanticism of 1960-70s V8 muscle played into this, as well as a host of Trans Am tracks, in particular the demolished Riverside, which hasn’t been replicated in a game or sim to that point. As we can read on PC Zone 66 (August 1998):
“If you’ve ever fancied yourself behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang, AMC Javelin, Plymouth Barracuda, Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird or Trans Am, look out for GT Interactive’s Trans-Am Racing this October. It’s a 3D race sim that captures all the thrills and spills of the 1968-72 SCCA series. The developers insist that their physics model is the most accurate yet, and to help make the game accidents seem more realistic they even went to the extent of crashing the cars and analysing what happened. They also brag that their 16-player network option is unequalled by any other driving game.”
It was planned to be published in the Fall of 1998, then was delayed till the Spring of 1999. Screenshots were released and a playable version was made for E3 in 1998 (according to a Usenet message). More details on the game were shared by former EAI Interactive developer Adrian Penn in an interview with Sports Gaming:
“EAI is the only game developer that employs a team of people who have been producing litigation animations for nearly a decade. Attorneys rely on EAI to produce scientifically accurate animations that are realistic enough to be admitted into evidence. EAI has produced thousands of animations for court cases that touch many areas of the law. And not once has any of these animations failed the arduous, evidentiary process mandated by the courts. EAI’s litigation team, which includes vehicle dynamics experts, engineers and physicists, worked with the game development team to create some of the most realistic car crushes and crashes that have ever been viewed on the PC. These crashes conform to the laws of physics and follow the properties of vehicle dynamics. And although the typical gamer may not be versed in the properties of physics or structural dynamics—these players will understand when they see this—that TransAm Racing is something special.”
“A technological gem that adds additional authenticity is the real-time crush. When a car is crushed during the game, the deformations are produced on-the-fly. In real time. Let’s say you careen your Ford Mustang into your opponent’s Chevy Camaro. The crush that occurs is calculated instantaneously. Ordinarily, a game will have several pre-rendered crush eventualities programmed into it. With TranAm, the deformations are visualized immediately. And of course, these racing battle wounds conform to the laws of physics and engineering. The crush that you see is what would have occurred in the real world under the same circumstances.”
“There is multiplayer support for single races and seasons consisting of up to twelve races. You can play over LAN, modem, and the Internet. Yes, you’ll see Trans-Am on Sega’s HEAT. […] There’s 12 tracks and 25+ cars (we’ll cram in as many as we can).”
“Yes, 48-hours is the maximum race length. Trans-Am races in that era varied in length – two and four-hour races were common. We’d originally set the maximum length to 12-hours – Sebring, and early Trans-Am venue, was a 12-hour enduro. However, we received a number of requests from sim racers on the Net asking for longer races. So we upped the max to 48. Unfortunately, there’s no provision for nighttime racing so the races will be 48-hours of continuous daylight.”
Aero-Cross is a cancelled sequel to Namco’s classic Metro-Cross, a racing-platform game that was released in arcades in 1985. This new chapter planned PlayStation 3 Network and Xbox 360 Live Arcade was announced in 2011 and it would have been released for the “Namco Generations” series, conceived to modernize some of their classic titles, such as Pac-Man Championship Edition DX and Galaga Legions DX.
Aero-Cross would have followed the same gameplay as the original, with players running in linear levels trying to avoid obstacles and collecting items (but this time in a sci-fi setting). In the end the project was officially cancelled in 2012 along with the other missing Namco Generations title: Dancing Eye HD. Luckily in this case a playable demo for Aero-Cross was found by Ganonthegreat on an old PS3 demo-disc, and shared online on Archive.org
“It’s about bloody time that there was a hovercraft racing sim out there for us to go crazy with. The whole idea of being propelled on a cushion air seems to have universal appeal. Not only that, but it makes a great kind of racing game too. Gone are the traditional and familiar physics of a road based racer, or even a straight water based racer, as the hovercraft is an interesting mode of transportation altogether. The development team spent a lot of time with hovercraft enthusiasts to get the feel of the thing just right. With 3D accelerator support, this is looking good.”
After releasing other games such as the Resident Evil 2 port for the N64, the Midtown Madness series, and Smuggler’s Run, Angel Studios was bought by Take-two in 2003 and renamed Rockstar San Diego. They then moved on to work on such popular titles as Red Dead Revolver, Midnight Club and Grand Theft Auto V.
The original Radikal Bikers was a pizza-delivery racing game for Arcades, developed by Gaelco in 1998 and later converted to PlayStation in 1999. A Game Boy Color port was also in development by Bit Managers, but it the end it was never released. Some years ago a prototype of the cancelled GBC port was leaked online, so you can play it on your favorite emulator.
Gameplay is similar to the original arcade version, but using a top-down, isometric view. Players race in different cities trying to avoid cars to delivery pizza to their clients as soon as possible. As we can read from the original press-release:
“Jump on your scooter and take up the challenge. Through the busiest streets in the world you’ve got to avoid trucks, cars, police, obstacles and people in a pizza fuelled dash for glory. Take the challenge and race your way across Paris, London, New York and the true home of Pizza – Italy!
Classic Arkade Mode.
2 player dash for glory.
Numerous Characters and Scooters to suit your personal taste.
GET OUTTA MY WAY!
No speed limit. No seat belt. No air bag. No rules!”