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Metal Max is a long living series of strategy RPGs that started in 1991 on the Famicom, initially created by a rather obscure company known as Crea-Tech and published by Data East. Metal Max was quite a revolutionary and ambitious game for its time, being one of the first open world games on the Famicom, with a big world to freely explore, different missions to complete in any order and multiple endings depending on your choices. As you could guess from its title, the Metal Max series was heavily inspired by Mad Max movies: all the games in the series are set in a post-apocalyptic world mostly covered by deserts and destroyed cities, where players can accept bounty missions to hunt down monsters and criminals while upgrading their combat vehicles and weapons.
After the 2D chapters on the Famicom and Super Famicom, in september 1999during Tokyo Game Show ASCII Entertainment announced a new 3D Metal Max to be published for the Sega Dreamcast under the title “Metal Max Overdrive” and later renamed “Metal Max: Wild Eyes”. Unfortunately the game was never completed, and only a few screenshots and a short video still exist to preserve the existence of this interesting strategy title.
Metal Max: Wild Eyes would have expanded the open world gameplay of the old Famicom games, keeping the canonical post-apocalyptic setting in which to move around the map in real time, on foot or by using one of the many different vehicles available, such as tanks, police cars and jeeps.
Players would have been able to explore the vast desert area and visit many different cities, some of which had buildings you could enter into and characters to talk to, to receive new missions and help them surviving in this strange world full of weird characters, a funny parody of classic post-apocalyptic movies and their tropes.
If you didn’t play any other games in the Metal Max series, you could imagine Wild Eyes on the Dreamcast somehow similar to a mix between the Fallout series and the Advanced Wars series, combat was turn-based with heavy emphasis on fighting using vehicles but world exploration was completely in real time.
As in previous chapters of the series in this cancelled Dreamcast game you could recruit many different companions to help the main protagonist during his adventure and one of them was a dog with a rocket launcher on its back… it’s easy to imagine how Wild Eyes could have been a funny RPG with a unique sense of humor.
As revealed in 2010 during an interview with former developers who worked on Wild Eyes, the game was cancelled when ASCII decided to limit its publishing efforts on the video games market and canned this Dreamcast project to cut expenses. In the end Metal Saga for Playstation 2 became the first 3D Metal Max and even if the original series’ producer Hiroshi Miyaoka was not involved with the PS2 version we can imagine that Wild Eyes could have been quite similar to it.
A few more chapters in the Metal Max series were later released on Nintendo DS and smartphones, but these games were never officially published in english.
Makai Wars was a Role-Playing Game in development by Nippon Ichi Software for the Playstation Portable, and was expecting a release date around the console’s initial launch in 2005. Development on Makai Wars was put on hold due to a number of internal conflicts, a few years later the title was announced for release on the Playstation 3, however it’s current status is unknown.
As we can read in Wikipedia, it’s interesting to notice that Makai Wars is frequently referenced as an internal-joke in other NIS games. In “Prinny: Can I really be the Hero?”, we find out that Asagi was to be the main character of the cancelled game, but was removed due to the ending of making the game. It’s one of the few reasons Asagi is insane in Prinny CIRBTH, mentioning it during a therapy lesson with the Hero Prinny.
Makai Wars is later mentioned in the PSP Version of Disgaea 2, in the special “Axel Mode”. In the story, Makai Wars is actually a movie, which has been on constant Hiatus and development hell. Also, in the graphic / text adventure game “Disgaea Infinite”, there’s a bonus ending in which Asagi try to buy a “time machine” to be able to change the her past and let Makai Wars to be released.
Pirate Battle was a turn-based strategy RPG developed for the Game Boy Advance. The concept itself was inspired primarily from Square’s epic PlayStation RPG Front Mission 3, but also gave a lot of credit to Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, and Final Fantasy Tactics. The story and art, meanwhile, were inspired primarily both my previous project and the famous manga One Piece. Our goal? Make a game so authentic to the big titles of the genre that you would assume it was Japanese.
Similar to Front Mission, characters would have a set amount of AP to manage. The changing point was that a lot of the environment was meant to be interactive; you could knock over a statue to hurt the guy behind it, drop a barrel in the water to bridge a gap, or even cause a chain reaction effect (this guy hits this guy which hits this guy, and so on…)
Adding to that was the idea of standard character classes (for multiplayer reasons) and house pillaging (for character building). Each of the story characters were also meant to have special abilities – AP sinks that could have mission-changing effects (hookshots, super attacks, etc.)
The team for Pirate Battle was small. In fact, for the lion’s share of it, there was just an artist, a programmer, and myself. Nonetheless, progress on the game was so fast on our agile team that we announced the game – screenshots and all – to IGN just prior to E3 2004. (I think we planned on asking virt to do the soundtrack again, but I don’t recall if those talks ever actually happened.)
The first version of the game was actually for the PC – Sean had put together a simple networking client, I put together some art from other games, and we just battled it out to see what worked and what didn’t with the gameplay – a crucial concern given we were trying to slam mechanics from two different games together but still keep it multiplayer-relevant. (Not to mention that most of our development hardware was typically locked down for use on the other two games in the studio.) I think we were going to attempt to do a single-cart multiplayer mode – something we wanted to do even on Racing Gears – but the odds of that working out were 50/50 (GBA games using single-cart requires copying all data to RAM, which is a big problem since our games would always be pulling info directly off the cartridge.)
Eventually, Scurge: Hive and Juka were put on the fast track and we no longer had enough programmers for all three projects – our core programmers from the early Racing Gears days had since departed for Pandemic Studios. I departed some time after the programmer gap. It’s neither appropriate to explain nor really clear why the game never finished, but I will say that Pirate Battle is perhaps the game I am most proud of. Maybe I can do something for it again some day. A year later, Orbital released some new screenshots with a dramatically different look (more Fire Emblem) and a new platform (DS). While the world map is either similar or based on some design work I had done – the free roaming ship mode was always part of the plan – I’m not in a position to know what the gameplay changes were (or if the game was in fact playable in its new incarnation.)
The studio appears to be gone now, so I’m not even sure who was tasked to the project after me, but it’s a shame it will never see the light of day.
64 Wars is the cancelled “Wars” sequel that was planned for the Nintendo 64. The “Advance Wars” series became famous in USA and Europe thanks to the GBA games, but it was know to the Japanese audience since the NES, with the name of FAMICOM Wars, originally published on the Famicom back in 1988. The game is a strategic turn based RPG, where you’ll be fighting with your army against the enemy’s one, planning carefully your strategy moves.
Hudson started working on the Nintendo 64 version even if the rights of the “wars” series were always been a property of Intelligent System, but Nintendo decided to let Hudson to work on the game for this particular occasion. Unfortunately, little is known about the project: the images in the gallery below are taken from various japanese magazines and the game was shown in non-playable form at the Nintendo Spaceworld 1999.
The style of 64 Wars seems to have been a lot like the previous episodes: a 2D map was used for the troop movement, while the battles were shown with a 3d engine. The most interesting part of the 64 version would have been the possibility to connect the N64 game to the GameBoy game.
GameBoy Wars 2 was developed by Hudson’s team too and it was published only in Japan. The GB title was able to connect to the N64 version with the GB Transfer Pack (a peripheral originally used with Pokemon Stadium) that could attach a GC cart to the N64 pad memory card port. With this expedient, people could have been able to begin a match of Wars on the N64, then continuing it on the GB and finish it back on the home console.
In the end 64 Wars has been cancelled without any official explanation, but it’s intriguing to think that inside the GB cartridge is still possible to access to the N64 Linking options, which was never used. Maybe the passage of rights between Intelligent System and Hudson caused some kind of problems, or maybe the N64 game didn’t match Nintendo’s quality standards.
Thanks to Linkx111 for the contribution!
[spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]La serie Advanced Wars, divenuta famosa in occidente grazie alle versioni per GBA e DS, è invece nota al pubblico giapponese fin dai tempi del NES, con il nome di Famicom Wars, uscito nel 1988. Il gioco è un classico rpg strategico a turni, in cui far combattere le proprie armate contro numerosi nemici, studiando attentamente le mosse da compiere. Con l’uscita del Nintendo 64, Hudson ha cominciato i lavori su di una versione a 64 bit di Wars, chiamata con molta originalità “64 Wars”. La saga è sempre stata sviluppata dagli Intelligent Systems, ma in quel periodo Nintendo passò i diritti ad Hudson. Purtroppo non si hanno molte notizie a riguardo: le foto che trovate qui sotto sono state recuperate da alcune riviste Giapponesi dell’epoca ed il gioco è stato presentato in video allo Space World 1999.
Lo stile di 64 Wars sembra molto simile agli altri capitoli: una mappa in 2D per lo spostamento delle truppe, con l’unica differenza dei modelli 3D per i filmati degli scontri. La caratteristica più interessante della versione Nintendo 64, sarebbe stata la possibilità di collegare il gioco con l’episodio per GameBoy.
GameBoy Wars 2 è stato sviluppato anchesso da Hudson, ma al contrario di 64 Wars, è uscito realmente nel 1998. Il titolo per GB poteva essere collegato con i salvataggi della versione N64, grazie all’utilizzo del Transfer Pack (un aggeggio che si collega alla porta Memory Card dei Pad N64). Sarebbe stato così possibile iniziare una partita sul Nintendo 64, trasferirla su GameBoy per giocarla in giro ed in seguito finirla di nuovo sulla console da casa.
64 Wars è stato però cancellato senza dare spiegazioni, ma è affascinante pensare che nella cartuccia di GB Wars 2 esistano ancora le opzioni per il collegamento al Nintendo 64, ormai impossibile. Forse il passaggio dello sviluppo da Intelligent Systems a Hudson è stato la causa di qualche problema di organizzazione, oppure i lavori svolti dal team non raggiungevano lo standard sperato da Nintendo. [/spoiler]