Sierra

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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Orcs: Revenge of the Ancient [PC – Cancelled]

Orcs Revenge of the Ancient is a cancelled real-time strategy / action game that was in development by Berkeley Systems around 1998 / 1999, planned to be published for PC by Sierra Entertainment. It was going to use J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings / Middle-earth settings and gaming magazines and websites at the time were quite hyped for the project and was described by IGN as being “somewhere between Pokemon, Die by the Sword, and Master of Magic”.

As we can read from its original press release:

“Sierra Studios proudly announces Orcs Revenge of the Ancient, a fantasy strategy game developed by Berkeley Systems set in the world of Middle-earth from J.R.R Tolkien’s internationally acclaimed trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Cast as an Orc chieftain who has been assigned command of an elite group of fighting Orcs by Sauron, the Dark power, your group is charged with keeping the peace between the many evil factions of his army using whatever brutal means necessary. However, two other evil powers have emerged from the past to vie with Sauron for your aid in their respective quests and you must choose your alliances carefully to survive.

Orcs Select up to four common Orcs and transform them into brutal fighting machines, each with a unique fighting style created by you. Customize your Orcs’ fighting skills through intense training in which you build the best combination of killing moves suited to your Orc. Each Orc has its own specific personality and characteristics. For example, an Orc who is prone to violent outbursts may be difficult to train but ferocious in battle. Develop your Orcs’ Statistics such as intelligence, strength and dexterity in arena and field combat and sustain these skills with training exercises.

You will command your Orcs in real time 3-D combat, choosing their armor and weapons and suggesting fighting moves. Pit the Orcs under your command against over 30 enemies before taking them online to match skills with other Orcs in multiplayer mayhem.

As the original story of Orcs Revenge of the Ancient pulls you deeper into Tolkien’s Middle-earth, you will find yourself trapped in a deadly conflict of interests between the three dark powers. Your Orcs’ survival within this violent power struggle will determine whether they are capable of self-determination or merely servants of the Darkness.

Product Features

+ Original and rich storyline based in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth
+ Open-ended gameplay
+ Customizable training and fighting
+ RPG-based skill system
+ Combo builder to create custom moves
+ Multiplayer online component”

Unfortunately the game was canned in late 1999 due to an internal reorganization, as we can read on IGN:

“What we do care about is the fact that due to this reorganization, Sierra has cancelled four of their upcoming titles including Desert Fighters and Pro Pilot Paradise (for which we shed no tears), and, more seriously, Babylon 5 and Orcs: Revenge of the Ancients. Worse news still is that the company has laid off more than 100 people who were working on those titles.”

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Captives (Impressions, Sierra) [PC – Cancelled]

Captives is a cancelled real-time strategy / puzzle / adventure game, with an interesting gameplay somehow similar to a mix between Lemmings, Choplifter, Lost Vikings and Blast Corps. The game was in development by Impressions Games (mostly known for such games as Caesar, Global Domination, Pharaoh) around 1996 – 1997, to be published on PC by Sierra Entertainment.

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Next Generation magazine wrote a nice preview of the game in their May 1997 issue, but even if Impressions and Sierra are still quite loved by PC gamers, today Captives is mostly forgotten by everyone. Only a few pages about the game can still be found online in some old websites and Sierra fansites.

“It could be argued that the action/puzzle genre, which took off with the publication of Lemmings in the early ’90s, has languished since the advent of real- time strategy games like Warcraft II and Command & Conquer. Now developer Impressions is trying to remedy that with Captives, a new spin on the formula. The game takes place in a far-off planetary colony, under attack by some decidedly unfriendly aliens, who have taken numerous hostages.

The player takes the role of Dak Ransome, a professional hostage rescuer, who enters the domed city in his combination rescue wagon and tank. Gameplay resembles a  combination of elements from Lemmings and the classic Apple II game Choplifter.

The main idea is to locate a group of hostages, free them using the firepower of the tank, and then use the skills of the rescued captives to open up new areas and free additional prisoners. The four types of captives are civilians, engineers, scientists, and soldiers; only a limited number of each can be found in each of the game’s 25 to 30 levels. The developers are quick to point out, however, that like in Lemmings, many levels will have multiple solutions.

The most noticeable break from the tried and true is the use of a three-quarter, isometric perspective, as opposed to the side-scrolling, 2D which has been the norm, even for such recent action/puzzle releases as Lost Vikings II. While not yet fully 3D, the perspective still manages to open up the playfield considerably, giving a sense of scale and size often missing from the more simplified graphics of a Lemmings or Humans.

Overall, the game should  combine a fast pace with humor and an easy-to-use interface. Multiplayer support is planned, and a level editor should be released sometime shortly after the game itself hits the shelves. With its high-res graphics and new approach, Captives could fill a niche the computer game industry hasn’t really seen in a while.”

It sounds like this could have became a fun and fascinating cult-classic, but unfortunately something went wrong during development: Captives was never released. By looking at the screenshots and short trailer available, it looks like the game was quite far in development: maybe one day someone could find a playable beta to share it to the world? It would be great to preserve this lost piece of PC gaming history.

Thanks to Moritz for the contribution!

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Crash Tag Team Racing [Beta – PS2 / XBOX / GameCube / PSP]

Crash Tag Team Racing is a racing game developed by Radical Entertainment and  published in 2005 by Sierra Entertainment for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox and PSP. A beta E3 demo of Crash Tag Team Racing was shared online by ePiX in april 2012 and Stranno posted an interesting comparison between the final version and the beta.

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CRY.SYS [PC – Cancelled]

Cry.Sys is a cancelled action game that was in development in 1995 by Sierra, not related in any way with Crysis by Crytek. In Cry.Sys we would have took the role of a virtual reality robot, to fight against other mechs to save the last girl on the planet, trapped in this weird cyberspace. Sierra planned to have an editing feature to create our own robot and an online multiplayer mode. For some reasons the project was never finished and only a short preview from NextGeneration magazine issue 12 and a CG trailer remain to preserve its existence.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!

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