simulation

Jack and the Beanstalk [N64 DD – Cancelled]

Jack and the Beanstalk was a game being developed for the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive. It was originally advertised in February 1995, but was not heard of again until February 1998, when more details of the game’s development emerged. However, the game was never released, and very little is known about its specific operation.

Presumably this intriguing game was similar in plot or gameplay to the traditional fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. Unfortunately, we will probably never know for sure.

As Jack slept, the beans germinated in the soil, and by morning a gigantic beanstalk grew in their place. When Jack saw the huge beanstalk, he immediately decided to climb it. He arrived in a land high up in the clouds that happened to be the home of a giant.

Jack and the Beanstalk was being developed on the second floor of the Nintendo Kanda building, under the supervision of HAL Laboratories, by a team of ten or more employees, lead by Youichi (Yoichi) Yamamoto. Yamamoto, originally a construction designer, was one of several non-video game-industry personnel selected to work on the project by a panel of four important Nintendo figures:  Shigesato Itoi, Satoshi Iwata, Kouichi Nakamura and Shigeru Miyamoto himself. It is not clear why Nintendo specifically sought out professionals from other fields to work on Jack and the Beanstalk.

The game was slated as being a brand new type of video game, and one that utilised the features of the N64DD to their full extent. Although the game was never completed, many of its flagship features eventually found their way into different games, such as Pokémon Snap and EarthBound 64.

As we can read on Kotaku:

“Originally, Pokémon Snap for the Nintendo 64 system wasn’t a Pokémon game,” recalls Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, “but rather a normal game in which you took photos, but the motivation for playing the game wasn’t clear.” […] Game designer Masanobu Yamamoto was working on Pokémon Snap, and he initially had a negative reaction to the addition of Pokémon, because the characters replaced what he was working on. “That time, adopting the Pokémon world clarified what we should do and the direction we should head,” Yamamoto adds, “and I came to like Pokémon, so I felt like that had saved us.”

As noted by Andy, in the intro of Pokemon Snap, along with the “HAL”, “Nintendo” logos, we can see the text “Jack and Beans”:

From the credit list on Mobygames, JACK and BEANS seems to have been the name of the main team behind the game, which director was the same Yamamoto that lead the Jack and Beanstalk project:

JACK and BEANS

Director: Yoichi Yamamoto, Koji Inokuchi, Akira Takeshima

Designer: Shigezo Kawase, Takeyuki Machida, Masanobu Yamamoto, Shizu Higashiyama

Other possible features that were taken from Jack and the Beanstalk, could have been evolved in EarthBound 64 (a game that was also cancelled), as the N64DD’s internal clock was to be used to allow the real-time growth of planted in-game seeds. This mechanic seems to stem (excuse the pun) from Jack and the Beanstalk. It is also likely that the 3-day system system used in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is similar to how time would have been used in Jack and the Beanstalk. It is listed under “Simulation” in various N64 unreleased listings, which supports the idea of the player growing his or her own seed or seeds.

Thanks to Redstar and Celine for the contributions!

Sadly there are no images of Jack and the Beanstalk preserved for now.

Video documentario (in Italian):

 

Little King’s Story [Wii – Beta]

Little King’s Story​ (originally known as “Project O”) is a simulation / strategic RPG co-developed by Town Factory and Cing, released for the Wii in 2009. The game was first shown at the Tokyo Game Show in 2007 and in the early screens we can notice some interesting differences:

  • Some enemies were never implemented in the game, as a papercraft bird that could have been able to transform itself into a paper airplane.
  • The beta city had a completely different layout than the final one, with buildings and rivers in different places.
  • It seems that the king was able to guide more than 30 people at once.
  • In the beta the edifices were build by the town folks and you were able to see them work on their new houses while they were in development (as it happens with bridges in the final). In the final game, you just chose which new building you want to create from your throne, and when you came out from the castle, the new building is already finished.
  • In one of the screens we can notice the king at the top of an house’s roof, from where he talks to his crowd. You can’t go over roof in the final game.
  • There are a couple of images with Verde and a weird character (with a yellow head) that seem to be from a cutscene that was removed from the final game (or did i miss it?).
  • A red dragon was  on the beach too, but it’s never in there in the final version.
  • In the final game every Animal Hunter has a “cat cap” on their heads, but in a beta screen we can see one of them that doesnt wear any cap.
  • In one of the screenshots there are 2 “wooden-totem” enemies, but in the final we meet just one of them in a quest (or did i miss them in some other quest?)
  • Howser was able to join the king army too, to battle along the other people.
  • In the first trailer from Tokyo Game Show, the intro of the game was different.

Also, from a postmortem  article on Gamasutra we can read about a removed chapter that was planned for the beginning of the game and other unseen features:

In the original code, there was an introduction chapter where you could play Corobo (Little King’s Story protagonist) in pajamas looking for the crown. It took you around 40 minutes before you could find the crown, and it actually hindered the tempo. That’s why we decided to cut this and replace it with the opening you can see in the final game.

We had to scrap the multiplayer feature: A local two-player feature was implemented in the code but had to be removed. I also had to abandon the idea of having a network feature.

In the original concept, we were considering having a system in which the NPCs would develop automatically through their life simulation in the kingdom without requiring the user to grind. However, we started to realize that by using such a development system, the NPCs couldn’t keep up with the later enemies or became far too strong, ruining all the level design created to that point.

In an interview by Cubed3 with Marvelous Entertainment’s Yoshiro Kimura we can find some more info on the removed Multiplayer mode:

There were interesting multiplayer modes where the player could shoot cannons and control Pancho, but unfortunately due to time constraints we weren’t able to implement them into the game. I’m really sad we couldn’t have that in the game.

Milestones:

2006 June: Game Concept
2006 November: Evaluation of the prototype
2007 March: Full development start
End of February 2009: European master submission
End of April 2009: US and Japanese master submission
April 26, 2009, European release
July 21st, 2009, US release
September 3rd, 2009, Japanese release

Thanks to JulianCJ for the contribution!

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Hachi Koi [DS – Cancelled]

Hachi Koi is a cancelled “love simulator” that was in development by Electronic Arts for the DS in the Japanese market. The game was announced in 2008, but in december 2009 Famitsu reported that the project will never be released.  From Adria Sang’s blog we can read more about Hachi Koi’s “plot”

Players learn from the death god that they’re going to die on their next birthday, which happens to be one month away. There’s only one way to avoid this fate: fall in love and make someone fall in love with you.

Thanks to Saga Darvulia for the contribution!

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Survivor [XBOX / PC – Cancelled]

Survivor was a “Disaster Survival” game that was in development at Replay Studios in 2004 for the original XBOX and PC. The player would have had to survive through “historical” disasters from the 20 – 21 th century, like the Titanic, Hurricane Andrew or the 9/11. The project was later cancelled, maybe because of the controversial scenarios.

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Eden [PS2 – Concept]

Through GameSetLinks, Robert Seddon linked us to the International Hobo website, where they talk about one of their unreleased project for the Playstation 2, known as “Eden”. Eden was going to be a simulation / puzzle game in which the player would have been able to explore and grow his personal garden, but for various reasons Eden was shelved before they even started the  development. Only the concept design remains and you can read it all on ihobo:

When circumstances in the market changed and Play with Fire ceased to be a PS2 project (with a commensurate fall in budget), Eden was effectively shelved. Plans were tentatively made to resurrect it later, and inventive Belgian developer Tale of Tales were considered as an option for developer.

However, over the following years the project was to suffer further blows. The Japanese gardening game Shiki-Tei (“Four Seasons Garden”) was released in June 2008 for download on the PS3 and featured time-lapse as part of its gimmick – it was apparent that the technology for this is still very expensive, and the quality of the time lapse in Shiki-Tei was nowhere near the standard we had hoped to use in Eden, suggesting we could not have delivered this part of the design pragmatically. Then, the following month, Dylan Cuthbert’s Q-Games released Pixeljunk Eden for download on PS3, which meant the name “Eden” would have to be shelved.

Finally, in February 2009, Jenova Chen’s thatgamecompany released their game Flower for download on the PS3 which had so many fundamental similarities to Eden that this project was officially shelved. Flower is a magnificent piece of work, and more beautiful than Eden could ever have been on the budget we were intending to use for it. Although the play of the two games is very different, it’s apparent given the issues with time lapse technology that Eden was too ambitious for its time.