Software Creations

Blade & Barrel (Ultra Combat) [N64 – Cancelled]

Blade & Barrel, also known as “Ultra Combat” in the U.S., was going to be one of the launch titles for the new Nintendo 64 console, but sadly it was cancelled. Developed by Software Creations and Kemko, the game was an arcade third-person shooter, focused on battles between flying vehicles that looked a bit like helicopters. An important aspect of Ultra Combat was meant to be the multiplayer mode up to 4 players.

Looking at the beta screenshots and videos below, the environments of the game were just simple 3D arenas, with some empty buildings and roads, but when it was announced, the graphic looked really spectacular for its time. The weapons available were able to create huge explosions, that completely filled the screen with a truly impressive fire effect. Probably the single player mode was similar to the multiplayer deathmatch, with the only difference being that we had to fight against bots, rather than challenge friends.

Unfortunately Blade & Barrel 64 was postponed for too long, perhaps because of low quality gameplay achieved in the beta, and in the end the project was canned altogether. Some concepts of Ultra Combat could have been re-used to develop another game by Kemko, Knife Edge, released for the N64 in 1998.

The two games are somewhat similar: Knife Edge is a shooter with flying machines, but the main difference is that KE is played in first person view as a on-rail shooter, while Blade & Barrel was meant to be a free flying shooter… at least in its original concept: from the  Pickford Brothers’s website we can read that:

Blade & Barrel (Nintendo 64): A game originally designed to be simple, 3D update of the old Atari console classic Combat, but which changed to an on-rails shooter once it was signed to a Japanese publisher after John left Software Creations to form Zed Two. In the end the game either abandoned or ‘canned’ by publisher.

Thanks to fiatbravodriver for the contribution!

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Creator / Mario Artist [64DD – Beta / Cancelled]

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Mario Artist and Creator 64 are a set of creative software / development tools that were meant to be used for the Nintendo 64DD.  Before the 64DD was published, Nintendo talked about many options and different programs for this new Mario Artist series, but in the end only few ones were finished. Paint Studio, Polygon Studio, Talent Studio and Communication Kit were available in shops, but Game Maker, Graphical Message Maker, Sound Maker, Video Jockey Maker and Creator remained unreleased. In the gallery below you can see a collection of old images from the original Mario Artist Set, in which there could be some screens of the cancelled discs and early versions of the released ones (with different icons and HUD).

Sadly, as we never played the final Mario Artist, we are not sure about which screens are beta and which are not. Please, if you played Mario Artist 64DD, let us know!

From the official Pickford Brothers’s website, we can even read about a cancelled american version of Mario Artist for the Nintendo 64, that was in early development by Software Creations:

Mario Artist: Paint Studio / Sound Studio: Originally intended as a single product – a sequel to Mario Paint in 3D for the N64 – this eventually saw light as multiple Japanese only products released for the N64 and the 64DD disk drive system.

Software Creations were initially asked to pitch a concept to Nintendo of America for a Mario Paint style product for the N64. John came up with a concept based on living 3D environments where the user could mess about with the creatures in the world – both editing the textures on the models themselves, and modifying the parameters of entities themselves – the physical size of a dinosaur, say, and its other visual attributes, as well as its AI properties such as aggression, speed etc. The result would be living playground where the player could mess around and play God.

The project was caught up in political infighting between NOA and Nintendo of Japan over who was controlling the project, and eventually the Japanese took control and rejected many of the ideas which had been accepted enthusiastcally by the Americans, steering the project in a different direction after John left Software Creations to form Zed Two, and throwing away loads of work.

Thanks to Robert Seddon and Vaettur for the contribution!

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Dead Ahead [N64 – Cancelled]

“The Dead Ahead project was a very unsual one. The game was being funded by Tomei, but there was also a middle company; Optical Entertainment who was also involved. Optical were designing the game for Tomei and Software Creations were chosen by Tomei (Tomy) to develop it. It was a very ambitious design which included free roaming in large environments, fighting, vehicle use and puzzle solving. One of the intentions of the game was to, at some point, create Toys based on the main characters. I was responsible for managing the team developing the game. Even before production started, this was already known as the “hot-potatoe” project that nobody wanted to do. Myself and the team made a good account of ourselves, but the game was never finished.” – Haydn

Thanks to Haydn Dalton for the great contribution!

Thanks a lot to Gilgalegrouik for some of these images!

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Forever Dragonz [N64 – Cancelled]

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Forever Dragonz is a cancelled one-on-one fighting game that was in development by Software Creations for the Nintendo 64, produced & designed by Haydn Dalton. The game had many original ideas (at the time). Characters could be knocked through elements of the enviroment (like a stunt scene in a movie, later to be done by Dead or Alive).

Software Creations were also attempting to have larger, multi-levelled arenas rather than the small “ring” based fighters seen in the arcades and the PSX. They also wanted the ability to tailor characters and update elements of their fighting abilities, betting on fights and swapping fighter characters with friends. Technically it was a challenging title. Software Creations motion captured a set of moves and spent months just getting it to work without crazy rotations affecting the character model’s limbs, but sadly in the end  Forever Dragonz never saw the light of day.

Thanks a lot to Haydn Dalton for the great contribution!

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