Virgin Interactive

Propaganda [PSX – Cancelled]

Propaganda is a cancelled mission-based racing game that was in development at Burst for the original Playstation in 1996 / 1997 and it would have been published by Virgin Interactive. The gameplay was going to be somehow similar to the Driver series, in which the player could have been able to explore the city with a car to complete various tasks. It’s currently unknown why the project was canned and only few screens were found in GamePro #92.

We can read more about the game in its original press release:

The world of Propaganda is perfect for the standard game story. In an alternate universe where Eastern Europe never really lost power, you play an ex-military loner, Jack Heller, who has been pulled into a rebellion against an evil government.

The film clips depicting this tale contain sets, costumes and acting (including an impressive performance by Yancy Butler of Drop Zone fame) that are worthy of a feature length film. Special effects have also been produced in a more traditional fashion – when the script called for a huge explosion tearing through a warehouse, the crew set up an actual explosion with a 20 foot jet of flame rather than use computer modeling which would have been easier, but looked less realistic.

And what about the game? After all, no amount of video, no matter how impressive, will keep players entertained if the actual play is terrible. Here also, Propaganda seems to shine. Although it’s far too early to make a final call, even at this stage of development, the game looks great. Finished stages revolve around player piloting armed cars through a 3-D world in which they have complete freedom.

Enemy cars loaded to the brim with amazing retro-tech weapons like wheeled torpedoes and side mounted guns are everywhere. Each of the game’s cities offers different challenges and more confusing pathways that the player will need to sort out in order to survive. Even better, the design team has gone to amazing lengths to blend the video footage with the game, creating a unified look that will be absolutely absorbing.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution! Video from Playstation Museum

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Freak Boy [N64 – Cancelled]

Officially presented at E3 1996, Freak Boy was certainly one of the most interesting and bizzarre games planned for the Nintendo 64, in development by Zono Incorporated / Burst Studio and to be publishe by Virgin. As a strange protagonist known as “Freak Boy”, players had to save the world Hedron from a horde of strange aliens in what at first glance seemed like a three-dimensional action/adventure with an abstract graphic style. The protagonist was able to interact with the environment in order to modify parts of its body (head, chest and feets) and thus acquire new skills to solve puzzles and to defeat various enemies, somehow like with the different heads in Dynamite headdy (Mega Drive / Genesis).

Unfortunately Freak Boy’s development was troubled and after the game’s publisher asked to remade it from scratch at least two times, they lost interest and the project was  dropped.

Here’s the original press release:

IRVINE, CALIF., May 16, 1996 — Enter the world of FREAK BOY in Virgin Interactive Entertainment’s (VIE) first NINTENDO 64 (N64) game. Three-dimensional graphics, addicting play mechanics and cutting-edge technology that uses morphing special effects define the world in which FREAK BOY lives – an alien world N64 players won’t ever want to leave. Created by Burst, VIE’s in-house development team, FREAK BOY is scheduled to be in stores in early 1997.

Created using SGI workstations, FREAK BOY utilizes the N64’s advanced 3-D technology, allowing all aspects of the game to be experienced in 3-D. Not only are the characters presented in realistic full 3-D, but their worlds and interactions with other beings are amazingly multi-dimensional. The 3-D power of the N64 also gives players the ability to experience gameplay from thousands of different points-of-view.

The result is a unique visual experience that intensifies the gameplay to such a degree that even the most experienced game player will be challenged. Players will be drawn into the intense 3-D action as they assume the role of FREAK BOY, the lone survivor of a massive alien invasion.

On New Year’s Day, when the planets are aligned with the sun, the ZoS, an alien race from a parallel dimension, take over the Hedron Universe, extinguishing the sun and transporting all of the Hedrons to the alien dimension. The only Hedron to evade capture is FREAK BOY, who is destined to become the hero of his people, provided he can rid his universe of the alien threat and return the captive Hedrons to their rightful dimension.

As FREAK BOY, players can absorb remnants of the destruction into their body and utilize them as weapons to destroy the alien invaders. What’s more, the variations

on these weapons are almost endless. Capable of holding three new artifacts at a time, each with a different capability when used as head, chest or feet, FREAK BOY is never the same character twice. FREAK BOY’S body is constantly morphing as new artifacts are assimilated and old ones are discarded. In managing the inventory of weapons as they enter and exit FREAK BOY’s body, the player gains new abilities in his fight to destroy the more than 50 enemies who have set out to conquer the Hedron universe.

On their quest for more powerful weapons and the alien enemy, players will explore more than 25 distinct worlds throughout five levels of difficulty. Each world is radically visual, arid and stark, yet with texture, mystery and entertainment that lure the player further into the world of FREAK BOY.

“FREAK BOY’s out-of-this-world graphics take the N64’s capabilities to the limits,” said Chris Yates, a vice president at Burst. “What is more, play mechanics such as Freak Boy’s have never been used before. When combined with these intense graphics, you have a level of gameplay that is altogether unprecedented.”

Burst, based in Irvine, California, is a division of Virgin Interactive Entertainment. The company is dedicated to high quality entertainment title development

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