Tag Archives: Nintendo

I Have Such Sights To Show You: The Hellraiser Game We Never Got

As part of my Halloween/Hellraiser 30th anniversary celebrations, as well as doing a retrospective of every film in the franchise – I’m also taking a look at the unreleased Hellraiser game that never saw the light of day.

Now there is very little known about this game (and trust me, I’ve looked), but other sites have covered it… yet I found some rather large inaccuracies with the story – which I’ll cover later. There are no in game images to show as the game was nowhere near finished when the plug was pulled. The closest thing I found was a supposed title screen…

Hellraiser Title

Please excuse the poor quality, but this was the best I could find. This image is said to be the title screen for the game which was to be released on the NES in 1990 – I have no idea if it is genuine or not, but there it is anyway. And in case you are wondering, the featured image at the very top is just a fan-made/home-brew project, not from the game itself.

Anyway, I guess I’d better cover what the Hellraiser NES game was all about first?

It was going to be a rather ambitious game that used an updated version of the Wolfenstein 3D engine to put the player into a first person viewpoint. You play a character stuck inside the infamous puzzle box, where you could manipulate it from the inside as you tried to solve the box and escape. However, solving the box would not only free you but also the Cenobites inside it. So when outside of the box, you’d then have to solve it again to defeat the Cenobites trapping them back inside.

Color Dreams

It was being developed by a company called Color Dreams – who became quite (in)famous for creating unlicensed Nintendo games on the NES. You see, for a game to be released on a Nintendo console, the developers/publishers had to pay Nintendo a fee so the game could be officially licensed by Nintendo. But some companies didn’t want to pay that fee, so they created unlicensed Nintendo games that bypassed the 10NES lockout chip (or CIC) and released games without Nintendo’s ‘approval’… naughty, naughty.

Supposedly, Dan Lawton (one of the founders of Color Dreams) was a big Hellraiser fan and paid around $50,000 for the Hellraiser game rights. It has been reported that Lawton found that the NES could not handle the improved Wolfenstein 3D engine for the game so he asked engineer, Ron Risley to create a new type of cartridge. This ‘super cartridge’ could hold more RAM than a standard NES cartridge as well as feature a faster Z80 processor and all sorts of other gubbins that pushed its cost much higher than that of a normal NES cartridge. It would’ve been too expensive to manufacture and purchase back in 1990 (estimated around $100 for one game!), coupled with the fact it wouldn’t have been licensed by Nintendo as many retailers refused to stock those games. This is probably why the game never saw the light of day.

Of course it also could be that the game was never being developed at all and all this is just unsubstantiated rumour… But there is a problem with that theory and that problem is that there was a Hellraiser game advertised in gaming magazines of the day. Publications such as Electronic Gaming MonthlyGamePro, and even the mighty Nintendo Power featured ads like this…

Hellraiser Ad 2

This ad boasts about the previously mentioned ‘super cartridge’ with “our advanced technology that pushed the NES further than ever before”. In fact, if you can make it out – it says something like “16-bit performance on the 8-bit Nintendo system”. It also mentions basic gameplay features such as “opening doorways to the dark-realm”, “solve puzzles of the Lament Configuration” and even the “Cenobites”.

Hellraiser Ad 1.jpg

This ad is a bit more ‘in your face’ and easier to read. “Over one million worlds”, “The largest game yet for Nintendo” and “Over one hundred demons to escape from”. Sounds impressive for a NES game – but also note the mention of the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) and the Atari Lynx too? There was even a number you could’ve called to pre-order the game.

So there was most definitely a Hellraiser game being developed for the NES – but I have serious doubts that it is the game that was mentioned earlier in this very article or the same one other sites have been reporting on. This is where you guys ask “why?”. Well, I said earlier that there are some rather large inaccuracies with the whole thing and here they are.

First, who the hell (no pun intended) would honestly think that the 8-bit NES could handle the Wolfenstein 3D engine in 1990? I don’t care how ‘super’ your cartridge is. I’m no game developer, but even I could tell you that the NES just didn’t have the processing power to do FPS/3D graphics like that in 1990. When Wolfenstein 3D was released, it changed gaming, it was revolutionary and all of that was down to the game engine and just how magically impressive it was. Seriously, go and read up on just how game changing the Wolfenstein 3D engine was for the time – that’s an interesting read in itself.

One of the most advanced NES games in 1990 was Super Mario Bros. 3 and it looked like this…

Super Mario Bros 3

That was cutting edge for the NES in 1990 and Wolfenstein 3D looked like this…

Wolfenstein 3D

Yeah, quite a visual difference. And remember, its claimed that the Hellraiser game was using an advanced version of the Wolfenstein 3D engine too, so it would’ve looked even better!

Then there is an even bigger problem with this story. The Hellraiser game was said to be released in 1900 using an advanced version of the Wolfenstein 3D engine… Wolfenstein 3D wasn’t released until 1992. So how could the 1990 Hellraiser game be using a game engine that simply did not yet exist, never mind a more advanced version of it? Something just does not add up here does it?

There’s got to be some confusion with this whole story. There was a Hellraiser game being developed by Color Dreams – the magazine ads prove as much, but there is no way it was one using the Wolfenstein 3D engine because it didn’t exist in 1990 when the game was said to be released. Unless developer Color Dreams had access to a time machine – its just not possible.

Now there are various Hellraiser NES roms that can be found on the interwebs and even YouTube videos claiming to be this unreleased NES game, but none of them are genuine and are most probably fan-made efforts and mods. That is because the Hellraiser game being developed by Color Dreams was not even close to being completed when it was dropped. You see, I found a more accurate quote from Dan Lawton about the game.

“The hardware was done, and the artwork was 20% done, there was no programming. It was a 45 degree down angle view, with a maze of stone and walls and pits”.

There was no programming for the game itself, just some artwork for the graphics (maybe that previous title screen?) and the hardware for the ‘super cartridge’… there was no actual Hellraiser game as there was no programming done. So all the roms you may find and the YouTube videos of the game are not genuine at all. Also note Lawton’s description of the game, particularly the viewpoint? “A 45 degree down angle view” or to  put it more simply, an isometric view… which is something the NES could definitely handle.

If you were to do an interwebs search for ‘unreleased Hellraiser NES game’, you’ll find several articles and even YouTube videos reporting exactly what I stated above. That there was a NES Hellraiser game being developed by Color Dreams for a 1990 release that used an advanced version of the Wolfenstein 3D engine. So to finish up, where did this whole Wolfenstein 3D engine powered Hellraiser game for the NES in 1990 come from?

Well I think I can answer that too. You see, developer Color Dreams went through various name changes through the 90s. From being named Color Dreams, they then formed Bunch Games and in 1991, they changed their name to Wisdom Tree and under this name, they developed and published numerous religious/bible based games. They even hold the distinction of making the only unlicensed SNES game to ever be released. And it is this game where I think the rumour of a Wolfenstein 3D engine powered Hellraiser game started…

Noahs Ark

Super Noah’s Ark 3D – or Super 3D Noah’s Ark as many places erroneously call it was that unlicensed SNES game I mentioned before and for those not in the know, it was basically a Wolfenstein 3D rip-off given a biblical graphical makeover…

Noah Screen

Just like Wolfenstein 3D, Super Noah’s Ark 3D was also a FPS game, they both had a similar ‘chapter’ level set up, they both have the same/similar HUD design just with different graphics. For all intents and purposes – they are the exact same game just with different graphics and story, they even feature some of the exact same map designs. Oh yeah, and they are both powered by an advanced version of the Wolfenstein 3D engine.

Rumour has it that id Software who developed Wolfenstein 3D were so annoyed at the censorship Nintendo forced on the SNES version of the game that they willingly gave Wisdom Tree the source code for Wolfenstein 3D for them to purposely make an unofficial/unlicensed clone to mock Nintendo. But then I’ve also found articles that state Wisdom Tree simply purchased the license to use the Wolfenstein 3D engine from id Software. I’ll let you chose which of those two you believe.

Anyway, I think what we have here is a case of crossed wires and unsubstantiated rumours. There was a Hellraiser game being developed for the NES in 1990 – but there is no way it was being built around the then non-existent Wolfenstein 3D engine. The Hellraiser game from 1990 was going to be an isometric puzzle game and not a 3D FPS. I also think the whole Hellraiser game using the Wolfenstein 3D engine came from some misinformation given out by a rather famous and popular internet reviewer, who – when they covered Super Noah’s Ark 3D stated that the game started out as a Hellraiser game, then things just escalated from there.

At least let me put it this way: I have only found slight information that the game was going to be an isometric puzzle game to be released in 1990. Yet I found nothing suggesting that a Hellraiser game using the Wolfenstein 3D engine was ever in development.

Hellraiser 8bit 2

So there you have it, the unreleased/unfinished Hellraiser game. Hopefully, I’ve cleared the air a little over exactly what this game was going to be and what it never was.

If you haven’t already – please check out my Hellraiser movie retrospective as part of my Halloween/Hellraiser 30th anniversary celebrations.

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007: Licensed to Game – James Bond In Gaming

I think it can be said without too much argument that James Bond is a giant cinematic icon. Since his first big screen appearance in Dr. No from 1962 right up to today with Daniel Craig announcing he’s agreed to do one more Bond film which would be the actor’s fifth outing as James Bond and the twenty fifth film in the mega successful franchise. Yup, the Bond name is a big draw for film nuts like myself.

But what about the character’s gaming career – how has James Bond fared up in the world of video games? Well that is exactly why I’ve written this article, to take a look back at James Bond in gaming. I’ll be quickly covering every known James Bond game released over the last four decades as well as taking a look at some unreleased games and a few other Bond related games too. [Insert your own James Bond pun here] and lets get cracking…

The 1980s

The very first James Bond game was released in 1982. Developed by Richard Shepherd for the ZX Spectrum called Shaken but Not Stirred. The game was one of those early text-based adventure games, so graphically – it was lacking…

Shaken But Not Stirred

You play as James Bond and asked by M to track down the nefarious Dr. Death who is threatening to destroy London with a nuclear weapon. The gameplay was pretty basic stuff  as you travel the world gathering clues and solving puzzles to help you locate Dr. Death’s secret lair.

For an early Bond game it played pretty well and it was highly praised at the time by reviewers.

In 1983, the game James Bond 007 was released by Parker Brothers for the Atari 2600, 5200 as well as the Commodore 64 and ColecoVision.  This James Bond game is set over four different levels all based on various James Bond moives. Diamonds are Forever – you have to rescue Tiffany Case from an oil rig. The Spy Who Loved Me – you destroy an underwater laboratory. Moonraker – where Bond needs to destroy satellites. For Your Eyes Only – you need to retrieve some radio equipment from a sunken boat.

James Bond 007

The fourteenth James Bond movie, A View to a Kill was released in 1985 – and so were two games based on the movie. The first game was James Bond 007: A View to a Kill, this one was another of those text-based adventure games by Angelsoft Inc released for  DOS, Macintosh and Apple II computers. You really don’t want a screenshot of another text-based game do you?

So moving on, the second game was titled A View to a Kill: The Computer Game. This one was more action orientated and came out for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.

A View to a Kill C64

This one was from Domark and split into three different action sections based on the movie. The first section has you driving around Paris in a taxi trying to catch May Day who has parachuted from the Eiffel Tower. The next one features Bond trying to escape San Francisco City Hall which is set on fire. The final level is set in a mine where Bond must find the code to disarm Zorin’s bomb.

Then in 1986, Angelsoft Inc released a follow up to their previous text-based game based on the Bond movie Goldfinger.

James Bond 007 Goldfinger

Developed by Melbourne House in 1987 and released for the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum (plus others) – The Living Daylights was the next James Bond game. An all action, side scrolling shooter inspired by the film of the same name. Simple and basic stuff, but pretty good fun for the time.

The Living Daylights

The vehicle became the star of the next Bond game with Live and Let Die in 1988. This one was a combo of racing and shooting inspired by the speedboat sequence from the movie. Developed by Elite Systems International for the Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.

Live and let Die

Though not originally developed as a James Bond game – this one started out as an original IP called Aquablast, but the development team realised how the game felt and looked like the speedboat chase from the movie and so re-branded the game with the 007 licence. This one was a fast-paced racing game where you had to dodge numerous obstacles as well as shoot at other boats that got in your way.

The final game of the 80s was based on the sixteenth Bond flick – Licence to Kill. Released in 1989 and developed by Quixel for the Amiga, DOS, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum platforms. This one was a top-down shooter with you controlling various vehicles as well as Bond on foot.

License to Kill

Set over six levels all based on scenes from the film. I always remember this one being quite tough with a fiddly control scheme – but still an enjoyable game once you got used to its difficulty.

Well that’s about it for the 80s, the 90s brought many more Bond games – including what many consider not only the best James Bond game ever, but one of the finest games of the decade.

The 1990s

It was a new decade and in terms of the films, the James Bond franchise had halted production. Long story short, there were all sorts of behind the scenes shenanigans preventing any new Bond films being made. In fact we wouldn’t see a new Bond film for six years from 1989 with License to Kill until 1995’s GoldenEye. But while the film series was in serious doubt (it almost never came back at all) the James Bond games were still being made. We even got two Bond games in 1990.

The first Bond game of the new decade was based on the 1977 picture The Spy Who Loved Me. Developed by The Kremlin (game development team, not the Russian fortified complex at the heart of Moscow).

The Spy Who Loved Me

The majority of the game was a Spy Hunter style top-down racer/shooter with you in control of the infamous modified Lotus Espirt from the film. You pick up tokens to spend on upgrading the Lotus by driving onto the back of a moving truck. While fending off bad guys and pulling off stunts. There were other levels inspired by scenes from the movie – but I found them a bit dull and just kept replaying the awesome Louts level over and over.

Also from 1990 was a point n’ click adventure developed by Delphine Software called Operation Stealth. Now I know what you are thinking if you played this game outside of the U.S – this had nothing to do with James Bond, and you’d be right. However in the U.S the game was released using the James Bond license as James Bond 007: The Stealth Affair.

Operation Stealth

You play as John Glames (James Bond in the U.S.) a CIA secret agent (though Bond works for MI6) who is tasked to finding a stolen, high-tech stealth plane. Typical point n’ click adventure fare that was massively popular in the late 80s/ealry 90s.

In 1991, an animated TV show inspired by the spin-off novel The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003½ was made that featured James Bond’s nephew – titled James Bond Jr. The series became quite successful spawning a toy line, novels, even a series of Marvel comics and of course a game – well two in fact. Okay so they really are the same game, first was the NES version in 1991 and then an updated SNES version in 1992.

James Bond Jr

These were simple action/platformers and to be honest, not very good either. With you playing as Bond Jr. having to find some missing scientists.

James Bond 007: The Duel was the next game released in 1993 for the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System and Game Gear platforms. The game featured Timothy Dalton as Bond for the marketing and in-game introduction. So technically, this was the last time T-Dalts was (officially) Bond.

James Bond The Duel.jpg

If you ever played the arcade classic Rolling Thunder –  then this game was similar… only not as good. You run trough levels shooting bad guys and rescuing girls while crossing paths with familiar Bond baddies like Jaws and Oddjob. With your main goal being to place a bomb to destroy the enemy’s secret base.

It was in 1997 when THE James Bond game was finally released. Based on the movie of the same name and developed by Rare for the Nintendo 64 – GoldenEye 007. Often cited as the best Bond game ever as well as being one of the defining FPS games of the 90s. This really was one of the all time great games that not only did the film justice, but it also managed to become the 3rd best selling N64 game ever only beaten by Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64… yes GoldenEye 007 even outsold The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

GoldenEye

Chock full of content from unlock-able cheats that added so much fun to the game to hidden levels based on other Bond films and even the trailblazing 4-player split-screen mode that offered endless fun. I really should do a more in-depth look at this game at some point – but now is not the place as we have many more Bond games to cover. But in short, GoldenEye 007 was awesome!

Next up was James Bond 007 released for the Game Boy in 1988 and developed by Saffire Corporation. This was a top-down action game that incorporated enemies and locales from numerous Bond films. Bond has to explore the world to track down a secret weapon cache. Set over eleven levels and also includes gambling minigames like Blackjack.

James Bond 007 Game Boy

And here we are, at the end of another decade. 1999 saw the release of Tomorrow Never Dies for the PlayStation based on the movie of the same name. This one was a third person shooter as Bond teams up with Wai Lin to take down maniacal media mogul – Elliot Carver.

Tomorrow Never Dies

A somewhat awkward game that lacked the depth and fun set by GoldenEye 007 previously. The game became more infamous for its terrible controls and short length.

And so the 90s ended with a quiet whimper from a silenced Walther PPK instead of a shark-inflating pellet style bang when it came to James Bond games. GoldenEye 007 had set the bar so high that we would never see another Bond game even get close to its quality and high praise.

That’s two decades of Bond games down, lets move onto the 2000s.

The 2000s

Okay, time to get a little confused. We have two games that are both based on the same movie – 007: The World Is Not Enough. Both are FPS titles and both released around the same time in 2000 – but they were developed by different companies and are in fact two very different games. One for the PlayStation and the other for the Nintendo 64.

007 The World Is Not Enough N64

While both games follow the plot of the movie, the N64 version featured more levels and to be honest – was the best of the two by far. Smoother controls and better gameplay. The N64 version also featured a great multiplayer mode that was missing from the PlayStation.

Also in 2000 saw the release of 007 Racing. Developed by Eutechnyx for the PlayStation. This game was a vehicle based racing game (in case the title didn’t give it away) where you drive the numerous cars made famous by the moives such as the Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger), Lotus Esprit (The Spy Who Loved Me) and the BMW Z8 (The World is not Enough) plus others. There is an original story that sees the return of some of Bond’s most famous adversaries. Despite some really great mission ideas, the game is rather flat and dull with terrible controls.

007 Racing

Just when you thought it was safe, yet another 007: The World Is Not Enough game was released in 2001 – yes, that’s three games in total all based off the same movie. This one was for the Gameboy Color and again is yet different from the other two games. A top-down action game set over eight missions based on the film.

The World Is Not Enough GBC

Also in 2001 was a James Bond game not based on any movie but in fact its own unique story.  James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire sees Bond rescuing CIA agent Zoe Nightshade and investigates a botanical research firm which is a possible front for a weapons-smuggling ring. The story eventually leads to Bond discovering a plot involving world leaders and cloning.

Agent Under Fire

This one was okay, a blending of FPS and vehicle based missions. A little short to be honest but a half-decent Bond game non the less.

A direct sequel to the previous James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire was released the following year in 2002 titled; James Bond 007: Nightfire. Bond teams up with agent Zoe Nightshade once more. James Bond goes up against industrialist Raphael Drake and sees Bond travel the globe and even venture into space as he tries to stop the villainous Drake. Much like the previous game, this one is also a melding of FPS and vehicle action. An improvement over the last game, but still just okay and mediocre.

NightFire

James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing is the next game in the Jame Bond timeline. Moving away from the FPS games  and instead opts for a third person view. It also features the likeness and voice talents of (then) Bond actors; Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench, John Cleese playing James Bond, M and Q respectively.

Everythin or Nothing

One of the better Bond games of that era and really does feel very Bond-like. Released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Gamecube consoles – there was another version released for the Gameboy Advance…

Everythin or Nothing GBA

This one was an isometric action/shooter that suffered from terrible controls and gameplay mechanics. The bigger console versions were good, but this GBA one was terrible.

The Bond games were coming thick and fast in the early-mid 2000s and next up was a ‘sequel’ to the best Bond game ever.  2004’s GoldenEye: Rogue Agent tried to cash-in on the success of GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 by tricking people into thinking the two games were related. In truth, they shared nothing outside of using the name GoldenEye. You see, this was not really a sequel despite what developer/publisher EA Games wanted you to think.

Rogue Agent.png

Going back to the tried and tested FPS genre – this game’s deceptions don’t end with the title as you don’t even play as James Bond. Instead you are an agent known only as GoldenEye after losing his real eye and having it replaced with a gold one. Though 007 himself does make an appearance along with other familiar Bond faces like; Goldfinger, Dr. No, Blofeld, Scaramanga, Odd Job, Pussy Galore and others. Some of the levels are also based on scenes from previous Bond films. As for the gameplay itself? Its just another one of those distinctly ‘okay’ games.

2005 saw the release of a blast from the past. James Bond 007: From Russia with Love based on the Sean Connery starring 1963 James Bond picture – they even utilised the likeness of Connery himself for the game along with other actors from the film like; Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Robert Shaw and Desmond Llewelyn. This one was pretty good actually going for a third person view (probably to make the most of the Sean Connery licence). Not only did Connery lend his likeness, he also recorded all new dialogue for the game too – so this marks the final time he played James Bond. The game hits all the main scenes from the movie, yes even the jet-pack scene.

From Russia With Love

From 1963 to 2008. The final game of the 2000s was based on the then newest film 007: Quantum of Solace was released the same year as the movie. Using Daniel Craig’s James Bond along with the rest of the main cast from the film. Like with some of the previous Bond games in this list, there were different versions developed for different consoles. The Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3 versions were FPS games – but the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS versions were third person games.

Quantum of Solice

No matter which version you played, this was another ‘middle of the road’ very average games. Hitting all the major scenes from the movie and doing them justice – but the gameplay itself was just very stale and boring… just like the film itself.

So that’s another ten years covered. Next up is the fourth and final decade and the James Bond games started to slow down… a lot. I mean, there’s only three to cover! And we get off to an almost blasphemous start…

The 2010s

GoldenEye 007 was released in 2010. Yes you read that right the best James Bond game ever was remade! Originally for Nintendo’s Wii and DS platforms – the game was re-released in 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and re-titled GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. They had the sheer brass-balls to remake the all time classic GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64, but was it any good? Well gone are original developers Rare and replaced with Eurocom. Then Daniel Craig was used as Bond – replacing Pierce Brosnan… just like real life. The game also re-works the film’s story and updates it so it now takes place after the events of Quantum of Solace. This was more then just a simple remaster that we see everywhere in games today, this was completely rebuilt from the ground up.

GoldenEye reloaded

Not as classic as the N64 original, but this version was still pretty damn good. The main game follows the film pretty damn well (like the original) and still manages to keep things fresh at the same time to by adding new content. Plus the awesome multiplayer mode form the original returns complete with hidden secrets to find. A good remake and a good Bond game.

James Bond 007: Blood Stone was also released in 2010 even on the exact same day as the previous GoldenEye 007. So if you wanted James Bond games in 2010 on the same day, you had your choice. James Bond 007: Blood Stone once more featured Daniel Craig as Bond but was not based on any movie or book – an all new story set sometime after Quantum of Solace, the story was written by James Bond screenwriter Bruce Feirstein. The game ends on a cliffhanger which some fans have connected to Ernst Stavro Blofeld from the movie Spectre. A third person cover/shooter game with a few vehicle sections. This is an above average game better than some of the latter Bond game efforts – but still lacking in substance and gameplay.

Bloodstone

And we get to the last James Bond game released so far, 2012s 007 Legends. Released to celebrate the 50th year celebration of the Jame Bond film franchise. The game starts using the opening of the film Skyfall when Eve Moneypenny accidentally shoots Bond and he falls into a river. This kick-starts a series of flashbacks were Bond recalls some of his most dangerous missions. Basically, this is a ‘Bond’s greatest hits’ game as all the missions are based on scenes from previous films.

007 Legends

Much like the previous GoldenEye 007 remake – this game modernises and re-tells classic James Bond stories – updating them for toady’s audience. It takes one mission based on one film from each of the James Bond actors on the big screen: Goldfinger (Sean Connery), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (George Lazenby), Moonraker (Roger Moore), Licence to Kill (Timothy Dalton), Die Another Day (Pierce Brosnan) and Skyfall (Daniel Craig) with each Bond now played by Craig.

This one was pretty bad. What was meant to be a grand celebration to James Bond turning 50 ended up coming across as a cheap cash-in, lazily and haphazardly thrown together. A great idea but poorly executed – a very bellow average game.

So there you have it, the entire James Bond game catalogue (aside from a few iOS/Android games and fan-made remakes) and it ended badly. Overall, James Bond has been a mixed bag when it comes to his gaming life. For every all time great game like GoldenEye 007 – there’s been more then a few average games and more then a couple of just outright terrible games.

There have been no Bond games since 2012s 007 Legends and that was a bad one. There have been no new Bond games announced either, is this the end of James Bond in gaming? I hope not as the franchise has a lot of legs.

8bit Bond

But there’s still more Bond games that I just quickly want to cover as there were a handful of unreleased/cancelled titles.

Cancelled Games

Not long after 1983s James Bond 007 was released – a game based on the movie Octopussy was announced. There have been rumours that the game was completed – some have even said they played it at the Electronic Fun Expo in 1983. Rumour also says that the Octopussy game originally started out as a level in the James Bond 007 game from 1983 before the decision to turn it into its own separate game came about. There was even an Atari brochure from 1983 that showed a screen shot of the train sequence as part of the James Bond 007 game. Parker Brothers also released a poster to advertise the game in 1983.

Octopussy poster

But the game was never released. Why it never saw the light of day is unknown.

GoldenEye 007 Racing was set to be released for Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. Very little is known about this one other than it was set to be released to coincide with the release of GoldenEye for the SNES… yes originally the GoldenEye game was being developed for the SNES before it was shifted over to the N64. I did manage to find a blurb from a publicity brochure for the Virtual Boy which read:

“If you thought rush-hour traffic was a nightmare, wait ’til you get behind the wheel of 007’s car. Avoid obstacles and blow the other cars away. Buckle up for safety because, in this game, you never know what’s gonna happen.”

Along with two screen shots, one is a bury mess which looks like it may be the title screen and the other…

GoldenEye VB

A slightly less bury image of what looks like a racing game on the Virtual Boy, quite possibly GoldenEye 007 Racing? The game was cancelled due to the infamous and huge failure that was the Virtual Boy console.

At the end of the original VHS release of the flick Tomorrow Never Dies –  there was a trailer introduced by legendary Q actor Desmond Llewelyn. This trailer was for a game titled: Tomorrow Never Dies: The Mission Continues and was said to “start where the film ends”. You can see the trailer right here. The footage shows a mix of first and third person shooting as well as scuba diving, driving and skiing sections and to be released for the PC and PlayStation in 1998. Now, of course we did get a game based on Tomorrow Never Dies but this one followed the plot of the movie – the unreleased game was meant to be a direct sequel that follows on where the film ends.

It was also being published by MGM Interactive and not Electronic Arts who released the 1999 Tomorrow Never Dies game. So this was definitely a completely separate game. Why it was never released is unknown, but most probably has to do with EA obtaining the rights to the James Bond licence in November of 1998 and them wanting to make their own game based on the movie.

There was going to be an updated version of the PlayStation game of The World Is Not Enough released for the PlayStation 2 – set to be out for 2001. It was going to feature improved graphics, gameplay mechanics and new levels. But EA who held the James Bond license felt that too much time had passed and no one would be interested in a Bond game in 2001 based on a film from 1999 (side note: the best Bond game ever – GoldenEye 007 was released 2 years after the movie). The improvements to this updated version could have put it more inline with the far superior N64 game, but EA dropped the idea in favour of releasing Agent Under Fire instead.

The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were set to have a game based on Casino Royale. Daniel Craig was on-board to lend his likeness and voice to the game. EA had access to the filming  locations and script as the film was being shot, so they could make the game as authentic as possible. It was scrapped after only around 15% complete. A few early screens of 3D models for the game were later found.

Casino Royale game.jpg

Thanks to MI6-HQ.com and you can read more about why the game was never finished right here.

It was 2012, January of 2012 when it was announced there would be a game based on Skyfall. A full game was never released, but a mission based on Skyfall was made available for 007 Legends via DLC. I’m not sure of this is a case of crossed wires and the announcement was just for the 007 Legends DLC or if it was for a full game.

Bond 6 was the working title for a new game from EA. To be released in 2005 and starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. The game was dropped when Brosnan announced that he would be stepping down as Bond – so the From Russia With Love game was quickly put into development instead. But interestingly enough – CGI work for the game was used for the advertising of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.

In 2010 some early screen shots of a new Bond game began to appear online. There was never any official statement as to what game it was – but it was widely believed to be a possible Blood Stone sequel developed by Raven Software. The images have since been removed (at least I can’t find them) and we never did get that Blood Stone sequel.

There was also a rumour of a sequel to 007 Racing for the PlayStation 2, but I couldn’t find any info at all on this.

There you go, as much Bond gaming as anyone could wish for. I think I covered everything and I’ve taken up way too much of your time with this lengthy article – there’s really only one more thing for me to do…

Bond Gif

7 Of Nintendo’s Worst Ideas

Nintendo’s latest console – Switch is only a little over 24 hours away from launch (unless you are reading this later and then its most probably already released). Now I’ve not owned a Nintendo machine since the GameCube as the Wii and Wii U just didn’t appeal to me. But I really do like the look of the Switch – yet I’m in no rush to get one as the launch of a new console by anyone is always a disappointment. I prefer to wait it out a while for the hype and crowds to die down and get one further down the line, which is my plan for this new-fangled Switch appliance.

Still, with the release of Nintendo’s new console imminent, I got to thinking about some of the big N’s other products and while they have had some majorly successful products hit the market over the years – they have also had some embarrassing failures too.

Nintendo are often held in high respect when it comes to gaming, mainly due to their gold ‘Seal Of Quality’ that got plastered onto anything Nintendo back in the 80s and 90s. Nintendo can also be credited with creating the modern game controller with their SNES gamepad.

I mean – just look at that thing. The face button layout, the curving/comfy shape, the shoulder buttons, etc. Now look at your PS4/Xbox One pad. Notice any similarities?

The runaway success of their handheld console, the Game Boy and its many brethren is a sales marvel and its record smashing sales of the Wii are legendary. However, not everything Nintendo touched was turned to gold and here I’d like to take a look at some of Nintendo’s biggest FUBARs over the years.


1. Nintendo’s Headache Machine

May as well start with one of their biggest failures, their red devil – the Virtual Boy.

Oh boy, what an unmitigated disaster. Today’s gaming industry is seemingly obsessed with VR gaming. Yet Nintendo were already doing just that in June 1995 when the Virtaul Boy was first released in Japan – it was then discontinued in December of that same year. It had a slightly longer life in the US with a release date of August 1995 to March 1996. But why did it fail?

Well mainly as the games looked a lot like that. There were not exactly virtual reality that people were expecting. There were more like 3D games that used depth and perceptive than virtual reality. Not only that – but the games were bland and uninspired with a total of only 22 games ever being released over the console’s short life. Then it was being marketed as portable console, yet having one of those red abominations strapped to your head was anything but portable. Plus people that used it soon complained about feeling sick and suffering from terrible headaches.

2. Now You’re Playing With Power

As Lucas from The Wizard may say “I love the Power Glove. It’s so bad.”

Well he was right, the Power Glove was bad… so very, very bad. Released in 1989 and discontinued in 1990 The Power Glove was a disaster and yet amazingly innovative at the same time. To be fair, the Power Glove was one of the first ever peripherals to toy with motion controls but it suffered from a major problem – it just didn’t work, at least not properly. The following official commercial shows some pretty impressive and responsive controls…

But that ad couldn’t be further from the truth. The Power Glove was far from responsive and would hardly work as your on screen character would do anything except what you actually wanted them to do. Just try to get Mario to run right and jump on Koopas in Super Mario Bros. Or try to knock out Glass Joe in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! while using the Power Glove – good luck with that. The Power Glove was a great idea and motion controls did get better over the years, but this effort just didn’t work well enough hence its 1 year lifespan.

3. The Robotic Operating Buddy

Don’t have any friends to play NES games with? No problem as R.O.B. is here.

Released in Japan and America in 1985. Yet another Nintendo accessory with a very short life, most probably as only 2 games were ever relased that R.O.B. could play – and those games were terrible. The 2 games were Gyromite and Stack-Up. R.O.B. was created in an attempt to try to make gaming ‘different’ after the infamous game crash of 1983. R.O.B. would react to optical flashes on the screen in a similar way to how the light-gun (NES Zapper) would work. R.O.B.’s interaction changed depending on which of the 2 games were being played. It all sounded quite innovative and unique but R.O.B. was a complete joke, just ask this Angry Video Game Nerd fella right here…

Mr James Rolfe can explain what was wrong with R.O.B. with his AVGN character far better in his video than I can do here. But despite the huge failure that was R.O.B. – the little robot is still much loved among Nintendo fans and even by Nintendo themselves as he has made several cameo appearances in other games such as; StarTropics, Kirby’s Dream Land 3, Pikmin 2, Viewtiful Joe, F-Zero GX, the WarioWare series, the Star Fox series, Mario Kart DS and the Super Smash Bros. franchise.

4. The Times They Are A-Changing

Nintendo often lead the gaming market and pushed innovation – sometimes they just lagged behind the competition.

The mid 90s saw a big change in gaming for two reasons.

  • 3D graphics in gaming were on the rise.
  • Optical media was the future.

Nintendo’s new console, the Nintendo 64, released in 1996 embraced one of those things but pushed aside the other. In 1994, Sony unleashed onto the market their very first gaming console – the PlayStation and the machine was a runaway success, it was the forerunner for the 3D graphics gaming revolution that was going on a the time. The days of 2D sprites were dying out and 3D polygons were the wave of the future. While Nintendo embraced the polygon age, they really messed up by refusing to switch to optical media and sticking with their tried and tested cartridges.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the Nintendo 64 and the console had some of the best games ever made; Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and GoldenEye 007 to name just a few of the many, many highlights of the glorious Nintendo 64. But Nintendo’s refusal to use the rise of CD technology simply meant that their games just couldn’t compete with what its competitors were doing at the time. The Nintendo 64 cartridges could hold a maximum of 64 MB of data, where as the CDs being used by the PlayStation could hold around 700 MB of data, So games on the PlayStation were often bigger, provided CD quality sound/music and impressive video to help push storytelling in games. If games were released on both the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 – then you’d often find that the Nintendo 64 version had content cut to fit on the cartridge. But not only were the Nintendo 64 games smaller, they were also much, much more expensive to produce too and pushed up the price of the games to the consumer.

So you’d think after that mistake Nintendo would learn their lesson for their next console, the GameCube. No, just as before they chose not to jump onto the (at the time) cutting edge DVD technology that the PlayStation 2 opted for. Instead Nintendo created their own discs with the Nintendo GameCube Game Disc. Again, while DVDs could hold much more data, and even more so when dual layer DVDs were created, the Nintendo GameCube Game Disc just could not compete. Granted – they offered faster load times, but much smaller and less detailed games overall.

5. The Wii Was A Success, But The Wii U?

There is no arguing the sales of the super successful Wii. Over 100 million sales worldwide!

Yep, Nintendo’s Wii console is the 3rd best selling home gaming console of all time. With Sony’s PlayStation and PlayStation 2 taking the number 2 and 1 spots respectively. The Wii may not have been as powerful as its competition (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) but what it lacked in power – it made up for in worldwide demographic attraction. Its rivals may have been catering for ‘hardcore gamers’, but the Wii went after the casual gaming market and the console found its way under millions of millions of TVs around the world from young children to pensioners. So what went wrong with the Wii U?

First, lets put things into perspective. The Wii sold over 100 million units. How many did the Wii U sell? Around 13 million. The Wii U is Nintendo’s worst selling home console to date. So what went wrong?

  • The advertising campaign hardly helped as it was never made clear that the Wii U was an all new console and instead came across as a simple add-on peripheral for the Wii and the similar name didn’t help either.
  • Lack of third party support. A lot of big name game developers just didn’t release any games for the Wii U and Nintendo didn’t seem to try to get third party support either.
  • No Zelda or Metroid. Two of Nintendo’s biggest franchises and there never was a Wii U exclusive for either of them. Yes there were ports of games from the Wii, but no Wii U specifically developed Zelda or Metroid.
  • Short life span. Its only been a little over 4 years since the release of the Wii U and the Switch. Nintendo seemingly abandoned the Wii U because they knew it was failing. So never mind third party support, it didn’t even have first party support.
  • Terrible launch games. Not that there were no good launch games, more a fact that there were very few good titles. Just Dance 4, Sing Party, Funky Barn, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013. These are launch titles?
  • The Wii U GamePad was a nice idea… but too many games forced its usage onto games and would often have you trying to look at 2 different screens at the same time. For some games it worked, but for many it just didn’t. Star Fox Zero anyone? The Wii U GamePad just became an unwanted gimmick.

6. Nintendo Used To Be (Word Removed For ‘Reasons’)

Now, Nintendo US and Europe seem to be embracing the adult gamer – but it wasn’t always like that.

It was the NES and SNES era when Nintendo went a little over the top with the censorship, but it still occurs today. But before I get to the modern era, lets take a look at some of the cases where Nintendo edited and cut content from games.

They would change crosses in the Japanese versions of games into anything but a cross (see above) for the other versions and the example above is only one of dozens. Blood would be cut from games like Final Fight and Mortal Kombat. ‘Naked’ statues from Super Castlevania IV in the Japnese version are clothed in other versions. Even simple words like Chun Li’s ending from Street Fighter II′: Champion Edition where some males refer to her as being ‘hot’ in the arcade is changed to them saying she is ‘cool’ in the SNES port – because claiming someone is ‘hot’ is too sexy I guess? Ayla from Chrono Trigger on the SNES implies she likes both males and females and is bisexual in the Japanese version – but in the US version, her lines are changed and even cut completely to remove any reference to this fact. She even has a line removed where she claims that feeding young children milk makes them strong in the Japanese version, because that implies breasts.

While Nintendo have relaxed their censorship over the years and are even allowing pretty damn sexy and more violent games on their consoles. I mean Bayonetta 2 was a Wii U exclusive. They are still editing, cutting and altering gaming content now. With games like; Fire Emblem Awakening, Bravely Default, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water just to name a few that have been censored in various ways from the Japanese versions for the US and European regions and there are many, many more examples of Nintendo’s censorship over the years too.

Nintendo have censored any and everything from religious imagery, pixels of blood and even basic/inoffensive wording. If you would like to read up a bit more of some of Nintendo’s censorship over the years, please check out this article from tanookisite.com.

7. Creating Their Own Downfall.

Nintendo have done some stupid things in the past – but creating their own biggest rival is probably the worst.

I think that Nintendo’s SNES may very well be my all time favourite game console. Oh the memories I have of this beauty and the hours up on hours of time I spent playing some of the best games of my teenage years. Earthbound, F-Zero, Super Castlevania IV, Star Fox, Super Metroid, Super Mario World, The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past. I could go on and on. The SNES was an amazing machine with one of the greatest library of games to ever exist.

But the very worst thing (or best depending on your point of view) that Nintendo ever did was help to create what would become their very own main rival. The early 90’s saw the rise of CD-ROM based technology in gaming. SEGA had released the SEGA CD in 1991 to update their main console at the time, the SEGA Mega Drive and Nintendo wanted to try the same for their SNES console. So Nintendo hired two companies to help develop a CD based add on for their console – these companies were Philips and Sony. Nintendo did not tell either company they were also working with someone else on the idea. In June 1991 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Sony revealed a SNES with a built-in CD-ROM drive and this coming together was called the Play Station (with a space).

The next day after the CES reveal, Nintendo broke its partnership with Sony, opting to go with Philips instead. Unbeknown to Nintendo at the time, they just inadvertently created their main rival for the next generation of gaming.

Sony were so annoyed by this backstabbing from Nintendo that they took everything they had learned and developed with the SNES CD/Play Station, founded Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) and made their own console – the Sony PlayStation (no space). Released in 1994 and it went on to become one of the most popular consoles of all time. The PlayStation outsold Nintendo’s next machine – the Nintendo 64, and marked the decline of Nintendo from that point onward as they went from market leaders to playing second fiddle to Sony’s runaway success. So much so that even after all these years, Nintendo are still lagging behind Sony’s PlayStation brand.


So there you have it. 7 times where Nintendo probably were not thinking straight and gave us gamers more than a handful of failures and there are plenty more I haven’t even mentioned.

I really do hope that Nintendo’s Switch is a success and gets the brand back on top where they belong. But have they actually learned anything from their failures over the years? They do seem to be repeating some of the same mistakes – no Blu-ray media here and instead Nintendo are going back to cartridge based games which are much smaller data-wise and more expensive to produce (hence more expensive games), very gimmick based like the Wii U before it, etc.

Rare Replay Part IV

We are now entering the most famous and successful era of Rare/Nintendo’s partnership, but also the end of this amazing and influential team up as well as the end of the century.

But before we get back into Nintendo territory, Rare released an arcade game featuring one of their more successful series.

BTA

Battletoads-Arcade: AKA Super Battletoads, relased in 1994 for the arcade. The only Battletoads game where all three toads can fight on screen at the same time, also this one is much more violent, darker and bloody than any other in the series. The game was never relased for any home console, though a SNES version was planned, it was ultimately cancelled.

The toads are back, bigger, bloodier, badder and even cruder than ever before.
Our heroes; Zitz, Pimple and Rash are aboard their ship, The Vulture on a quest to hunt down The Dark Queen’s most villainous henchmen. As they search the galaxy hunting down these henchmen, they discover cyborg Robo-Manus has a new body and a new scheme to end the Battletoads once and for all.

This one is simple enough, its another button smashing, scrolling beat em’ up. But without the restraints of the home consoles and the added power of the arcade. The Battle toads are more violent than ever before.
Each one of the toads is unique in some ways; for example, Zitz’s attacks are wider in range and can take out more enemies at once, Pimple’s attacks are slower deal more damage while Rash attacks are faster, but his attacks do less damage.

The game is split into six varying stages that cover all sorts of terrain from space ships, ice worlds a mansion along with others. Plus there is plenty of variety along the way with bonus stages, a jetpack inspired stage and the last stage takes on more of a shoot em’ up style.

The game was very well received by critics at the time. With many commenting on the more adult and harder content along with the crude humour. In 2013, it was ranked as the 11th top beat ’em up video game of all time by Heavy.com. Retro Gamer said “its bombastic, colourful, well-designed and unmistakably Rare” and “easily as good as anything coming from the stables of Konami and Sega at the time” that it “had personality, great combat, and plenty of funny moments and incredibly” gory” They also said “in our opinion, the best game in the series.”

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So we leave the world of the arcade and Battletoads to see what Rare have been up to with Nintendo on the N64.

KIG

Killer Instinct Gold: Released in 1996 for the N64 console by Rare. This is the 3rd game in the series after Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct 2. Killer Instinct Gold is essentially a port of the arcade version of Killer Instinct 2 but with a few tweaks and improvements.

A classic one on one tournament fighter in the same vein as Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. With the player controlling one of several various characters on a 2D plane, though the graphics of the character are also in 2D the backgrounds are in 3D and are even interactive.
Killer Instinct became infamous for it’s brutal combos and finisher moves. The game offers several game-play modes including, Arcade, Team, Team Elimination, Tournament, Practise, Training and Focused Training.

There were only a handful of character and many missing form the original and arcade version; Orchid, Fulgore, Gargo, Glacius, Jago, Kim Wu, Maya, Riptor, Spinal, T.J. Combo, Tusk…oh and Sabrewulf…yes that Sabrewulf.

Killer Instinct Gold met with varying reviews. GameSpot wrote that “Gold was decent, the best entry in the series thus far”, and a “good offering”. GamePro readers voted the game the second best of 1996 after Tekken 2. CVG ultimately thought the game had little “flow”. IGN complained about the game’s “shallow emphasis on archaic” combo sequence memorization rather than creative extempore.” They also said “there were too few characters and that the game’s closeness to its arcade version made it appear dated.”
IGN reported in 2010 that Killer Instinct Gold had upset series fans by changing the combo move sets and omitting “fan favourite” characters from the original.
After the 1996 Killer Instinct Gold did not sell as well as the Super Nintendo original, the series went dormant. However, Microsoft and Rare revived the series for the Xbox One in 2013.

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The mixed bag that was Killer Instinct Gold is brushed aside for one of the most overlooked Rare/N64 games.

BC

Blast Corps: Exploding onto the N64 in 1997 from Rare. Is this often forgotten about classic and was Rare’s first original IP for the N64 console.

A simple, enough game with a simple enough goal. All you had to do was destroy buildings and clear a path for a runaway nuclear missile carrier. Using a variety of vehicles such as; a basic bulldozer rams, a dump truck that would drift, a super lightweight buggy which crashes from higher ground, a tricycle which can shoots missiles, a truck which pushed outwards from its sides, and robot-mechs that tumble and stomp from the land and the air. As well as a few secret and hidden vehicles.

The game was made up of 57 levels, all with the same basic goal of clearing a path. But each level offered different challenges and puzzles to solve, dependent on which of the vehicles you were using. You may need to move explosive crates or fills gaps and creates bridges, along with many other simple but tricky puzzle solving. You could even transfer between vehicles mid-level to operate other machinery.

Once a level had been completed, you could return to explore without having to worry about the runaway nuclear missile carrier and explore the level. then you may find secrets and hidden extras throughout the levels. There are also secret levels and bonus rounds hidden throughout the game.

The game had very positive reviews when it was originally relased. Blast Corps was selected as Electronic Gaming Monthly‍‍ ’​‍s May 1997 Game of the Month and an IGN Editors’ Choice. Electronic Gaming Monthly was struck by the intense premise of Blast Corps. Its best feature, they wrote was “the palpable sense of suspense as the carrier advanced on resistant buildings.”

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The destructive, and addictive world of Blast Corps is left behind for a more “Mario-esque” game.

BK

Banjo-Kazooie: 1998 saw the release of this game from Rare, an entry into the 3D platformer genre made popular by Mario 64. The first in the Banjo-Kazooie series.

Set in the Spiral Mountain and tells the story of Banjo, a brown honey bear as well as his friend, Kazooie, a red bird that is kept in Banjo’s backpack. When a foul-tempered witch named Gruntilda learns from that Tooty, Banjo’s sister, is a beautiful young girl. The jealous Gruntilda creates a machine which can transfer a person’s level of beauty to another. Gruntilda abducts Tooty from Banjo’s house while he is sleeping with the intention to use her beauty stealing machine on Tooty. Kazooie wakes Banjo up and the two set out to rescue her.

It’s basic “rescue the princess” stuff, but done with that Rare charm and style.
The game is split into nine open levels where the player must gather musical notes and jigsaw pieces (Jiggies) to progress. With you controlling our heroes Banjo and Kazooie as they set out to save Tooty from Gruntilda.
The levels are composed of a several challenges that involve solving puzzles, basic platforming, gathering specific objects, and defeating enemies. Also featured are some light elements of action-adventure games, where You’ll often have to speak with NPCs and then figure out a way to help them.
A world full of characters, fun and exploration.

Banjo-Kazooie was a big hit and met with critical and commercial success. GamePro described Banjo-Kazooie as a “more complex, more fluid, and more attractive game than its plumber predecessor, Mario 64.” IGN, awarded the game a rating of 9.6 out of 10, stating that the game “is the best 3D platformer [the reviewer] ever played, and a more than worthy successor to Mario 64.” GameSpot wrote: “graphically, Banjo-Kazooie takes it to another level. The game maintains the look and feel of Mario 64, but instead of flat, shaded polygons, BK uses a lot of textures”.
In 1999, Banjo-Kazooie received two awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences: Console Action Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Art/Graphics. Similarly, IGN awarded the game Overall Best Graphics of 1998, Best Texture Design of 1998, and Best Music of 1998.
In 2000, the game was ranked number seven on IGN’s list of The Top 25 N64 Games of All Time.

BK 2

We leave Banjo & Kazooie, if only for a while. While we see out the end of the century that is the space year of 1999.

JFG

Jet Force Gemini: Relased just as the year 1999 was coming to an end, this Sci-Fi inspired game from Rare for the N64 became a frim fan favourite.

Jet Force Gemini is composed of three main characters: Juno, a taciturn human male whose parents were killed by space pirates that invaded his home station; Vela, Juno’s feisty twin sister; and Lupus, Jet Force Gemini’s War-dog mascot.
As the game begins the three characters are in orbit around the planet Goldwood after just barely escaping the destruction of the entire Jet Force fleet at the hands of Mizar. Their cruiser has been badly damaged, leaving them completely defenceless and unable to escape the system. It is not too long before the team witnesses Mizar’s attack on Goldwood and their ship is attacked by a large craft of Mizar’s. Boarded by drones, the three decide to abandon the ship and go off on their own separate paths to stop the invasion.

This is a third-person shooter game with platforming/action-adventure elements and features a single-player campaign where the player must explore a galaxy and save a large number of Tribals, a group of survivors who have been enslaved and prisoned by Mizar. Along with a a multi-player deathmatch for two to four players as well as a co-op mode.

Jet Force Gemini received positive reviews from video game critics. GameSpot awarded the game a rating of 8.8 out of 10, commenting: “Nintendo 64 fans should pick up this title without delay and hope that Rareware’s team of top-notch talent will continue to churn out even more games like this one for years to come”. IGN praised Rare for exploring new mechanics and concluded his review by saying that “this is still one of Nintendo 64’s most original games and it has much more good going for it than it does bad”.
The multi-player mode received a mixed reaction. IGN called it “slow and clunky”, while Gaming Age observed that the third-person view “takes up far too much of the “already tiny split screen and the complex control system does not help make it a game to pick-up-and-play”.

In 2000, Jet Force Gemini was ranked by IGN at number 20 in their list of The Top 25 N64 Games of All Time. In 2009, Official Nintendo Magazine ranked it the 93rd best game available on Nintendo platforms.

JFG 2

Here endith part IV, we’ll pick up in part V as the year 2000 rolls around and one of the very best and most “perfect” N64 games is finally unleashed after several delays.

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Satoru Iwata

What a sad day for gaming.

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Satoru Iwata was the fourth President and CEO of Nintendo.
Iwata was born in December, 1959 and raised in Sapporo, Japan. He indulged in his passion for game programming very early on in his life when he self taught and produced simple electronic games at his home during his high school years.
The several simple games that Iwata produced were made via the use of an electronic calculator and he would share these games with his schoolmates, watching his friends enjoying playing these games pushed Satoru into pursuing a career as a game developer/producer.
After finishing high school, Iwata was attended to the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he majored in computer science. While at the school he also did freelance work as a programmer for HAL Laboratory Inc., a game developer that often collaborated closely with Nintendo several times.

Satoru Iwata eventually joined HAL fulltime where he helped to develop the games; Balloon Fight, EarthBound, and the Kirby franchise.
Iwata was eventually promoted to president of HAL in 1993. Although not part of Nintendo at the time, Iwata assisted in the development of the Pokémon series. Then in 2000, Iwata took a position at Nintendo as the head of its corporate planning division.

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Satoru became the first Nintendo president who was unrelated to the Yamauchi family through blood or marriage in 2002.
Iwata’s promotion was not an easy path for him to take on. At the time, Nintendo was not performing as well as their competitors, with Nintendo’s latest hardware release, the GameCube under performing compared to Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox. During this time, Nintendo’s profits took a huge dive and in response, Iwata took a pay cut and ordered several of Nintendo’s executives to do the same.
However, under his charge at Nintendo, Iwata helped to lead a revitalization of their handheld system with the Nintendo DS. He also strenuously pushed on the development of the Wii platform which introduced the use of motion control-based video games. Both the Nintendo DS and Wii proved highly successful to the company, and helped to nearly double the stock price of Nintendo.

Iwata also worked on The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and the Animal Crossing franchise for Nintendo and even He also appeared in a cameo role in WarioWare: Smooth Moves, where he is referred to as “Shop Manager Iwata”.

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Satoru Iwata was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct, yet he continued to work and was even one of the main people behind Nintendo getting into mobile gaming.

In 2014, Nintendo announced that Iwata would not be present at E3 2014 due to medical-related reasons.
On July 12, 2015, Nintendo announced that Iwata died on July 11th at the age of 55 due to complications with a bile duct growth.

Satoru Iwata leaves behind one of the strongest, most memorable and loved careers in gaming.

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Satoru Iwata:On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.

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The Ultimate, Rare developer.

Growing up in the 80s and being a gamer, there are many games that instantly spring to mind…

Jetpac, Atic Atac, Lunar Jetman, Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde and Knight Lore are just a handful of games I fondly remember.
Great “old school” games and all made by one specific developer.
Ultimate: Play The Game.

U logo

I adored many of these games and this was also probably my first recollection of knowing the developer through their games instead of just knowing the games.
I recall often looking for that Ultimate logo and genuinely getting excited to play their next title.

Ultimate became infamous for their fan friendly approach and would often give away merchandise for free to anyone that wanted it, all they had to do was ask.

Ultimate were unstoppable in the early 80s and would go from strength to strength. But before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s just look back on Ultimate and their influence in the 80s.

Founded in 1982 by brothers Tim and Chris Stamper who were ex-arcade game developers. Most of their games were made for the big computers of the time like the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, MSX and Commodore 64.
The Ultimate name became synonymous with quality and many of their games were quite revolutionary.

In 1985, the Stamper brothers sold the Ultimate name and back catalogue to game publisher and developer; U.S Gold. This was a darker time for Ultimate as the game’s quality was dropping and they would often overuse the same gaming concepts over and over. The high standard and quality just was not there anymore.

In some of the later Ultimate games, you would often find the name Rare Ltd. appearing in the credits. Rare Ltd. was another company Tim and Chris Stamper had set up to develop for under the Ultimate name, but not be subject to any Ultimate takeover. Meaning that even with the Ultimate name being sold to U.S Gold, the Stamper brothers had another company of their own to fall back on and using the Rare Ltd name, they started one of the most successful partnerships in gaming history…

Rare LTD

Rare Ltd began developing games for Nintendo’s NES system and released their first title for the NES, Slalom in 1987. Teaming up with Nintendo proved to be a great success and would span 3 generations of gaming consoles.

Rare Ltd. would continue developing for the NES and even produce Gameboy ports with games like; Wizards & Warriors, R.C. Pro-Am, Captain Skyhawk, Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll and Battletoads.

Then in 1989, Rare Ltd. bought back all the rights previously sold to U.S. Gold.
With the release of Nintendo’s SNES, Rare Ltd. cut back on their development for the machine initially and only produced a few Battletoads games. But they were not busy developing for the SNES as Rare Ltd. invested their profits made from the NES era into purchasing expensive Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstations.
Rare Ltd. impressed Nintendo with their progress of 3D graphics on the SGI systems and in 1994, Nintendo bought a 49% stake in the company which turned Rare Ltd. into a Nintendo second-party developer.
At this time, Rare Ltd. had another alteration.

Rareware

Now developing under the name Rareware.
By this time, Rareware had such a strong relationship with Nintendo that Nintendo readily offered up any of their existing IPs for Rareware to make a whole new game on. The Stamper brothers asked for Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Country is what we got. The game showcased Rare’s 3D graphics advancements thanks to those SCI workstations and went on to become a huge success, in fact Donkey Kong Country became the second best selling SNES game of all time.
Donkey Kong Country spawned two sequels and various spin offs.

But Rareware did not just stick to Nintendo’s machines and in the late 90’s they developed a CGI based beat em’ up; Killer Instinct for arcades.

Soon after the release of Killer Instinct, Nintendo relased their next home console, the N64.

Rareware would continue the successful partnership with Nintendo on this machine too with; GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Blast Corps and even build on their Donkey Kong games with Donkey Kong 64.
Rareware also made a spiritual successor to GoldenEye 007 with Perfect Dark as well as release sequel Banjo-Tooie.
Rareware and the N64 was a perfect match…but it was not to last.

As they year 2000 began, Microsoft visited Rareware and eventually paid $375 million to own 100% of the company which became a first party developer for Microsoft and another new name and logo.

Rare

Now just called Rare and releasing their first game for Microsoft’s Xbox in 2003; Grabbed by the Ghoulies. In many fan’s eyes…this was the start of the decline of one of our favorite game developers.

Rare’s relationship with Microsoft just was not as successful as it was with Nintendo previously. Releasing remake; Conker: Live & Reloaded for the Xbox along with launch games for the Xbox 360; Kameo: Elements of Power and Perfect Dark Zero and Viva Piñata relased a year later. These games were just not up to standard and met with fairly low sales.

By the end of 2009, Microsoft “restructured” Rare and they started to develop games for the Xbox 360’s Kinect, with their first game being; Kinect Sports and later the sequel; Kinect Sports Rivals.
Under Microsoft, Rare had been put on the back burner and have become a shadow of their former self.

Nowadays, Rare “rarely” develop games anymore, but they do have a new title called; Sea of Thieves for the Xbox One which has yet to have a release date.
Can this be the game that gets Rare back on form? We will have to wait and see.

But before then, there is something coming from Rare very soon…
August this year sees the release of this.

rr

Rare Replay: A celebration of Ultimate/Rare with a compilation of 30 games from their library. With the exception of obvious licensing issues (007, Nintendo IPs, etc) pretty much every Ultimate/Rare game is included here.

Jetpac (1983)
Atic Atac (1983)
Lunar Jetman (1983)
Sabre Wulf (1984)
Underwurlde (1984)
Knight Lore (1984)
Gunfright (1985)
Slalom (1986)
R.C. Pro-Am (1987)
Cobra Triangle (1989)
Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll (1990)
Digger T. Rock: Legend of the Lost City (1990)
Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship (1990)
Battletoads (1991)
R.C. Pro-Am II (1992)
Battletoads Arcade (1994)
Killer Instinct Gold (1996)
Blast Corps (1997)
Banjo-Kazooie (1998)
Jet Force Gemini (1999)
Perfect Dark (2000)
Banjo-Tooie (2000)
Conker’s Bad Fur Day (2001)
Grabbed by the Ghoulies (2003)
Perfect Dark Zero (2005)
Kameo: Elements of Power (2005)
Viva Piñata (2006)
Jetpac Refuelled (2007)
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (2008)
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008)

Now you may have noticed that I didn’t go into detail on any of the games. Well that is due to the fact I have pre-ordered Rare Reply and I intend on playing each of the 30 games and doing an Ultimate/Rare retrospective, look at the Rare Reply as a whole collection and offer my views of the games to see how/if they have held up today.

This is going to be my celebration of Ultimate/Rare.

So here we go folks. 30 classic Ultimate/Rare games to work my way through in my Rare Replay retrospective.

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Jaws – NES

NES title

Little Bit of History: Developed by Westone Bit Entertainment and published by LJN for the NES, relased in 1987. Loosely based on the move of the same name and also takes inspiration from Jaws: The Revenge.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: You are captain of a boat (possibly The Orca) sailing between 2 different ports. Along the way you collect conch shells which are used as currency in the game. You spend the shells on upgrades and slowly build up your boat and eventually kill the shark.

Little Bit of Character: No real characters to speak of in the game as everything/one is unnamed.

Little Bit of Influence: The game never really went on to influence anything, it was relased and forgotten about pretty quickly. Though it does make a cameo appearance in the “antique” shop during the 2015 segment of Back To The Future II.

Little Bit of Memories: This was one of those games you may have rented over a weekend and regretted it. It was hard to remember 5 minutes after you played it, nevermind 28 years after it was relased.

Little Bit of Playability: This was hardly playable back then and definitely has not stood the test of time. It’s a horrible, grind-fest with shallow gameplay. Avoid it like a hungry great white shark.

NES cover

This is just one part of my 40th birthday celebration of Jaws. Take a look at my overview of Jaws Unleashed as well as my look back on the first “summer blockbuster” and how Jaws almost never made it to the big screen.

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