Wildwaters (also know as “Extreme Kayak” and “X-Stream”) is a cancelled racing game that was in development by Looking Glass Studios for the Nintendo 64 in 1998 / 1999. The project was announced at E3 1999 by Ubisoft (that was interested as a publisher) while the studio was working on Destruction Derby 64 (published in the same year), but sadly it was never finished.
Wildwaters 64 was very promising as Looking Glass were able to create an engine with real physics running for the waterflow through the river on an N64, but it needed more time and love which eventually ran out. Five different gameplay modes, including Arcade, Time Trial, Championship, Finals and Versus Battle were planned for the game.
Some months later, on May 2000, Looking Glass Studios went out of business during a financial crisis related to their publisher at the time, Eidos Interactive. Wildwaters / Extreme Kayak vanished forever, along with their other promising N64 racing game, Mini Racers.
There was another cancelled water racing game titled “Wild Water World Championships” that was planned for the Nintendo 64, but it should not be confused with this one as WWWC was developed by Promethean Designs.
Thanks a lot to Les Betterley for the help in preserving some images from this lost project!
TransWorld Skateboarding is a cancelled sport / skateboarding game that was in development by Barking Dog Studios in 2001, for the original Xbox. The project was announced at E3 2001, when Infogrames unveiled 3 Transworld Games: Skateboarding, Snowboarding and Surf. In the end only the snowboard and surf games were released, while Skateboarding was cancelled, maybe because of the low scores and sales of the other 2 projects.
Street Dunk is a cancelled baskteball game that was in development by Nippon Bussan (aka Nichibutsu) for the Super Nintendo / Super Famicom. It was going to have an arcade play mode with 1 VS 1, 2 VS 2 and 3 VS 3 players matches, supported by a multiplayer mode compatible with the multitap. There are not many more info available on Street Dunk and it’s unknown why it was never released. Celine was able to find some screenshots of the game in Joypad #24 and Super Power #14 magazines.
WWF War Zone was the first 3D WWF title to be released, developed by Acclaim Studios Salt Lake and published by Acclaim Entertainment in 1998 for the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. As Andrew has noticed, there were some beta screenshots in an issue of Game Informer (?) with Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi on the cover. At the time, the game was simply referred to as WWF ’98. This beta version has no health bars yet, the ropes are red, white, and blue instead of just red, and the arena has American flags. There was a beta video on Youtube but it seems to have disappeared.
After Charlie Brown‘s team loses their first game of the season (123-0), his team throws down their caps in disgust and quits. Frustrated and depressed, Charlie Brown wanders around aimlessly until Linus meets him with good news: Mr. Hennessey, operator of a local hardware store, is offering to sponsor Charlie Brown’s team, place them in an organized league, and even buy them new uniforms.
We can read more details in Namco Bandai’s official press release:
The cast of Peanuts has come together in an entertaining and fun pick-up-and-play baseball game, Charlie Brown’s All-Stars. Players can help Charlie Brown end his 900 game losing streak as they play baseball with an incredible cast of more than 30 Peanuts characters. Players can also take part in any of four Party Games, including batting, fielding and pitching contests, as well as a good ol’ fashioned game of “Lucy Says.” As players progress through the game they will have the chance to enjoy classic Peanuts storylines, artwork and unlock tons of bonus content including every baseball-related Peanuts comic strip. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars steps up to the plate in Spring 2007. This title has not yet been concept approved by Sony Computer Entertainment America.
Years later, contributor Matthew Culley managed to get in touch with developer Christopher Kline:
M.C.: How far into development did the game get?
C.K.: This is a guess since it’s been so long but apparently we had 6 different playfield environments, a number of characters, a few special effects, the start of a basic original soundtrack, and playable game mechanics. I believe you could play a very basic game of baseball in our demo.
M.C.: The ad mentions over 70 playable characters, this seems like a lot for a Peanuts game. Was a list ever made?
C.K.: I managed to dig up a player roster that confirms the high character count. Some of them were just made up characters with names taken from different employees kids. Chandler was named after my first born son, for instance.(…) Every character had at least a first pass done, so I would assume all were playable. I did a few basic character models we used in the early stages (mainly Charlie Brown) and we hired Christopher Pavia to be the lead character artist on that game. I know he was pumping out a lot of characters (…). Tom Green was the Art Director at the time (…).
M.C.: How many fields were planned, and how many were actually made before development ended?
C.K.: We apparently had 6 environments fairly polished with 12 planned in total.
M.C.: Where did the inspiration come from? Did someone go through all the old Charlie Brown comic strips and movies looking for content that could be adapted into the game?
C.K.: Bobby King might be able to answer this one better from the perspective of how the game idea ever came to be. Once we knew we were working on it, we traveled to the Charles M Schulz museum and got access to an online archive of all the old Peanuts strips. We also looked at the holiday movies. Then we studied all the nuances we could find with both the baseball related references and just Peanuts in general to try to mimic as much as possible to give the game that special Peanuts vibe.
M.C.: Are there any more renders/screenshots/videos that you are willing/able to share?
C.K.: I happened to have a couple screenshots that I had saved for my portfolio. That’s what you already found online. There is always more random stuff but I don’t really know what we could share at this point. Screenshots would be tough since it would require pulling up the actual game on a PS2 dev kit. No idea if the studio still has any of those. You would have to talk to Bobby to see if he could / would want to do that. I doubt he would want to show off things that weren’t very polished.
M.C.: I understand the game was shown off at E3 2006. Have any trailers or videos or builds from this event survived?
C.K.: I would assume a video was made for E3. That plus the original build might still exist on FarSights internal servers. There were 2 Peanuts games that were originally supposed to premier. The other was Snoopy vs The Red Baron. Snoopy was much further along and premiered at E3 but Baseball didn’t get shown for some reason. I remember attending and walking up to the booth disappointed to not see our game on display. This might have been right around when it was cancelled.Bobby may have more answers there.
M.C.: How much did this game’s development influence the later Backyard Baseball games that were developed by FarSight Studios?
C.K.: Technology wise, quite a bit. I think a lot of the games core framework was used and/or modified.
Further details were shared by him about the project development:
For the music side, as Audio Director I was searching for people who could pull off an authentic Vince Guaraldi style soundtrack. We had a local pianist/musician, named William Morosi, who we were working with at the time that did a fantastic job. That addition behind all of the menu screens and during game play really made a big difference, giving it a really authentic Peanuts feel.
We were attempting to add in all kinds of fun nuances to gameplay as well. As I recall, if you hit the ball near Charlie Brown while he was pitching, he would do his infamous POW spin where his hat, gloves, socks, and shoes all came off before he could scramble for the ball. I think I was also looking to add in the infamous “waa waa waa” adult speak sound as the announcer for the player at bat, which was supplemented with on screen text so you could understand them. One of the big challenges with special effects as I recall was getting them to look right with that 2d comic feel while being in a 3d environment. I think the 3D Peanuts movie by Blue Sky Studios did captured that style really well. We could never pull that off back then. Our internal game engine at the time was very basic, so we did the best we could with what we had to work with.
The title was canned because FarSight was over booked with too many games and not enough staff. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars was supposed to be developed in tandem with the game Snoopy vs. the Red Baron and was going to share some assets from that:
Peanuts was one of my favorite games we were working on during that time in the studio, and as far as I can recall, we were stretched really thin to get it all done in time. I can’t remember how many other games we had going at the same time, but it was always multiple. We also were constantly at a disadvantage with our engine tech so making a game look higher end to compete with the rest of the market was extremely challenging. Ultimately it’s my understanding that Namco decided to pull the plug because Snoopy vs The Red Baron wasn’t performing as well as they had hoped. I was very sad to see it get cancelled, and would love to see a studio take on a Peanuts baseball game now using Unreal engine tech. I think that could do really well and be distinct from other baseball games if they do their homework, keeping it full of fun Peanuts nuances, and don’t try to make it a serious baseball game.
Red Baron turned out to be a good game, so it’s a shame Charlie Browns All Stars didn’t follow in its footsteps.
Thanks a lot to Chris Kline for the contribution, and a lot to Matthew Culley for the interview!
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