So I said I would post an update, and here I am. I thought about posting a review or 2 and covering our recent research methods and changing writing styles. I just couldn't decide which ones I felt were done enough to share and I'm tired right now. These posts take a lot out of me and I just wanted to do a little something for Christmas, so consider this just a mini update from me. Everybody else is probably going to update something too here in a few days. This stuff is just random info I felt like sharing, so I'm sorry of it's copy pasted in such a sloppy way, I promise we are more organized than this behind the scenes. It's just hard reformat everything to look good on the forum.
One idea I had a long time ago for the forum was compiling all old N64 websites as most are only accessible from the webarchive. Nearly every game had at least one no matter how obscure, and some of the ones that don't have websites may surprise you. Since with N-Cyclopedia 64 one of our goals is to be people's first resource for any N64 questions, I wanted website links to be present at the top of pages with all the other supplemental information, along with things like release dates and trade show appearances which I've been trying to cover.
Most game sites are simple to find and only have 1 or 2 pages, while others are more complicated.
For example Majora's Mask I heavily mention 5 websites.
The regular http://www.zelda.com
Japanese https://www.nintendo.co.jp/n01/n64/soft ... index.html
By the way, http://www.zelda64.com/
was the Prelauch site for Ocarina. Nintendo was forced to buy http://www.zelda.com
because it was a pornohraphic site prior to 1999, as can be seen through the webarchive. Yes I'm serious, and all the images still exist so I imagine many kids were finding it on accident.
There were also multiple promotional websites for Majora. In August Nintendo of America registered 2 secret websites to promote the game
was a mysterious website, filled with talk of parallel universes and global destruction on Z-day, October 26th, with reports from fictional researches. Visitors could take a fake fingerprint dna to test if they had the specific genetic makeup to interact with the other universe and save both worlds. The site is filled with anagrams
JRAMOA = Majora
Dr. Mouke Takeko = Koume & Kotake
Dr. Tarin Rugeshi = Tarin & Shigeru
Amonua Magoh = Aonuma & Gohma.
reported on the alternate universe, complete with on the street video reports of the world ending and people cheering on the kid (Link, the player), with Majoras Mask commercials linking the website. These commercials even aired across American movie theaters.
In another commercial Nintendo teamed with the World Wrestling Federation, with a commercial featuring Matt and Jeff Hardy. Majora's Mask was sponsored in the November 23rd episode of SmackDown several times along with WWF No Mercy,
let visitors email to enter a sweepstakes (October 30th to December 4th) to win tickets to the 2000 Armageddon pay-per-view on December 10th, 2000. 1 Grand Prize winner received a trip for 2 to the event, 2 nights hotel accommodation, and a N64 console with the Majoras Mask collector's edition. 5 second prize winners received just a collector's edition game. This site later promoted Zelda Oracle of Ages/Seasons.
There is also http://camphyrule.com/
which requires more investigation but had a year which was Majora themed.
Anyway most games have only 1 site, maybe some have a website for the developer, as well as any publishers or license holders. I find them fun to compile and our book will be the first place to have them all, and so convienently organized. Everything will find its way back to this forum and across the web eventually.
I've also started a few other sections. On top of covering released games, something I started a while back was coverage on unreleased games. Most lists or articles online don't include every game, or they include them all but don't describe them in any detail. Some games truly don't have much to say, but they deserve to have a readable description that isn't just 2 or 3 sentences long like on some websites. We have already done some that aren't covered on sites like N64ever and unseen64 because they are so obscure, and we are orginizing them all in a very readable way. Many of mine can be even better than some of Unseen64s articles which are incomplete, abandoned, and not written in a clean way, though of course I give credit where credit is due as they often have great source links and images, plus they have to work with more consoles than N64. Here are a few I have done so far, I'm at about 16 of like 100, though they are often fun because it's very easy to be unbiased about games that are unreleased. It's all just research based, no opinions to rationalize or mechanics to explain in depth.
Here is a basic one that most people don't know exists, but a very interesting one because I uncovered some exclusive stuff for the book. I hesitated sharing it but decided to anyway so consider yourselves lucky. Just know we find lots of stuff like this. It's a game that was cancelled, and until I found the official website, it only had 1 screenshot and basically no information. For a brief moment we all thought I had discovered a new N64 game, but no it's just not well known, for obvious reasons. As someone who has become very familiar with SETA, it's actually interesting to me. Notice how even some cancelled games have official websites accessible through the webarchive. Fascinating stuff I tell you. Also don't worry these will have screenshots in the book to make them easier on the eyes and much funnier to read. They also aren't necessarily finalized. Usually i provide a source reason and/or reasonable explanation as to why a game was cancelled. For this one it's not entirely clear to me yet. SETA had financial troubles in 1998-1999 resulting in several cancellations, but the where I wrote down the specifics is escaping me at the moment.
Like Thunder Ultra High Speed Go
Pronounced Kaminari nogotoku ~ chō kōsoku igo ~
Being developed and published by SETA, this would be a video version of Go, a 2 player strategy board game in a similar vein to SETAs shogi games, where they mostly add graphics, music, and modes to an already existing piece of software. This was likely chosen since the Computer Go Association and Computer Shogi Associations often sponsored each other's events, and had some overlap since both games promoted community, mental health, fun, and advancements in programing.
Go originated in ancient China and was even 1 of the 4 arts of the Chinese scholar gentleman along with painting, Calligraphy, and the guqin stringed instrument. It is one of the oldest known board games and is still played nearly identically to its original form.
Each player chooses black or white and takes turns placing them across a 19x19 board. The game also depicts 13x13 and 9x9 boards often used by beginners or people who only have a short time to play. Stones can't be moved once placed and points are scores by completely surrounding opponents pieces. Those pieces are then removed from the board, since at the end of the game both players count how many of their pieces remain and add that value to their score. Captured territory counts as points, meaning any empty intersections a player surrounds are also counted. Despite the simple premise, Go has a wealth of available moves and tactics similar to chess or shogi.
The website says the Controller Pak would take 12 pages, the game would cost 9,800 yen (the equivalent of around 75$/80$), and that the cartridge would be 32m (presumably this means 32 megabits which would be 4 megabytes). 10 total characters were featured and there would be 5 computer difficulty levels.
The 3 title screen options are Niimon, Dragon Gate, and Introduction to Go.
The website also boasts that the faces of opponent changed during the gate mode such as getting frustrated.
According to the title screen Toyogo Inc. supplied the artificial intelligence algorithm. Toyogo was founded by artificial intelligence programmer Bruce Wilcox, who wrote landmark Go programs in the 70s and 80s such as NEMESIS Go Master, which was the first commercial Go program in Japan in 1991. He eventually worked at 3DO on games like the Army Men series and later worked for Telltale, and won multiple Loebner prizes for his work on artificial chatbots.
Also mentioned on the title screen is David Fotland, gold medal winner at the 13th Computer Olympian and seasoned Go programmer including the Many Faces of Go program. He likely was the primary creator for the AI used in game.
EGM issue 90 had a screenshot which notably featured a sprite based character, while the website screenshots show pictures of real people.
Issue 41 of Edge Magazine had a release list placing the game down for January 1997 which didn't happen.
The webpage on SETAs site was last archived on July 4th, 1997, with the release date still to be decided. By October 15th, 1997 the game was removed from the upcoming game list.
Here is one of the biggest ones, Zenith. This is also an example where most of the information comes from other more recent sources like Unseen64 or various interviews, which is unavoidable for this type of project. Well be taking lots of information but I'm trying to always give credit where credit is due, combine it all into a very readable format, and make plenty of our own original contributions so it's not so plagiaristic. Sometimes I'm just afraid it turns out that way. But yes this one is made up mostly of other people's interviews. I also make specific mention of screenshots in this one, so I'll include them so you can see what I'm talking about. Also sorry I didn't resize them, I'm lazy.
Zenith was under development by DMA Design and set to be published by Nintendo. It was handled by at least 9 members of the younger staff: Andrew Eades, Andrew West, David Osborne, Doug Smith (the same Douglas E. Smith who created Lode Runner), Frank Arnot, Harry Thompson, John Gurney, Mike Dailly, and Paul Reeves.
Tentatively titled Climber, the game was never publicly shown, though it's title had some convinced it was a 3D take on the NES game Ice Climber, and even appeared on release lists with that title.
The game itself was vertical obstacle course racing game where players would pick a handful of characters ranging from humans, to aliens, to other bizarre creatures. The towers had various motifs like wild-west or medieval themes. Players could walk, run, jump, and use grappling hooks to swing around as well as attack with punches, kicks, and special attacks.
Head of DMA art David Oz Osborne, who eventually founded Realtime Worlds, had this concept drawing in his office.
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It was cancelled during the ongoing development hell surrounding Body Harvest. Worse was that the cancellation occurred during the Body Harvest teams trip to Japan, so they found out the news after they got home from an already stressful visit to Nintendo. With Zenith cancelled about 10 people left DMA according to White (John Whyte? Need issue 121 of edge) while the rest continued with the Body Harvest team or other projects.
Andrew Eades lead programmer of Zenith shared words with unseen64 in 2015,
We had a really innovative split screen effect that showed the leading player on top but as the follower caught up the split would start to rotate until it was vertical as they were side by side. The effect of an overtake was really awesome as the split would turn upside down as the bottom player became the top player. Its hard to describe in words. I left DMA to go to work for Virgin Interactive but I think you can see the ideas of Climber in the agency towers of Crackdown.
Artist Paul Reeves said
This was the first video game project that I worked on, during my time at DMA. Zenith was a future sport style game show, where the participants had to scale various towers on different themes, while avoiding obstacles and other players. The first to the top wins.
My involvement on the project was mainly character and level design, this also included the 3d modelling and texture mapping of both of these. Using Alias on an SGI Extreme 2, I also animated the characters. The animations involved a basic run, walk and jump. The more complex animations were climbing, hanging, swinging hand over hand, and a small selection of combat moves, punch, kick, and flying kick. Each character had two unique animations.
Each character had roughly 250 polygons, and 8, 16-16 texture maps. The texture and polygon budget was an incredibly small amount to work with compared to present day titles. The texture maps were made using Dpaint on an Amiga 3000. This project never completed production.
Later in a March 21st, 2016 interview with TheGebs24 of juicygamereviews.com, Paul Reeves revealed more on Zenith including this detailed character banner.
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Every game I worked on went through a long name changing process. Body Harvest went through some really weird name suggestions. I think The Human Seed, was the weirdest one I heard. Zenith had some hilarious name suggestions. Cling On, was my favourite. If you're a Trekkie fan, you'll get the joke.
When asked what the highlight of his career was so far
I don't know about highlight, but there's several things I had a lot of fun with and was proud off. As you may know, Zenith was cancelled and we, the Zenith team, were put onto Body Harvest. I was sad about this because Zenith was a really awesome game with a great variety of characters of both sexes without sexualizing the strong female characters. So it was breaking a lot barriers on many fronts. So I decided to create some textures that were renders of the Zenith characters and created a decorative frieze that I used on some of the buildings and temples in Body Harvest. Some sharp eyed gamers out there may be able to find the Zenith characters in Java on the temples and in America on some of the decorative parts of the buildings. I hid some other things in there, but won't say what they are. Lots of developers I know do this sort of thing.
Body Harvest Easter eggs
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Art of what appears to be characters from Zenith is seen behind Richard Ralfe, a picture predating Paul Reeves revealing the character designs himself. Before Reeves interview it was only speculation that the characters were from Zenith.
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Here is a famous one, Kirby Bowl. Unfortunatly today I'm not covering any games which have had appeared at trade shows or had their roms dumped since they were cancelled, but I don't skimp those details either.
Kirby Bowl 64 was 1 of the original 13 N64 games shown at the consoles reveal at Shoshinkai from November 22nd-24th 1995. Along with Mario 64, it was the only other game with a playable demo at the event. It was reported the game was only 20% finished despite claiming to be 1 of 3 launch games for the system along with Mario and Pilotwings.
It was being developed by HAL Laboratory as a sequel to the Super Nintendo title Kirbys Dream Course, the Japanese title being Kirby Bowl.
The single player involved rolling along undulating 3D plains to collect items for points and hit enemies. The analog stick was used to gather momentum and change direction, while B made Kirby jump, which is different than the power bar and miniature golf gameplay of the SNES game. Kirby Bowl promoted the N64s 4 player with a demo in which players competed to knock each other out an arena, and the game was even shown to have ground polygons which could terraform in real time, a feature used later in Doshin the Giant.
The game also saw moments where Kirby surfed down levels collecting stars. Kirby went unmentioned at the N64 launch but reappeared in Japanese magazines and at Shoshinkai 1996 a year later as Kirbys Air Ride. It showed Kirby surfing, doing tricks, and puffing in the air. Though it had no playable demo, it had a release date set for mid-1997 in the U.S. and in a July 1997 interview Satoru Iwata said a release date would be announced soon, but it was put on hiatus for many years as HAL focused on Kirby 64 and other projects.
Kirby Air Ride resurfaced for GameCube in 2003 in a short gameplay clip at D.I.C.E. Summit. It released that same year, but no playable roms of the N64 version have surfaced.
In July 1997 Satoru Iwata revealed in an N64.com interview that Kirbys Air Ride featured not only splitscreen, but also 4 players playing on 1 screen, and that this new screen display technology was being used to make an unnamed HAL Golf game which also never released.
That never released Golf game is overlooked because it never received a name. But I've got it covered. This is what I like to call Unnamed Golf game from Hal Laboratory.
In July 1997 Satoru Iwata revealed in an N64.com interview that screen display technology from Kirbys Air Ride, which allowed a wider screen for 4 players to simultaneously race on 1 unsplit screen, was being used in a golf game. He said we would understand more with Jack and the Beanstalk (another unreleased game) and that it would pioneer a new genre of software.
In a 1999 issue of Used Games Magazine, Satoru Iwata was interviewed as President of HAL Laboratory, a position he would leave the following year. Here he describes the golf game was cancelled after Mario Golf released in June 1999.
Full interview: http://shmuplations.com/iwata/
-- Were you involved in all of HALs game developments?
Iwata: There were games I wasnt involved in, but I worked on all of the golf games: Golf, Japan Open, US Open, Mario Open for Nintendo, and then our own HALs Hole in One Golf for the Famicom and Super Famicom. I had really wanted to make a golf game for the N64 too, but the timing wasnt right. Then while we were working on other things, Nintendo released the definitive golf game for the system, Mario Golf 64. I admit that we felt kind of emotional about that, given our history of making golf games for Nintendo. It was like, were supposed be the ones making the Mario golf games! (laughs) But the people at Camelot who made Mario Golf 64 told me that NES Open Tournament Golf was one of their favorite games, and that they had taken all the good parts from it for their Mario Golf 64, so I was personally very satisfied with what they created.
And I'll end with another Golf game. Actua Golf 4 is barely a cancelled game because it got converted into something extremely similar, but even it gets a piece.
Notice before you read how it breaks down in the middle and goes off topic.
Actua Golf 4 was being developed and published by Gremlin Interactive as a sequel to Actua Golf 3, Fox Sports Golf 99, and VR Golf 97, which are both titled Actua Golf for the PC and European PlayStation versions. Gremlin sports games renamed to unify under the Actua brand which includes Actua Tennis, Actua Pool, Actua Soccer, and Actua Ice Hockey, all of which normally released on PlayStation.
On February 1st, 1999, and IGN reported that Gremlin had acquired the rights to the PGA European Tour and had finally announced Actua Golf 4 for N64 after Actua Golf had appeared on release lists occasionally over the previous 2 years. It was said the game would feature motion captured golfers like Lee Westwood.
Only a month later on March 24th, 1999, Infogrames, who already published Gremlins titles in Spain and France, offered to purchase Gremlin as they were a prime acquisition target after management troubles and finance issues made them weary of floating the company. IGN reported $40 million dollars was being offered but Ian Stewart, 1 founder of Gremlin, says the final purchase was £24 million pounds. Both of Gremlins majority stockholders supported the takeover and Infogrames would expand publishing Gremlin titles to Europe, Australia, and the U.S.
Stewart wanted the company to go from a privately held company to a publicly traded one, but the London Stock Exchange flotation raised £8m instead of the anticipated £12m. This left Gremlin short of money after their previous acquisition of DMA Design, which wasn't helpful profit wise since their hot Grand Theft Auto series was not included in the acquisition as it had already been sold to Bertelsmanns BMG Interactive Entertainment. When Bertelsmann exited video games in 1998 BMG merged back with DMA reuniting them with GTA, then DMA were purchased by Take 2 for $11 million in April 2000 where they became part Rockstar.
The Gremlin sale was made, giving Infogrames the PGA European Tour license while Gremlin renamed to Infogrames Sheffield House. PGA European Tour was announced on October 12th, 1999, to become the first game to make use of the license and released in May 2000. Lee Westwood ended up not doing motion capture.
Infogrames never used the Actua title again though the brand had been struggling previously by not having major sports licenses.
I went off topic about Gremlin being sold and DMA Design losing then reuniting with their Grand Theft Auto series. I'd like to move this stuff eventually to a section about companies, what happened to them during or as a result of N64 dealings, their specific impact on N64, company stories, their financial reports etc., because it's usually too detailed to work into the "reviews" in a clean way
Other consoles have closer to 1,000 games not counting any other pieces of writing like cancelled games, betas, prerelease, company dealings. So they have to cut corners or skimp details, and would need upwards of 10-20 writers all working constantly which would get confusing and make fact checking each other impossible. With N64 400 games giving them all their dues is an actual attainable goal.
But yeah things are going smoothly. I have got several suppliers of Japanese manuals that I can translate to better research the games which has been fun. I've even got my first interview with an N64 developer in January, one none of you have ever heard of, but I'm very excited about it because it's possible I'll be able to learn more about the company, see beta art, and promote our research using things like unseen64 and of course out forum. I'll probably post the interview here eventually
Coming hopefully sometime soon I might post a review or 2 and talk about those. But I need to get back to work. These posts are hard. And wow seeing a few of these unreleased games stacked on top of each shows me how many freaking words I write.